When you’re considering a career in healthcare, knowing the top Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs in the country is a good place to start since you can become a registered nurse (RN) with an ADN degree.
There are plenty of ADN programs to choose from. Universities and community colleges alike offer ADN degrees, and there are also specialty nurse training programs and technical schools that offer ADNs. Some offer instruction both in-person and online, while others may provide strictly on-campus nurse training.
See also: Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in the US
So, if you’re wondering about the best ADN programs to choose from in 2023, read on! We’ve compiled a list of some of the best programs for nursing education at the ADN level.
What Is an ADN Nurse?
An ADN nurse is a nurse who has obtained an Associate Degree in Nursing and passed the licensing exam to become a registered nurse. The degree program takes an average of two years to complete if you’re studying full-time. However, there are accelerated programs that may take less time.
What’s the Average ADN Nurse Salary?
According to NursingProcess.org, the average salary for newly-graduated RNs with ADNs is roughly $56,180 a year, which equals around $27.01 hourly or $4,680 monthly. And since pay typically increases over time and with experience, the average RN with an ADN salary earns closer to $80,660 a year, which corresponds to around $38.78 hourly or $6,720 monthly.
It’s important to note that a number of factors influence your salary, including your location, nursing specialty, and additional certifications.
What Are the Best ADN Nursing Programs?
Trying to find the best ADN programs to start your nursing education?
The first thing we’d recommend is to start looking near you. Plenty of community colleges and technical schools have outstanding ADN programs that wouldn’t even require travel or relocation. Convenience accounts for a lot, especially if the program is accredited and has a solid pass rate for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses NCLEX-RN exam.
That said, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most well-respected ADN nursing programs of 2023. The list is certainly not all-inclusive, but these are seven ADN programs that consistently offer a strong education that helps students pass the NCLEX and begin successful nursing careers.
1. Southern Technical College, Florida
Southern Technical College has multiple campuses across Florida and is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Its ADN program has the following characteristics:
- It can be completed in under two years
- Involves hands-on instruction from licensed nurses
- Offers flexible scheduling with day and night classes
- Provides required materials and textbooks at no extra costs
- Sticks to small class sizes
- Includes resume-building and interview prep resources
2. Rio Grande Valley College, Texas
Rio Grande Valley College in Texas has an Associate of Applied Science nursing program that takes only 45 weeks to complete. The program gets students ready not only for the NCLEX-RN exam but also for working as an actual RN.
Rio Grande Valley’s program claims all the following benefits:
- Requires 60 credit hours that can be completed relatively quickly (in 45 weeks)
- Boasts a high NCLEX-RN pass rate
- Prioritizes learning both patient and nurse safety practices
- Has multiple reviews that mention its dedicated financial services team
3. Santa Monica City College, California
Santa Monica City College is located in California and is known for offering one of the top ADN nursing programs. In the 2021-2022 school year, the college had an 89 percent program completion rate, a 91.55 percent NCLEX pass rate, and a 100 percent job placement rate.
In addition to its impressive performance, these are program highlights to consider:
- Prepares students for diverse aspects of nursing, including the physical, psychological, and nursing skills requirements
- Teaches students about patient advocacy
- It is approved by the California Board of Nursing
- Has high standards for student prerequisite performance compared to some programs, ensuring a well-rounded education (and a respected one)
4. University of Charleston, West Virginia
- Has trained over 3,000 nurses in the past 50 years
- Offers up-to-date curriculum based on current standards
- Sticks to small class sizes for clinicals and labs
- Has extensive resources for students, including online journals and databases
- Allows students to seamlessly pursue Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees if they choose
- Accepts students with a 2.0 high school or transfer GPA
5. LaGuardia Community College, New York
LaGuardia Community College in New York has a well-respected Associate of Applied Science nursing program that had to make our list of the top ADN degrees. In 2020, the program had a 100 percent graduate success rate on the NCLEX-RN exam and an 88 percent rate for graduate employment or continuing education.
Furthermore, its program boasts the following characteristics:
- Transfer opportunities to local BSN programs upon graduation
- ACEN accreditation
- 43 core program credits
- High standards, with core grades requiring a C- or higher to continue in the program
- Potential accelerated program options for licensed practical nurses (LPNs)
6. Rasmussen College, Multiple States
Rasmussen College offers online and in-person classes for its ADN program in multiple states, including Florida, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Kansas. You can finish the program in 21 months. These are some program highlights:
- No need for pre-nursing courses
- Eight start dates per year at most campuses, so you can start when you’re ready
- Online courses and in-lab coursework
- LPN-to-RN bridge program available, which can be completed in 12 months
7. Everett Community College, Washington
Everett Community College in Seattle boasted a 100 percent job placement success rate and a 90.05 percent program completion rate in 2021-2022. It also had a 73.04 percent first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate. While the program may not transfer to other states if you’re seeking continuing education, it is well-regarded for those who choose to practice in Washington.
These are some program highlights to consider:
- Teaches patient-centered care
- Accredited by the ACEN
- Approved by Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission
- Related BSN programs make streamlined continuing education easy
- Transparent list of expected expenses for program completion
What Is an ADN-to-BSN Bridge Program?
If you already have an ADN, you may be considering getting your Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. While you can be a registered nurse with an ADN or a BSN degree, a BSN degree opens up additional career opportunities (and often provides higher pay).
There are ADN-to-BSN bridge programs, which allow nurses who have ADNs to complete accelerated programs that honor the credits already received. In many cases, students may be able to receive BSNs in as little as two years with ADN-to-BSN bridge programs, as opposed to completing standard four-year BSN degree programs.
What to Consider When Choosing an ADN Program
When choosing your ADN nursing education program, consider the following:
- What types of nurse training will I receive? Different programs have different training methods.
- How much does it cost? Unless you’ve earned a nursing scholarship, the cost of tuition is almost always a factor to consider.
- What type of nurse education program is it? Is it mostly online or entirely in person? Is the scheduling flexible? Choosing a program that fits into your life is essential.
- How long will it take to complete? Some ADN programs may have accelerated timeline options.
When in doubt, apply to a few different ADN programs that you feel are a fit for your needs. Once you’re accepted, you can iron out the details with help from the admissions department and program advisors.
Want to learn more about becoming a nurse? See what degrees you need to become a nurse here.