The Best ADN Programs of 2022

March 22, 2022 , Modified on April 27, 2022 · 4 Min Read

This page covers some of the best ADN programs in the country, recommendations on what to look for in a school, and tips on navigating the application process.

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The Best ADN Programs of 2022
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Nurses continue to be in high demand, and one of the quickest ways to enter the field is through earning an associate degree in nursing (ADN). Students who complete an ADN program can become licensed as registered nurses in around two years. Many nurses choose to earn an ADN and then continue their nursing education by completing an online RN-to-BSN program while they work.

This guide explores some of the top ADN nursing programs offered in the United States. Prospective students need a strong understanding of the application process and insight into choosing the right program.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best ADN, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including: academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

Keep reading to learn more about ADN programs, or go straight to our list of the best ADN programs.

Featured Online Associate Programs

What Can You Do With an ADN Degree?

An ADN degree prepares nurses for a variety of roles. ADN graduates can record patients' health histories, administer medication, order tests, and educate patients and their families on medical conditions and treatment options.

RNs who have earned an ADN and wish to increase their earning potential can continue their education with either a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or a master of science in nursing (MSN) program.

Upon earning their degree, RNs can work in virtually any healthcare setting. Typical work environments include hospitals, regional medical centers, long-term care facilities, public health centers, and private practices.

A few of the more common roles include:

Oncology Nurse

ADN required

Oncology nurses treat cancer and cancer-related issues, assess patients, and educate family members on treatment processes and expected side effects.

Learn more about being an Oncology Nurse


Emergency Room (ER) Nurse

ADN required

ER nurses help patients who require immediate medical care. They assess patients, monitor vital signs, and administer medical treatments.

Learn more about being an ER Nurse


Homecare Nurse

ADN required

Homecare nurses work in the homes of chronically ill patients. They provide basic care, monitor patients' health, track any health-related changes, and provide treatment.

Learn more about being a Homecare Nurse


What to Look for in an ADN Program

When researching ADN programs, examine the program's admission requirements, accreditation, and graduation rate to help narrow down options. Exploring program length, curriculum, and clinical requirements can help students select the right program for them.

Understanding admission requirements should be students' first step. While most programs are similar, applicants should ensure they have the appropriate background to be admitted into the program. While curricula tend to be similar from one school to the next, applicants should review elective options provided at the institution. These choices can help in determining a focus area for incoming students. The time spent in clinical rotations provides prospective nurses with an opportunity to develop professional experience. Being able to spend time in a variety of specialties also helps when choosing a specialty area to pursue. Applicants should only apply to an accredited program to ensure the institution adheres to state and national standards. AN unaccredited program may not meet these standards, often making it difficult for students to transfer or pursue a more advanced degree. Read more about accreditation. Students who enroll in an ADN program can complete their schooling within two years. However, the length can vary depending on start date and enrollment status — full-time vs. part-time. Before becoming a licensed RN, prospective nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) review first-time student passing rates on the NCLEX when evaluating a nursing program. They use these rates to determine if the program's accreditation can continue, which signals the strength of that program. Graduation rate demonstrates the success of a program's students. Not only does it provide insight into the completion of the program, but it also identifies if students are earning their degree on time. Online programs provide the same rigorous curriculum found with in-person settings. Through these programs, students typically complete synchronous courses, which take place in real-time, and asynchronous courses, which students access on their own time.

Applying to an ADN Program

Once an applicant has decided to apply to nursing school, there are a variety of requirements they must meet to gain admittance. These requirements typically require certain academic prerequisites, such as GPA minimums, a writing sample, and references.

While most programs require similar material, others vary, so make sure to examine the specific requirements for each school.

Admission Materials

Proof of previous education (high school diploma or GED certificate); high school transcripts; proof of the completion of academic prerequisites (algebra, biology, chemistry, etc.); a writing sample; and letters of recommendation

GPA Requirements

2.5 GPA or GED equivalent

Other Requirements

Some programs may require certain pre-entrance exams, such as the SAT/ACT, the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS), the Nursing Entrance Exam (NET), or the Kaplan Nursing School Admission Test.

Why is ADN Program Accreditation Important?

Choosing an accredited ADN program comes with many advantages. Students, graduates, and employers all benefit from accreditation, both academically and professionally:

  • Accreditation is awarded by the ACEN and the CCNE, organizations that confirm the academic quality of the program.
  • Credits from unaccredited programs may not transfer to other programs (ADN or BSN).
  • Unaccredited undergraduate degrees earned may not be valid for those looking to enter an MSN program.
  • Students may not be eligible for federal financial aid if they attend an unaccredited institution.
  • Accredited degrees can lead to more exclusive job prospects and higher earning potential.

Paying for ADN Programs

Program costs vary depending on the exclusivity of the program, whether attending as a full-time or part-time student, and the location of the institution (in-state vs. out-of-state).

Learners can explore a variety of resources to help lessen the financial burden of their education. Financial aid is accessible for students as grants, scholarships, and loans. Grants are awarded based upon the financial need of the students; scholarships provide funds based on merit, talent, or academic performance; and loans consist of borrowed money that will eventually need to be paid back.

Learn More About the Top ADN Programs and Schools

Frequently Asked Questions About ADN Programs


Are ADN programs worth it?

When examining the value of completing an ADN program, prospective nurses must determine their professional goals as a nurse. ADN programs can be a great start to a nursing career, as it is both less expensive and less time-consuming than other programs.

After earning an ADN, nurses can gain experience while deciding if additional education is right for them.

What colleges offer an ADN program?

ADN programs are offered in every state, including the District of Columbia, typically at community and junior colleges. To date, there are over 1,000 ADN programs available throughout the country.

Are ADN programs hard to get into?

Regardless of the program, admission into nursing schools is quite competitive. While those looking to earn their bachelor's degree need a 3.0 or better GPA to gain admittance, ADN programs typically require a minimum average GPA of 2.5. Ultimately, the higher a student's previous GPA, the more likely they will be admitted into a competitive program.

Is it better to get your ADN first?

The benefit of earning an ADN first depends upon the individual's professional goals. Obtaining an ADN is one of the fastest routes to becoming a nurse; therefore, nurses can start gaining experience quicker than someone who has opted for a BSN program. However, earning a BSN or MSN provides higher earning potential, along with more specialized nursing roles.

What is the quickest way to become an RN?

Completing an ADN program is the fastest way to become an RN, as the title can be earned with an associate degree. Earning an ADN can be completed in as little as 18 months.

Related ADN Resources

NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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