Oklahoma Nursing Schools and Programs

September 29, 2021 · 6 Min Read

Oklahoma ranks 4th for affordability, 2nd for low cost of living, making this a great place to start and or continue your nursing career.

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Schools, Licensing Requirements, and Resources

In 2008, healthcare and social assistance replaced manufacturing and retail trade as Oklahoma's largest industries. The surging number of opportunities makes today a great time for prospective nurses to consider online nursing programs in Oklahoma. Online programs provide convenience and flexibility, along with quality instruction equal to traditional on-campus nursing programs.

Online nursing schools in Oklahoma prepare graduates for licensure in four categories:

  • Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA)
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
  • Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Read on for more information about online nursing programs in Oklahoma, including potential career tracks, salary and job growth, and how to obtain Oklahoma nursing licensure.

Why Attend Online Nursing Programs in Oklahoma?

A 2018 report from Oklahoma's Governor's Council for Workforce and Economic Development points to a need for more nurses, citing a lower-than-average 700 RNs per 100,000 people.

Oklahoma ranks 15th for the most affordable in-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions. Additionally, the state ranks 4th for affordability, 2nd for low cost of living, and 7th for housing affordability among U.S. states. Oklahoma nurses also bring in decent pay, with NPs earning an average salary of $103,280 and RNs making $63,080.

These statistics indicate that Oklahoma is an appealing state in which to study and work.

Featured Online Programs

How to Become a Nurse in Oklahoma

Candidates for Oklahoma nursing licensure must complete a state-approved training program that results in an associate, bachelor's, or graduate degree, depending on which type of nurse a student wishes to become. Nurse training programs include traditional or online classroom study and in-person clinical components. All graduates take an appropriate-level examination and apply to the Oklahoma State Department of Health or Board of Nursing to obtain their licenses. The steps below outline the requirements for becoming a nurse in Oklahoma.

  • 1. Choose the Path That's Right for You

    In Oklahoma, the minimum degree required to become an RN is an associate degree in nursing (ADN). However, many RNs start with a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN). Students who become RNs through an associate program can enroll in one of many online RN-to-BSN programs in Oklahoma to increase their job prospects. Nurse aides and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) require less schooling, but also receive lower salaries. Candidates who want to become advanced nurses or nurse educators must pursue a graduate degree and additional certification. Students interested in advanced education can earn a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) from nursing schools in Oklahoma. Graduate and doctoral students may choose from many specializations, becoming certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwives.
  • 2. Earn Your Nursing Degree

    Nursing students or nurses interested in pursuing an advanced degree must decide whether they want to study online, on-campus, or in a hybrid program. Online nursing programs are popular because they allow working students to earn credits on their own time. Many nursing programs require science and math prerequisites before enrollment, and students in nursing schools in Oklahoma must complete internships, practicums, and clinical hours. Learners pursuing an online nursing degree can usually complete these requirements at a healthcare facility near their place of residence. Completion time for a degree varies based on whether a program is part time or full time, a student's number of credits, and the level of degree. Students who want to graduate quickly can enroll in one of the accelerated nursing programs in Oklahoma.
  • 3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License

    Prospective nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) exam for RNs, which costs $200 and requires six hours to complete. Nursing coursework and clinical experience can help prepare students for the exam, although additional studying may be necessary. While the exam is a prerequisite for licensure and mandatory for RN jobs, passing the test does not necessarily guarantee a job outright.

Online Nursing Degree Programs in Oklahoma

Most healthcare facilities and state licensing agencies require nurses to hold at least an ADN to become licensed and employed. Generally, advanced nursing degrees correlate with more job opportunities and higher salary potential. For example, a fairly significant gap exists between the average wages for RNs and NPs.

What Courses Are Part of an Online Nursing Degree Program in Oklahoma?

While curricula vary by school and program, most nurses take some similar core courses. Course topics often include professional skill-building, nursing leadership, healthcare policy and ethics, and technology. Online programs for licensed RNs working toward a bachelor's degree in nursing (RN-to-BSN) typically include the three courses listed below.

Fundamentals of Nursing Research

This class compares and contrasts the qualitative and quantitative studies and statistical methods used in research. Lectures also cover ethics, legal issues, concepts, and theories, along with literature review.

Health Assessment

An introduction to conducting health assessments, this course focuses on effective communication, health promotion, and safe practices. Students learn to collect health history data and assess patients' physical capabilities.

Nursing Informatics

This course explores methods for integrating technology and information science with nursing practice. Candidates learn to document and track patient data electronically to promote patient safety and improve healthcare delivery.

How Do Online Nursing Degree Programs Work?

A total of 82 Oklahoma nursing schools offer online training programs at all degree levels, including several highly-rated colleges and universities. ADN programs require two years of study, BSN candidates typically finish in 2-4 years, and graduate degrees take a minimum of two years to complete.

While online nursing programs in Oklahoma typically offer coursework entirely online, clinical training requires in-person attendance. Online nursing students already working in a healthcare setting can often complete clinical hours at their places of employment.

Students without jobs might jumpstart their nursing careers with accelerated online programs. For example, candidates may earn an ADN in two years and become a licensed RN, then earn an RN-to-BSN in just two years while working, taking a total of four years to earn both degrees.

Virtually all top online nursing schools in Oklahoma maintain the same admission requirements for online and on-campus students.

Nursing Licensure in Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Board of Nursing licenses LPNs, RNs, and NPs, and prescribes educational standards for nurse training programs. The Oklahoma State Department of Health manages CNA certification and training. Oklahoma CNAs hold at least one specialized license in developmentally disabled care, home healthcare, long-term care, adult daycare, residential care, and/or medication. Each specialty area imposes its own in-class and clinical training requirements.

The nursing board offers programs to increase and retain its nursing workforce, such as a streamlined licensing process for active military and their spouses. The board also supports nurses struggling with alcohol and/or drug dependence through its Peer Assistance Program.

State licensing criteria varies according to the level of license sought. The following section describes the requirements for each type of Oklahoma nursing licensure.

State Requirements by Nursing Type

As outlined in the table below, each licensure level imposes its own requirements for minimum degrees, clinical hours, licensing exams, renewal, and continuing education.

Certified Nurse Assistant Oklahoma CNAs complete a state-approved training program, each with its own requirements depending on the specialization. Developmentally disabled direct care aides, home health aides, and long-term care aides must log a minimum of 75 hours of coursework and clinical training. Adult daycare and residential aides complete at least 45 hours of combined classroom and clinical training. Medication aide requirements consist of holding a developmentally disabled care, home health, or long-term care license, plus 40 additional training hours that include 16 hours of fieldwork. The Oklahoma State Board of Health considers reciprocity applications from out-of-state long-term care license holders or those who have completed comparable training. Applicants can also request recognition of their non-Oklahoma credentials and obtain approval to take a board-approved CNA examination. After meeting education requirements, prospective CNAs sit for a written examination administered by Headmaster, Health Certification Project, or Prometric. Renewal requires completion of eight hours of CNA work during the renewal period.

Oklahoma Licensure Requirements

  • Education: State-approved training program usually leading to an ADN or the equivalent
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Varies by specialization
  • Exams: One of three board-approved CNA exams
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years
  • Continuing Education: None
Licensed Practical Nurse After completing their training programs, aspiring LPNs apply to the state board for approval to take the practical nursing exam (NCLEX-PN) administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Applicants submit academic transcripts and proof of eligibility to work in the United States. The NCLEX-PN is an adaptive computerized test that adjusts the difficulty of the questions to the test taker's performance. It includes 205 questions on care environment safety, health maintenance and promotion, and psychosocial and physiological integrity. Candidates must complete 85 questions within five hours, and scores consist of either pass or fail. Out-of-state LPN license holders can apply for licensing by reciprocity or take the Oklahoma NCLEX-PN exam. LPNs renew their licenses by completing 24 hours of continuing education or:
  • Six credits of college-level nurse training
  • 520 hours of LPN work in Oklahoma
  • A board-approved refresher program
  • Oklahoma certification in a nursing specialty

Oklahoma Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Board-approved practical nursing program leading to an ADN or the equivalent
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Included in training program
  • Exams: NCLEX-PN
  • Renewal Frequency: Every odd-numbered year
  • Continuing Education: 24 hours of board-approved continuing education or alternative
Registered Nurse RN candidates may apply for licensure after earning an ADN or higher from a traditional or online RN program in Oklahoma. They must submit their academic transcripts, proof of relevant professional experience, answers to professional fitness questions, and fingerprints for a background check. Candidates with felony convictions cannot take the NCLEX-RN exam until five years have elapsed from the sentence completion date. Like the NCLEX-PN exam, the NCLEX-RN exam adjusts the level of difficulty according to the competency of the candidate's answers. Examinees must answer 75 out of 265 questions over six hours with optional break times, and they either pass or fail. Continuing education requirements for RN license renewal mirror those of LPNs, except RNs' six credits of college-level nursing courses must equal or exceed their licensing level, e.g. ADN, BSN, MSN, depending on the degree earned. RNs can satisfy continuing education credits with an additional specialized nursing license.

Oklahoma Licensure Requirements

  • Education: ADN or BS in nursing
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in degree program
  • Exams: NCLEX-RN
  • Renewal Frequency: Two-year licensing period
  • Continuing Education: 24 hours within the licensing period or alternative
Nurse Practitioner NPs in Oklahoma become licensed as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). While NPs provide many of the same services as doctors, including prescribing approved medications, they may do so only under the supervision, delegation, or management of a licensed physician. NPs must hold an MSN with a specialty in family practice, gerontology, neonatal care, pediatric care, psychiatric health or women's health. They must also hold an RN license and national certification. Each national certification specialization area requires a different examination, administered by a board-approved certifying body. These include the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board, the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the National Certification Corporation, and the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. Candidates submit their academic records when applying to the nursing board for credentials. To renew, they must maintain RN licensure and national certification, or they can meet their renewal requirements with a board-approved refresher course, six credit hours of graduate-level coursework, or 520 hours of work as an APRN.

Oklahoma Licensure Requirements

  • Education: MS in nursing
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Completed as part of degree program
  • Exams: One of 18 board-recognized specialty certification exams
  • Renewal Frequency: Every even-numbered year
  • Continuing Education: Varies by specialty certification area

Online Nursing Degree Programs and Licensing in Oklahoma FAQ

What Is a Good Specialty for Nursing? An aging American population points to an increased demand for professionals specializing in gerontology, home healthcare, and public health. RNs constitute the most in-demand nurses in Oklahoma.
How Should I Choose What Nursing Field to Go Into? There are several factors to consider as you decide: how long you can or want to go to school, how much responsibility you want, your interest in a specialty or population, and your interest in patient care or academia.
How Long Does it Take to Get an RN License in Oklahoma? Online RN programs in Oklahoma span 2-4 years, depending on the degree and the student's enrollment status. Most learners spend 1-2 months preparing for the NCLEX-RN exam and receive their test results within 2-4 weeks.
Is Oklahoma a Good State For Nurses? Yes. The state's nursing shortage, along with affordable education and low cost of living, makes it an attractive location. Home to the University of Oklahoma Medical Center and INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center respectively, Tulsa and fast-growing Oklahoma City offer the most opportunities.
Is Oklahoma a Nurse Compact State? Yes. Oklahoma joined the Nurse Licensure Compact in 2018 and offers multistate eligibility to LPNs and RNs who meet the state licensing requirement of graduation from a board-approved education program.

Oklahoma Nurse Salaries and Employment Trends

Earning a degree and obtaining Oklahoma nursing licensure does not guarantee a job or a particular salary, but the table below provides current data on job growth and average pay for each nursing category.

If the nurse shortage follows the projected path, employment opportunities should increase in Oklahoma. Current projections list approximate long-term demand increases at 4% for LPNs and 6% for RNs. An aging population, along with retiring nurses and a decrease in nursing preparation program faculty, drives the demand projections. The shortage may also intensify with the emerging global COVID 19 pandemic.

Insurance reform has changed the potential workplace options for nurses, opening more home-based care opportunities that focus on disease prevention and health maintenance. The state also plans to explore recruitment and retention strategies.

Nurse Salary and Projected Job Growth in Oklahoma, by Type

  Annual Mean Wage Projected Job Growth(2016-2026)
Certified Nurse Assistant $25,690 5.7%
Licensed Practical Nurse $41,260 3.8%
Registered Nurse $63,080 10.1%
Nurse Practitioner $103,280 23%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Projections Central

Annual Mean Nurse Wages in Nearby States

  Certified Nurse Assistant Licensed Practical Nurse Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
United States $29,580 $47,050 $75,510 $110,030
Texas $27,030 $46,990 $72,890 $111,060
New Mexico $28,310 $47,560 $71,730 $109,810
Colorado $32,610 $51,210 $74,240 $111,210
Kansas $26,210 $43,240 $61,030 $99,430
Missouri $25,930 $42,580 $65,130 $102,470
Arkansas $25,770 $39,570 $60,780 $104,300

Source: BLS

Certified Nurse Assistant

Compared to their counterparts in neighboring states, Oklahoma CNAs land at the low end of the salary scale. At $25,690, wages for CNAs in Oklahoma rival those in Missouri ($25,930) and Arkansas ($25,770). Job growth projections show that Oklahoma outpaces Kansas, at 5.7% and 4.9% respectively. Neighbor Colorado fares the best (30.5%) in this category.

Licensed Practical Nurse

Oklahoma LPNs earn more ($41,260) than those in Arkansas ($39,570) and look forward to a positive 3.8% projected job growth compared to a -0.7% projection in Kansas. While on the low end in both categories within this group of neighboring states, Oklahoma's anticipated LPN shortage may improve the state's numbers. To attract LPNs, the state offers scholarships to practical nursing students interested in working in Oklahoma, particularly in rural communities.

Registered Nurse

RNs in Oklahoma fare a little better compared to their neighbors, with higher average wages ($63,080) than RNs in Kansas ($61,030) and Arkansas ($60,780). Currently, the 10% projected job growth rate equals that of Kansas, but falls short of the other states. These figures could improve as the RN shortage continues, combined with Oklahoma's recruitment and retention measures. RNs in Oklahoma City earn more than the state average, bringing in $65,180 a year.

Nurse Practitioner

Highly-skilled NPs enjoy the highest salaries and largest projected job growth rates among Oklahoma nurses. Their $103,280 average wage outpaces those of NPs in Kansas ($99,430) and Missouri ($102,470). The projected job growth rate for Oklahoma NPs (23%) edges out Kansas' (22.8%), but currently falls below projections for neighboring states. Although Oklahoma NPs make less than the U.S. average of $110, they out-earn their counterparts in more than a dozen other states.

Nursing Resources for Oklahoma

  • Members join both the ONA and the American Nurses Association for $15 per month. Benefits include networking events and meetings, volunteer opportunities, online continuing education, certification discounts, and industry publications.
  • AONP lobbies on behalf of NPs and supports members through a political action committee. Membership benefits include discounted continuing education, career assistance, an insurance exchange, and scholarships.
  • The Board licenses Oklahoma nurses and publishes standards for nurse preparation programs, administers licensure exams, and regulates the nursing profession. The Board also hosts conferences and posts studies and research.
  • This association advocates for patient safety and emergency nursing practices. Members can serve as volunteers on the Emergency Nurses Association's National Committee, a work team, or the advisory council.
  • This state-based chapter of the National Student Nurses' Association welcomes nursing students at all levels, including pre-nursing. Members receive discounted national conference registration, along with NSNA benefits and scholarship opportunities.

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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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