Pros and Cons of Online Nursing Programs

Pros and Cons of Online Nursing Programs

By Tyler Faust, M.S.N., R.N., PHN, Contributor

Online nursing programs have much to offer nurses, and make going back to school more practical than ever. Continuing your education is never a bad idea, however figuring out which form of schooling works best for you can take a little more time and exploration. 

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Navigating online nursing programs

Pro: Interactive virtual classrooms. Online nursing programs are equipped with the latest technology to make obtaining a degree online easier than ever. Streaming video lectures, online discussion boards, live chat rooms, and 24/7 IT support are just a few things you can expect to help make your online nursing school experience a great one. 

RELATED: How to Succeed in the Virtual Classroom

Con: Technology requirements. On top of learning your curriculum, you will need to have the technology required for your specific program. Some online nursing programs require software or the most updated version of browsers or desktop tools. Estimating the costs - if any - associated with these technology requirements is important to your success and should be done before committing to a program. 

Pro: Flexibility. Online nursing programs allow for more flexibility to do school work, especially regarding where and when you study. Although you will still need to meet deadlines, you can study or complete projects whenever is most convenient for you. When working around a rotating schedule or family, flexibility is critical.

Con: Nontraditional learning environment. While online nursing programs offer flexibility, they also come with a more fluid classroom environment. Some courses are even self-paced, in which you dictate how quickly or slowly you go through the curriculum. Understanding your personal preference toward learning is key to the success of earning your next degree.  And after all, this is all about you and advancing your career options and longevity; so make sure you take the time to assess this. 

Pro: Increased options. If you live in a rural area or are just not near the school you want to attend, an online nursing program can make that degree a reality. Online nursing schools increase access to nursing programs for everyone. Allowing you to get the best education even out of state or across the country, virtually! 

Con: Online isn't hands-on. If your preference leans toward hands-on experiences, then traditional online nursing program would not offer that. However, some programs provide certain courses in the classroom and certain ones online. Exploring more blended programs, like this, would be a worthy venture.  

Pro: Time and cost savings. Online nursing programs can help save time and money. Accelerated online options can help you finish your degree quicker. Cutting your commute down plus eliminating other school-related expenses will help you focus on the material and leave those distractions (and expenses) behind. 

Professional nursing organizations are calling for nurses to be more educated than ever. To stay competitive with your education, going back to school through an online nursing program is one option to consider. Such programs can offer a lot of benefits, and in many cases you can pursue them even while you are still working.


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