What is the difference in the ADN, ASN and AAS degrees?

If you are researching an online nursing degree program, then you may be wondering what sort of degree would be best to pursue if your career goal is to become a nurse. At the associate level, there are several to choose from, which are the ADN, ASN or the AAS degree and to be honest, there is little, if any difference in the three.

The ADN degree stands for “Associate Degree in Nursing.” The ADN program prepares students with career focused curriculum directing one to a career as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or a Registered Nurse (RN). The ADN nursing degree is typically a two year program. For the most part, the “ADN degree” is the generic term for all associate degree programs.

Depending on the area of focus you have chosen, specific courses may vary, however, some may include anatomy and physiology, administering medications, nutrition, psychology, microbiology, practical skills, bloodwork and starting IVs, in addition to, meeting basic everyday needs such as bathing, toileting and assistance with mealtimes.

While earning your ADN degree, you must also complete all clinical work as required and then pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to begin your practice.

The ASN degree stands for “Associate of Science Degree in Nursing.” The ASN program is essentially not any different from the ADN or AAS degree, except maybe for a few courses. This type of degree is typically awarded by your local community college, vocational schools or hospital sponsored programs, however, the degree may place more emphasis on the performance of tasks rather than on academic work.

The student’s curriculum for this degree would include anatomy, social and behavioral sciences, microbiology, psychology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition and physiology, among others. You will be required to complete supervised clinical work, as well.

The Associate of Science Degree in Nursing program usually takes two years to complete. Upon graduation of the ASN program, you will be allowed to sit for the NCLEX exam.

The AAS degree stands for “Associate of Applied Science in Nursing.” As with the the ADN and ASN programs, the AAS degree is similar in that it will equip the nursing student with knowledge to learn the basics of nursing. The AAS degree is typically a two-year program.

Coursework in an AAS nursing degree program provides training in pharmacology, health assessment, anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology and medical terminology. Clinical work will be required. Upon completion, students will be ready to take the NCLEX exam to be become a LPN or RN.

In most cases, the accreditation of a school is much more important to consider than the name of your associate degree. It is advisable to check before entering a nursing program to see what their credentials are, as well as, the type of program they provide and how it fits into your career goals.

Earning your associate degree will lay a good foundation to earn future degrees, such as your online bachelors, master’s or doctorate degrees. If you are interested, we have compiled a list of Top Online Nursing Degree Programs to help you in your endeavors!