How Can I Obtain My Nursing Degree While Enlisted in the Military?

One big misconception that many high school graduates have is that they are not able to continue their education if they join the military. This is not true. In fact, the military is known to be very generous with supporting their recruits as they pursue degrees in various fields. Military personnel is able to earn both undergraduate and advanced degrees in related fields while serving the country. A popular field of study, especially for women in the military, is nursing.

It is possible for army personnel to earn their nursing degrees while on active duty. Self-discipline and dedication are key to success, as taking classes and maintaining a full-time job, so to speak, is no easy feat. Many have successfully reached their goals of earning degrees while serving in the military through seemingly endless nights of online studies.

Nursing in the Military

With a high demand of nursing personnel in the military, there are many incentives for those who are interested in serving their country as a nurse. Four different branches of the military recruit nurses, both experienced and prospective.

  • Army Nurse Corps – nurses serve in patient care facilities and administrative roles.
  • Army National Guard – provides nurses with bonuses for earning various degrees.
  • Naval Nurse Corps – has an “earn while you learn” program for students willing to serve in the Navy after graduation.
  • Air Force Nursing – the Air Force employs many nurses in a variety of positions, ranging from anesthesia to medical-surgical nursing.

There are a number of degree options for nurses in the military, starting from Associate’s Degrees all the way up to Doctorates, including specialized certificate programs. Prospective nurses can gain practical experience training in domestic and overseas hospitals, and on military vessels.

Financial Support

There are a few programs in place for military personnel to gain assistance for tuition and other expenses while on or after active duty. Nursing students can apply for financial aid from these programs to help with the process of earning a degree.

Each branch of the military has different tuition assistance programs that help students with their educational expenses. Military personnel who take classes at accredited junior colleges, vocational and technical schools, colleges, and universities are eligible for tuition assistance, which can pay up to 100% of all tuition and fees. All full-time duty members, including some Reserve and National Guard can apply.

One comprehensive education benefits package, effective on August 1, 2009 is the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which succeeds the original GI Bill from 1944. The Post-9/11 GI Bill compensates tuition and fees for all in-state public school students. There is even an allowance for books and supplies, as well as a living stipend. These educational benefits also apply to family members of military personnel.

Depending on the branch of service, nursing students can also find financial assistance in the form of college fund and loan repayment programs. Each branch has their own guidelines for these assistance programs that specify who is eligible, and for the amount of assistance.