What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of an Online Nursing Degree?

If you are thinking about pursuing a career in the field of nursing, you should know that doing so could be personally and professionally profitable. In many cases, individuals who opt to pursue a nursing degree decide that they are interested in obtaining the degree online. There are several advantages and disadvantages associated with earning an online nursing degree, and learning more about them could help you decide whether pursuing an an education this way would be appropriate and advantageous for you.

Nursing – The Basics

Although broadly defined, nursing is basically the promotion, protection and optimization of health through the implementation of techniques that prevent injury and illness. People who work within the field of nursing help alleviate the suffering associated with injuries and/or illnesses by diagnosing and treating people.

Advantages of an Online Nursing Degree

Individuals who opt to obtain their nursing degree online should note that there are a plethora of advantages associated with this decision. One of the biggest advantages is that it offers scheduling flexibility. When an individual opts to learn in the traditional classroom setting, she or he is required to be in a physical classroom for specific periods of time. This requirement can be very challenging for individuals who hold full-time jobs and/or have familial responsibilities. However, if an individual chooses to study online, she or he can complete coursework whenever it is convenient.

Studying online can often save money as well. There are no transportation costs and the programs tend to be less expensive than traditional, on-campus programs. With online studying, a student is also not restricted to schools within their local vicinity or forced to move in order to attend a specific school. A reputable online program could be located in one part of the country while the student resides in another.

Another advantage of an online nursing degree is the fact that doing so helps one obtain transferable skills. Most of these skills pertain to the field of technology and include things such as proficiency with sending and receiving e-mail as well as posting messages to group discussion boards and responding to messages posted by others. Because we live in a technological era, these types of skills are very marketable within the health field. In short, any job that requires the use of computers and the Internet will often incorporate the use of skills that an individual will obtain and likely master while completing an online nursing degree.

Disadvantages of an Online Nursing Degree

Although there are many benefits to obtaining a nursing degree online, there are also disadvantages. One of the biggest disadvantages is that prospective employers often view online degrees in a negative light. In discussing this issue in her article, “Employers on Online Education,” Rachel Zupek notes that many employers tend to be less familiar with online degrees than those earned through the traditional classroom setting. When this is the case, employers may be more likely to hire a job candidate who has obtained their degree through the traditional format.

Issues of accreditation are another disadvantage of online nursing degrees. Some online nursing programs lack proper accreditation. When a school is not properly accredited, students are unable to take the appropriate licensure exams to become registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs). Most employers require a RN or LPN title (see: What is the Difference Between an RN and an LPN). Accreditation also allows credits to be transferred for further degrees and provides scholarship eligibility.

Yet another disadvantage of obtaining an online nursing degree is the social dynamic. Specifically, individuals who obtain a nursing degree through a traditional classroom have the opportunity to interact with their peers and professors in person. Doing so can help facilitate the enhancement of social skills as well as emotional intelligence. When an individual opts to earn a degree online, interaction with other students and the instructor is virtual rather than face-to-face. Online students may miss out on the opportunity to acquire transferable skills that will better prepare him or her to enter the world of work.

Because nurses spend a great deal of time interacting with patients, adequate hands-on experience and training is an additional concern when studying online. Online nursing students, like traditional nursing students, typically have clinical practicums to fulfill and they must be conducted under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Reputable online programs may provide assistance to help students find appropriate training in an on-campus clinic or a private hospital or clinic. Sometimes students may still need to supplement their practical experience with additional training in order to compete for jobs with traditionally trained students.


If you are thinking about becoming a nurse, you should know that doing so could bring you a great deal of benefits. In order to pursue your vocational goal, it will be important to obtain a nursing degree. By reviewing the information found above, you can determine whether earning your degree online would be appropriate for you. Good luck!