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Nursing Education hierarchy

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Just wondering if someone could explain the options for nursing education in the States. Namely, what is an Associate degree? Can you still get a diploma in nursing in the USA?

Steve, as Associate degree is typically a 2-year degree taught at a community college, which is a 2-year college as opposed to the 4-year university. But many 4-year universities also offer the two-year associate degree programs in nursing. In an associate degree program, students typically take 4 semesters, or 4 semesters and a summer, of science, liberal arts, and nursing courses. If you check the web site for Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (, you'll see descriptions of their 2-year associate degree program and their 4-year BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program.

There are still 3 or 4 dozen hospital-based diploma programs in the US. These programs are usually either 2 years or 3 years in length. The two-year programs normally require that applicants finish a year of prerequisite science and liberal arts courses before beginning the 2 years of full-time nursing study. The three-year diploma programs require essentially the same science and liberal arts courses, but the courses are taken during the first 2 semesters and summer session at the same time as the introductory nursing courses.

Generally, a diploma program offers the most clinical time to their students.

On my web page, I have links to most of the nursing programs in the United States. If you'd like to check out some of these programs, you can find the page at

Here are just a few links to diploma nursing programs: Holy Name Hospital School of Nursing, New Jersey Watts School of Nursing, North Carolina (this is where I start in August; finishing my prereqs now) Sharon Regional Health Center School of Nursing, Pennsylvania Good Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing, Ohio St. Elizabeth School of Nursing, Indiana

And here are some typical associate degree programs: Indiana Univ.-Purdue Univ. at Indianapolis Northern Kentucky University Lexington Community College, Kentucky Wake Technical Community College, North Carolina Pasadena City College, California Brevard Community College, Florida

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