October 21, 2019  |  Purdue Global  |  Updated June 29, 2022

Students entering the online nursing programs at Purdue Global often have questions. According to Melissa Burdi, DNP, dean and vice president of the School of Nursing, the most commonly asked questions include:

  1. How technologically savvy do I need to be?
  2. What type of resources will be available to me online?
  3. How flexible are the programs?
  4. What does the curriculum look like?
  5. What is the time commitment?
  6. How do clinicals work?

If you’re considering enrolling in an online nursing program at Purdue Global, keep reading—this article explains how our programs work.

Technology Requirements at Purdue Global

The basic technology requirements for an online nursing program at Purdue Global are a computer and an internet connection, but additional software and hardware may be required for some programs. For example, students in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-to-BSN) program are required to use Shadow Health software for certain courses. Instructions for purchasing this software are provided to students at the beginning of their course.

“You’ll access your online classroom via the Purdue Global Campus portal,” Burdi says. “It's a very user-friendly platform. This is where you find your current classes, grades, updates from your instructors, and a variety of tools and resources designed to help you succeed in your coursework.”

To learn more about our online learning platform and how online classes work, read the Purdue Global FAQ Guide.

Resources for Nursing Students

We have a number of resources to help our nursing students be successful at Purdue Global. These include:

  • Academic Support. Academic support comprises a number of resources, including the Center for Career Advancement and the Student Accessibility Services department.
  • Mentors. ExcelTrack® RN-to-BSN students have access to a faculty mentor who can assist them in preparing for this accelerated, specialized learning track. 
  • Student Organizations. Purdue Global has a variety of clubs, groups, and honor societies that help you meet other students and develop your interests. One of the honor societies at Purdue Global is Sigma Theta Tau, which focuses on supporting the learning, knowledge, and professional development of nurses.
  • Purdue Global Library. We maintain a library of thousands of ebooks, periodicals, and professional, scholarly, and trade journals—all of which you can access at any time.
  • 24/7 IT Support and Solutions team. Receive technical and general support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Alumni Engagement. After you graduate, you will gain access to exclusive alumni benefits. The Alumni Engagement department offers you a means of connecting with our expansive network of graduates.

Flexibility of Purdue Global’s Online Nursing Programs

“The beauty of our online nursing programs is the flexibility,” Burdi says. “We don't govern when you do your work, as long as you do it.”

Such flexibility is the hallmark of a Purdue Global education. Without it, many of our students—the majority of whom work and have families or additional outside responsibilities—simply wouldn’t be able to return to school and earn their next nursing degree.

Interactivity and engagement aren’t sacrificed for this flexibility—students experience the benefits of an online program with the connectivity and support of a traditional learning environment. Students participate in online seminars, communicate with instructors and fellow students via email and message boards, and access a full range of support services online. Many faculty members use seminars as a time to guide students through self-care activities or connect course content to current events.

In addition, the nursing faculty has increased their availability, communication, and outreach in response to the increased feelings of burnout and exhaustion among nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Curriculum of Purdue Global Nursing Programs

You can view the curriculum of one of our nursing programs by visiting the University course catalog:

Read on to learn more about how specific degree programs are structured, how much time is required for each program, and how clinicals work.

Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN)

Purdue Global offers the Associate of Science in Nursing for students in Iowa and Maine. This is a hybrid program that blends online coursework with clinical, on-the-ground experiences in local health care facilities. Students who successfully satisfy all requirements will earn an ASN and may apply to sit for the NCLEX-RN® exam.*

Time commitment: About 1.5 years of full-time study

How do clinicals work? Students are required to complete clinical practice experiences at a local health care facility to demonstrate mastery of skills and cognitive acquisition.

RN-to-BSN Program

The RN-to-BSN program at Purdue Global is for registered nurses who hold an associate’s degree, a certificate, or a diploma in nursing. Courses and seminars are conducted entirely online.

Purdue Global also offers an ExcelTrack® RN-to-BSN, which can be completed more quickly than the standard program.

Time commitment: About 18 months of full-time study for the standard program

How do clinicals work? Clinical hours are required in the RN-to-BSN program, but Burdi says there is flexibility in how students can complete those clinical practice experiences. Students may be able to satisfy their clinical requirements by:

  • Developing protocols or tools for specific populations
  • Meeting with leaders in the community
  • Assessing different populations
  • Working with nursing staff to implement new protocols or procedures

>> Read: Purdue Global Nursing Students: Tips to Find a Clinical Placement

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

The Master of Science in Nursing at Purdue Global is for BSN-prepared nurses who wish to earn an advanced degree and specialize in one of six areas: adult-gerontology acute care, adult-gerontology primary care, executive leadership, family nurse practitioner/primary care, nurse education, or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

For students who want to complete their MSN more quickly, Purdue Global offers an ExcelTrack® MSN program.

Time commitment: 18 to 24 months of full-time study, depending on the pathway

How do clinicals work? Similar to how the RN-to-BSN program operates, this program requires students to complete clinical practice experiences or a practicum. Again, Burdi says there is flexibility regarding how those clinicals may be satisfied. You may be able to complete your clinical practice experiences by:

  • Simulation (face-to-face simulation or virtual simulation)
  • Developing protocols or tools for specific populations
  • Meeting with leaders in the community
  • Assessing different populations
  • Working with nursing staff to implement new protocols or procedures

“Purdue Global has a team dedicated to helping our students locate preceptors, particularly in the MSN postgraduate certificate space,” Burdi says. A preceptor is an advanced practitioner who is qualified to lead a nursing student through a clinical practice experience in pursuit of mastering a set of competencies or skills. “Preceptors are assigned to work with our nursing students to enable them to complete their clinicals.”

Postgraduate Certificates

Purdue Global offers six postgraduate certificate programs:

These postgraduate certificate programs are designed for registered nurses who hold a master’s degree and are looking to expand their professional knowledge and skills.

Time commitment: This varies by program, but most people earn a postgraduate certificate in a little over a year of full-time study.

How do clinicals work? All of the postgraduate certificate programs require students to participate in a practicum or clinical practice experiences with a preceptor. “This may be an extended experience at one health care location or few different sites,” Burdi says. “The AGACNP postgraduate certificate also requires an in-person skills intensive.

“Of course, flexibility is always key, especially in regard to COVID-19. If there needs to be a change in the clinical experiences for students, faculty and leadership will come together to create quality clinical experiences that account for student safety and public health restrictions."

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

The Doctor of Nursing Practice at Purdue Global prepares advanced practice registered nurses to perform at the highest level of nursing. It is the highest nursing degree one can earn.

Time commitment: The time commitment needed for earning a DNP varies by student. “Doctoral students must complete a minimum of 1,000 post-baccalaureate practice hours,” Burdi explains. “Each DNP applicant will enter the program with a varying number of hours, depending on what their previous trajectory looks like; whether, for example, they followed the Master of Science in Nursing executive route or the nurse practitioner route.”

In general, going from an MSN to a DNP should take about 1 year and 3 months to 2 years.

How do clinicals work? Clinical practice experiences are required in our DNP program. “These practice experiences are designed to integrate practice as well as theory,” Burdi says. “The experiences are a combination of cognitive psychomotor skill acquisition. Clinical practice experiences synthesize the learning that takes place and strengthen the nurse leader’s ability to design and implement nursing care models that deliver patient care safely and efficiently.”

Earn a Nursing Degree Online with Purdue Global

Purdue Global offers a variety of online nursing degree programs and certificates that can help you pursue your career goals. If you’re ready to earn your next nursing degree, request more information today. One of our helpful Advisors will get back to you to answer any questions you may have.

About the Author

Purdue Global

Earn a degree you're proud of and employers respect at Purdue Global, Purdue's online university for working adults. Accredited and online, Purdue Global gives you the flexibility and support you need to come back and move your career forward. Choose from 175+ programs, all backed by the power of Purdue.

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*Graduates must meet state licensing and certification requirements and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse or the NCLEX-PN to become a licensed practical nurse. The University cannot guarantee students will be eligible to sit for or pass exams. Refer to the University Catalog for additional information. NCLEX is a registered trademark of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc.

Associate's, Master's, and DNP Completion Time: Completion times are based on a full-time schedule. Programs will take longer for part-time students to complete. For the DNP program, the time to complete the program may vary depending on the number of supervised practice hours you bring into the program at the time of enrollment.
Bachelor's Completion Time: Completion time based on a full-time student with a prior associate’s degree. Programs will take longer for part-time students, students who take leaves of absence or drop and return, and students with a prior diploma/certificate to complete. The number of required credits may vary depending on individual state education requirements, which could affect how long it will take to complete the program. More than 60% of 2019–2020 graduates completed the program in 18 months or less (Source: Purdue Global Office of Reporting and Analysis, July 2020).