online elearning versus on campus traditional nursing degree program

Online/E-learning versus On-Campus/Traditional Nursing Degree Program

Many people are familiar with the traditional way of learning than attending classes and listening to lectures on campus. However, in the current digital age, advancement in technology is changing almost everything, including learning and obtaining different degrees all over the world. It is transforming the era that we used the traditional techniques of learning, especially when learning was considered to be more hands-on experience and training than knowledge received in another educational format. As a result, it is optional for students to choose whether to study online or on-campus, which poses a critical dilemma, which may require the need to consult an educational advisor. Are you looking to get a bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BSN), but you are not sure if you should do an online program or attend an on-campus university? Well, that is the dilemma we will be discussing in this blog. The primary purpose of this blog is to promote the idea of obtaining an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and consider the options available for you.


Online Nursing Degree  

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Pros of Online/E-learning Nursing Degree

First, let’s start with the advantages of e-learning or online learning. E-learning is flexible and will enable you to schedule learning around different events such as family, work, and other obligations or responsibilities. According to a recent study conducted by Moore et al. (2006), five positive themes or advantages of e-learning emerged, including schedule flexibility, enhanced information exchange throughout the entire course duration, improved internet and computer skills, exceptional and useful course materials, and positive interaction between classmates through Blackboard or Canvas discussion boards. Therefore, when it comes to a nursing degree, it is nothing different. One of the most crucial advantages of a distance learning nursing degree program is the way learning is flexible, mainly regarding the course scheduling (Karaman, 2011). Given the fact that lecture portions of online classes do not necessarily satisfy onset times and dates of the week, online classes will allow you to take those classes you want without worrying about scheduling conflicts (Karaman, 2011). As a result, online degree programs for nursing students are popular among those students who wish to get their nursing degree, while at the same time working full time to financial support themselves and their families.

Another merit of e-learning for the Nursing Degree program is that you are not restricted based on the specific college or university you end up enrolling in depending on their locations. For instance, if you are residing in Florida, you could potentially enroll in online learning for your degree program in a college or university that is located all over the United States, such as in New York or California. It is, therefore, possible for you to commit yourself on your research and enroll in a college or university that offer reputable online nursing degree without necessarily having to physically move to the region near that school (Karaman, 2011). However, for you to obtain the crucial and valuable hands-on training and experience in nursing with an online program, you must consider performing your clinical labs or other necessary courses at a physical campus near you (Karaman, 2011). Nevertheless, the online learning program provides you with significant flexibility compared to a strictly on-campus one. Also, this does not mean that online nursing degree programs do not provide the necessary hands-on experience and training, but attending a scheduled physical class on campus, primarily for courses with labs, may offer more valuable hands-on experience to you compared to online learning.

Furthermore, e-learning provides you with the ability to work at your own pace and that there are a lot more choices or classes that may be attended throughout many different regions. The cost of taking online courses in any format is usually less expensive than that of attending on-campus programs or traditional programs. The cost of supplies and fees associated with labs may be non-existent because they may be presented in a virtual format. Learning by an electronic media or the internet, such as E-learning, can also be helpful or a more effective way of learning for those that may need more time to learn, shy, and even language challenged. In this sense, the online nursing program typically reduces the overall costs of studying, although the fee may be similar to that of the on-campus nursing program. The benefit for students and instructors can also be that e-learning takes more interaction, unlike other forms, lectures in a more traditional environment. The online nursing degree is no different from an actual class-based nursing degree. The content is mostly the same; however, online nursing programs have opened the doors to many individuals who otherwise would not be able to attend a university. Online/E-learning have helped more and more individuals enter the field of nursing, including single parents that have been forced to work because they are the sole provider for their family. These individuals can now visualize their dream of becoming a nurse because of the minimal cost and flexibility of attending school via online courses.

Cons of Online/E-learning Nursing Degree

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Almost every aspect of our lives, some cons revolve around what we do and the outcomes we seek. Therefore, for you to succeed in the e-learning nursing program, it depends on what drawback is in one education format compared to the others. The different disadvantages and difficulties would consist of not having all the supplies and or equipment required to complete lab work or clinical rotations, which is vital. Without dependable equipment, there would be no real efficient way to measure the student’s skill level. Another vital con that is also up to the student is how to access or use different programs, software, files, and hardware to be successful in the various courses that adult learners may participate in. According to recent research by Moore et al. (2006), there are three primary demerits of e-learning for nursing students, which include a problem with advanced technology, perception of too much course material, lack of hands-on experience, or training, and feeling disconnected from classmates. Effective study habits may also be questioned depending on the type of person the is using e-learning. If the individual does not have the ability to study or complete assignments independently, then they may not be successful when it comes to e-learning (American Nurse Today, 2017). Another crucial con to consider is that it may also just as important to others in e-learning to traditional types of learning are the fact that instructor to student’s relations, contact, and feedback are not as effective or as often. It may also include academic variance because of the lack of instructor to student relations.


On-Campus Nursing Degree Programs

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Pros of On-Campus Nursing Degree Program

Even though online learning is simple and relaxing for most internet-savvy people, it is not effective for all individuals. Some individuals prefer to use a book and have a hard copy in their hands instead of viewing online material. Classroom settings allow students to ask the instructor and fellow students questions and or discuss topics related to the subject. Students usually consist of a diverse group of individuals who can help instill confidence in fellow students through group presentations and speeches. Also, on-campus learning provides an opportunity to listen to other students’ thoughts, ideas and expertise about various subjects. Students who attend courses on-campus may also have the opportunity to participate in on-campus clubs and extracurricular activities, and there are more intimate face-to-face interactions between students and teachers. In the traditional classroom setting, extroverted students can enjoy face-to-face class interaction. The conventional class can help those who need personal contact and a more structured learning atmosphere. Also, this does not mean that online nursing degree programs do not provide the necessary hands-on experience and training, but attending a scheduled physical class on campus, primarily for courses with labs or clinical work, may offer more valuable hands-on experience than compared to online learning.

Cons of On-Campus Nursing Degree Program

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On-Campus nursing programs also have some disadvantages. Attending classes for nursing courses on-campus may make it difficult for you to schedule classes that could be in-line with your schedule (American Nurse Today, 2017). It lacks flexibility, which makes it challenging for students to graduate from the nursing degree program on time. It is necessarily true that almost all on-campus degree programs offered, even though more crucial for many nursing students, given the fact that most nursing classes have not only the portion for lecture but also a separate portion for lab, which take places at an inconvenient time of the day (American Nurse Today, 2017). It makes learning more challenging for nursing students who have other work or family obligations. On-campus nursing programs may also be expensive compared to Online Courses, mainly because of the transport costs and other expenses associated with on-campus programs such as room and board, if the school is not near your home.


The shortage of nurses has created a crisis that is global wide. Both university and hospital-based training programs are training as many nurses as possible, but it is still not enough. The demand for nurses is genuine. Currently, there are more than 3.8 million registered nurses (RNs) nationwide,” but the need for more nurses grows each day exponentially (Rosseter, 2019). According to author Robert Rosseter (2019), most nurses enter the field of nursing with an associate degree; however, most employers now desire a nurse that has a bachelor’s degree, a degree that can be also be obtained via an online program. Although nursing levels are still deficient, online nursing degree programs have recently helped to make a significant improvement because it opens up the world of nursing to a whole new audience. It would be fair to say that the online nursing degree has revolutionized medicine.

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American Nurse Today. (2017). On-Campus or Online: Which educational format fits your needs. Retrieved from:

Edmonton Catholic Schools (n.d.). Online Courses – What are the Pros and Cons of eLearning?: Edmonton Catholic School District. Retrieved from

Karaman, S. (2011). Nurses’ perceptions of continuing online education. BMC medical education, 11: 86. doi:10.1186/1472-6920-11-86

Moore, S. F., Degiorgio, L., Kampfe, C. M., Porter, D. F., Sax, C., McAllen, L., Sales, A. P., & Smith, S. M. (2006). Rehabilitation student perceptions of web-based learning. Rehabilitation Education, 20(1), 31-41. doi:10.1891/088970106805065412

Rosseter, R. (2019, April 1). Nursing Fact Sheet. American Association of Colleges of Nurses. Retrieved December 31, 2019, from