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I'm thinking about going back to school to earn a BSN degree. Because I need to keep working while I study, I'm looking into distance education programs I can take online. How can I sort out reputable online institutions from the "diploma mills"?-W.K., N.C.


Because of the booming popularity of online education, many established nursing schools now offer online programs. If a nursing school is accredited by state and nursing accrediting agencies, their online programs are also accredited and reputable. Look for programs accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).


Distance education programs vary in structure and requirements, but they're generally hosted from a Web site where the instructor posts lecture materials and assignments. For most assignments, you can log on and work at your convenience. Clinicals are arranged at a facility near you; examinations may be offered online or proctored at certain locations in your area.


For more information, go to and click on Online Nursing Education Resource Center.