3 Differences Between an Online and a Traditional Education for Nurses

When it comes to our 16-month ABSN program, you have the option to complete your core nursing courses online or face-to-face in the classroom. And while you can expect to receive the same quality education no matter which option you choose, it helps to understand the differences between an online and a traditional education as it relates to accelerated nursing curriculum.

Differences between an Online and a Traditional Education for Nurses

Difference #1: Facility Location

If you’re interested in completing your fundamental nursing courses online, you must enroll for our Hybrid ABSN program in Downers Grove, Illinois. But if you’d rather learn about pathophysiology, pharmacology, clinical nutrition, mental health, etc. in a traditional classroom setting, you need to apply to our ground-based ABSN program in Maywood, Illinois.

Bear in mind that both ABSN program options require you to attend hands-on nursing skills and simulation labs at your location of enrollment as well as complete a series of clinical rotations at various health-care facilities in and around Chicago.

Take a virtual tour of our ABSN program facilities.


Downer's Grove:

Difference #2: Enrollment Capacity

You’ll find that both of our ABSN program locations offer two start dates per year (spring and fall). The hybrid option, however, has the capacity to enroll a higher number of students per term because of its online learning component. By offering core nursing courses online, we’re able to increase the teaching bandwidth of our nursing faculty without having to worry about space limitations inside the classroom.

Difference #3: Self-Discipline

Learning the fundamentals and theories of the nursing profession online can be a blessing and a curse — it just depends on what type of student you are. The students who are the most successful with online learning tend to be those that have good self-discipline and are highly organized. So if you’re the type of student who needs a lot of structure and external accountability when it comes to your studies, our traditional, ground-based ABSN program might be a better option for you.

How ABSN Online Courses Work

Because you need to have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree to qualify for our ABSN program, we’re not going to spend time focusing on what it’s like to learn in a traditional college classroom environment —you’ve already been there. Instead, we’ll go into detail on how our online ABSN courses work.

Delivered via an open-source learning management system (LMS), our online accelerated nursing courses consist of different learning modules, with the number of modules varying by class. Within each course module, there are a series of assignments that you must complete within a specified timeframe.

Typical module components include interactive practice activities, patient case studies, informational videos, quizzes, and discussion boards that supplement course lectures and reading assignments. Essentially, we use a mix of learning tools to help reinforce and solidify your retention of important nursing concepts.

Dubbed “Muddy Waters,” the discussion forum is where students can connect with one other. Also, professors sometimes use the forum for assignments that require students to post in-depth comments on a particular subject matter.

It’s also easy to connect with our nursing faculty through the LMS. And should you ever experience a problem while in the platform, such as a broken link, you can submit a help desk ticket and a support team member will get back to you as soon as possible.

If you’ve never taken an online course before, you may be a little nervous at the beginning of the Hybrid ABSN program. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. A lot of students who are unfamiliar with online learning feel this way. That’s why we provide you and fellow cohort members with training on the LMS before classes begin.

Once you get the hang of the LMS, you’ll love the level of learning flexibility it affords — just be sure to organize all of your assignments and exams at the beginning of each semester so you can stay on top of your studies. After all, you don’t want an assignment to catch you off guard.

Also, be mindful that while online courses are flexible in terms of when and where you study, you still have to meet the deadlines set forth by your professors.

Nursing Skills and Simulation Labs

As a Hybrid ABSN program student, you’ll be required to attend nursing skills and simulation labs at our facility in Downers Grove, Illinois, several times a week. During these labs, you’ll convert your online coursework knowledge into hands-on skills. Students in the ground-based ABSN program go through the same motions, but their labs take place on the Maywood campus.

Clinical Placements

Whether you’re enrolled in the hybrid or ground-based ABSN program, you can expect to begin your clinical rotations in semester two. During these clinicals, you’ll gain real-world experience alongside an instructor and up to seven of your peers in diverse areas of professional practice, including adult health, pediatrics, obstetrics, community health, and mental health.

“People definitely know the Loyola name. You can go into any hospital in Chicago and tell that the nursing staff and managers on the floor all have respect for the Loyola students. I think they know the prestige of the program, how rigorous it is, and how well we are trained.”

—Jordan Templin, Loyola BSN Graduate, Class of 2015

If you’d like to know more about the differences between an online and a traditional nursing education, our enrollment advisors would be more than happy to oblige. Just know that whether you choose our Hybrid ABSN program in Downers Grove or our ground-based ABSN program in Maywood, your future in nursing is off to a great start. Contact our enrollment team today!