July 23, 2021
By: Nurse.org Staff
Deciding that you want to be a nurse is the first step in an exciting and fulfilling journey. But how long will it take for you to get there?
The answer to that question depends on a number of factors including:
- What type of nurse do you want to be?
- How are you going to go earn your degree?
- Are you going to go to school full time?
- Are you going to take classes in person or online?
- Do you want to get some hands-on experience before you move on to a position with more responsibility?
Every nursing degree will prepare you to care for patients, but each does so in a different way. This guide will explain the different types of nursing degrees and how long each will take you to complete each of them.
How Long is Nursing School?
|Nursing School Program Type||How Long it Takes to Complete|
|Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)||4-12 weeks|
|Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)||1-2 years|
|Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN)||2-3 years|
|Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)||4 years|
|RN to BSN Program||<2 years|
|Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN)||2 years|
|RN to MSN Program||2-4 years|
|Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)||2-3 years|
|Nurse Practitioner (NP)||2-4 years|
|Doctorate Nurse Practitioner (DNP)||2-5 years|
|Ph.D. in Nursing||3-7 years|
How Long Does it Take to Become a Registered Nurse (RN)?
You can expect to become a registered nurse in around 2-4 years, depending on which nursing program you go with (ADN or BSN) and the level of education you having going in.
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How Long is an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) Program?
Earning anAssociate’s Degree in Nursingis the shortest path to becoming a Registered Nurse.Completing an ADN program generally takes two to three years. Though ADNs do not have the same training in leadership and research that Registered Nurses who have earned BSNs do, those who choose the ADN path learn the same nursing procedures and work in the same settings.
Programs are offered through community colleges and can be taken online or in person, on a full time or part-time basis. Most ADN students will have completed at least 700 clinical hours before they graduate from their program.
Once you have completed your ADN program you will be prepared for and eligible to take the Registered Nurse licensure exam known as theNCLEX-RN(National Council Licensure Examination). First-time test takers can schedule themselves to take the test within thirty days of eligibility, and the test itself takes just four hours to complete.
Some states allow test takers to get their test results within 48 hours after taking the exam, though official results are mailed from the state board of nursing within two months of taking it.
How Long is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Program?
Choosing to be a Registered Nurse with aBSN degreetakes longer than doing so with an ADN degree, but provides you withmore generous compensation, the opportunity to take on leadership roles, and many more options for advancement.
Completing a BSN program generally takes four years.The most common and direct way of earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing is to attend a full-time baccalaureate program.
These programs generally include two years of general education classes such as English Composition, Math and History and courses that are prerequisites for the nursing program, followed by a two-year program that teaches advanced principles of nursing and clinical training.
Once you have graduated from a BSN program you will be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination) and become licensed by your state to become a Registered Nurse.
If you choose to specialize in a particular area of care, there are several nursing certifications that can add value and credibility to your role and professional standing. Each certification has its own requirements, with most including an RN degree and license and a minimum number of direct-care hours in the chosen specialty, as well as passing a certification test.
How Long is an RN to BSN Program?
In addition to pursuing a BSN in a four-year program, Registered Nurses who have earned their ADN and who want to attain further knowledge and training can enroll in anRN-to-BSN programthat generally takesless than two years to complete, and which can be taken online to allow them to continue working while advancing their education.
How Long is Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) School?
Certified Nursing Assistants, or CNAs, are also referred to as Nurse’s Aides, Patient Care Assistants or Nursing Assistants. As the title indicates, they report to and assist Registered Nurses or Licensed Practical Nurses.
Completing a program to become a CNA generally takes 4-12 weeks. You can become a Certified Nursing Assistant by taking a state-approved training program offered through local hospitals or at community colleges.
After you complete the CNA program, you will be eligible to take a state-administered competency exam that consists of both a multiple-choice written exam and a practical skills exam. Once you have passed this exam you will be certified and eligible to apply for a CNA job and to begin working.
How Long is LPN School?
The amount of time it will take to complete your LPN certification depends on which program you choose and whether you decide to go to school full-time.
There are accelerated programs that can help you earn your certification in just 7 months. However, most people finish the program in 1-2 years depending on how many credit hours they are able to take.
How Long Does it Take to Become an APRN?
Beyond becoming a registered nurse or other entry-level nurse, you also need to think about how long it will take to advance your education and become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN).
How Long is a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program?
A nurse that has their Master of Science in Nursing degree will generally make more money than they would as a Registered Nurse with a BSN or AND. Rather than indicating that you work in a specific position, earning your MSN means that you have pursued an advanced level of nursing education that encompasses training in leadership, in community and public health, in research and in ethics.
Every MSN program offers some type of specialty path: It might be an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse position, a Nurse Administrator position, a Nurse Educator position or a role in Informatics.
Completing an MSN program generally takes two years after earning a BSN degree. If you have already earned a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree and have both clinical experience and solid nursing education, a BSN-to-MSN program can be completed in 18-to-24 months.
Though competencies in the specialty path you choose as you pursue your Master of Science in Nursing will be provided by the curriculum, you may need to take additional certification exams.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses will require certifications in their field, and post-master’s certificates programs are also available for MSNs who decide to expand or change their specialty or role.
How Long is an RN to MSN Program?
Nurses who have earned their ADN (Associate’s Degree in Nursing) can pursue an RN-to-MSN program that supplements the MSN program with the baccalaureate education that they are missing. This type of program can be completed in two-to-three years.
Similarly, those who already have earned a baccalaureate degree outside of nursing can complete an entry-level MSN program that supplements the MSN program with the nursing education that they are missing can complete it in two-to-three years.
How Long is a Nurse Practitioner (NP) Program?
ANurse Practitioneris one type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse that is available as a career to those who complete either an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) program or a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) program. There are many different specialty areas in which a Nurse Practitioner can practice, including Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Gerontology, Cardiology and Psychiatry.
Completing a Nurse Practitioner program takes from two-to-four years after qualifying to enter the program.Nurse Practitioner programs offer either a Master of Science in Nursing program that takes two years to complete or a Doctor of Nursing Practice program that takes four years to complete.
Before applying to a Nurse Practitioner program, candidates will need to have become Registered Nurses, and those who have done so by earning an ADN degree will need to pursue an RN-to-MSN program that supplements their nursing training with a baccalaureate education program.
Nurse Practitioners who choose to work in a specialty area will need to seek certification through the appropriate certifying board for their area of practice and to maintain their certification through both continuing education and retesting depending upon that board’s requirements and criteria.
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How Long is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) Program?
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists are a type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) that specializes in providing anesthesia-related care before, during and after surgical, therapeutic, diagnostic and obstetrical procedures. They are among the highest-paid nurses, and this is a reflection of the level of knowledge and skill required to perform their duties.
Though they frequently work alongside anesthesiologists, surgeons, dentists and other medical staff, they are also the primary providers of anesthesia in areas that are medically underserved.
Completing a CRNA program generally takes two-to-three years after spending several years qualifying for entry to a program. Deciding to become a CRNA requires a significant level of commitment. Before applying to a CRNA program, nurses will need to have earned their Bachelor of Science in Nursing and have a minimum of one year of experience, though most will need to have worked in a critical care setting for three to five years in order to be admitted to a CRNA program.
Though nurse anesthesia programs were once MSN programs, the standards are changing and in 2025 CRNAs will be required to have a Doctorate level of education, meaning that in 2022 all CRNA programs will switch to Doctorate programs.
Following the completion of a CRNA program, a nurse anesthetist candidate will need to pass the three-hour-long National Certification Examination which evaluates their knowledge and skills.
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How Long is a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program?
Nurses who earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree represent the highest level of nursing expertise and leadership. They may serve in a variety of roles, including working in a clinical setting, in administration, in education and in the field of healthcare policy.
Though the requirement has not yet been implemented, there is a growing consensus that the DNP degree should become the standard for direct care Advanced Practice Nursing positions, but DNP degrees are also valued in indirect care settings such as nursing informatics, organizational leadership and health care policy.
The time that it takes to complete a DNP program varies from 2 years for nurses who already have an MSN, all the way up to 5 years from nurses starting at the ADN level.
While those who enter a DNP program after earning their Bachelor of Science in Nursing will need to spend three-to-four years to complete the program, candidates that have already earned their Master of Science in Nursing will be able to complete the program in two years.
Registered Nurses who gained licensure through an ADN path will require supplemental baccalaureate education and may need five years to complete a DNP program.
Other variables to the amount of time that a program takes to complete will include whether a student is pursuing their studies on a full-time or part-time basis, and the specialty area that they are focusing on.
Nurses who pursue a DNP program will need to attain and maintain certification if they choose to practice in a direct care specialty area.
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How Long is a Ph.D. in Nursing Program?
Earning a Ph.D. in nursing is the final degree available for those who want to conduct nursing research or become a nursing educator.
Though a nurse who has pursued and completed this level of education may provide hands-on care, in most cases they do not pursue these responsibilities.
Completing a Ph.D. in Nursing program generally takes a minimum of three years if pursued full-time, and five-to-seven years if pursued part-time.
The program requires up to 70 credit hours of classroom education and the preparation of a dissertation at the end of the program. Entry into a Ph.D. in Nursing program requires having graduated from an accredited Masters in Nursing Program, as well as nursing experience.
Nurses who pursue a Ph.D. do not generally have a certification that requires renewal unless they have an advanced practice degree that they wish to maintain.
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Factors that Impact How Long Nursing School Will Take
No matter what type of nursing degree you are pursuing, there are important personal factors that will impact how long it will take you to complete your program.
Full Time vs Part Time
If you are able to dedicate yourself to your education on a full-time basis you will complete the program in the shortest period of time, but your personal responsibilities or financial situation may make that impossible.
Fortunately, studying part-time offers a solution to both of those challenges, reducing the costs and providing the flexibility to continue working, caring for your family, or attending to whatever other commitments you have.
Taking Time Between Degrees
Additionally, many find it worthwhile to take their time between each level of education that they attain so that they can spend enough time to gain experience, explore different specialty areas, and solidify your interest.
Whatever nursing school program you choose, your education will prepare you for a rewarding career that offers the ability to work as part of a team, to improve patients’ lives and to support yourself in a way that you can be proud of and grow in.
Depending on the specific nursing program that you enroll in, it could take anywhere from 16 months to four years to become a registered nurse. “I chose to earn my BSN, which takes four years,” says ChiChi Akanegbu, who completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Regis College as a part of the Class of 2020.How many years does it take to get a nurse? ›
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
Takes 4 years. Also referred to as Baccalaureate degree. Offered at many California State Universities and some private colleges. Prepares you to provide registered nursing care in numerous settings and to move to administrative and leadership positions.
One of the shortest certification programs is the certified nursing assistant (CNA) training program. Some CNA programs last as little as 12 to 18 weeks. Others may offer up to one year of training. The requirements of your state and the program you attend can affect the specific length of attendance.What is the highest paid RN? ›
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) earn a nationwide average of $202,470 per year according to the BLS; this makes CRNAs the highest-paying type nursing job by a significant margin.Is nursing school even hard? ›
Why is nursing school so hard? The top 6 challenges of earning a BSN include the rigorous curriculum, fast pace, need for multitasking, time commitment, personal sacrifices, and NCLEX preparation. However, despite these rigors, it's possible to rise up and master how to succeed in nursing school.Is 30 too old to become a nurse? ›
And while some people might feel that becoming a nurse later in life isn't possible, that's simply not true. Thanks to a variety of diverse nursing programs, it's 100% possible to follow your heart and become a nurse at any age. In fact, it's even easier if you already have a bachelor's degree.Is it hard to get nursing? ›
Nursing programs are notoriously hard to get into. Difficult admission requirements—such as high GPA requirements, entrance exams, and strict prerequisites—turn many prospective students away from nursing.What is the hardest nursing class to take? ›
- Pathophysiology. In this course, students learn how different anatomical systems work and how diseases or injuries affect these systems. ...
- Pharmacology. ...
- Medical Surgical 1 (also known as Adult Health 1) ...
- Evidence-Based Practice.
An associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) are the two most common fast track options. With each of these ways to receive nursing instruction, they require passing the NCLEX licensure examination.What is the hardest nursing semester? ›
Without question, the most difficult semester for me was the last semester of my junior year in nursing school. I attended a 4-year BSN program, and that particular semester included three classes that were very content-heavy, as well as the corresponding clinical hours for those classes.
The lowest-paying states are South Dakota ($60,540), Alabama ($61,920), Mississippi ($63,130), Iowa ($64,990), and Arkansas ($65,810).Who pays nurses the most? ›
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists earn a median salary of $195,610 per year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, making it the top paying nursing specialty. CRNAs typically work 40 hours per week, making the hourly wage average out to approximately $94.04 per hour.How to make 7 figures as a nurse? ›
- Become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) ...
- Become a Nurse Practitioner (NP) ...
- Become a Nurse Midwife. ...
- Advance in Nurse Leadership. ...
- Begin travel nursing assignment. ...
- Change Nursing specialties. ...
- Relocate to a higher paying state. ...
- Make sacrifices.
Nursing in the "real world" generally requires very basic math skills, but almost all programs require at least one college-level math class — usually algebra. Some nursing schools may require a basic statistics course as well, so if you know what schools you're applying to, be sure to check for this requirement.Is it OK to fail nursing school? ›
You Can Still Become a Nurse, so Don't Give Up
Maybe you can retake a class over the break, file an academic appeal, or take some other action to get reinstated in the program. Many failed nursing students have done this successfully. If that doesn't work, you can apply to another school with a nursing program.
Nursing school is difficult and will be hard to pass. Most students pass their nursing program, so you can too. How many nursing students fail? According to the National League of Nursing, the dropout rate for nursing programs in the United States is around 20%.How old is the average nurse? ›
The average age of a registered nurse in the United States is 44, though this may change as the demand for nurses increases.What age do most nurses start? ›
- The average age of ADN nursing students at community colleges is 26-40 years old.
- BSN programs have an average age of early-mid 20s.
- Students in RN-to-BSN programs are typically in their late 30s.
Nursing requires a variety of skills, including empathy, critical thinking, communication, and more. You do have to be smart for nursing school, but “smarts” aren't limited to just getting good grades. There are different types of intelligence that play an important role in getting through nursing school.What state is the easiest to become a nurse? ›
- Maine: 1-2 weeks.
- Maryland: 2-3 days.
- Missouri: 2 weeks.
- Nevada: 1-2 weeks.
- North Carolina: 1-2 weeks.
- North Dakota: 1-2 weeks.
- Texas: 2 weeks.
- Vermont: 3-5 business days.
Roughly 18 percent of students in Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs. About 60 percent of students in Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs.Is nursing career worth it? ›
Becoming a Registered Nurse is a solid career choice when it comes to job security, salary potential, and fulfillment. For nurses who plan to work in California, the rewards and opportunities are even more promising. The average registered nurse salary in California is often higher than any other state!What is the easiest class in nursing school? ›
- Social Sciences (Intro Psychology, Sociology, etc.)
- Intro to Speech (or Communication)
- English Composition.
- Using Information Technology.
- Time Management. To be successful in nursing school, you must manage your time appropriately. ...
- Get Organized. ...
- Use Mnemonics. ...
- Study Everyday. ...
- Complete Practice Questions. ...
- Participate in a Study Group. ...
- Focus on course objectives when studying. ...
- Know your learning style.
Paramedics are more highly trained than LPNs, however, the 1,200 to 1,800 hours of schooling a paramedic receives is lower than the two to four years it usually takes to become an RN. The paramedic's duties are mainly concerned with delivering emergency care to patients prior to arriving at the hospital.What nurse has the easiest job? ›
- School Nurse. Average Annual Salary (June 2022): $47,6500. ...
- Nurse Educator. Average Annual Salary (June 2022): $79,860. ...
- Primary Care Nurse. Average Annual Salary (June 2022): $68,910. ...
- Informatics Nurse. ...
- Clinical Research Nurse. ...
- Occupational Health Nurse. ...
- Lactation Consultant Nurse. ...
- Home Care Registered Nurse.
- Nurse Educator. Average Annual Salary: $62,000. ...
- Nurse Blogger. Average Annual Salary: N/A. ...
- Clinic Nurse. Average Annual Salary: $65,000. ...
- Traveling Nurse. Average Annual Salary: $70,000. ...
- School Nurse. Average Annual Salary: $50,000. ...
- Summer Camp Nurse. ...
- Nurse Administrator. ...
- Public Health Nurse.
While ZipRecruiter is seeing hourly wages as high as $62.02 and as low as $17.07, the majority of Registered Nurse wages currently range between $29.09 (25th percentile) to $41.59 (75th percentile) across the United States.What is the highest GPA for nursing? ›
Requirements. After acceptance into the nursing program, each student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for coursework in the nursing major to remain in the nursing program.Is a 3.7 GPA competitive for nursing school? ›
GPA requirements depend on the type of nursing program you want to apply for, but most programs require at least a 3.0 GPA or higher. However, due to the competitive nature of nursing programs, most schools prefer a 3.7 to 4.0 GPA.
Challenging Course Material
The main reason why nursing school is challenging is because it involves learning about complicated nursing concepts and practical skills, then applying that information into diverse patient care scenarios — going well beyond memorizing facts.
- #5 Colorado. Quality of life ranking: #10. Average RN salary: $69,990.00. ...
- #4 Alaska. Quality of life ranking: #19. Average RN salary: $88,510.00. ...
- #3 Oregon. Quality of life ranking: #18. ...
- #2 Wisconsin. Quality of life ranking: #3. ...
- #1 Minnesota. Quality of life ranking: #2.
For starters consider the main types of nursing careers. These include nurse practitioner (NP), registered nurse (RN), licensed practical nurse (LPN), and nursing aides or nursing assistants. Nursing aides make the least amount of money, and these jobs require the least amount of education and training.Which nurse has the lowest salary? ›
Licensed vocational nurses (LVN) and licensed practical nurses (LPN) are some of the lowest-paid nursing roles, but that is due to the fact that the educational requirements are less than most other types of nurses.Which type of nursing is best? ›
- Legal nurse consultant. ...
- Forensic nurse consultant. ...
- Public health nurse. ...
- Occupational nurse. ...
- Medical writer. ...
- Physical therapist. ...
- Psychiatric nurse practitioner. ...
- Medical or pharmaceutical sales.
1 Alaska - $89,260. Alaska offers stunning natural landscapes, outdoor recreation, and the highest pay for new nurses in the United States.How many hours do nurses work in USA? ›
Typically, nurses either work eight, 10 or 12-hour shifts. A nurse's shifts can vary depending on factors such as location, demand and personal preference. Full-time nurses work between 36 and 40 hours a week, while part-time nurses usually work less than 30 hours a week.Are nurses financially stable? ›
The healthcare industry is one of the most stable industries, making nursing a great career choice for those looking for job security. Nurses are essential workers and their skills are always in demand. Whether there is a recession or an economic crisis, the demand for nurses will always be high.Can a nurse make $500,000 a year? ›
Reeves said new nurses can make up to $500,000 by the age of 27, if they follow her step-by-step guide to success. “Want your life to look like mine? Then listen up,” she said on TikTok.Can I be a nurse if I'm bad at math? ›
No, you do not have to be “good” at math and science to get into nursing school (and finish). You simply have to have a desire to succeed and a strong work ethic. With those two things, you can do anything (including getting into nursing school!)
While it is difficult to compare nursing school to other degrees, it can certainly be considered one of the harder programs. However, in the end, nursing school is definitely worth the time and effort you put into it.Can I be a nurse if I am not good at math? ›
Yes, you can still be a nurse. That said, many nursing schools give their students a test on basic drug calculations to ensure that they can calculate doses in the event of a power outage or other catastrophy.What is a bad GPA in nursing school? ›
While most nursing schools set their minimum GPA requirements at 3.0, there are accelerated nursing programs out there that accept students with 2.7 and 2.8 GPAs. Keep in mind that this doesn't mean you'd receive a lesser nursing education with these programs.Do most people pass nursing school? ›
Pass rates continued to decline in 2022, with an average pass rate of 80.9% opens in a new tab or windowfor all first-time U.S.-educated candidates, and a rate of 66.6% for all candidates, based on a dataset that excludes the fourth quarter of the year.How many times can you fail nursing? ›
If they fail, they'll need to wait 45 days before retesting. After failing three times, though, they'll need to complete a board-approved remediation program before the next retake. test-takers have six attempts to pass in total.How long is nursing school in Texas? ›
How long does it take to become an RN in Texas? Expect to spend 2-4 years becoming a licensed nurse in Texas. Completing an ADN to prepare for the NCLEX-RN takes a minimum of two years; a BSN program typically takes at least four years.How to become an RN in California fast? ›
Those interested in becoming a nurse in California in the shortest amount of time should pursue an associate degree in nursing, as this can be completed within a two-year timeframe. Upon completion of the program, passing the NCLEX-RN and applying for a license can take an additional 10-12 weeks.Is becoming a nurse a career? ›
The nursing field is an ever changing, high-paying, and always in-demand career field with high rates of job satisfaction overall. In fact, Advisory Board found that the vast majority of nurses in all positions—NMs, CNSs, CRNAs, NPs, LPNs, and RNs—all reported 94–98% job satisfaction.How long does it take to become a registered nurse in Florida? ›
Licensed practical nurses need only complete a one-year certificate program before taking the NCLEX-PN. Becoming a registered nurse can take about two years if you earn an associate degree in nursing, while a BSN program lasts about four years.