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.
How long does nursing school take? For students interested in pursuing a traditional, non-accelerated nursing
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.Is nursing school even hard? ›
Nursing requires more dedication than many other careers. However, it's one of the most rewarding jobs you can have. Nursing school is notoriously difficult—and it's not for everyone. Graduate school is challenging as well.What is the highest paid RN? ›
What is the highest-paid nurse? Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists! Earning $195,610 annually, CRNAs earn significantly more than any other type of nurse or nursing specialty.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 school is competitive to get into and challenging to get through. Because programs require many credit hours, nursing students sometimes end up taking multiple difficult courses in one semester. Think of late nights studying for exams in addition to clinicals where you'll gain hands-on nursing experience.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.
One of the easiest nursing jobs to get into is in the field of occupational health. Occupational health nurses work in large industries, HMOs, and factories to treat work-related injuries and onsite illnesses. This type of nurse is employed to keep the workers on the job.
- Nurse Educator. This is one of the least stressful nursing jobs available. ...
- School Nurse/Summer Camp Nurse. If you love children, this might be the perfect opportunity for you. ...
- Nurse Administrator. ...
- Public Health Nurse. ...
- Nurse Researcher. ...
- Nurse Informaticist. ...
- Case Management Nurse. ...
- Home Health Nurse.
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%.What is the lowest paid RN? ›
For example, according to the BLS, the bottom 10% of registered nurses report a median annual salary of $59,450. The top 10% of registered nurses earn a median annual salary of $120,250.What state pays nurses the lowest? ›
South Dakota is known to have the lowest nursing salary compared to any other state at an average annual wage of $60,540.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.
Average Age Of Nurses
The average age of a registered nurse in the United States is 44, though this may change as the demand for nurses increases.
This stipulation dictates that most aspiring nurses become licensed nursing professionals at the earliest ages of 20 and 22, depending on whether they have attended a two-year nursing program for an associate's degree or a four-year nursing program for a bachelor's degree.Do you have to be smart for nursing school? ›
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.Can I get into nursing school with a 2.5 GPA? ›
Yes, it is possible to get into a nursing program with a 2.5 GPA. Many programs accept students with a lower GPA. It may take some extra work from you, though, especially if you are applying to a school that typically requires a higher GPA.
- 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.What is the hardest nursing test? ›
Preparing to take the NCLEX is enough to make just about anyone nervous. It's a difficult exam, and a major stepping stone in your career as a registered nurse. Remember that most people pass the NCLEX on the first try. However, preparation and confidence are key to passing.What year in nursing is the hardest? ›
You will be challenged academically, physically, and emotionally as you begin working with real patients. Developing this new skill set may feel unfamiliar and overwhelming at first, which is why many nursing students report the first year as being the hardest.How to pass nursing school easily? ›
- 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.
These nurses administer more basic care and typically don't have to work long hours and overnight shifts, so this field of nursing tends to be low-stress. Even with less excitement, these nurses find fulfillment in providing basic and family care to those in need.
In sum, the path toward becoming a doctor can take up to 13 years. In contrast, to become a Registered Nurse (RN), you can opt to earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), which takes two years, or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), which traditionally takes four years).How stressful is rn? ›
Source: What Does It Mean to Be Undeclared? Nursing is a stressful career, and many nurses report burnout. Some nursing roles are lower stress, including administrative and educational roles. A different work setting, job tasks, or hours can all mean less stress for nurses.How long should a nurse stay at a job? ›
Many people (especially managers) will say that it is common courtesy to stay in a nursing position for at least 2 years. From the perspective of the employer, it costs money to hire new staff and can take a considerable amount of time to recuperative the investment of recruiting, hiring, orienting, and training.What is the most stressful type of nursing? ›
Critical care nursing is typically seen as the most stressful nursing job and is associated with the highest rate of burnout among nurses. In fact, according to a report published by the Critical Care Societies Collaborative (CCSC), critical care nurses have the highest rates of burnout syndrome among their colleagues.
How long does nursing school take? For students interested in pursuing a traditional, non-accelerated nursing education, you'll probably find that earning your bachelor's degree in nursing takes approximately four years.Is becoming a nurse a career? ›
It's a career that provides meaningful work, career growth opportunities, diverse specialty options, high earning potential, job stability, schedule flexibility, and more. Not only do nurses feel personally fulfilled through their work; they also reap the professional benefits throughout their career.Is a nurse full time? ›
There is some flexibility in Nurse working hours, depending on the employer and the specific position. Many Nurses work full-time, but part-time and per diem (as-needed) positions are also available.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.How long is the shortest nursing program? ›
LPN/LVN programs are the fastest entry-level nursing program for nurses and usually take between one year and 16 months. LPNs and LVNs have the lowest level of authority and professional autonomy among all nurses and also receive the lowest salaries.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) major will have you prepared to take the NCLEX-RN® examination in as little as three years.
An even faster way to enter the field of nursing than an Associate Degree or Bachelors Degree Nursing program, a Certificate in Vocational Nursing prepares students to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to become a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), sometimes also called a Licensed Practical Nurse ( ...Is it really worth it to be a nurse? ›
Many senior-level nurses make an average salary of well over $100,000 and have the sought-after luxury of terrific job security, which can't be undervalued in this day and age. Depending on which nursing field you pursue, you can make even more, according to a recent article featured on nurse.org.Is nursing a stressful job? ›
Nursing is a stressful career, and many nurses report burnout. Some nursing roles are lower stress, including administrative and educational roles. A different work setting, job tasks, or hours can all mean less stress for nurses.Do you make a lot of money as a nurse? ›
Nursing is a rewarding career that provides more than 3 million registered nurses (RNs) in the United States with various workplace choices and good salaries. According to the 2016 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the median nursing salary for RNs is $68,450 per year.
- 7% of both women and men retired at age 63.
- 8% of women and 7% of men retired at age 64.
- 11% of women and 13% of men retired at age 69.
- 9% of women and 6% of men retired at the age of 70 or beyond.
Back in the 1970s, hospitals began scheduling nurses for 12 hour shifts. Back then, the nurses preferred working fewer days per week, but still wanted to maintain full-time status. Hospitals also found that 12 hour nursing shifts made scheduling easier for their staff because they can schedule fewer nurses per shift.Can nurses choose their shifts? ›
One of the perks of being a nurse, at any degree level, is that schedules can be flexible. Many nursing roles are 24-hour jobs, which means nurses can work various shifts and hours… patient care does not always end at five o'clock! Choosing to work alternate shifts is a choice that is available to many RNs.What is the fastest nursing license to get? ›
The fastest way to become an RN is through an RN diploma program, which can be completed in as little as a year. While completing this program does not lead to a degree, it does make the individual eligible to take the NCLEX and earn their RN license.How much does a 2 year RN make in Florida? ›
|Years of experience||Per hour|
|Less than 1 year||$34.01|
|1 to 2 years||$36.56|
|3 to 5 years||$38.37|
|6 to 9 years||$39.76|
|Item||Type of Nursing School|
|Tuition & Fees||$8,671 - $28,060||$40,061 - $187,875|
|Books & Supplies||$3,790 - $9,100||$3,790 - $9,100|
|Total Cost||$12,461 - $37,160||$43,851 - $196,975|