What Are the Easiest Degrees to Get in Nursing? (2023)

Nursing isn’t known as an easy career path. Working as a nurse can be stressful and emotionally draining, though it can also be equally rewarding. One thing about a nursing career that doesn’t have to be difficult is figuring out an education option that works for you. There are a number of different paths into a nursing career, including undergraduate programs, that can help you quickly learn what you need to know to get started as a nurse. Some of these degree options are easier than others. Nursing diploma programs, associate’s degree programs, bachelor’s degree completion programs and hybrid and online programs are some of the easiest options available for aspiring nurses.

How Do I Become a Nurse?

Without nurses, the healthcare industry as we know it would crumble. Nurses work in virtually all healthcare environments – hospitals, outpatient treatment facilities, generalist and specialist doctor’s offices, urgent care facilities, and clinics – and in every medical specialty. Nurses need to develop a foundation of knowledge that includes everything from sciences such as anatomy and physiology to technical skills like inserting intravenous lines, giving injections and correctly administering medications in multiple formats and doses.

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Although nurses need to have a temperament that’s at once compassionate and emotionally stable and the physical stamina to withstand long shifts of demanding work, it takes more than the right personality to become a nurse. Qualifying for a nursing career requires you to take formal studies, pass licensing exams and satisfy other licensing requirements that apply in your state.

Is It Hard to Become a Nurse?

Becoming a nurse is a challenging endeavor. Just like the work you will actually do in this career, nursing education – which includes plenty of practical clinical experience – is not for the faint of heart.

Your courses will be challenging, and your clinical experiences will be demanding. That said, nursing school at the diploma through bachelor’s levels is nowhere near as difficult as medical school, which awards a doctoral degree, or even physician assistant school, which confers a master’s degree. These nursing degrees are undergraduate degrees, so they don’t require the highly advanced graduate-level coursework you would need to take while pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree.

Nursing school is difficult but doable, especially if you have average or above-average proficiency in science studies. While nurses use some math in their careers, you don’t need to take a lot of math-intensive courses to earn this degree. A statistics course and potentially a basic college-level math course should be sufficient to fulfill your general education classes at most schools, and it’s entirely possible that your major coursework won’t add any extra mathematics classes to your workload. On the other hand, several of your courses in a nursing program are likely to be heavily based on science. If you find that you struggle in studying natural and physical sciences, you might have a harder time becoming a nurse.

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What Are the Steps to Becoming a Nurse?

If you think you’re ready to move forward with your preparation for a nursing career, take these steps to get started. to get started.

  1. Check your state’s licensing requirements. Different states have different requirements, so you need to understand the minimum level of education required for licensure in your state, as well as any experience requirements, life support certifications and any exceptional licensing exam requirements. You need to make sure that you are eligible for licensing in your state, which may mean being able to pass a criminal background check.
  2. Get your nursing education. Start applying to schools and programs that offer the nursing degree you want. Depending on the level of education you’re seeking, you might apply to technical schools, hospital nursing programs, community colleges or four-year schools. Expect to spend two to four years of full-time study earning your nursing degree, including coursework in the classroom, hands-on work in laboratory settings and clinical fieldwork.
  3. Pass your licensing exam.To get your nursing license, you need to pass a licensing exam. The sooner you take this exam, the sooner you can begin working in your field. However, recent nursing graduates may have to wait to be eligible to take the test. In most states, you will have to wait 45 days to take the exam that leads to licensure as a registered nurse. To give yourself the best chance of passing this exam, start studying early and take some practice exams.
  4. Start looking for nursing jobs. After you’ve passed your licensing exam, you can complete the process of getting licensed and begin searching for your first nursing role. You may be able to get a job at a facility where you completed clinical experiences or find opportunities through networking with professional connections you made while doing your fieldwork.
  5. Keep up with continuing education requirements.To keep your nursing license in good standing and be eligible to renew your nursing license as required by your state, you will likely need to meet continuing education requirements. The life of a nurse is busy, but don’t neglect to set aside this time for professional development, which can help you become a better nurse in addition to maintaining your credentials.
  6. Seek certification in your specialty area. If you’re passionate about working in a certain specialty, you might consider pursuing voluntary certification in that specialty from one of the many professional associations that offer certification, such as the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses or the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board.

If you start your nursing career with a lower level of nursing degree, another step to consider as you advance your career may be earning your bachelor’s degree. Aspiring advanced practice registered nurses will need to go back to school to earn a master’s or doctoral degree.

What Is the Hardest Class in Nursing School?

Depending on who you ask, the hardest classes in nursing school are probably either your science courses or your courses in specific areas of nursing practice. The science classes in nursing school that have a reputation for being tough include pathophysiology, pharmacology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology and statistics. Among the nursing specialty courses, which include clinical fieldwork, students often find classes most difficult when they have little interest in that specialty area. Different nursing students may view the same specialty course as difficult or easy depending on their level of interest in performing the work that the specialty entails.

There are multiple levels of nursing careers, and the more advanced the level of nursing career you’re interested in, the harder it will be to attain this career.

The Easiest Paths to a Nursing Career

For the easiest nursing degrees, your best options include shorter programs like licensed practical nurse and licensed vocational nurse programs, associate’s degree programs, bridge programs for registered nurses seeking bachelor’s degrees and hybrid nursing programs.

Practical Nursing Programs Through Nurse Technical School

The easiest role you can have as a nurse is that of a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN). LPNs and LVNs work under registered nurses (RNs), providing basic nursing care. LPNs and LVNs generally work in settings such as nursing homes, hospitals, doctors’ offices and home healthcare services.

To get started in the field of nursing, practical and vocational nurses need a diploma or certificate from an educational program approved by their state’s board of nursing. These programs can be found at community colleges, technical schools, hospitals and even some high schools. An LPN or LVN program usually takes around a year to complete, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

What makes an LPN or LVN preparation program the easiest type of nursing education you can pursue is its focus on training for basic nursing services only and its quick completion time. However, aspiring LPNs and LVNs still need to take coursework in studies such as biology, pharmacology and nursing. They also need to meet clinical experience requirements through supervised hands-on work providing patient care.

Associate’s Degrees in Nursing (ADNs) Through Hospital Nursing Programs and Community Colleges

As registered nursing degree programs go, the easiest one out there is the ADN. An associate’s degree program can prepare you for a career as a registered nurse, but you should know that this degree meets only the bare minimum requirement for qualification as an RN. In fact, more than 50 years ago, the American Nurses Association recommended that all registered nurses attain a bachelor’s degree. Though hospitals employ more than 60 percent of RNs and are among the highest paying employers of registered nurses, they are also more likely than other employers to require job applicants to have a BSN degree.

Associate’s degrees are still common among new RNs. In fact, as many as 60 percent of registered nurses start out with an ADN degree, the journal Global Qualitative Nursing Research reported in 2015. Yet there’s no denying that the ADN degree is the easy option due to its shorter time to complete and less extensive and in-depth coursework requirements. A traditional ADN degree takes two years of study, though accelerated programs can allow students to finish their degrees faster. In an ADN degree program, you will take the same basic core nursing classes as a BSN student, including courses in microbiology, physiology, anatomy and chemistry. You must also complete clinical requirements. However, you will miss out on taking valuable courses like health management and leadership, public health and nursing research that are offered in BSN programs but not ADN programs.

RN-to-BSN Degree Programs

If you chose to start your nursing career with an ADN but decided that you do want to continue your education, you are in luck. Many nursing schools offer RN-to-BSN degree options to make it easier for busy, working registered nurses to attain their bachelor’s degree in nursing.

RN-to-BSN programs are only open to licensed registered nurses. They build on the knowledge you already have from your ADN or diploma program. As a result, they take far less time than it would take if you had to start over as a college freshman. Some RN-to-BSN programs take two years of study – when combined with the time spent earning your associate’s degree, the equivalent of one four-year program. Other RN-to-BSN programs are offered in accelerated formats or are more generous with awarding transfer credit and can be completed in as little as 12 months or less.

Why should you consider going back to school for your bachelor’s degree? BSN programs include some courses that aren’t in ADN programs. They round out their programs with an emphasis on public health, management and leadership, nursing research and physical and social sciences. The additional courses are meant to provide students with more professional development and a heightened understanding of the issues affecting patient care and healthcare delivery. Having a BSN, as opposed to an ADN, may expand your job opportunities, increase your earning potential, and put you further along on the path to working in an advanced practice role such as nurse practitioner.

Online and Hybrid Nursing Programs

Online RN-to-BSN degree programs are an option, though applicants should know that practical experience is still required even for programs that offer fully online coursework. As a result, many nursing programs that incorporate a distance learning model are actually hybrid programs. Some coursework takes place online, but clinical fieldwork and potentially some coursework is done in person. Online and hybrid nursing programs are easy in the sense that you don’t have to commute to campus. For certain parts of your education, like asynchronous online courses, you can study in your pajamas, from your living room, after work or early in the morning. However, students sometimes find the online learning environment difficult because it can feel isolating. Success in studying online requires a great deal of self-discipline and time management. If you’re not a self-motivated person, explore strategies for holding yourself accountable or consider an in-person learning option.

Every nursing degree has its own challenges. Choosing an “easy” nursing degree may allow you to complete your education sooner or to avoid having to take extra courses. However, you should still be prepared for selective admissions requirements, a rigorous curriculum and a licensing process that includes passing a national credentialing exam.

Additional Resources

What Degrees Are In-Demand for Nurses?

Will Only Having an Associate’s Degree Allow Me to Get a Nursing Job?

How Advanced Does My Degree in Nursing Need to Be to Get a Good Job?

How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Nursing?

What is the NCLEX?


What is the easiest degree to get in nursing? ›

As registered nursing degree programs go, the easiest one out there is the ADN. An associate's degree program can prepare you for a career as a registered nurse, but you should know that this degree meets only the bare minimum requirement for qualification as an RN.

What is the fastest and easiest way to become a nurse? ›

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.

What is the shortest nursing course? ›

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.

How to pass nursing school easily? ›

10 Study Tips That Will Make Nursing School Easier
  1. Follow the nursing exam study guide. ...
  2. Focus on the material covered in class. ...
  3. Think in terms of action, not facts. ...
  4. Form a study group. ...
  5. Skim-read first. ...
  6. Use outside sources. ...
  7. Know your learning style. ...
  8. Use downtime as study time.

What major is best for nursing? ›

7. Majors Related to Nursing
  • Medicine.
  • Medical Science.
  • Clinical/Medical Laboratory Science.
  • Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
  • Dentistry and Dental Support Services.
  • Bioethics or Medical Ethics.
  • Movement and Mind-Body Therapies.
  • Social Work.

What is the best degree to get RN? ›

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

The minimum requirement for many nursing positions these days is a BSN. The BSN is the best degree for those who want to prepare for future higher education and career advancement opportunities and launch a career as a: Registered Nurse.

What is the hardest thing to learn as a nurse? ›

Hardest Nursing School Classes
  • 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.

What's a LPN vs RN? ›

LPNs usually provide more basic nursing care and are responsible for the comfort of the patient. RNs on the other hand, primarily administer medication, treatments, and offer educational advice to patients and the public. LPNs earn your ADN or BSN degree online in up to 1/2 the time and cost of traditional programs.

Can you take the Nclex without going to nursing school? ›

Do you need a nursing degree to take the NCLEX exam? To take the NCLEX-RN, you'll need a four-year nursing degree from an accredited program. To take the NCLEX-PN, you'll need to complete a related diploma program or certificate course.

How long should you study for nursing? ›

Earning a nursing associate degree is the fastest, and often the most affordable, path to becoming an RN. ADN programs generally take about two years to complete and prepare you to take the NCLEX licensure exam to become a registered nurse. A BSN degree is typically a four-year program.

Is nursing one of the hardest majors? ›

Nurses provide medical care in a range of settings, from schools to clinics to hospitals. Considered one of the hardest majors in college, it is also a physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding career.

How difficult is nursing school really? ›

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.

How hard is the nursing exam? ›

NCLEX Pass Rates

The second-attempt pass rate for domestically-educated students taking the test was 45.56%. These results demonstrate that it is a pretty difficult test. The questions are designed to test your critical thinking, knowledge of the nursing process, and assessment skills.

Are nursing tests hard? ›

Nursing school exams are challenging for almost everyone. They'll test not only your knowledge of course material, but also your ability to apply this information in a patient scenario. Developing a solid study plan and knowing what to expect on test day can go a long way toward passing these difficult exams.

What degree is better than nursing? ›

For those who are interested in more behind-the-scenes work, or who want to explore their options in healthcare, health science is a great alternative major to nursing. A health science degree can lead to many different careers, from a healthcare administrator to medical biller and coder.

Is it worth majoring in nursing? ›

Pro #1: Nursing Degrees Prepare Graduates for High-Earning Careers. While there are plenty of careers that pay more than nursing (e.g., law, investment banking), many nurses feel that they can earn a good living as a nurse, especially with an advanced degree.

Should I major in nursing if I want to be a nurse? ›

To be a nurse, you must earn at least a diploma from an approved nursing program and be licensed in your state. However, some employers may require RNs to have a bachelor's degree in nursing. Graduate degrees such as a Master of Science in Nursing are required for advanced nursing roles, such as nurse practitioners.

What is the best GPA for nursing? ›

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.

Do you need a good GPA to be a nurse? ›

GPA requirements vary from school to school, and some early admission nursing programs require an even higher GPA of at least 3.8 or higher (weighted or unweighted). In general, you can expect that any highly competitive nursing program will have a high GPA requirement for applicants.

Does nursing ever get easier? ›

The Magic Number? In about six months to a year, you'll get comfortable with the skills such as starting IVs, drawing blood, accessing central lines, doing your head-to-toe assessments, charting, giving medications, and talking with doctors. You'll be doing those things so often that it will become second nature.

What percentage of nursing students fail? ›

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%.

Does nursing career get easier? ›

Nursing school will have semesters that are easier than others. The good news is that the longer you are in nursing school, the easier it gets. The coursework may remain about the same, but it will get easier due to: The fact that you'll be used to it after a semester or two and you'll know what it takes to succeed.

Why do LPNs call themselves nurses? ›

Without question, LPNs like Becky Rhodes and Sharon Blackmon embody the title of a nurse because they provide incomparable nursing care and convey unparalleled professionalism. Nevertheless, some registered nurses deem that LPNs should not hold the title since they have less clinical training and education.

Is it better to be a LPN first or RN? ›

There are benefits to receiving your LPN credentials before moving forward including: Quick entrance into the workforce: A practical nursing program takes approximately half the time that a complete RN program does. This means you can enter the workforce quickly, building experience in the field early in your career.

Why is LPN not considered a nurse? ›

But what does it stand for? LPN, or Licensed Practical Nurse, is a nurse who provides primary nursing care and works under the supervision of more advanced nurses, like RNs. It's similar to LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse) as they have similarities in their work settings.

How many times can you fail NCLEX? ›

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.

What state is the easiest to become a nurse? ›

Easiest states to become a nurse – Length of licensing process
  • 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.

Is nursing school harder than NCLEX? ›

Unlike nursing school exams, which test for knowledge, the NCLEX tests your ability to apply and analyze situations using the nursing knowledge you gained in school. Logic and critical thinking, rather than rote memorization, are emphasized in this test—making it much more difficult and comprehensive.

How many hours a day should a nursing student study? ›

Everyone is different, but in general, it is recommended that nursing school students study anywhere from 2-4 hours a day. Committing class material to memory is essential to becoming a registered nurse, so the more time studying, the better!

How many hours a day should a nurse study? ›

Consider bringing your study group so that you can critique each other and practice. Studying is a part-time job for nursing students! You should be studying three to four hours a day. If you are putting in this study time every day, there will be no need to cram for exams.

How many hours a day should I study for the NCLEX? ›

How long should I study each day? The amount of time that you choose to schedule in your NCLEX study plan can be highly subjective from person to person — but on average, it is recommended that a nursing student aims to study at least 3-5 hours a day (excluding days off) while they prepare for the exam.

What is the #1 hardest major? ›

#1 Chemistry

According to the average Grade Point Average of students in the program, Chemistry wins the prize title hardest major. A Chemistry major overlaps somewhat with biology, but chemistry extends beyond living things.

What is higher than an RN? ›

There are five levels of nursing: Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Registered Nurse (RN), Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

Which year of nursing is the hardest? ›

It is said that up to 90% of what you do on the job after graduation was not learned while in nursing school. I'm not convinced the learning curve is that high, but there is a lot of on-the-job training required. Nursing is a complex profession.

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.

Has anyone failed out of nursing school? ›

Students may fail nursing school for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's a personal reason, and other times, the individual is going through some kind of health issue.

Is nursing school a lot of memorization? ›

Is nursing school mostly memorization? Memorization is a major component of nursing school, but there's much more to a nursing education than remembering facts. While you'll definitely need to recall a wide range of information at the drop of a hat, memorization will only take you so far.

Is it OK to fail a nursing exam? ›

2 | Don't Panic. Find relief in the fact that failing the exam won't stop you from ever becoming a nurse. "I know plenty of nurses that didn't [pass on their first attempt] and that's OK. They have all been amazing nurses for many years," says Kristyn Chanel, a pediatric emergency room nurse in Houston.

What is the passing score for RN? ›

While it's possible to pass the NCLEX after answering all 135, it's also possible to pass the test with a minimum of 70 questions or any number in between. Keep in mind NCLEX has a time limit of five hours. If you haven't answered enough questions correctly when the clock runs out, you will fail the test.

How many people fail the nursing exam? ›

NCLEX Pass Rates by State
47 more rows
Apr 1, 2023

What happens if you fail your RN exam? ›

All nurses have to pass the NCLEX to acquire a nursing license and practice. If you fail the exam, you should reschedule and restudy as soon as possible to get closer to working as a nurse. In some states, you must inform your employer once you learn you didn't pass the NCLEX (if you're already employed).

Is it normal to fail your first nursing exam? ›

Failing one exam or subject, while not a good thing, does not mean a person can't become a great nurse. And especially in first semester, people don't have much idea about how hard a test, etc, can be.

What is the fastest bachelor degree for nursing? ›

What is the fastest I can earn a nursing degree? Online RN-to-BSN programs are some of the fastest nursing programs available. Many full-time students complete such a program in one year.

What is the lowest GPA for nursing? ›

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.

What is the hardest class for a nursing major? ›

Hardest Nursing School Classes
  • 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.

Is BSN or MSN harder? ›

MSN programs are usually more difficult to get into than BSN programs, and more prestigious MSN programs are especially competitive. Applying to an MSN program also requires nursing experience.

Can I be a nurse 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.

Can an average student become a nurse? ›

To start nursing school, you don't need any prior nursing experience or healthcare education. All you need is a high school diploma or GED. Once you are accepted, your journey to RN begins! You can become an RN in 2 to 4 years by studying for an associate's degree (ASN) or bachelor's degree (BSN).

Can you still become a nurse with bad grades? ›

Absolutely. You may need to get creative. You'll definitely need an open mind about which schools you're willing to attend (including possibly relocating to make it happen). Finally, you'll need to work hard—not just to get into nursing school, but once you've been accepted.


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