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Nurses are well paid and in demand. Find out how many years of school you can expect to complete to become one of these critical healthcare professionals.
How Long Does It Take To Get Rn Degree
Becoming a nurse takes six to eight years of study. However, how long it will take you will largely depend on your current skills and level of education.
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Nurses are well-educated doctors with medical knowledge and experience in patient care. Such expertise is well-rewarded in the labor market, but it can take time to develop.
In this article, you will learn not only how long it will take you to become a nurse, but also what they do, what their job prospects are, and the path you need to take to become one.
As you gain a deeper understanding of this fascinating career and its place in healthcare, you’ll also better understand why it’s taken so long—and whether it’s the right path for you.
A registered nurse (NP) is an advanced practice nurse (APRN) with a master’s degree and additional specialized training who can evaluate patients, diagnose medical conditions, and prescribe treatment plans. Not to be confused with registered nurses (RNs), NPs work much like doctors in diagnosing and treating patients. However, in some states, NPs must have a physician’s approval to prescribe medications—a requirement that physicians are licensed in all states.
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The job prospects for NPs are very positive. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), career opportunities for nurse anesthetists, midwives and nurse practitioners are expected to grow by 45 percent between 2020 and 2030 (faster than average). By comparison, the BLS projects that overall employment growth in the United States will be 7.7 percent between 2020 and 2030 .
With such high demand comes high earning potential. In 2020, NPs earned a median annual salary of $120,680, several times higher than the national individual median salary of $35,805 for the same year [3, 4].
Nurses must have either a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing. As a result, it usually takes six to eight years of schooling to become a nurse [5, 6, 7].
Note: A master’s degree is not required for a DNP, so the time to earn a bachelor’s and doctoral degree will be approximately eight years. To obtain all three degrees, the timeline extends to approximately 10 years.
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It takes time to acquire the necessary knowledge, experience and skills to become a nurse. This is how you do it – from start to finish.
To qualify for a master’s or doctoral program in nursing, you must first have a bachelor’s degree. While a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree will probably best prepare you for graduate school, you can actually apply to a graduate nursing degree program with a non-nursing degree.
Most registered nurses complete their training through an accredited nursing program or an associate degree in nursing. As a result, they have the relevant education to work professionally, but do not have a bachelor’s degree.
In this common scenario, registered nurses should consider completing an RN to BSN program, which can lead to a BSN in as little as nine months. Flexible online programs are available from many education providers to accommodate a busy schedule.
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The educational requirements to become a registered nurse vary from state to state, but the three most common paths are through a BSN, an associate degree program, or a certified nursing program. Contact the nursing regulatory body (NRB) in your state to find out what you need to do to qualify for the National Board of Registered Nurses Examination (NCLEX-RN). Once you meet the appropriate qualifications in your state, you can take the NCLEX-RN. But remember to study because the NCLEX-RN tests your knowledge with questions that require critical thinking and informed decision making, not just memorization.
There are two graduate degrees you can earn to become an NP: a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
The MSN typically takes two years of full-time study to complete and deepen students’ knowledge in topics such as health informatics and evidence-based practice. The DNP is a terminal degree in nursing and expands on the topics covered in the MSN while preparing students for leadership roles. Completion takes anywhere from 18 months to four years based on previous experience and credentials.
Ultimately, whether you decide to enter an MSN or DNP program depends on your professional goals and life circumstances. However, each degree qualifies you to become a nurse.
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After earning your graduate degree, you are now eligible to take the certification exam used to license nurse practitioners.
These two exams are the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) exam and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) exam. Although the two exams differ slightly in their focus—the ANCC is more research focused and the AANP is more clinically focused—you only need to take and pass one exam to become licensed as an NP in your state.
Healthcare is a growing field that is constantly changing knowledge, procedures and tools. Prepare for your future as a healthcare professional by taking our flexible online courses.
An integrative nursing major in Minnesota teaches students how to work with patients to create an integrative care plan that meets their needs and preferences.
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Meanwhile, the University of Michigan’s anatomy major teaches course participants everything about the human body—from the skeletal system to the musculoskeletal system—from head to toe.
Patient-centered, relationship-based nursing care. At the end of this specialization, you will be able to practice a patient-centered, relationship-based approach to nursing care that utilizes a variety of holistic therapies.
Integrative Health Care, Wellness, Patient Centered Care, Improved Symptom Management, Evidence Based Practice, Symptom Management, Health Care, Stress Management, Pain Management, Whole Person Care, Mindfulness, Integrative Medicine
2. BLS. “Employment will grow by 7.7 percent from 2020 to 2030; 1.7 percent excluding the recovery of COVID-19, https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2021/employment-to-grow-7-7-percent-from-2020-to-2030-1-7 -percent-without-covid-19-recovery.htm Accessed April 27, 2022.
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6. Maryville University. “How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s Degree in Nursing?, https://online.maryville.edu/online-masters-degrees/master-science-nursing/resources/how-long-does-it-take-masters-in-nursing /.” Accessed 5 May 2022.
7. Doctor of nursing practice DNP. “How long does a DNP program take?, https://www.doctorofnursingpracticednp.org/how-long-does-a-dnp-program-take/.” Accessed May 5, 2022.
This content is provided for informational purposes only. Students are encouraged to do additional research to ensure that the courses and other documents they are pursuing meet their personal, professional, and financial goals. There are many different paths you can take to become a Registered Nurse (RN) with many study options.
Becoming an RN can take as little as 16-52 months or 2-5 years depending on your prior education and professional experience.
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Your education accounts for most of the time you will need to prepare for a career as an RN. You cannot become an RN without first earning an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.
The biggest variables at play are the education you’ve already received, how good your grades were, and what degree you want to achieve.
Be sure to click on each program to make sure it’s available in your state.
To qualify for the NCLEX-RN, you’ll need to earn at least an associate’s degree in nursing, but if you do qualify, getting a bachelor’s or master’s right away has huge potential benefits. However, these methods take more time.
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If your RN schedule seems too long, you may be interested in becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN). You can earn a Diploma in Practical Nursing in 1 year (12 months), ultimately creating a great foundation for an RN career in the future.
The estimates below reflect the average length of our program. However, graduating with a degree alone does not qualify you to practice as an RN. You must pass the National Council for RN Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and meet your state’s Board of Nursing requirements. The earliest date you can take the NCLEX-RN after graduation depends on your state of residence.
Our Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs are the best fit for you. These are our traditional entry-level nursing programs designed for students who have zero nursing experience or are eligible for college transfer credit.
Both land campus programs combine nursing courses on the main campus and hands-on training through laboratory and clinical experiences. You can also qualify for our online BSN program, which offers online basic nursing courses and private or co-ed facilities to make the most of your hands-on experience.
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