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How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse?

How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse



If you’re considering a career as a nurse, you’ve probably wondered how long it takes to complete a nursing program. While some nursing programs are certification programs that may be completed in a year or less, others require two years or more to complete. The degree you choose, whether you go full-time or part-time, and whether or not you earn speciality certifications are all factors that can determine how long it takes you to complete your education. 

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In this post, we’ll look at how long several popular nursing programs take to complete, as well as the additional training that may be required to work in a specialty nursing profession.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse

Depending on the type of degree a candidate pursues, being a nurse might take anywhere from two to four years. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is the most popular pathway to become a registered nurse, and it typically takes two years to complete (or even less, if you choose the accelerated degree program) 

Discover the several educational paths that can lead to a career as a nurse, as well as the length of time each path requires. These are, of course, merely general guidelines based on the assumption that you would be attending nursing school full-time. If you take part-time studies, it will take you longer to complete nursing school than if you pursue your study full-time. 

Nursing Degrees There are a variety of nursing degrees available. Certificate or diploma in nursing Hospitals or technical and community colleges are the most common places to find nursing diploma and certificate programs. Nursing diploma programs differ from nursing degree programs in that the courses are more focused on nursing areas of study rather than general education subjects that are required for a nursing degree. One advantage of a nursing diploma over a nursing degree is that you will spend considerably more time in a clinical setting rather than in the classroom, which will allow you to get valuable on-the-job experience quickly. A nursing diploma program will prepare you for the NCLEX-PN exam, which will enable you to work as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) depending on your state. However, as nursing has gotten more demanding and sophisticated, businesses are increasingly likely to recruit applicants with at least an ADN degree. Another disadvantage is that nursing diploma programs might take just as long as ADN programs, but you only get a certificate instead of a degree. It takes 1-3 years to finish. 

Nursing Associate’s Degree (ADN) The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is a two-year nursing program that prepares students to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The ADN coursework is similar to that of a nursing diploma program in that it focuses on nursing-specific themes as well as general education courses and includes both classroom learning and clinical experience. Employers prefer applicants with an ADN over a nursing diploma since the education is considered more rigorous and in-depth. An ADN is a fantastic first step toward a nursing career, and many people utilize it as a stepping stone to a higher degree. Another typical option is to get an ADN and then use their employer’s tuition reimbursement schemes to pay for a higher degree. It takes two years to finish. 

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Nursing Bachelor of Science (BSN) The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the gold standard in nursing education, and many employers now require it for entry-level positions. This is because a BSN degree program is considered more extensive and in-depth than an ADN or nursing diploma. BSN programs provide advanced nursing courses such as leadership, nursing informatics, research, community, and public health in addition to the fundamental nursing education taught in ADN degrees. Students with a BSN degree have more employment options, higher beginning salary, and greater opportunities for promotion. A BSN degree is required for most leadership roles in the nursing sector, thus this is something to think about before enrolling in a program. It takes 4-5 years to finish.

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Master’s degree in nursing (MSN) 

The Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) is one of the highest degrees of nursing education, allowing RNs to move to advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). To be admitted into an MSN program, you must have completed your BSN, have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above, and have professional and academic letters of recommendation. Advanced courses in physiology/pathophysiology, pharmacology, health assessment, healthcare policy and ethics, and nursing management concepts are part of an MSN degree program’s course curriculum. Depending on the nursing speciality you want to pursue, you may need to take extra specialized courses. A master’s degree in nursing allows you to become a Nurse Practitioner and pursue management, administrative, and managerial positions in the field of nursing. It takes about 5-6 years to finish. 

Accelerated Nursing Programs 

An accelerated nursing program is another popular nursing option. These programs are for registered nurses who desire to advance from a bachelor’s degree to a master’s degree. For example, an RN with an associate’s degree who has worked in the field for a year can enroll in an accelerated nursing program and complete their BSN in as little as a year. 

RNs with a BSN degree may be able to enroll in accelerated MSN nursing schools and complete the program in as little as a year. The sole prerequisites for these programs are an RN license and the relevant degree or certificate for admission in the program of your choice. 

Certifications in a specific field 

Registered nurses can also pursue specialist certification in a sector of their choice. For example, registered nurses with an ADN or BSN can pursue extra certification as a critical care nurse (CCRN), which requires two to five years of documented work experience before they can sit for the exam. Other speciality certifications may not have the same requirements as critical care nursing, but many require you to work as an RN for a certain number of years before you can sit for a certification exam. 

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Practical and Vocational Nursing programs 

The educational program for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses is another nursing program that can be completed in a year (LPNs and LVNs, respectively). Aside from the designation, there isn’t much of a distinction between an LPN and an LVN. Both healthcare workers are qualified nurse professionals who offer basic medical care to patients and conduct basic healthcare activities under the supervision of RNs. LPNs and LVNs can also lead small teams of CNAs in a variety of healthcare settings as supervisors. 

You must have a high school diploma to enroll in an LPN program. Anatomy, physiology, biology, and chemistry, medical technology, emergency care skills, and clinical practice in a medical context are some of the topics covered in medical and nursing courses. Your local community college, vocational school, or university may offer LPN programs. Becoming an LPN can also be a good method to get into the nursing sector quickly, and there are accelerated RN programs available for LPNs who want to get their nursing qualifications.


Top Ten Nursing Programs in the United States for International Students 

University of Illinois, Chicago

The Global Network of WHO Collaborating Centres has named the University of Illinois College of Nursing one of the top ten nursing programs in the United States (WHOCCs). At the University of Illinois, students of different colors, continents, and backgrounds will learn from award-winning professors and doctors. These nurses are conducting nursing research that directly benefits patients in our communities and around the world. 

The University of Pennsylvania is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

International students can learn from some of the world’s best nursing instructors at the Penn School of Nursing, which is surrounded by the highest levels of scholarship. The Visiting Foreign PhD Scholars Program, for example, is one of Penn Nursing’s international student nursing programs. International students finish a year of doctoral studies in their native country before coming to Penn for a year of study. International students have the opportunity to develop their research topic during this year before returning to their home university to finish their degree. 


The University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) is one of the most well-known research universities in the world, having been founded in 1919. Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, MacArthur Fellows, and members of the National Academy of Sciences are among UCLA’s faculty. UCLA recently obtained one of the largest foreign grants in history, $1.7 million, to improve nursing practice at Hong Kong Sanatorium Hospital. 

The University of Alabama is located in Birmingham, Alabama. 

International students at the University of Alabama will experience a culturally, academically, and economically diverse campus environment. 30,000 students from all across the United States and more than 90 different countries attend the University of Alabama. International students account for over 5% of the entire student population. 

Case Western Reserve University 

Case Western Reserve University’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing (FPB) is a worldwide renowned leader in nursing teaching and research. Students are self-assured, energetic healthcare workers eager to change the nursing profession as well as the health of local and global communities. 

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Columbia University is a private university in New York City 

The Columbia School of Nursing is well-known internationally and clinically unparalleled, with awards for outstanding research and curricular improvements. The first universal faculty practice plan in a school of nursing, the first endowed Chair in Health Policy, the first to be named a World Health Organization Collaborating Center in Advanced Practice Nursing, and the first clinical practice doctorate, the DNP, are all examples of the school’s contributions to the nursing profession. 

University of Michigan is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

The School of Nursing at the University of Michigan is eager to collaborate with international students from all around the world. The International Scholars Program, which allows international nursing students, professors, and researchers to become a member of the learning community, is coordinated by the Office of Global Outreach (GO). The University of Michigan will work with individuals to get them to the United States and involve overseas students with educational possibilities, ranging from doctoral students seeking research or clinical experience to professors on sabbatical. 

The University of Maryland is located in College Park, Maryland. 

An International Visiting Scholars Program is available at the University of Maryland (IVSP). This program provides committed nursing scholars with the opportunity to collaborate with a UMSON faculty mentor to establish particular learning objectives and conduct associated activities. With a focus on developing new relationships and projects, this program aims to broaden foreign student experience in global health nursing and cultivate them as leaders, educators, and researchers. 

New York University is a public university in New York City. 

NYU has launched a new Global Health Scholars Program to encourage international student exchange and support health professionals around the world in implementing evidence-based approaches in their communities. In Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean, NYU has created significant partnerships with universities and health centers. Many nurse educators from around the world come to NYU to teach and learn. 

Miami University is a public research university in Miami, Florida. 

The School of Nursing and Health Studies at the University of Miami has earned a “world-class reputation” as one of the best healthcare educational institutions in the world. The program is evolving to suit the changing needs of global healthcare. Every year, about 2,725 international students (undergraduate and graduate), scholars (professors and researchers), and observers from more than 110 nations represent every part of the world come to the University of Miami to study, teach, conduct research, and observe. 

It’s critical to locate the correct nursing program for you if you want to pursue a career in nursing. Many nursing programs provide a variety of ways to earn an Associate Degree in Registered Nursing (or, RN). Students are frequently given classroom training as well as laboratory simulation and clinical practice in courses. 

If you’re wanting to change careers, an accelerated BSN program like the one offered at Felician College can be a good option. This curriculum permits students to finish a six-semester accelerated nursing program in just 18 months of full-time study.

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