What degree levels are available?
Associate’s Degree Programs
An associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) includes courses in anatomy, nursing, nutrition, chemistry, microbiology among others. You’ll also be required to take general liberal arts classes. Earning an ADN is the most popular option for registered nurses and opens the door to entry-level staff nurse positions which will provide you with hands-on experience in the medical field.
This is the fastest path to becoming a registered nurse as most associate’s degree programs last about two to three years.
Bachelor’s Degree Programs
An aspiring RN can earn a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) in four years at a college or university. If you’re already an RN, you can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program which is geared specifically for RNs who have an associate’s degree or nursing diploma. This path usually takes about two to three years.
An even quicker BSN option is for candidates who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field. An accelerated BSN program allows students to apply general education credits from their first degree to the BSN. This route takes between one to one-and-a-half years.
As an example of a typical RN-to-BSN course load, Kaplan University offers the following:
Examples of RN-to-BSN Core Courses
- Fundamentals of microbiology
- Nursing research
- Nursing care of the older adult
- Public health nursing
What certification will I need?
- Safe, effective care environment: Management care and safety and infection control
- Psychosocial integrity: Coping and adaptation and psychosocial adaptation
- Health promotion and maintenance: Growth and development through the life span and prevention and early detection of disease
- Physiology integrity: Basic care and comfort, pharmacological and parenteral therapies, reduction of risk potential and physiological adaptation
NCLEX is a registered trademark and/or servicemark of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc.
What will I learn in my courses?
- Nursing practice and theory
How long will it take?
- Associate’s degree programs, which provide entry-level opportunities, usually take two years
- A bachelor’s degree program takes four years
- A bachelor’s degree with direct entry typically takes three years
- Master’s degree programs generally require two years
Attending part-time is usually an option at most schools, but the program will take longer to complete.
Are online programs available?
How much will my education cost?
Are there prerequisites?
- Minimum SAT or ACT exam scores
- GPA range between 2.0 and 3.25 (check your specific school’s requirements)
- 3 years of math, including geometry and algebra II
- 3 years of science, including biology and chemistry
- 4 years of English
- 2 years of a foreign language
If you’re applying to a 4-year college or university to earn a BSN, you will usually declare nursing as your major once you’ve completed prerequisite classes at the college or university.
What accreditation is there for my program?
Main Accreditation Bodies
- The Accreditation Commission For Education in Nursing (ACEN), formerly NLNAC: Accredits the entire spectrum of nursing programs (associate’s, diploma, bachelor’s and master’s)
- The Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE): This body accredits bachelor’s and master’s nursing programs
There’s another element students should consider when researching nursing schools. State boards of Nursing approve schools so they can prepare students for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). However, state board approval does not automatically equal school accreditation from one of the national organizations. While most accredited schools are state board-approved, it’s always a good idea to check.
While you can still take the NCLEX, your nursing profession may stall out if you’re seeking additional education. Generally, education from a non-accredited school doesn’t qualify students to attend an accredited school.
Find out more information about the Registered Nurse? See also: