how long does it take to become a registered nurse

How Long Does it Take to Become a Nurse?

How long is nursing school, and how long does it take to become a Registered Nurse? Find out!

Nursing is among the most important and respected careers in healthcare, with demand for Registered Nurses (RNs) on the rise. According to national statistics, over 3.3 million RNs will be employed in the United States by the year 2029 – with faster than average job growth.

Nursing is also among the most rewarding career choices out there today. On top of employment and advancement opportunities, aspiring nurses can look forward to a flexible and fulfilling day-to-day, helping people in need. Often, patients see nurses as superheroes in scrubs, with 82 percent of Americans considering nurses as the most trusted professionals today.

If you are interested in becoming a nurse, rest assured it is a meaningful career choice that will bring you both personal and professional success. The question is, how long will it take? How many years does it take to complete nursing school and become a practicing nurse?

The length of time it takes to become a nurse can vary, depending on your career goals. The different types of nursing careers require different lengths of time in school. Some nursing programs can be completed in a matter of months, while others’ educational journeys can take four to six years to complete. Typically, Registered Nurses need an associate degree to get started, which can be completed in about two years. This is much faster than the time it takes to become a doctor or advanced practitioner in medicine.

So, How Long is Nursing School?

Nursing school can take anywhere from one to eight years, depending on the type of nurse you aspire to be. This is one of the beauties of nursing school – there are many pathways you can take towards success. Today, you can become an RN, LPN, APRN, and more.

Below is a breakdown of how long nursing school takes, on average, for each career path:

  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN): About 1.5 years in practical nursing school.
  • Registered Nurse (RN): About 2 years in nursing school.
  • Registered Nurse with a BSN Degree: About 4 years in nursing school.
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN): About 6-8 years in nursing school.

The amount of schooling required for each type of nurse varies by their responsibilities. Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), for example, leave nursing school with a diploma, which takes about 12-16 months. LPNs have less autonomy and patient care responsibilities than Registered Nurses (RNs). In fact, RNs often oversee LPNs, which is why RNs need a little more time in school.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Registered Nurse?

Registered Nurses are the nurses you’ll see most often within the healthcare setting. These professionals can examine, treat, and monitor patients, as well as administer medications and perform medical tests. Their duties are far-reaching, and they are the professionals that most often interact with patients on a day-to-day basis.

RNs can pursue a career with an associate or bachelor’s degree. An associate degree in nursing is the standard requirement for the field, taking about two years to complete. There are flexible associate degree programs out there. For example, at Goodwin, you have the ability to complete the associate degree in Nursing in as few as 20 months part-time, after prerequisite courses. The associate degree in nursing will qualify you to take the NCLEX-RN examination, which is required to become licensed.

Many Registered Nurses today are going back to pursue a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN), to qualify for advanced nursing positions in the field. Some nursing careers, like a U.S. military nurse or a nurse educator, require a bachelor’s degree. This, in turn, requires more time in school.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN)?

Traditional, entry-level BSN programs typically take four years to complete.

However, RN-to-BSN programs and accelerated BSN (ABSN) programs are available if you meet certain requirements and need a fast-track BSN option. RN-to-BSN programs are designed for licensed Registered Nurses looking to advance their education. ABSN programs are designed for people with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing major, who are now looking to switch careers to nursing.

At Goodwin University, the RN-to-BSN program can be completed online and part-time in just 16 months. Or, the courses can be customized to meet your scheduling needs. The part-time, online format allows you to continue working while going to school. You can enroll in this program any time after receiving your RN license.

The accelerated BSN program at Goodwin can be completed in as few as 16 months full-time, in an online/on-campus hybrid format. We recognize that ABSN students have spent time in school already, and have designed this accelerated program to help them earn their BSN degree fast.

How Long Does it Take to Become an APRN?

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) require a graduate degree, such as a Master’s in Nursing (MSN) degree. While the RN role encompasses all facets of patient care, APRNs become specialized in an area of nursing through their graduate program. For example, APRNs may be Family Nurse Practitioners, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners, or Nurse Midwives. Their level of responsibilities can differ depending on their role, but typically they are more advanced. Many APRNs can prescribe medications and develop treatment plans for patients, which RNs cannot.

Due to the advanced nature of their role, APRNs need to earn:

  • A Bachelor’s in Nursing (about 4 years), and
  • A Master’s in Nursing (about 2-3 years).
  • Sometimes, a doctorate is also required for advancement.

At Goodwin University, there are two pathways to becoming an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. You may pursue the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program, which will qualify you to serve as a primary care clinician, across the age spectrum, upon completion of your degree. The FNP degree program can be completed online and in as few as 27 months year-round.

The second APRN specialization offered at Goodwin is for aspiring Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs). Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners help patients coping with mental illness using holistic and evidence-based methods. The PMHNP-APRN program is 50 credits and can be completed in as few as seven semesters, part-time.

APRN is not the only career path you can pursue with a master’s-level nursing degree. You can also become a leader in nursing with an MSN. At Goodwin, there is a Master’s in Nursing (MSN) degree option dedicated to nurses who wish to become Nurse Administrators, Nurse Managers, or Public Health Nursing Leaders. This program is offered entirely online and can be completed in just 20 months part-time.

Goodwin’s Nursing School Timeline, a Recap

  • Associate Degree in Nursing: Just 20 months part-time, after prerequisite courses.
  • RN-to-BSN Degree: 16 months part-time, in an online or hybrid format.
  • Accelerated BSN Degree: 16 months full-time, with flexible scheduling options.
  • Master’s in Nursing Degree: 20 months part-time and online.
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Degree: 27 months year-round, entirely online.
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Degree: Seven semesters, part-time.

Now is the time to enter the nursing field. Nationwide, there are more open positions in nursing than there are qualified candidates to fill them. Specifically in Connecticut, nursing job openings are well-exceeding all other occupations. According to the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges, there will be twice as many nursing jobs in the next few years than there will be accounting jobs, more than three times as many nursing jobs as teaching jobs, and about ten times as many nursing jobs as jobs in civil engineering. Amidst a global pandemic, aging baby boomer population, healthcare reform, and advancing medical field, the demand for registered nurses is growing higher than ever.

If you dream of becoming a nurse, stop worrying about the time it takes to become a nurse. Now is the time to get started. You can become a nurse at your own pace and there are fast nursing degree options available. Do not put your nursing degree on hold.

Interested in learning more about nursing at Goodwin University? Request more information about our nursing programs online. You may also call 800-889-3282 to speak with our admissions team.