How Long is an RN Program? How Long is an RN to BSN Program?

Nursing is the heart of the healthcare industry. Each day, nurses make a positive impact helping patients who are sick or injured. These caring professionals work one-on-one with people to ensure they are safe and in good health. If you are looking to help others in need, you may wish to become a registered nurse (RN). However, you may be concerned about spending years in nursing school. So, you may be asking: “How long is an RN program, exactly?”

You will be encouraged to know that becoming a registered nurse does not take years in medical school. In fact, most RN programs can be completed in two years’ time.

Before going into depth on the length of RN programs – which varies school to school – let’s consider the many benefits of becoming a nurse.

An Investment for Your Future

While not for the faint of heart, nursing is an incredibly rewarding career. In addition to the gratification that comes with helping others, there are many other perks that come with pursuing an RN degree.

For example, registered nurses earn a solid salary for their hard work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), RNs took in a median annual salary of $75,330 in 2020. The opportunities are growing, as well. The BLS expects employment of nurses to grow 9 percent over this decade.

In addition to the positive job outlook, nurses enjoy a career with far-stretching opportunities. There are many different types of nursing jobs to explore. Are you an avid traveler? Take your career on the road and become a traveling nurse! Do you love the idea of working with children? There are countless schools, summer camps, and pediatric practices that need quality nurses. Do you feel drawn to helping the elderly? Work in geriatric nursing for a rewarding career assisting our seniors.

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of an RN career, you may want to get back to that first question: How long is an RN program? Also, how long is an RN to BSN program? Read on, as we explain just how long you can plan to invest in your future nursing career.

How Long is an RN Program?

Becoming a nurse starts with dedicated training and education. A reputable nursing program will offer you the foundation needed to launch a career in the nursing field. Today, most RN careers require at least an associate degree in Nursing (ADN) to get started. This level degree will provide you with the foundational skills and ethics needed to practice in nursing, as well as the eligibility needed to earn your license as a Registered Nurse. In order to become licensed to practice, you must pass the NCLEX-RN examination. An associate degree program will prepare you for this test, and ensure you are ready to work with patients directly after its completion.

So, an associate degree in Nursing is the standard RN program students will complete before entering this field. How long does it take to complete?

As noted above, this answer will depend on your program choice and career goals. Typically, associate degree programs can be completed in two years. For most nursing schools, there will be additional time needed to complete general education requirements before beginning the RN program specific coursework. There are also fast-paced and flexible programs available.

The associate degree in Nursing at Goodwin University, for example, may be completed in as little as 20 months part-time. Students taking full-time coursework, or taking advantage of our three academic sessions per year, can become an RN at an even faster pace. However, as with most nursing schools, additional time is required to complete your prerequisite courses.

This flexibility allows nursing students to study and balance their jobs or family obligations. Many programs offer classes during the day, at night, with clinicals offered on the weekends. Some courses are available online for added convenience.

While nursing school may seem intimidating, it is certainly attainable.

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

Not long ago, prospective nurses would earn their ADN, sit for the NCLEX-RN, and become working nurses for the rest of their careers. Today, however, it is becoming more competitive.

Many healthcare employers today are looking for nurses with a bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BSN). This means nurses with their BSN will enjoy more opportunities than RNs. In addition to the additional opportunities, there is often more money to be earned with a BSN. According to, there is a $20K difference in salary between ADN- and BSN-educated nurses. Studies show that nurses with a BSN also often provide higher-quality care to their patients, thanks to the additional training and education.

The fastest way for registered nurses to earn their BSN is to pursue an RN-to-BSN program. This type of program is designed for the licensed, working nurse who is already familiar with the field and patient care. It is designed to be a shorter and more flexible program than the typical four-year, entry-level bachelor’s in Nursing program.

How Long is an RN-to-BSN Program?

While time commitments will again vary by school, the RN-to-BSN program at Goodwin University may be completed in as little as 16-months part-time. For added convenience, and to accommodate the busy working nurse schedule, the RN-to-BSN program may be completed entirely online. So you can still pull overnight shifts at the hospital while earning your degree and advancing your career.

Bottom Line: How Long Will It All Take?

How long is the entire process of completing nursing school and becoming an RN? If you consider the entire process of earning your ADN, then later your RN-to-BSN, you could be finished with your education in nursing within three years’ time, excluding prerequisites. Considering the traditional bachelor’s degree takes the average student today four years to complete, this means you can be up and working as an RN on a faster-than-average timeline.

Are you ready to jump-start your career in nursing? Goodwin University is a leading nursing school with associate, bachelor’s, and master’s nursing degrees available. Learn more about the many nursing programs today. Call 800-889-3282 or visit us online to request more in