Nursing is one of the most rewarding and respected careers today. Nurses have the opportunity to help people in need and make a real difference in the lives of their patients. Not to mention, there is great job security in this field. As the population ages, and as more illnesses and treatments come forth, more people will be requiring healthcare services. In fact, in Connecticut alone, more than 2,000 job openings are expected each year for Registered Nurses, through 2026.
With the demand for healthcare so high, many aspiring nurses may wonder how they can get into the workforce fast. Perhaps that is why you are here. You may be asking, how long does it typically take to become a nurse and, more specifically, how long is nursing school? Is it worth the time commitment?
Fortunately, unlike many medical careers, a career in nursing does not require years of school, exams, and graduate degrees. Rather, the standard requirement for Registered Nurses (RNs) today is an associate degree in Nursing, which only takes about two years to complete.
Of course, the nursing school timeline will depend on your own flexibility, as well as the school and the program you choose. There are a few different types of nursing programs available today, each with their own time commitments and degree outcomes. We break each of these down below.
How Long Does it Take to Get an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)?
As noted above, an associate degree in Nursing (ADN) is the standard for Registered Nurses today. Associate degree programs typically take two years to complete. These programs combine general education classes, specialized nursing coursework, and clinical experiences.
Associate level nursing programs are carefully designed to meet state-issued requirements. In Connecticut, for example, Registered Nurses must complete 35 semester hours of dedicated, nursing credit. 50 percent of these hours must involve direct client care experiences. This will enable them to take the NCLEX-RN licensing exam, and to practice in the field.
At Goodwin University, the associate nursing coursework can be completed in just 20 months, part-time. Additional time may be needed to complete general education or prerequisite courses. Most nursing classes are offered on days and evenings, for added convenience. In addition, Goodwin offers three academic sessions each year for faster degree completion.
How Long is a BSN program?
Many nurses today are choosing to pursue a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN), which qualifies them for advanced positions and earning potential in the nursing field. There are several different routes you can take towards a BSN degree, each varying in length.
If you are a licensed RN and seeking to advance your education, you can pursue an RN-to-BSN program. These programs allow working nurses the flexibility to go back to school for a bachelor’s degree. RN-to-BSN programs can take up to 18 months to complete. At Goodwin University, you can earn your RN-to-BSN degree in 16 months, part-time and entirely online. This flexibility allows you to continue to work as a nurse, while working towards your degree.
For those completely new to nursing, there are a few different paths you can take. If you do not have any college experience, you can enroll in entry-level BSN program, which take about four years to complete. Because many nurses want to get working fast, we often recommend starting with an associate degree in Nursing, getting licensed and working in the field, and going back for your BSN.
If you have a bachelor’s degree, but it is in a non-nursing field, you may qualify for an accelerated BSN (ABSN) program. An accelerated BSN program enables students to transfer credits and complete nursing school — from start to finish — in as few as 16 months full-time.
How Long is an MSN program?
A Master’s in Nursing (MSN) program is designed for Registered Nurses who wish to advance their career into advanced practice or leadership positions. Typically, you must have a BSN degree before entering an MSN program.
The MSN degree timeline varies depending on the school and the type of program you pursue. At Goodwin University, the MSN degree can be completed fully online in as few as 20 months part-time.
Is Nursing Worth the Time Commitment?
The beauty of a nursing degree is that it does not require several years of medical school to complete. You can become a nurse in just two years’ time! However, the more you invest in your education, the more you are likely to reap the reward.
According to PayScale.com, those who earn a BSN degree make an average salary of $83,000. This is more than 15% higher than the national average for Registered Nurses, as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In fact, the BLS states that, “Generally, registered nurses who have a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) will have better job prospects than those without one.”
And this is just the beginning. Should you choose to invest in a Master’s in Nursing, you can expect to earn even more. The average salary for Nurse Managers and Administrators in Connecticut was almost $129,000 annually in May 2019. Nurse Midwives and Advanced Nurse Practitioners — two other careers that require an MSN — earn an average, annual salary between $112,000 and $115,000 in Connecticut.
When you weigh these salaries against the cost of a nursing degree, the answer is clear: nursing school is well-worth the time commitment. And, knowing the costs of nursing school ahead of time can bring even more clarity. At Goodwin, nursing school students know the entire cost of their tuition before starting classes. In addition, students benefit from the flexibility to customize their class schedule, depending on their availability and needs. Many of our nursing students are working full-time and juggling classes with family and career obligations. It’s our goal to design a schedule that works for you, not a schedule that you have to work around.
“Balance was key when attending a school for nursing and Goodwin made it possible. I was able to work fulltime, attend clinicals, study and care for my family.” — Jaime, a Goodwin graduate
The length of nursing school will vary depending on your own needs and goals. If you desire a flexible nursing program, with full- and part-time classes available, and a range of nursing degrees to pursue, consider Goodwin University. Contact us at 800-889-3282 or visit us online to learn more.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.