How Many Years of College to Be a Nurse?

Ready to start a professional career in nursing? You may be wondering how many years of college to be a nurse is. However, learn more about timelines, degrees, and job options here.

How Many Years of College to Be a Nurse?

Depending on the type of degree pursued, becoming a nurse can take 2-4 years.

The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is the most common path to becoming a registered nurse, and it typically takes two years (or even less, if you choose the accelerated degree program).

The various educational pathways that can lead to becoming a nurse are listed below, along with the length of time each pathway takes.

Of course, these are just general guidelines based on the assumption that you will be attending nursing school full-time.

If you take part-time classes, it will take you longer to graduate from nursing school than if you pursued your education full-time.

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Steps to Becoming a Nurse

This first section is about the steps necessary to turn an interest in nursing into a gainful career.

Everything from choosing a specific nursing program to eventually finding a job will be outlined below.

By extension, the steps to becoming a nurse also contribute towards explaining how many years of college to becoming a nurse.

Earn a Degree

A formal education is absolutely necessary on the path to becoming a registered practicing nurse (RN). With a few exceptions, almost every position in the nursing field requires a bachelor’s degree.

A few positions can be earned by candidates with associate degrees, and some positions require advanced degrees.

It may be difficult to shift through the numerous degree programs available, but that’s a good thing.

This way, you have a lot of options, and choosing the degree program that’s right for you may help in deciding what kind of nurse you want to be or even what university you’d like to attend.   

Obtain a License 

As mentioned previously, earning your nursing license by passing a national nursing licensure examination (NCLEX) is pivotal in any nurse’s career.

Without the correct credentials, individuals will not be able to practice nursing. Licensing requirements vary by state, nursing specialty, and occupation.

Most administrative branches of nursing programs would be able to provide assistance with how to obtain the correct licensure, but be sure you understand which examination you should be taking, as well.

Obtain Employment

After you’re properly educated and licensed, the only thing left to do is find a job.

Fortunately, nursing is a rapidly growing field, expected to grow 15% by 2026 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

That’s more than double the average national growth rate for all jobs. It’s important to note that nursing has become a more popular profession, as well, so there will be healthy competition for open positions.

Location and specific areas of nursing can have a lot to do with employment chances.

For instance, long-term care facilities are expected to become more and more popular as the population ages.

Choose a Specialty

Upon graduation from a nursing program and passing the NCLEX, you may choose to enter a nursing specialty.

Choosing a specialty right away is not absolutely necessary.

Some nursing positions associated with different specialties may require specific certifications or more advanced degrees.

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Pursue Additional Training

This may not be necessary for some, but for others with specific career goals, it may be a great option.

In the field of nursing, as in other professional fields, additional education often leads to senior-level employment opportunities, higher salaries, and greater responsibility.

Fortunately, there are numerous options for advanced nursing degrees. Check out GMercyU’s Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

You’re on your way to a fantastic career that will be rewarding, challenging, and always exciting. Nursing school, on the other hand, is notoriously difficult.

Most nursing programs require high GPAs and strong performance in math, chemistry, biology, psychology, and other challenging subjects. It’s also extremely satisfying.

Depending on the degree you want to pursue, becoming a nurse can take anywhere from two to four years.

Nurses are classified into three types: non-degree (CNA), degree (BSN RN), and advanced degree (NP).


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