How Long Does It Typically Take to Get a Nursing Degree?

Submitted by OnlineABSNProg… on Wed, 04/21/2021 - 14:48
Group of ethnically diverse nurses and doctors

There are many options when it comes to getting a degree in nursing. People interested in this highly rewarding, stable, and quickly growing career can pursue well-paid job opportunities after several years of education. The requirements for becoming a working nurse depend on what program you choose and what specialization interests you.

For many, it can seem difficult to achieve a nursing degree because of the time commitment. While some more advanced nursing specialties require that you be in school for six to eight years to earn a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing, there are indeed opportunities to become a working nurse after completing only a couple of years of higher education.

If you want to further your nursing education to work in the medical field, this article can help. Continue reading to learn about different careers and discover which nursing position is right for you.



How Long Does It Take To Get a Nursing Degree?

The number of years it takes to become a nurse depends on what type of nursing degree you choose to pursue. Along with varied time requirements, different nursing degrees give you different levels of professional responsibility. There are many kinds of licenses, certifications, and credentials that nurses can obtain.

Two of the most common credentials are:

  • Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

Let’s take a closer look at each nursing role and which nursing degree program each requires.


Registered Nurse: Career Review

RNs require extensive training in the areas of assessment, advanced monitoring and interventions, and decision-making.

Education Requirements

You can become an RN by completing an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). While the majority of nursing skills learned in an ADN and a BSN program are similar, BSN programs differ in that they expand their education into leadership, research and critical thinking.

BSN degrees typically take four years to complete, while an ADN degree can be completed in two to three years. Programs for both degrees can be taken at colleges and universities both in-person and online.

Individuals with bachelor’s degrees in another discipline can transition to the nursing profession by completing either an accelerated BSN program or a direct-entry master’s program. A direct entry masters provides generalist nursing knowledge that allows the individual to sit for the NCLEX-RN.

RNs must pass the NCLEX-RN exam before becoming licensed to work professionally.

Job Responsibilities

RN duties often include:

  • Assessment and evaluation of care
  • Administering intravenous medications and blood products
  • Coordinating treatment plans
  • Performing diagnostic tests and analyzing results
  • Supervising the work of LPNs and other aides (BSN earners)

Average Salary

The median annual salary for this professional nursing career is $73,300, however, that number fluctuates based on a number of factors including level of education. According to PayScale, ADN degree holders earn roughly $71,000 annually, while those who complete a BSN program average $86,000 annually. It’s worth noting that BSN-prepared nurses can also move on to higher managerial positions, such as a hospital’s Chief of Nursing.


Advanced Practice Registered Nurse: Career Review

APRNs are RNs (who have a BSN or completed a direct entry master's program) who go on to complete graduate coursework that develops advanced assessment, diagnostic and planning skills to provide health care to patients as independent practitioners.

Education Requirements

To become an APRN, you first have to complete a BSN degree or direct entry master's degree. From there, you’ll need to pursue a master’s of science in nursing degree (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

While the length of the program will vary based on the particular nursing specialization being pursued, most MSN degrees can be earned in an additional eighteen months to two years, on top of the time it takes to complete the BSN degree. Online DNP programs can take anywhere from three to four years after earning a BSN for full-time students to complete; part-time students can expect the program to take up to six or seven years to complete.

Job Responsibilities

APRNs are a highly valued and integral part of the healthcare system. There are four types of APRNs, each with a unique set of advanced medical tasks:

  • Certified registered nurse anesthetists
  • Certified nurse-midwives
  • Clinical nurse specialists
  • Certified nurse practitioners

Average Salary

The average salary for this professional nursing career is over $96,000 per year. APRNs who transition into health services management roles can earn even more.


Become a Nurse Quicker By Earning Your Degree Online

Earning a BSN degree is a necessary step if you want to maximize your potential salary as a nurse. While in-person BSN degrees take four years to complete, you can earn an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) in just two years through online ABSN programs.

Online nursing degrees are becoming more popular every year. Pursue your career goals with reputable and fully accredited online nursing programs. To help you find your perfect fit, we’ve compiled a list of high-quality, accredited online ABSN programs. Simply enter your Zip code below to find which program(s) are available in your area.

The content published on our blog is reviewed by credentialed healthcare professionals to give you the most up-to-date and professionally accurate information. This particular article was professionally reviewed by Colleen Sanders, RN, FNP-BC on April 20, 2021.