How Long Do Nursing Programs Take?

How Long Do Nursing Programs Take?

Mar 14, 2015 | 9:00 am

The answer to this question depends on which one of the many nursing programs you choose to complete! With nurse assistant training taking a few months to complete and Ph.D. programs lasting for years, the learning curve varies. Take a look below at the many different nursing programs and their approximate time to completion.

Nursing Aide Programs

Occupations: Nursing assistants and orderlies work in healthcare settings, such a hospitals or long-term care facilities, helping patients with their basic daily needs.

How long it takes: Orderlies need a high school diploma or GED to begin on-the-job training. Nursing assistants (also called CNAs or certified nursing assistants) must complete a state-approved training course that often takes three months. These nursing programs can be found at community colleges and vocational schools. Even organizations like the Red Cross offer CNA training and certification.

Practical Nursing/Vocational Nursing Programs

Occupations: Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs ) can be found in most healthcare settings checking vital signs, caring for basic patient needs, providing medications and starting IVs under the supervision of registered nurses.

How long it takes: LPN and LVN nursing programs often take one year to complete from accredited community colleges, hospitals or vocational training schools. After this, students must sit for and pass the state licensure exam, called the NCLEX-PN.

Registered Nursing Programs

Occupations: RNs care for patients, coordinate their wellness plans with other healthcare professionals and provide specialized care depending on the medical specialty.

How long it takes: A few different educational paths lead to working as a licensed RN. Here are five of the most common:

Nursing diploma – takes about two years to complete
Associate degree in nursing (also called ADN or ASN) – takes about two years to complete
Bachelor’s degree in nursing (also called BSN) – takes about four years to complete
RN to BSN (for LVNs and LPNs who want to become RNs) – takes about three to four years to complete, depending on previous education
Accelerated BSN (for non-nursing bachelor’s degree holders to catch up on credits needed to earn a BSN) – takes about in 11 to 18 months

After completing any of these nursing programs, students must sit for and pass the NCLEX-RN (National Council of Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses). Upon passing, they can add RN to their title.

Advanced Practice Nursing Programs

Occupations: APRNs can work as nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists and research positions in nursing science, depending on their level of education.

How long it takes: After the completion of a BSN, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or its equivalent degree type can take two additional years to complete. A Ph.D. program, such as the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS), can take three to four years after completing a BSN, or up to two years after completing a MSN – considering a full-time class schedule.

Nursing programs can take less than a year or up to eight years, depending on the type of nurse you want to become. In all areas, nurses are still high in demand, so your education will always be well worth the effort!