How Long Does It Take to Earn Your Nursing Degree?

How Long Does It Take to Earn Your Nursing Degree?

Mar 19, 2015 | 11:00 am

The amount of time it takes to earn your nursing degree depends on which program you choose and whether you attend full time or part time. Let’s take a look at the different nursing degrees available, and discover their estimated time to completion considering full-time status.

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

This two-year nursing degree is also called the Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN). Upon completion, students can sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

Bachelor Degree in Nursing

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) often takes four years to complete when starting out as an undergraduate. This nursing degree is becoming the most popular program to pursue—in 2010 the Institute of Medicine called for 80 percent of nurses to hold a bachelor’s degree by 2020.

There are other routes to getting a BSN , including:

•LPN/LVN to BSN – this nursing degree is for Licensed Practical Nurses or Licensed Vocational Nurses who wish to bridge their current education with a bachelor’s degree. Many bridge programs can be completed online. In most cases, nurses report it taking approximately three years to complete this nursing degree.

•RN to BSN – this program is for licensed registered nurses who wish to bridge their current education with a bachelor’s degree. If a nurse holds a two-year associate degree, it takes about two additional years to complete. Without a degree, it can take four years.

•Accelerated BSN – for the second-degree student who already holds a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, this bridge programs builds upon previous learning experience and offers the quickest route to licensure. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), it takes between 11 and 18 months to complete.

Many of the programs that help working nurses earn a higher degree can be found online for greater convenience. University of Phoenix, for example, offers online LPN/LVN degrees as well as other continuing education courses for nurses.

Master Degree in Nursing

The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) generally requires two extra years of coursework after the completion of a BSN.

For students who already hold a non-nursing degree, bridge programs help students apply their current level of education toward a direct-entry master’s degree. The Accelerated Master of Science in Nursing, for example, works well for students who know the medical specialty they want to pursue. The AACN notes that most accelerated MSN programs take about three years to complete when a second-degree student already hold a bachelor’s degree. For students with associate degrees or diplomas, it takes longer.

Doctorate Degree in Nursing

This is the highest nursing degree available, and it comes in the following forms: Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc, DSN or DNS). Traditionally, students would first earn a MSN, but it is becoming more common for schools to offer direct-entry BSN programs.

Duke University, for example, notes that for BSN prepared students entering the program (and depending on the specialty selected), it will take about five semesters on average to complete a DNP. For those entering the program with a master’s degree in an advanced nursing specialty, it also takes about five semesters.