How Long Does It Take to Become a Registered Nurse?

How long does it take to become an RN? - nurse wearing blue scrubs

The answer to the question, “how long does it take to become a registered nurse?” depends largely on the nursing career path you choose to pursue. To work as a registered nurse, you will need to earn at least an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), which can take about two years to complete, and then pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

However, while possessing an ADN may fulfill the technical requirements of becoming an RN, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is quickly becoming the industry’s preference for hiring for entry-level nursing positions, due to a recent push to elevate the overall education level of the nursing profession and improve the level of care for patients.

Additionally, if your ultimate professional desire is to become a nurse educator or other nurse leader, achieving a BSN may be a lucrative educational pathway, as it is the minimum education requirement for earning an advanced nursing degree.

That said, many traditional BSN programs take up to four years to complete, so if you’d like to enter the field quickly, pursuing an accelerated BSN program may be the best academic path for you to consider if you want to become a registered nurse.

Many accelerated BSN programs, such as the one Averett University offers, can be completed in as a few as 16 months. The Averett ABSN program also offers three start dates per year — in January, May and August — meaning you can potentially start your journey toward becoming an RN even sooner.

To help you determine how long it will take for you to become a registered nurse, we break down the educational requirements and licensing process below.

Earning Your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

nursing student sitting in class

The Averett ABSN program is designed to prepare students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in a field unrelated to nursing OR have completed at least 60 non-nursing college credits to earn their BSN in just 16 months.

As mentioned earlier, our program can take significantly less time than it would to complete a traditional BSN program; however, that doesn’t make it any less rigorous of an academic path to pursue, and you still must also complete preliminary steps prior to enrollment that may extend the educational portion of your timeline in becoming an RN.

Completing Nursing School Prerequisites

Another factor that could affect how long it takes to become a registered nurse is if you have to complete any nursing school prerequisite courses. While you do not need to have any prior healthcare experience to qualify for enrollment in the Averett ABSN program, each student must first complete a series of prerequisite courses.

How long it takes to complete nursing school prerequisites greatly depends on your prior educational background. For example, prospective students with a Bachelor of Science may not need to take as many prerequisite courses as one with a liberal arts background. Regardless of your background, an Averett ABSN admissions counselor can help walk you through which, if any, prerequisite course you need to complete before you’re eligible to apply and set you on a course for academic success.

Enrolling in Averett University’s ABSN Program

Averett is the only ABSN program in Virginia that doesn’t exclusively require a bachelor’s degree for admission. It comprises the same nursing education you’d receive in a traditional classroom-based program; the only difference is the amount of time it takes to complete — as few as 16 months vs. up to four years for a traditional BSN program.

Our rigorous, accredited curriculum is split over four, full-time semesters and includes:

  • Online courses, which set the foundation for your nursing theory knowledge via an interactive e-Learning platform.
  • Skills and simulation labs, which allow students to apply online coursework and test their clinical judgement and nursing skills in a risk-free environment using state-of-the-art equipment.
  • Clinical rotations, which provide students with valuable real-world patient care experiences at some of the top health care facilities in Norfolk and Hampton Roads.
Averett nursing student listening to another nursing student's breathing

Taking the NCLEX-RN Exam

Outside of earning your nursing degree, the most important step you’ll take on your path to becoming a nurse is the NCLEX, the test that will determine whether you can have a nursing license and work in the field. Only nursing program graduates are eligible to take the NCLEX exam, which involves four primary steps:

Step 1: Apply for Eligibility to Take the NCLEX in Your State

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing, a non-profit organization that develops the NCLEX and whose U.S. members include the nursing regulatory bodies in the U.S., requires you to apply for licensure or registration to the nursing regulatory body (NRB) where you wish to be licensed. Each NRB has its own eligibility requirements for taking the NCLEX, so how long it takes to complete this step varies.

Step 2: Register for the NCLEX

Once you have met the eligibility requirements for taking the NCLEX, you will need to register and pay for your NCLEX-RN® exam. Once the State Board is satisfied with the credentials presented, they send you notification that you can schedule your NCLEX appointment.

Step 3: Pass the NCLEX

The NCLEX is designed to test your nursing knowledge and demonstrate you meet the minimum requirements to work in the field as an entry-level nurse. Per the NCSBN, you should expect to receive exam results from your nursing regulatory body approximately six weeks after taking the NCLEX. You are allowed multiple attempts to pass the exam, but keep in mind you must wait 45 days before you will be permitted to try again.

Shorten Your Path to Become an RN through Averett ABSN

nursing student sitting at desk with textbooks

Now that you know becoming a registered nurse can take less time than you might have thought, what are you waiting for? Learn how the Averett ABSN program can help you become a nurse in as few as 16 months. Contact one of our dedicated admissions counselors today!