How long is nursing school? How long does nursing school take? How many years of school does it take to become a nurse? These are some of the most commonly asked questions I hear from prospective nursing students To be frank, it varies. There are various levels of nursing (See my previous article on levels of nursing), and each requires a different level of education and takes a different amount of time. Here are some basic numbers, though.
How many years of school to become a nurse? It depends on specialty.
As you may know, there are many different types of nurses. How much education required for varies from type to type! Obviously, it will take a longer amount of time to become a Nurse Practitioner than to be a nurse’s assistant.
Becoming a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) requires anywhere from four to six weeks of training and the successful completion of a licensing exam. CNAs primarily assist nurses with “grunt work.”
The next step up on the nursing ladder is the LPN, or licensed practical nurse. LPN programs take from 12 to 18 months, depending on location and the individual program. LPNs are trained to provide basic, bedside type care, versus the more advanced work that RNs do.
An ASN is an Associate of Science in Nursing degree. Like other associate’s degrees, it takes two years to complete. Upon completion, prospective nurses must take a certification exam. If the exam is passed, the nurse is now licensed to practice as an RN, or registered nurse.
BSN is (wait for it)… a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. It takes (can you guess?) four years to complete. Again, following the completion of the degree, passing a certification exam allows one to work as an RN.
What’s the difference between an ASN and BSN degree?
To put it simply, the ASN degree provides training in nursing almost exclusively, while BSN programs also provide more general education. Although holders of both degrees end up at the same place (RN) after graduation, those with BSN degrees generally have a better chance at advancement into administrative positions and are paid slightly more.
Nurses can also work through MSN, or Masters of Science in Nursing programs. These allow nurses to work in advanced, highly specialized roles. As with other master degree programs, they take two years of post-baccalaureate study.