Time Requirements for Becoming a Nurse

The time it takes to become a nurse depends on what type of nurse you would like to be and how long you commit to working toward this career. When you decide what program you will enter, you can gain a better idea of how long you will be working toward this vocation.

Nursing schools offer programs of various lengths, which depend on the outcome as well as the type of program. The time it takes to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) is shorter than that for a registered nurse (RN). To become an LPN, you may need a year of college courses before entering nursing school. Following prerequisites, many LPN schools then require a year of training before graduation. You can expect to spend between 18 to 24 months preparing to become an LPN.

Registered nurses go to school for a longer period of time, and this also depends on the type of program. Some nursing schools grant a diploma, while others provide an associate’s degree in nursing, both of which eventually lead to certification as an RN. Both types of programs require approximately three years of training and may be affiliated with a hospital or community college. Students typically take a year of prerequisite courses designed to study the basic physical and social sciences. Following prerequisites, an RN program then typically requires two more years of training in both the classroom and the clinical setting.


Many university-level programs provide training to become an RN through an undergraduate program of study.

These schools train RNs who also will have a bachelor’s degree upon graduation. The program is typically completed in four years, and although some jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree for hiring purposes, students who would like to advance in nursing education may decide to choose this path.

Other options are available that are accelerated or geared toward working students who have some education.

Some accelerated nursing programs are accessible for students who have completed a degree in another field but who want to pursue nursing. These types of options may require students to take full-time nursing training for 12 to 18 months of intensive study. They can then take a licensing exam to become a nurse.

For students who have completed a diploma or an associate’s degree program, or those who have completed LPN training but would like to advance to an RN or bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), there are accelerated programs that may take an additional year of training. These programs provide a track from one program to the next, such as an RN to BSN or LPN to RN program that skips a large portion of the foundational and prerequisite classes.

Online degree programs often allow students to work at their own pace, following the classroom design but completing assignments as they are able.

These programs are often created for the working student who does not have the time to commit to a full-time program that nursing school often requires. The length of time it takes to complete an online degree in nursing depends on the student’s willingness to complete the required assignments and the motivation to finish clinical practice. With the many different options for nursing school available, potential students have a variety of programs from which to choose, and the amount of time it takes to become a nurse is dependent on how much time you are willing to commit.