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How Long It Takes to
Become a Registered Nurse (RN)

How long it takes to find your new career path in nursing

There are many different pathways you can take to become a Registered Nurse (RN), with several degree options.

To become an RN, it may take at least 16-52 months, or roughly 2-5 total years depending on your prior education and professional experience.

Your education represents the bulk of the time you’ll need to prepare for a career as an RN. You cannot become an RN without first earning an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN), a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), or a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

Here are our average undergraduate nursing program lengths:

ASN Bridge Options16 months
ASN20 months
Accelerated BSN20-24 months
MSN - Direct Entry20-24 months
BSN Bridge Option28 months
BSN36 months
Registered Nurse with Teacher Learning with Training Dummy

What to know about how long it takes

Before fully breaking down what programs and pathways are right for you, a few disclaimers:

All estimates are starting points

The biggest variables in play are the education you’ve already earned, how good your grades were, and what degree level you pursue.

Our program availability varies by campus

Please be sure to click through to each program to ensure it’s available in your state of residence.


Your degree choice matters

You’ll need to earn an associate degree in nursing at a minimum to qualify for the NCLEX-RN, but there are big potential benefits to pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree right away if you qualify. However, those pathways will take more time.

You don’t need to start as an RN

If your RN timeline feels too long, you may be interested in becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). You can earn a practical nursing diploma in as soon as 1 year (12 months) and build a great foundation to eventually pursue the RN career path in the future.


Education represents most of the time, but not 100%

The estimates below reflect our average program lengths. However, graduating with a degree doesn’t by itself make you qualified to practice as an RN. You’ll need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN) and meet the Board of Nursing requirements in your state. The earliest date you can take the NCLEX-RN after graduation depends on your state of residence.

The best fit for you is our pre-licensure Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. These are our traditional entry-level nursing degree programs designed for students with zero nursing experience or college credit eligible for transfer.

Both ground-campus programs combine on-campus core nursing courses and hands-on training via both laboratory and clinical experiences. You may also potentially qualify for our online BSN program, which features online core nursing courses and in-person intensives located at a Herzing or partner site to make the most of your hands-on training.

While earning an ASN can take less time, there are many benefits to earning a BSN, including salary potential, job qualification and potential career advancement. You can potentially start by earning an ASN and then enrolling in an online RN to BSN program in the future.

I have...

  • No nursing experience
  • No college credits
  • 2.5 GPA or higher

How long?

20-36 months

Our pre-licensure ASN and BSN programs are also right for you. However, you can potentially transfer credit from your prior college coursework to complete the program faster.

Choose the ASN program and you can potentially transfer 52-54 approved credits depending on the campus with which you enroll. Choose the BSN program and you can potentially transfer up to 90 approved credits.

I have...

  • No nursing experience
  • A non-nursing associate degree, college diploma, or some transferable college credit
  • 2.5 GPA or higher

How long?

Less than 20-36 months

Our pre-licensure ASN or BSN program may be in your future—but if your GPA is too low to qualify for nursing school today, you may be eligible to enroll in our online Associate of Science in General Studies - Pre-Nursing program.

The curriculum includes classes to help you build the foundational knowledge you need to prepare for a nursing program. You can potentially increase your GPA above the threshold required to qualify for an undergraduate nursing degree program.

After graduating with an associate degree in general studies, you can potentially continue your online study in our BSN program. Alternatively, you could choose an on-campus ASN program to become an RN faster—though currently there is no online option for this program.

I have...

  • No nursing experience
  • No college credits
  • A GPA lower than 2.5

How long?

36-52 months

Waived Enrollment Fee

Now Through December 31st

You can utilize your existing bachelor’s degree to shorten the time necessary to earn the degree you need to become an RN. Our Accelerated BSN is designed for you, allowing you the opportunity to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2 years or less.

You may also potentially qualify for our Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) - Direct Entry program. Note: you will need at least a 3.0 GPA to qualify for the MSN - Direct Entry program. This is a very demanding curriculum compressed into a short time period. However, this is the fastest track for students with no nursing experience to earn an MSN and reach the highest levels of nursing.

I have...

  • No nursing experience
  • A non-nursing bachelor’s degree
  • 2.5 GPA or higher

How long?

20-24 months

It’s possible to transition to a new career path in nursing faster than in a traditional entry-level pre-licensure program.

You may qualify for our ASN or BSN Bridge Options. Take advantage of your prior experience and education to decrease the time needed to earn an undergrad nursing degree.

You can potentially earn an ASN in less than 2 years or a BSN in less than 3 years. For all eligible current healthcare professionals, the ASN bridge option can be completed in 16 months, while the BSN bridge option can be completed in 28 months.

I am...

  • Currently working as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), paramedic, Cardiovascular Technologist (CVT), Respiratory Therapist (RT), or have prior experience as a military medic

How long?

16-28 months

Frequently Asked Questions

It can take roughly 3-5 years to go from non-nurse to NP through our program options but it depends on what education you’ve already earned and how quickly you want to progress.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for registered nurses is $82,750 per year ($39.78 per hour)*. Nurses with a bachelor’s degree tend to fall on the upper side of that average due to their advanced education and their qualification to help hospitals earn Magnet Recognition.

The BLS projects a 6% increase in need for registered nurses from 2021-2031*. RNs are in demand, and earning a BSN can help your resume stand out and give you a better chance of getting the job you really want.

The advantages of a BSN can include:

  • Increased autonomy in decision making while on the job
  • Open doors to more specialties in the nursing field
  • Become a more attractive candidate for hospitals seeking Magnet Recognition
  • Build a foundation to grow into education or leadership pathways
  • Positions you better for nursing jobs with higher pay
  • Qualify to enroll in an MSN program
  • Become more familiar and educated with evidence-based practice opportunities
  • Increase knowledge and understanding of RN specialties and skills
  • Transition from “technical” to “professional” RN
  • Gain a deeper knowledge of nursing theory and leadership theory

A 2017 study from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) indicates employers have the level of education at top of mind in the hiring process. Based on results from 586 schools of nursing, the study revealed 49% of hospitals and other healthcare facilities require new hires to hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and 86.3% of employers show a strong preference for BSN graduates.

The ultimate benefit is bettering yourself, becoming the best nurse you can be and following the career path of your choosing.

  • ASN: Associate of Science in Nursing
  • ADN: Associate Degree in Nursing
  • AASN: Associate of Applied Science in Nursing

For the purposes of being eligible for the NCLEX exam and becoming a registered nurse, there isn’t much of a difference between these types of degrees. Either way you will get an associate degree and be qualified to become an RN.

In general, higher education institutions determine the terminology to use based on the nature of their program and what they emphasize as a priority.

As a career-focused organization, Herzing University stresses the importance of real, engaging coursework to prepare you for a job in the field—so we offer an Associates of Science in Nursing (ASN) at our Birmingham, Orlando, and Tampa campuses, and our Akron campus offers an Associates of Applied Science in Nursing (AASN). 

Compare ADN vs. BSN and discover the difference between the two undergraduate degree paths for nurses.

Our nursing programs are designed to be challenging, but not impossible. Your career as a registered nurse will be demanding, and our goal is to help you succeed and become the best healthcare provider you can be. We won’t do you any favors by making things too easy.

Learn more about how hard nursing school really is from Herzing graduates who have been through it. You will have support from Herzing University faculty, staff and other students every step of the way. Never be afraid to ask for help when you need it!

There are many different nursing specialties to choose from. Depending on your personality, educational background and preferred working environment you can follow your own personalized path in the nursing profession.

Here are a few popular nursing specialties you may consider:

You can take our nursing personality quiz to get a better idea of what you might prefer in your nursing career.

We are here to help

Given all the choices available to you, the first step can be the hardest to take. If you’re ready to start a new career in nursing but still aren’t sure where to start, we can help you decide.

Our admissions team can help you determine what program is right for you, discover if you’re eligible to enroll with Herzing University and guide you through the admissions process.

We exist to help you earn a career-focused education at your pace and go on to find success in your work. We know you are possible.

Learn more about our School of Nursing

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2020. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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