Nursing school is both challenging and rigorous. It requires a mix of classroom instruction and clinical practice. How long nursing school takes ultimately depends on the type of nurse you want to be. There are options and you have to decide what you want to do with your nursing career. Within the different types of nursing, there are some program types that take longer than others.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse?
The majority of licensed practical nurse (LPN) programs give a certificate or a diploma upon completion. These are usually not degree-granting programs. However, some community colleges throughout the country do have associate degree programs for LPNs. You may also find programs at vocational schools, but these usually only give a diploma or certificate upon completion. Your training to become an LPN is usually done in one year of full-time study. If you happen to choose a program that grants an associate degree, it can take about two years of full-time study because you will also be completing general education classes. Once you complete your program you will need to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NLCEX-PN).
How Long is Nursing School to Become a Registered Nurse?
A registered nurse must obtain either an associate of science in nursing or a bachelor’s of science in nursing. The program you choose should be accredited and possess all necessary licensing to allow you to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). It will take two to four years to complete a degree that allows you to sit for this licensure examination. The two-year programs are typically found at community colleges and private colleges and these grant an associate degree. If you want to go the route of a bachelor’s degree, you will find the four-year programs at state schools and universities. Some schools also have accelerated programs. An accelerated associate degree is generally completed in 18 months of full-time study. An accelerated bachelor’s degree is typically completed in two and a half to three years of full-time study.
How Long is Nursing School to Become a Nurse Practitioner?
A nurse practitioner will need to possess at least a master’s of science in nursing. The exact path that you need to take will vary by state. Before you enter a nurse practitioner program, some schools require that you have at least a year of experience working as a registered nurse. The actual program takes two to three years to complete. This is in addition to the two to four years it takes to become a registered nurse. So, all in all, it takes five to seven years to become a nurse practitioner. If you decide to increase your education as a nurse practitioner, you may pursue a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). This would add an additional two to four years to your education.