The Time Frame Surrounding a Nursing Degree

NursingNovember 14, 2013

The length of time it takes you to earn a nursing degree depends on the type of degree you are pursuing. There are many types of nursing degrees available depending on the length of time you're looking to spend in school as well as the type of nursing that you want to practice. 

Types of Nursing Degrees

The associate degree in nursing (ADN) is the minimum requirement to become a registered nurse (RN). Associate degrees are offered by community colleges or vocational schools and typically take two years to complete. 

A bachelor of science in nursing, known as a BSN, is a four-year program that includes clinical or "real world" experience. These degree programs are offered by four-year, accredited colleges or universities. Nurses with a BSN degree often work in a hospital or inpatient setting because these types of facilities are often able to provide workers with higher wages, and have a high potential for job security.

A masters degree in nursing (MSN) is a nursing degree that can be earned only after receiving a bachelor degree. This degree program requires an additional one to two years of classroom education and clinical training. Graduates of this program have the opportunity to pursue careers as a nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetist. These types of providers are referred to as mid-level providers and often act as an extension of the physician in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Individuals within this role are recognized as more self-sufficient and independent in their decision-making abilities. Mid-level providers can also be contracted by insurance companies in order to file claims on a patients' behalf, and they have the chance to see patients independent of the physician so long as the physician acts as a collaborator to oversee their work.

The highest degree one can earn in nursing is a doctorate degree. A bachelor degree and a masters degree are required to earn a doctorate degree. People with these degrees typically pursue a career in academic nursing or opt to teach nursing or other related programs. People with these degrees may also be found in research facilities. 

There are many options for someone interested in a nursing degree. Ultimately, the choice of which degree to pick will depend on your long-term career goals.