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MCPHS female nursing student checking an IV bag.
Career Development | 4/24/2024

How Long Is Nursing School? Key Insights To Consider Before Enrolling

MCPHS female nursing student checking an IV bag.

Curious about the length of nursing school? Learn what nursing program options the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has to offer.

How long does nursing school take to complete? It really depends on several factors, from your desired degree to how much flexibility you have in your schedule. In this article, we'll answer all your questions so you feel equipped to begin your journey to filling one of the many open positions in this essential healthcare field.

How Long Does it Take To Earn a Nursing Degree?

The big question. While there are several types of nursing degrees, ultimately, the majority of students attend nursing school for two to four years to become registered nurses (RNs). 

It's important to discuss schedule flexibility and how that impacts the time required to complete a degree program. If you’re able to attend school full-time, you'll have a shorter path to your nursing career. However, if you have other obligations, a part-time program may be ideal and will also extend the length of time needed to earn a degree. 

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) offers several nursing degree styles, giving you the freedom and flexibility to opt for a program that best suits your needs.

What Are the Different Types of Nursing Degrees?

Let's take a closer look at the nursing degrees available to future healthcare leaders at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Undergraduate Nursing School Programs

Bachelor of Science in Nursing - Postbaccalaureate

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing - Postbaccalaureate program is designed for individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree and wish to gain the skill sets necessary to enter the nursing field. This 16-month program allows students to work alongside professionals during clinical experiences in both classroom settings and within prestigious healthcare centers. The intensive curriculum covers nursing theory, clinical skills, pharmacology, and other essential nursing knowledge areas. Upon completion of this program, learners are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). 

Bachelor of Science in Nursing - Accelerated

A Bachelor of Science (BSN) is an accelerated 32-month program that helps students gain real-world experience while studying and accomplishing nursing courses. The BSN program covers a wide range of materials, from biology and chemistry to pharmacology and community health. What normally takes four years can be accomplished in three, enabling students to jump into their careers even faster than a traditional pathway. Those who complete the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN.

Family Nurse Practitioner Bridge Program - (RN to MSN)

Through the Family Nurse Practitioner Bridge Program - (RN to MSN), students can build on their associate’s degree without needing a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This allows a smooth transition from undergraduate to graduate-level coursework. The three-year, part-time program offers clinical experience as students expand their collegiate nursing education. They widen their understanding of the professional nursing industry and move from the bridge program into the MSN-FNP portion of their study, ultimately allowing them to sit for the Family Nurse Practitioner Board Certification Exam upon completion. 

Master and Doctoral Nursing School Programs

Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner

A Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program is a 24-month, part-time course of study that provides students the flexibility to work while earning a nursing diploma. Like the Bachelor of Science in Nursing - Postbaccalaureate program, the Master of Science in Nursing - FNP path offers students the opportunity to advance their bachelor’s degree with a specialty in family nursing. Students become advanced practice registered nurses who are trained to provide comprehensive healthcare services to individuals and families across a range of ages. From delivering primary patient care services to diagnosing and treating a variety of health care concerns, nursing students learn more about what it takes to become an FNP. 

Master of Science in Nursing - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

A Master of Science in Nursing - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program allows learners to achieve a specialty in psychiatric mental health in just 24 months. This part-time, online program helps nursing students build a firm, foundational knowledge of dementia, depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric conditions. Students also dive into the doctor-patient relationship and learn about counseling best practices. After two years, learners are eligible to sit for the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner certification. 

Doctor of Nursing Practice

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a program that helps students earn an advanced degree in the hopes of achieving the highest level in the nursing profession. This 24-month, online doctoral program focuses on organization and systems leadership. Those who wish to enter this program must hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, which will give them the foundational knowledge necessary to excel in this course of study. Over four semesters, they'll cover information about local and global healthcare policies, study different methods and procedures in population health, and choose from doctoral-level courses within the School of Nursing. 

Additional Nursing-Specific FAQs

What is the most common degree for nurses?

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing is the degree students select most often. Not only is it the first step toward getting a master’s in a professional nursing specialization, but it can also be widely used around the world. It’s an extremely versatile degree that provides a foundation for higher learning following its completion.

What is the fastest way to become a nurse?

MCPHS offers a 16-month Bachelor of Science in Nursing - Postbaccalaureate program, which is the quickest pathway into a nursing career. Another option is the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. MCPHS has an accelerated program option that enables learners to complete their degree in just 32 months—a year or two faster than many other institutions. 

How long does it take to become a nurse practitioner? 

The length of time required will depend on your existing education. In general, going through the necessary education to become a nurse practitioner (NP) can take anywhere from five to six years, depending on which route you plan to take. 

NPs are required to accomplish additional training and education compared to RNs. That's because NPs are responsible for prescribing, diagnosing, and administering patient care, similar to a medical doctor. First, you'll need to earn a traditional BSN degree and follow that with a nurse practitioner degree phrase of your choosing.

Study Nursing at MCPHS

Nursing is much more than a career path at MCPHS: it’s a calling that enables you to do what you love while helping patients live healthier and happier lives. As a learner at one of the first institutions of higher education in Boston, you’re mentored by world-renowned healthcare professionals who are committed to student success. Our school is located near some of the country's top medical facilities, offering advanced clinical opportunities during your studies and after graduation. 

Don’t hesitate to connect with one of our admission counselors with any questions about a potential career in nursing or how to get started at MCPHS. Apply today to start your nursing journey.