There are many degrees available to those interested in a nursing career. Degrees in nursing can be obtained in less than a year without prerequisite courses in some vocational programs. Other degrees can take many years to obtain. Registered nursing degrees are available to both community college and university students. Post-baccalaureate degrees are available for experienced nurses to become nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, and nurse educators. Many other degrees exist for experienced nurses to obtain additional education to further their career goals.
The basic level of nursing is the licensed practical nurse. LPN degrees are often obtained at community colleges or vocational schools. Some vocational schools require no prerequisites and no requirements other than a high school diploma or GED. Obtaining a degree can be possible in less than a year, and the graduate can then take the examination for certification as a licensed practical nurse.
Registered nurses attend either community college or a university, and usually require at least two years of prerequisites to nursing before beginning to pursue a nursing career. The registered nurse program is usually an additional two years, giving the registered nurse four years of college-level courses upon graduation. Registered nurse programs allow the graduate to take the licensure examination for registered nurses after graduation.
There are many degree options available for nurses after obtaining the initial registered nurse degree. Community college graduates can go on to take an RN-to-BSN program, allowing them to acquire a four-year degree with an additional year of education in nursing. Graduate-level programs are also available for nurses, giving both master’s and doctorate degrees in nursing. These degrees allow the nurse to practice as a Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Practitioner, or nurse educator. Nurses may also choose to study business, nursing research, or any number of other areas as well. Many programs allow nurses with a two-year degree from a community college to enter directly, allowing them to bypass attending a baccalaureate program altogether.
Nursing also offers many ladder-type programs. LPNs are often eligible to take an additional year of nursing education to become registered nurses in LPN-to-RN programs, usually available through community colleges. Some universities offer LPN-to-BSN programs, allowing the LPN to obtain a four-year nursing degree without having to attend a two-year program at all. RN-to-MSN programs have become very popular, allowing nurses with an RN license to directly enter into master’s degree programs to become nurse practitioners.
There are many avenues for education available for those interested in a nursing career. Nursing education can lead to licensure in as little as one year for LPNs, and as few as four years for registered nurses. The choice is up to the nurse which path is the right one for her.