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How Do I Get a Registered Nurse Associate's Degree?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

To receive a Registered Nurse (RN) associate's degree, you typically need to complete about two years of education from a college or university. This program is offered by a number of different schools, and requires that you complete various general education courses in subjects such as math, science, and language. You also need to complete classes that focus on nursing, preparing you for working in the field by teaching you the skills you need as a nurse. Once you complete your registered nurse associate's degree program, then you can become an RN by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses® (NCLEX-RN®).

A registered nurse associate's degree is awarded after the completion of an undergraduate program at a college or university, which means you first need to receive a high school diploma or equivalent certification. You can apply to numerous schools that offer this degree; entrance requirements can vary significantly from school to school. Many institutions expect certain grades from incoming students for acceptance, and you may need to complete and score sufficiently high on entrance exams or other tests.


Once you are admitted by a school with a registered nurse associate's degree, then you can begin attending the classes necessary for graduation. It is typically required that you complete a number of general education courses to receive your degree, which are designed to ensure you have a fairly wide base of knowledge. These classes can include those in math and science, which you will use extensively as an RN, as well as courses in language or communications. While some general studies may seem unnecessary for your future career, being able to communicate clearly can help you gain employment and be a valuable tool for you as a professional.

You will also need to complete some courses in biology, anatomy, and nursing to receive your registered nurse associate's degree. These classes are all vital to your career, and the skills you need to work as a professional RN are typically learned in them. The information and knowledge you gain will also help you pass the tests necessary for you to become licensed to work. You will take many of these courses while in your second year of education toward your registered nurse associate's degree, which can make the second half of your curriculum more directly relevant or interesting for you.

At the completion of these classes, you will receive your registered nurse associate's degree. Once you have this, you can take the NCLEX-RN®, which you need to pass to become licensed. You can also find many schools that offer programs that you can use to work on a bachelor's degree in nursing. While an associate's and licensure is sufficient for you to start working, you may find that a higher degree can help qualify you for various promotions within your field.

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