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What Are the Different Types of Registered Nurse Degree Programs?

Erik J.J. Goserud
Erik J.J. Goserud

Becoming a registered nurse can be a desired career path for a number of reasons; these hardworking and skilled individuals play integral roles in the care of others. Nurses also generally have very secure jobs and enjoy the flexibility of being able to work in many different locations. There are a number of registered nurse degree programs that can help future nurses achieve their goals. Most typically, registered nurse degree programs come in associate's degree and bachelor's degree forms. They may also vary in cost, duration, class schedule, and type of learning resources available.

To become a registered nurse, or RN, a person needs to complete all relevant education and training and pass a number of exams that allow them to become licensed. The educational programs that qualify students to take RN examinations are usually two or four-year programs. Most two-year programs result in associate's degree, whereas the typical bachelor's degree requires four years to complete.


Bachelor's degree recipients obviously need more time to complete their required courses and clinical work. These individuals may pay more in money and time for their educations, but they will also earn much more as their careers start. Some nurses start out with associate's degrees then gradually earn their bachelor's while working as RNs.

Registered nurse degree programs also vary in part-time versus full-time status. Part-time programs are more appealing for students with other life obligations, such as families or jobs. This can be more affordable as courses are spread out over time, but obviously, this type of approach can take much longer to complete. Full-time registered nurse degree programs are much more intense and demanding in nature, but they offer faster tracks to becoming an RN.

There are also online registered nurse degree programs that offer convenience to busy people. These programs may be wonderful on paper, but anyone should do a significant amount of research before committing to programs of this nature. This is because the quality of instruction tends to suffer without actual classroom experience and hands-on learning opportunities. Some programs blend online courses with classroom activity to give a taste of everything.

If a person has already obtained a degree but is hoping to change career paths, there are accelerated programs that may offer them the opportunity to do so. These programs are usually one to three years. In the end, they offer the same RN certification as more traditional routes.

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