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Nursing Education Map

The Ins and Outs of Nursing Education--Finally Explained!

An interactive map of all the possible nursing education routes...and how to get there.

If you have spent any time trying to understand nursing education, you know it's incredibly complex. I mean, there are three different ways to become a Registered Nurse (RN) alone, and the whole profession of nursing can seem like a jumble of acronyms that only a nurse translator could explain! What is an APRN? How do you tell the difference between an NP and a DNP? What on earth is a CNL?

These are just some of the questions we field regularly at BestNursingDegree.com, so to help make nursing easy to understand, we turned to our resident Nurse Expert to lay it out for us. Below, she answers all of your nursing education questions, in the simplest terms possible.

To use this nursing education map, just click on the nursing education topic below that you want to know more about. There you'll find an easy to follow guide to nursing school options.

Nursing Prerequisites

Here is what you need!

So you want to become a nurse...
All nursing schools have their own admission requirements & nursing prerequisites that you must complete before you can start a nursing program. The most common is a Certified Nursing Assistant course.
Find your current education status below and hover there to start.
If you've just graduated, you'll need to complete a CNA course and choose a college or university to start working on prerequisites.
I have my HS Diploma or GED
If you already have a degree, you may have some pre-reqs like Anatomy and Chemistry done, but you'll need a CNA program to get started.
I already have a Degree
If you're already certified as a nurse aide, and have at least a GED, you're ready to apply to nursing school and start earning your degree!
I am already a Nursing Assistant

Most nursing schools require you to complete a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program prior to admission.
Hover over CNA box below for details, then click to find CNA programs near you.
A CNA program takes about 8-12 weeks to complete and prepares you to provide basic nursing care to patients.
Certified Nursing Assistant

Become a Nurse

Here is what you need!

There are several ways to become a nurse.
Hover over each type of program below to learn if this is the right route for you.
Click on the programs below to find and request information from
schools.

LPN
RN
RN

LPNs usually work in clinics nd nursing homes. It takes about 12-18 months to become an LPN/LVN.Licensed Practical Nursing Diploma
You can become an RN with an Associate's degree. It takes two years of full time schooling to get your Associate's in Nursing.Associates Degree in Nursing
It take four years of full time study to become an RN with a Bachelor's degree. Bachelor's Degree in Nursing

If you already have a non-nursing Bachelor's degree, you may be
interested in a Second Degree Bachelor's in Nursing Program or a
Direct Entry Master's in Nursing Program.
APRN
RN

You can go directly into an advanced nursing role, like a Nurse Practitioner, with this degree. It can take anywhere from 2-4 years. Direct Entry MSN Degree
You can get your RN in a Second Degree or Fast Track nursing program, which can take anywhere from 12-24 months to complete. Accelerated BSN Degree

Nursing Bachelors Degrees

Are you already a nurse and now looking to expand your education? Or are you planning to enter the nursing profession by getting your Bachelor's degree? Great!
No matter what your situation, we can help you find nursing schools now.
If you've been working as an LPN/LVN, you may be ready to earn your RN and move up the professional ladder.
I am an LPN/LVN
Getting your RN/BSN in a bridge program will take a year or two in most cases.
LPN to BSN Bridge Programs
Many RNs choose to go back for a BSN degree to expand career opportunities.
I am an RN
Earning your BSN in a bridge program can be achieved in 18 months at some schools.
RN to BSN Bridge Programs
A Bachelor's degree program is the most popular way to become a nurse, and prepares you for any entry level nursing role.
I am not a nurse
A Bachelor's degree in Nursing takes four years to complete and prepares you for practice in all nursing settings.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree
If you already have a non-nursing degree, you can apply some of those credits and become a nurse in as little as two years.
Accelerated (2nd Degree) BSN Programs

Master's Degrees in Nursing

Whether you are already a nurse and looking to expand your education, or if you are planning to enter the nursing profession by getting your Bachelor's degree, we can help you find what you need.
As an RN, you can chose a traditional MSN program or a bridge program, depending on whether you already have your BSN or not.
I am a Registered Nurse
This option allows diploma and Associate trained RNs to move seamlesslly into a graduate nursing program.
RN-MSN Bridge Programs
This is the traditional route for Baccalaureate prepared nurses to earn an MSN, which usually takes two years.
Master of Science in Nursing
If you know that you want to be an advanced practice nurse from the start, look into direct entry and accelerated Master's programs first.
I am not a nurse
If you already have a non-nursing degree, you can enter an accelerated MSN program. If you don't have a degree, you'll need to earn your BSN first.
Direct Entry MSN
At the Graduate Level, You'll need to choose whether you want to work directly with patients or not


Indirect
Care

Direct
Care

With an MSN in Education, you can join nursing faculty across the US in training the next generation of nurses.
Education
If Legal Nurse Consulting, policy formation and shaping the future of healthcare delivery appeal to you, this MSN route is for you.
Legal and Policy

You can earn a Clinical Nurse Leadership degree which will prepare you for supervision in a clinical specialty.
Leadership

Designing ways to implement public health policy, delivery and focusing on community health are part of this graduate nursing track.
Public Health
If you want to improve nursing and healthcare through research studies, you'll need at least a Master's in Nursing.
Research
APRN Degrees
Certified Nurse Midwives provide primary care to women and are present during prenatal, postpartum and childbirthing stages. CNM programs take about 2-4 years.
CNM
A Nurse Practitioner is a primary care provider that can diagnose and treat acute and chronic illness. NP programs take 2-4 years to complete.
NP
A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist provides anesthesia services during surgery and other medical procedures. These highly competitive programs take 3-4 years to complete.
CRNA
A Clinical Nurse Specialist is an advanced practice nurse with expert knowledge and training in a certain specialty. CNS school can take 2-4 years.
CNS

PhD and DNP Nursing Programs

Doctorate Level Nursing Degrees Are the Future of Nursing!

By earning your doctorate level nursing degree, you are preparing yourself to be a leader in the healthcare industry.
Hover over the programs below to see which fits your career goals,
then click on the boxes to find nursing programs in this field.
If you want to transition directly from your BSN to a Doctorate program, look for BNS to DNP bridge programs which can take anywhere from 3-6 years.
I have a BSN
These bridge programs will result in a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, which will allow you to practice direct patient care at the highest level.
BSN to DNP Bridge Programs
This bridge program will prepare you for indirect patient care as an educator, researcher or administrative nursing leader.
BSN to PhD Bridge Programs
Transitioning to your Doctoral degree can take anywhere from 2-4 years.
I have my MSN
This is the traditional Doctor of Nursing program that prepares you for practice as a Nurse Practitioner, Specialist or Clinical Leader with a terminal nursing degree.
Doctor of Nursing Practice
A Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing degree prepares you for a position in academia, research or leadership, but does not prepare you for direct patient care.
PhD in Nursing Degrees
At BestNursingDegree.com our mission to to help you expand your nursing education. We believe that educated nurses are the most crucial component of healthcare.
To learn more, visit other sections of our site and be sure to apply to our Nursing Scholarship so we can help you on your way!

 

Click on the section above you want to know more about.
Hover your mouse over the different nursing degrees for an explanation.
Click on an orange box to find nursing programs.

Thanks for visiting!

Nursing Prerequisites

So you want to become a nurse...
All nursing schools have their own admission requirements & nursing prerequisites that you must complete before you can start a nursing program. The most common is a Certified Nursing Assistant course.
Find your current education status below and hover there to start.

Most nursing schools require you to complete a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program prior to admission.
Hover over CNA box below for details, then click to find CNA programs near you.

Become a Nurse

Nursing Bachelors Degrees

Master's Degrees in Nursing

Whether you are already a nurse and looking to expand your education, or if you are planning to enter the nursing profession by getting your Bachelor's degree, we can help you find what you need.



At the Graduate Level, You'll need to choose whether you want to work directly with patients or not


Indirect
Care

Direct
Care


PhD and DNP Nursing Programs

Doctorate Level Nursing Degrees Are the Future of Nursing!

By earning your doctorate level nursing degree, you are preparing yourself to be a leader in the healthcare industry.
Hover over the programs below to see which fits your career goals,
then click on the boxes to find nursing programs in this field.



At BestNursingDegree.com our mission to to help you expand your nursing education. We believe that educated nurses are the most crucial component of healthcare.
To learn more, visit other sections of our site and be sure to apply to our Nursing Scholarship so we can help you on your way!

 

Click on the section above you want to know more about.
Hover your mouse over the different nursing degrees for an explanation.
Click on an orange box to find nursing programs.

Thanks for visiting!