How to Become a Registered Nurse

There are three major educational paths that can be followed to become a Registered Nurse. A student must successfully complete one of these degree programs to be eligible for the NCLEX-RN licensing examination. Once a student passes this exam they are able to practice as a Registered Nurse (RN).

Associate’s Degree in Nursing Programs (ADN)

These programs require at least two years of college academic credit and award an associate’s degree in nursing. They include some liberal arts and science courses but focus more on the technical aspects of nursing.

California Board of Registered Nursing website – Approved ADN Programs
http://rn.ca.gov/education/rnprograms.shtml#adn

Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing Programs (BSN)

These programs are basic entry-level programs that admit students with no previous nursing education and they award a baccalaureate nursing degree. BSN programs require at least four but not more than five academic years of college academic credit, in a higher education institution. UCI’s program has a strong emphasis on research and science, and includes general education requirements of the university. Research supports the ongoing trend in healthcare to hire bachelors prepared nurses, and this favors the pursuit of this route for nursing education.

California Board of Registered Nursing website – Approved BSN Programs
http://rn.ca.gov/education/rnprograms.shtml#bsn

2nd Baccalaureate (BSN) Programs

These programs are accelerated baccalaureate programs for non-nursing bachelors degree graduates. They admit students with baccalaureate degrees in other disciplines and require no previous nursing education. Their curricula are designed to be completed in less time than the generic baccalaureate programs, but they also award a baccalaureate nursing degree.

California Board of Registered Nursing website – Approved BSN Programs
http://rn.ca.gov/education/rnprograms.shtml#bsn

Entry-Level Master’s of Science in Nursing Programs (EL-MSN)

EL-MSN programs are for non-nursing bachelors degree graduates. These programs admit students with baccalaureate degrees in other disciplines and require no previous nursing education. These programs prepare graduates for entry into the profession and award a master’s degree in nursing. They are not advanced practice nursing programs (Nurse Practitioner, Anesthetist, Mid Wife, Clinical Nurse Specialist). Although these programs generally require a baccalaureate degree, a few programs admit students with associate degrees. EL-MSN programs can take 2-3 years to complete.

California Board of Registered Nursing website – Approved EL-MSN Programs
http://rn.ca.gov/education/rnprograms.shtml#msn

Students should refer to the Board of Registered Nursing to determine eligibility to be licensed in the State of California.