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Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse

Program Description

Just the Facts

Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse. A program that generally prepares individuals in the knowledge, techniques and procedures for promoting health, providing care for sick, disabled, infirmed, or other individuals or groups. Includes instruction in the administration of medication and treatments, assisting a physician during treatments and examinations, Referring patients to physicians and other health care specialists, and planning education for health maintenance.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this career cluster:

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

Additional Information

Though you can study nursing in a two-year program, the trend is towards bachelor's degrees.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook says there are three pathways to becoming a nurse: associate's degrees, bachelor of science degrees in nursing, and diploma programs in hospitals. You have a better chance of advancement if you have a bachelor's degree.

You'll need a high school diploma, including courses in English, biology, chemistry and mathematics. Some programs require entrance examinations, letters of recommendation or training in CPR.

"We evaluate high school grades, SAT scores, high school class ranks and recommendations of teachers and counselors," says Rose O'Driscoll, assistant dean of nursing at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. "Participation in extracurricular activities is important, too."

O'Driscoll says that science and math grades are especially important.

What you study in nursing school depends upon the type of nurse you wish to become. Associate's programs include both classroom study and supervised clinical practice and patient care. Classroom studies span basic nursing concepts and patient-care subjects, while clinical practice covers the range of medical specialties.

Clinical practice can take place in hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices, rehabilitation centers and retirement care facilities. A handful of programs offer a mix of in-person and online training in preparation for associate's degrees.

Bachelor's programs in nursing generally run four or five years and include classroom, laboratory and clinical experiences under faculty guidance.

"Students during their first two years take a combination of liberal arts and science courses, as well as courses in basic nursing theory and clinical skills," says O'Driscoll.

"Then, at the end of the second year and during the last two years, students take nursing theory courses and clinical courses to gain experience in a wide variety of health-care environments."

Most nursing degree programs have agreements with health-care agencies that provide the settings for their students' clinical experiences.

However you get it, experience in a health-care setting will both enhance your chances of getting into nursing school and help you decide if nursing is the right career for you.

The main costs are tuition and books. You may also have to buy uniforms.


Learn more about the nursing careers, education programs, scholarship funds, professional associations and much more

American Nurses Association
This site has a lot of great info on becoming a nurse


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OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.