The Myth Of The 2 Year RN Degree

One of the most attractive things about a career in nursing is that in order to get a rn degree, all you need is a high school diploma, or a GED, and a two year associate’s degree (ADN). Hooray – two years to your dream career!


In most cases – wrong!

In fact, before you can be accepted into an associate’s degree program, there are a number of “prerequisites” courses that you must complete and do well in. These will take you AT LEAST a year to complete. Every school has its own set of prerequisites, and you must contact each school you are looking at individually to find out what they are, but they typically include: Anatomy and Physiology I and II, psychology, nutrition, English, microbiology, college level algebra, and human growth and development. The science classes are intense and demanding; it’s not advisable to load up on too many of them if you also hold down a full time job. Many associate’s degree programs require you to have finished most of the prerequisite classes with a grade of C or better before you can even apply.

Realistically, with the intense competition to get into two-year community college nursing programs, most of the students accepted these days have at least a B average in all of their classes, if not higher. And here’s what makes the wait to get into these types of two-year associate’s degree nursing programs even longer: students have to complete most of their prerequisites before they can apply. There are usually hundreds of students competing for dozens of slots. Most of those students have very good grades. Most nursing schools these days turn away many qualified candidates. Some schools have waiting lists, but many schools don’t, which means that if a student is not accepted into their program, they must wait as long as a year before they have another chance – to again compete against hundreds of qualified students for very few slots.

The truth is there was once a time when you could get through an ADN program in two years but that was before the competition to get into these programs was so intense. Today it is nearly impossible to get a registered nurse degree in two years. Most nurses today will tell you the ADN programs realistically take at least 3 years to complete. Then after you get your associates degree in nursing, you have to prepare and pass the all important NCLEX – which adds even more time to becoming a registered nurse.

There may not be such a thing as a “2 year rn degree,” so does that mean you’ll never get that nursing degree of your dreams? Of course not. It just means that you need to have realistic expectations and plan accordingly. And if waiting 3-4 years to become a registered nurse via an ADN program isn’t what you want to do, then you’ll have to look at other options. For example, you might need to consider becoming a LPN first for a while and then take advantage of a LPN to RN bridge program.

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