Thank you for visiting UP! You are using an outdated & unsafe browser. Please select a different browser for a safer and better optimized version of our website.

UP-Color-Icon Bitmap UP-Color-Vertical UP-WhiteonBlue-Horizontal UP-WhiteonBlue-Vertical Path 🎨 Color event Combined Shape Shape 🎨 Color 🎨 Color 🎨 Color 🎨 Color 🎨 Color 🎨 Color 🎨 color 🎨 color search icon copy 🎨 Color Upload 🎨 Color NHVTRINJDEMDDCMACTHIAKFLMENYPAVAWVOHINILWINCTNARMOGASCKYALLAMSIAMNOKTXNMKSNESDNDWYMTCOUTAZNVORWAIDCAMI

News & Info

Different Paths To Becoming A Nurse

Whether you’re just graduating high school, a transfer student, or a professional, there are many different paths to becoming a nurse. These paths generally include associate degrees in nursing and bachelor degrees in nursing, each with its pros and cons depending on your life goals. If you are considering nursing as a career choice, explore the different paths to becoming a nurse.


Associate’s Degree In Nursing

The first path to becoming a nurse starts at the associate level. An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is a two-year program that prepares students to serve their communities as registered nurses. ADN programs provide a foundational understanding of clinical nursing care.

Graduates of ADN programs can sit for the National Certification Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN), a national certification and critical step for those seeking to become registered nurses. Although ADN programs provide a fast path to becoming a nurse, not all states and employers will hire ADN recipients. Make sure to check your employer and state requirements carefully.


  • You can earn your degree in as little as two years.
  • One of the fastest ways to enter the workforce as a registered nurse.
  • You can sit for the NCLEX-RN exam and become certified as a registered nurse.
  • You can continue your education with a bachelor’s degree.
  • Still, receive clinical and classroom experience



  • Depending on the state you work in or the organization you’ll work for, an associate’s degree in nursing may not be enough to meet the education requirements.
  • You will have to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing to pursue an advanced degree in nursing, including graduate and doctoral-level programs in nursing.


Bottom Line

While earning an ADN in nursing is one of the fastest paths to becoming a nurse, many states and healthcare organizations require registered nurses to have a bachelor’s degree. While earning an associate’s degree can help you build experience faster and get you into the field quicker, there are limitations in your ability to advance in the career and pursue future career opportunities in nursing, such as a graduate or doctoral degree, should you choose to do so.


Bachelor’s Degree In Nursing

The second path to becoming a nurse is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). A BSN is the most common nursing education route for someone interested in becoming a registered nurse. Depending on where you are in your academic or vocational journey, BSN programs can range from accelerated completion in one year to 18 months or traditional programs completed in four years. In addition, special programs, such as RN-BSN or ADN-BSN, offer options for working professionals to get their BSN. Although BSN programs require additional time and monetary commitment, they better prepare students to meet the challenges and the needs of a rapidly growing and changing work environment, making them the best path to becoming a nurse.


  • A widely accepted degree
  • Offer additional clinical and classroom experience before employment.
  • You can sit for the NCLEX-RN exam and become certified as a registered nurse.
  • You can pursue advanced degree options, including graduate and doctoral programs.
  • You have more opportunities for career advancement with a BSN.



  • Maximum of four years or more schooling, depending on the specific degree program
  • Accelerated and RN-BSN programs can be intensive.


Bottom Line

Earning a BSN is the best path to becoming a nurse. A BSN degree prepares you to meet the certifications and requirements of serving as an RN while opening the door to vocational and career advancements through professional certificates, graduate programs, and more.


What We Offer At UP

The University of Providence is proud to offer many different paths to becoming a nurse through our dynamic lineup of nursing degrees. We offer three bachelor’s degrees in nursing – with each program centered around preparing new, continuing, or advanced degree seekers to deliver quality, compassionate nursing care to those In need. Each of our nursing programs is accredited, offering a dynamic and robust course offering designed to meet the needs of our students.

Traditional BSN

The newest in our paths to becoming a nurse is the Traditional BSN, our first on-campus nursing program in Great Falls, MT. Our Traditional BSN program offers recent high school graduates and transfer students with the opportunity to earn their BSN through our four-year program. Freshmen will receive two years of foundational education in liberal arts, along with two years of nursing courses. As part of the nursing curriculum, students will gain an advanced understanding of nursing practice taught through in-person lectures, skill labs, clinical placements, and more. Graduates of the Traditional BSN program will be prepared to sit for initial licensure through the NCLEX-RN exam prior to securing a position as a registered nurse.

Online RN-BSN

Designed for already practicing registered nurses who have obtained a two-year degree, the Online RN-BSN program is the perfect path to becoming a nurse for seeking their BSN. Designed for working professionals, our RN-BSN program is designed for all lifestyles – including full-time, part-time, and third-shift workers. Students enrolling in the Online RN-BSN program will be able to select between two different pathways to earn their BSN. For those interested and able to attend live lectures, a hybrid version of the course is available. For those interested in having more flexibility, students can complete the course in a fully asynchronous format.

Accelerated BSN

Our Accelerated BSN is a one-year, all-inclusive path to becoming a nurse. The program is for those who want to transition into a nursing career. Accelerated BSN students must have a bachelor’s degree before enrollment and reside or live close to one of UP’s two Accelerated BSN clinical site locations in Lewistown, MT, or Anchorage, AK. The Accelerated BSN program prepares students for licensure as RNs through a one-year intensive program that focuses on teaching in-demand skills, principles, and foundational nursing practice concepts.

If you’re interested in learning more about our programs, visit our nursing page to explore our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, view accreditation information, and learn how to apply.