Types of Nursing Degrees

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

CNA programs are the quickest and least expensive way to enter the nursing field. It is important to note that CNAs are not nurses. As nursing assistants, they do not hold a license, but instead hold a certification to care for patients under the supervision of nurses and doctors. They are also sometimes referred to as unlicensed assistive personnel, or UAP. Often in hospital settings, nursing aides may be referred to as PCT, or patient care technicians.

Average Time

4-12 weeks

Estimated Cost

$400-2,000

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN/LVN)

A licensed practical nurse (LPN) is a professional nurse who works closely with registered nurses and doctors to preform health care services, such as helping patients to dress and collecting samples for testing. At times, they are also assigned nursing assistants and aides to supervise and educate in a hands-on work environment. The origin of licensed practical nursing can be traced back to around 1945, when licensing standards for nursing were put in place.
Average Time
12-18 months
Estimated Cost
$8,000-15,000

Registered Nurse (RN)

There are multiple ways to become a registered nurse (RN). Individuals pursuing a career as an RN can choose to obtain either an ADN degree or a BSN degree. There is a considerable difference between the cost and length of time it takes to complete the two programs, so it is wise to weigh the pros and cons of each degree type before making a decision.

Individuals who are already nurses can become RNs more quickly with an LPN-to-RN program. These programs are shorter because they take into account the nursing knowledge that he or she already has. If an individual already has a bachelor’s degree in another field, he or she can enroll in an accelerated BSN program, which can be completed more quickly than a standard BSN program.

Becoming a registered nurse is a great choice for individuals who think that they will want to attain managerial positions or higher degrees in the future. Most managerial positions and advanced practice nursing programs require an individual to already be an RN in order to qualify.

Average Time
2-3 years
Estimated Cost
$3,000-20,000

LPN to Registered Nurse​

Average Time
2-3 years
Estimated Cost
$15,000-30,000
Average Time
4 years
Estimated Cost
$20,000-30,000

Accelerated Bachelor's Degree in Nursing (ABSN)

Average Time
1-2 years
Estimated Cost
$15,000-30,000

A nurse practitioner (NP) is an advanced practice nurse who can provide primary care, specialized care, and prescribe medication. Nurse practitioners work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, universities, and many other health care environments.

In some states, NPs can work independently and own their own medical practices. When working in a state where NPs are not allowed to practice independently, nurse practitioners must work under the supervision of a doctor. Nurse practitioners who choose to specialize can work in oncology, psychiatric medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics, and other specialties.

Accelerated Master's of Science in Nursing (AMSN)

Average Time
1-2 years
Estimated Cost
$30,000-100,000

Registered Nurse to Master's of Science in Nursing (RN to MSN)

Average Time
1-2 years
Estimated Cost
$20,000-45,000

CNA programs are the quickest and least expensive way to enter the nursing field. It is important to note that CNAs are not nurses. As nursing assistants, they do not hold a license, but instead hold a certification to care for patients under the supervision of nurses and doctors. They are also sometimes referred to as unlicensed assistive personnel, or UAP. Often in hospital settings, nursing aides may be referred to as PCT, or patient care technicians.

Average Time
2-3 years
Estimated Cost
$55,000-100,000