How to become a registered nurse in Pennsylvania – RN in Pennsylvania

The State Board of Nursing protects the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through the licensure/certification and regulation of the practice of professional and practical nursing and dietetics-nutrition by registered nurses, practical nurses, certified registered nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, dietitian-nutritionists, and graduate nurses. The Board issues licenses and certifications to qualified applicants, approves nursing education programs, establishes standards of practice, and disciplines licensees and unlicensed persons for violations of the Acts and the regulations.

Official website:

Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in Pennsylvania

1. Take college prep classes in high school:

In addition to a U.S. high school education or the equivalent, to become a registered nurse (RN) in Pennsylvania you should take the following classes in high school and you will have a head start on your nursing class prerequisites at college:
– English – 4 years
– Math – 3-4 years (including algebra and geometry)
– Science – 2-4 years (including biology and chemistry; physics and computer science are recommended)
– Social Studies – 3-4 years
– Foreign Language – 2 years

Check out nursing prerequisites at colleges you are considering. Individual nursing schools vary in their nursing course prerequisites. Talk to your high school guidance counselor and check out the nursing schools you are considering.

2. Choose the type of nursing school you want to attend

Usually there are three types of pre-licensure nursing programs:

– Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) – Takes 2-3 years. Offered at many community colleges. Prepares you to provide registered nursing care in numerous settings.
– Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) – Takes 4 years. Also referred to as Baccalaureate degree. Offered at many State Universities and some private colleges. Prepares you to provide registered nursing care in numerous settings and to move to administrative and leadership positions.
– Entry Level Masters Program in Nursing (ELM) – Designed for adults who have a baccalaureate degree in another field and wish to become registered nurses. Takes 1-2 years depending on how many nursing course prerequisites you have already completed. Graduate receives a masters degree.

3. Select a college and apply for admission

Visit the website’s and campuses of the colleges in the geographic areas of interest to you. Find out which entry exams are required at the colleges you are considering. Apply at more than one college to give yourself options. Many colleges have limited space for nursing students.

Approved RN Programs list in Pennsylvania: CLICK HERE

4. Apply for financial aid

Opportunities abound for scholarships, loans and loan forgiveness programs.

5. Obtain an RN license

To practice as an RN in Pennsylvania, you must be licensed by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing. You must meet educational requirements, pass a criminal background check and pass the national licensing examination.

To apply for licensure:

To register for the NCLEX exam please visit: