Typical Course Outline of an RN Program

Learn about the courses you need to take to become a Registered Nurse (RN), including general education, healthcare-related, and miscellaneous courses.
Typical Course Outline of an RN Program

If you dream of becoming a Registered Nurse (RN), you're probably wondering what courses you'll need to take. To become an RN in the U.S., you must earn a minimum of an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). While the ADN course outline varies from school to school, here is a general overview:

General Education Courses

All ADN students will need to complete some general education (GE) courses, such as:

  • English Composition
  • Mathematics
  • Science (biology and/or chemistry)
  • Humanities
  • Social sciences

The specific GE courses you need will depend on your school's requirements and your placement exam scores.

The core of your ADN program will be healthcare-related courses. These courses will teach you the nursing skills and knowledge you need to care for patients. Some common healthcare-related courses include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Nutrition
  • Pharmacology
  • Nursing fundamentals
  • Medical-surgical nursing
  • Pediatric nursing
  • Maternal-newborn nursing
  • Psychiatric nursing

Miscellaneous Courses

In addition to GE and healthcare-related courses, you may also need to complete some miscellaneous courses, such as:

  • CPR and first aid certification
  • Work-based learning
  • Externships

Full-time ADN programs typically take two years to complete. However, if you need to take additional GE courses or if you work part-time while attending school, it may take you longer to complete your program.

Once you complete your ADN program and pass the NCLEX-RN exam, you will be a licensed RN and able to practice nursing in the U.S.

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