How to Become a Nurse Practitioner Without a Nursing Degree in 7 Steps

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If you are considering advanced practice nursing as a second career, see how to become a nurse practitioner without a nursing degree. We have the seven steps to follow to become an NP, one of which includes Madonna’s ABSN program, which be completed in as little as 16 months.

Madonna ABSN student in blue scrubs posing and smiling

Becoming a nurse practitioner allows you to offer a level of expertise above an RN and opens the door to many different opportunities. To become an advanced practice nurse, you’ll need to earn your BSN, pass the NCLEX exam, and then enroll in an MSN program.

While this career is a great path that will further your ability to help people as a nurse, you may be wondering if it is right for you, especially if you have a non-nursing background. Fortunately, you can complete your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree through Madonna’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, which can be completed in as little as 16 months. We don’t require you to have any sort of nursing degree or background to be eligible for this program, making the path to becoming a nurse practitioner that much more accessible.

To help you as you begin with this new and exciting career journey, we’ll share what you can expect as a nurse practitioner as well as how to become a nurse practitioner without a nursing degree through our ABSN program.

Madonna ABSN student smiling, standing in lab

While you’ll need certain qualifications to become a nurse, you’ll also need several personal qualities which predispose you to being an excellent nurse.

What Is an NP?

Before we get into steps to become a nurse practitioner, it is important that you understand what to expect in this career. A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse who holds an MSN. NPs can also act as primary care physicians, depending on their state. Currently, more than half of U.S. states allow full practice authority to NPs. In these states, NPs may treat patients, evaluate tests, and prescribe medications without a supervising physician or physician assistant.

NPs can:

  • Prescribe medications
  • Promote disease prevention and healthy lifestyle
  • Evaluate patients and symptoms
  • Conduct diagnostic tests

NPs can also work in a variety of different settings, including:

  • Outpatient care centers
  • Urgent care clinics
  • Primary care offices
  • Hospitals (state, local or private)
  • Community clinics


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of nurse practitioner positions will increase by 45% between 2020 and 2030 to keep up with demand for this specialized role. This is much higher than the national average, and with a median salary of $123,780, you will experience a stable and rewarding career in terms of both finances and personal gratification.

Becoming a Nurse Practitioner with a Non-Nursing Bachelor’s Degree

If you’re starting your journey to become a nurse practitioner with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you’ve come to the right place. While becoming an NP may seem far in the future now, you may be surprised at how soon you can earn your BSN and be ready to start looking into advanced practice degrees.

Madonna nursing students sitting in class

With the Madonna ABSN program, changing direction doesn’t mean you have to start over. Our accelerated program empowers you to leverage your previous degree so you can earn a bachelor’s in nursing in as few as 16 months instead of the four years it takes with a traditional BSN program. Upon successful completion of our accelerated BSN curriculum, you’ll gain the foundation you’ll need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which must be done before you can practice as a registered nurse and start on your journey toward becoming a nurse practitioner.

Madonna University’s ABSN program makes that possible through a comprehensive blended learning model that combines:

  • Online curriculum
  • Hands-on labs
  • Clinical rotations

In as few as 16 months, Madonna ABSN’s model will provide you with the knowledge and hands-on experience you need to graduate and can prepare you to sit for NCLEX exam.

Without further ado, here are the seven steps you must follow to become an NP with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree.

1. Meet Madonna ABSN Program Requirements

Now that you understand how an accelerated nursing program like Madonna University’s ABSN works, let’s talk about the requirements you’ll need to meet to be qualified to enroll and begin the journey to become a nurse practitioner without a nursing degree. Having a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or existing college credits is just one part of the admissions requirements.

two Madonna ABSN students sitting reading a textbook

To be eligible to apply to the Madonna ABSN program you must:

  • Have a confirmed bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum cumulative 2.8 GPA from all undergraduate coursework. Advanced standing students must have completed a minimum of 60 credits with a cumulative 3.0 GPA in all undergraduate coursework.
  • Complete an application to the university and submit all official transcripts of coursework from all colleges or universities you have attended.
  • Submit a letter of intent to the College of Nursing and Health.
  • Successfully complete all prerequisites.
  • Complete the Madonna Writing Assessment.

2. Earn Your BSN

To start on the path to become a nurse practitioner with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, it’s important to look at the time commitment required in an ABSN program like Madonna’s. While our program is accelerated, how soon you can start depends on how many prerequisites you will need to complete before diving in to your ABSN courses.

During Madonna University’s Accelerated BSN program, you will complete 53 credit hours. Those credit hours are broken down into four, full-time semesters that include a combination of online curriculum, hands-on lab experience, and in-hospital clinical rotations. And although classes are online, students will be required to attend some synchronized online conferences.

3. Pass the NCLEX

Once you successfully complete the 53 credit hours and graduate earning your BSN degree, you must pass the NCLEX exam, which can be taken any time after graduation. It is up to you to determine how soon you want to take it but know you have only three tries to pass the NCLEX each year, so you want to be as prepared as possible.

Madonna’s ABSN program has practice exams throughout its 16 months so you can be as prepared as possible to sit for the exam.

4. Earn a Master’s in Nursing

Now that you have your BSN, have passed the NCLEX, and have your RN license, it is time to get started with your MSN education. Just as there are many pathways and options to consider when selecting an ABSN program, there are also a variety of Master of Science in Nursing programs to choose from. As a BSN-graduated nurse, you can apply to MSN programs in several clinical and non-clinical areas of specialization.

An MSN can open the door to working in specialized clinical practice, administration, education and more. Just as earning your BSN requires significant commitment and dedication, so too will earning your MSN degree.

There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding on an MSN program. Let’s take a closer look at what a traditional MSN program involves, the types of educational options it offers, and how it can get you well on your way to becoming an NP.

Traditional MSN Degree Programs

A traditional MSN encompasses everything you’ll need to know to take you nursing career to the next level and gives you the opportunity to specialize in an area that you are interested in. This MSN pathway generally takes about two years. Just like a BSN program, your MSN program will vary based on school and location.

Other MSN Degree Program Options

While a traditional MSN program may be right for some BSN-holding nurses, there are other options that may fit your lifestyle better. Accelerated MSN programs can be a great option for people who want to compress their MSN and complete it sooner.

You can also earn your MSN through the following types of programs:

  • Direct Entry or Entry
  • RN-to-MSN Bridge
  • Fast Track BSN-to-MSN

5. Gain Experience in the Field

You will need at least one year of professional nursing experience before enrolling in a certificate program. Prior to pursuing an advanced nursing position, it’s important for you to really get an idea of what’s it’s like to work as a nurse in the field. During this year you’ll work with a team of other healthcare professionals and get some real-world experience under your belt.

Madonna ABSN student using stethoscope on patient

6. Obtain a Nurse Practitioner Certificate

Following your year of experience, you will become eligible for enrollment to obtain certification as an advanced practice nurse (APRN).

You can expect to complete about 13 credits of graduate coursework (about five courses) to earn your certificate, although the amount of time it will take to earn varies from school to school.

Part of this step also requires you to complete a preceptorship. Here, you will work under the supervision of a nurse practitioner in a clinical setting.

7. Secure APRN Licensure

Currently, there is not one universal national standard for the licensure of nurse practitioners, although licensure is required in all 50 states. Each state has its own licensing requirements. In some states, you may receive an “upgraded” registered nurse license, in others you’ll need to hold an APRN license.

Either way, you’ll almost certainly need to take a certification exam that is made up of written and practical components. You may need to take extra steps to write prescriptions, depending on the state.

Additionally, while states participate in licensure compacts, these do not apply to being a nurse practitioner. To learn more about your state’s APRN licensure requirements, visit

Will NPs Need a Doctorate?

If you are weighing whether to go into advanced practice, you should be aware that there is currently a push in the industry advocating that all MSN nurse practitioner degree programs switch over to the DNP level by 2025.

In 2018, the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) announced that it would advocate to make the DNP the new educational standard for NPs. However, the announcement was met with some pushback.

While the intention to have higher educational standards is something that could benefit patients, the move would likely create a harder and lengthier road to becoming an advanced practice nurse. For employers, this means it would be harder to fill and keep up with the growing demand for qualified NPs.

Regardless of whether this move is successful, some specialties are already on board and enforcing the requirement. For example, the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs committed to advance the requirements for that field, also with a target date of 2025. Be sure to research requirements for your desired specialty so that you can set yourself up for success in your career.

two Madonna nursing students standing and smiling

While a push is in motion to require a doctorate degree for NPs by 2025, there is no solid evidence that it will be a widespread requirement at that time. There are still logistics to consider and discussions to have, but what’s at the heart of the move is improved patient outcomes.

Get Started on Your Accelerated Nursing Education Today!

Now that you know how to become a nurse practitioner without a nursing degree, it’s time to get started by earning your BSN and becoming a registered nurse. At Madonna University, our ABSN program will prepare you with the knowledge you need to be on your way to becoming a capable advanced practice nurse.

Get started today by connecting with one of our admissions officers. In addition to answering any questions you may have about the program they will help determine your eligibility and identify any prerequisite courses you need to complete.