Becoming an RN in Massachusetts

Interested in the growing professional nursing field? You can become a registered nurse by completing an approved degree program, scoring well on national board exams, and then passing a background check by the board in your own state.

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In Massachusetts, you can earn a professional nursing, or RN license, with any of four degrees: associate’s, baccalaureate, diploma, or master’s. In the past, it was common for nurses to get their education through a hospital-based diploma program. One remains in Massachusetts: at Brockton Hospital. This program has been in operation since 1897. During the past century, colleges and universities have taken over the role of educating nurses. Today, most registered nurses enroll in either ADN or BSN programs for initial licensing. Candidates who already have a baccalaureate in another field may opt for a direct entry master’s.

All RN programs will prepare you for the NCLEX certification exam at the same level. However, some programs will go above and beyond the licensing requirement. They will give you preparation for careers in education, public health, and management, and also provide a better foundation for specialized education and advanced practice. Nationwide, there is a trend for magnet hospitals to prefer candidates with a BSN (baccalaureate) degree or higher. During economic crunch times, other facilities may prefer this training as well.

A Variety of Education Pathways Depending on Your History

Prior education or prior health care experience can reduce the time it takes you to get your degree. Second degree students may opt for either an accelerated second bachelor’s or a master’s. Some schools offer both options. Students can expect to get credit for general studies classes completed in the past, though they often have to take a few program-specific prerequisites.

Accelerated BSN programs are usually year-round intensives. Students complete the same class work and clinical hours as traditional students, but they may take fewer semesters to do so. Direct entry master’s programs, on the other hand, can take a variety of different forms. Often they allow students to complete a BSN and receive RN licensing en route to a master’s. According to MGH Institute of Health Careers, this allows a student to begin working in the field while completing additional coursework in a specialty area. By the end of this type of program, the student will have an APN as well as RN status. Some other direct entry master’s programs prepare students for advanced generalist positions.

Licensed practical nurses and paramedics both have advanced placement opportunities in Massachusetts. There are more programs for LPNs than paramedics, and in some cases, they are shorter. If you are considering one of theses options to save time, you’ll want to contact multiple schools to find out about prerequisites and pacing as well as how long it will take you before you can start classes.

Registered Nursing Career Outlook in Massachusetts

In 2005, the Massachusetts Association of Colleges of Nursing issued a report that made some rather dire predictions. By 2010, they said, the shortage of nurses would become “unacceptably dangerous”

Around the country, the AACN reports, economic recession has slowed the nursing shortage, but not prevented it. Of concern are changes in demographics; this includes workforce demographics as well as those of the population as a whole. Occupation trends projected 18% growth in Massachusetts during 2008 to 2018.

The Application Process

The real crux of the nursing shortage in Massachusetts is a lack of nursing educators. Since there are a limited number of slots, the application process can get pretty competitive. Of course the competitive process also ensures that more of the students who enroll will actually graduate. The Massachusetts Association of Colleges of Nursing notes that attrition has been a problem in nursing programs.

If the application process seems intimidating, bear in mind that schools are looking for indicators that you’ll complete the program in a timely manner and then pass the NCLEX exam. Successful candidates score well on academic tests and maintain strong GPAs, particularly in prerequisite coursework. Some programs value leadership and other personal attributes.

Associate Degree Programs Approved by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing 

Holyoke Community College
303 Homestead Avenue
Holyoke, MA 01040
413 552-2458

Laboure College
2120 Dorchester Avenue
Boston, MA 02124
617-296-8300 X4040

Lawrence Memorial/Regis College Nursing Program
170 Governors Avenue
Medford, MA 02155
781 306-6600

Massachusetts Bay Community College
19 Flagg Drive
Framingham, MA 01782
508 270-4042

Massasoit Community College
1 Massasoit Boulevard
Brockton, MA 02302
508 588-9100 X1763

Middlesex Community College
33 Kearney Square
Lowell, MA 01852
978 656-3046

Mount Wachusett Community College
444 Green Street
Gardner, MA 01440
978 632-6600

North Shore Community College
1 Ferncroft Road
Danvers, MA 01923
978 762-4022

Northern Essex Community College
45 Franklin Street
Lawrence, MA 01841
978 738-7447

Quincy College
34 Coddington Street
Quincy, MA 02169
617 984-1601

Quinsigamond Community College
670 W. Boylston Street
Worcester, MA 01606
508 854-4262

Roxbury Community College
1234 Columbus Avenue
Boston, MA 02120
617 541-5313

Springfield Technical Community College
1 Armory Square
Springfield, MA 01105
413 755-4769

Anna Maria College
50 Sunset Lane
Paxton, MA 01612
508 849-3300

Atlantic Union College
338 Main Street
P.O.Box 1000
South Lancaster, MA 01561
978 368-2400

Becker College
61 Sever Street
Worcester, MA 01615
508 791-9241 X300

Berkshire Community College
1350 West Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201
413 499-4660 X332

Bristol Community College
777 Elsbree Street
Fall River, MA 02720
508 678-2811

Bunker Hill Community College
250 New Rutherford Ave
Charlestown, MA 02129
617 228-2443

Cape Cod Community College
2240 Iyanough Road
West Barnstable, MA 02668
508 362-2131 X4548

Greenfield Community College
270 Main Street
Greenfield, MA 01301
413 775-162


BSN Programs Approved by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing 

American International College 1000 State Street Springfield, MA 01109
413 205-3519

Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
617 552-4250

College of Our Lady of the Elms
291 Springfield Street
Chicopee, MA 01013
413 594-2761 X237

Curry College
1071 Blue Hill Avenue
Milton, MA 02186
617 333-2280
Endicott College
376 Hale Street
Beverly, MA 01915
978 232-2328

Fitchburg State College 160 Pearl Street Fitchburg, MA 01420
978 665-3221

Mass. College of Pharmacy & Health Science
179 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
617 732-2800

Northeastern University
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115

Regis College
235 Wellesley Street
Weston, MA 02493
781 768-7090

Salem State College of Nursing
352 Lafayette Street
Salem, MA 01970
978 542-6649

Simmons College
300 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115
617 521-2531

University of Mass/Amherst Arnold House
715 N. Pleasant St
Amherst, MA 01003
413 545-2703

University of Mass/Boston
100 Morrissey Blvd
Boston, MA 02125
617 287-7500

University of Mass/Dartmouth
285 Old Westport Road N.
Dartmouth, MA 02747
508 999-8586

University of Mass/Lowell
3 Solomont Way Suite 2
Lowell, MA 01854
978 934-4467

Worcester State College
486 Chandler St.
Worcester, MA 01602
508 929-8129