How to Become an RN in Massachusetts – A Simple Guide

How to Become an RN in Massachusetts - A Simple Guide

So, you want to become a registered nurse in Massachusetts, right?

Well, you made a great choice!

Becoming an RN in Massachusetts is advantageous for you. Aside from being able to help people medically, you will also be given a lot of work opportunities. 

If you’re a first-timer, then you’ll have to go through the whole application process, which includes completing a nursing program and taking an exam. 

But if you already have a license from another state, you can apply for a license by reciprocity. 

We’ll discuss these – plus more – in this article. We’ll also make sure to keep it as simple as possible.

So if you’re ready to learn how to become an RN in Massachusetts, let’s dive right into it!

How to Become a Registered Nurse in Massachusetts in 3 Steps

Becoming a registered nurse in Massachusetts only has three major steps: 

  1. Graduate from a Nursing Education Program
  2. Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN)
  3. Apply for an RN License

Each step has requirements that you need to pass and application fees. 

We’ll discuss each step one by one.

How to Become an RN in Massachusetts Step #1: Graduate from a Nursing Education Program

The first step is to acquire nursing education to become eligible to take the NCLEX-RN. 

You can choose from two programs: an Associate Degree of Nursing (ADN) and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN). 

ADN vs. BSN: What is the Difference?

The most obvious difference between the two degrees is the length of time it takes to graduate. If you’re going to study full-time, the ADN only takes two years while the BSN takes four years. 

If you want to take the NCLEX-RN sooner and get started with your nursing career, the ADN is a good choice. However, BSN degree holders end up having more opportunities. 

In Massachusetts, more and more hospitals already require RNs to be Bachelor’s degree holders. This requirement is especially true for all Boston hospitals. 

The main reason is that a BSN program has a full curriculum, similar to other BS programs. It will also have labs, nursing ethics, and other lectures that fully prepare you for handling medical equipment. 

The best part about BSN is that if you wish to be a nurse in a specialized field, you can go on and get further studies. You can’t do the same if you took the ADN. 

But this is not to say that the ADN is not a good program. It is still a valid program to take for the NCLEX. In fact, if you want, it can even be your starting point to get a BSN degree by taking a bridge program later on in life. 

However, if you are looking for more immediate career opportunities and advancement, then BSN is the best option for you.

Regardless of which program you choose, just make sure that you enroll in a program that is approved by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing

How to Become an RN in Massachusetts Step #2: Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN)

After graduating from your nursing education program, you are now allowed to take the NCLEX. Make sure that you apply for an RN exam since there are several types of NCLEX. 

Before you take the NCLEX, you need to secure an Authorization to Test (ATT), which is given after you do the following steps:

  1. Apply for an RN license in Massachusetts here.
  2. Create an account for your registration.
  3. Upload a recent 2×2 passport-type colored photo of you online.
  4. Upload your graduation certificate from a board-approved nursing education program.
  5. Call or apply online at Pearson Vue.
  6. Choose your NCLEX-RN schedule.
  7. Pay the exam fee of $230 online.

After paying, you will receive an ATT on your preferred testing schedule. 

The NCLEX-RN will test your knowledge on several nursing topics and practices. If you don’t pass it the first time, you may retake it eight times as long as you allow 45 days in between your test schedules. 

You will get the results of the exam in 2-4 weeks. 

How to Become an RN in Massachusetts Step #3: Apply for an RN License 

Steps 2 and 3 are similar because you’re applying in the same portal. However, step 2 is more of getting authorization to take the NCLEX-RN. You need to pass the NCLEX to be able to get your final RN license. 

Once you receive your results in 2-4 weeks, go back to your account and complete your license application. 

Pay the $230 fee for the application. You are only allowed to pay this online and through a credit card. 

Once you settle this, you will receive your RN license in a few weeks. 

But there is another way to apply for a license in Massachusetts. 

Licensure by Reciprocity/Endorsement

What if you are already an RN in another state? Do you need to take the NCLEX all over again?

The application process is different for you because you will be applying by reciprocity rather than by examination. 

While Massachusetts is not a part of the Nursing License Compact, which allows RNs to practice in other partner states, it does allow you to get a license by reciprocity.

You can check out the procedure here if you come from a different state and currently have an RN license.  

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Registered Nurse in Massachusetts

How much does it cost to become an RN in Massachusetts?

The total fee for the application for an RN license is $430. $200 is the NCLEX-RN fee and $230 is the online application fee. 

Is Massachusetts a compact RN state?

No, unfortunately, Massachusetts is not included in the Nursing License Compact. So even if you have a license from a different state, this will not be honored. 

Instead, you will need to apply for a license by reciprocity.

How long does it take to become an RN in Massachusetts?

If you’re taking the ADN route, you should be able to get your license in about three years. This period includes a few weeks of waiting to get your NCLEX results and get your official RN license. 

On the other hand, if you’re taking the BSN route, you will complete the whole process in 5 years. This also includes the four-year program and the several weeks between taking the exam and getting your license. 

When should you renew your RN license in Massachusetts?

You need to renew your license every two years on your birthday. 

Visit the California BON website for updates.

Helpful Resources for Massachusetts RNs

List of Associate Degree Programs (ADNs) in Massachusetts

Here’s a list of ADN programs approved by the Massachusetts BON:

Bay State College
122 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02116

Berkshire Community College 1350 West Street,
Pittsfield, MA 01201

Bristol Community College 777 Elsbree Street,
Fall River, MA 02720

Bunker Hill
Community College
250 New Rutherford Ave, Charlestown, MA 02129

Cape Cod Community College 2240 Lyannough Road, West Barnstable, MA 02668

Greenfield Community College One College Drive,
Greenfield, MA 01301

Holyoke Community College 303 Homestead Avenue, Holyoke, MA 01040

Lawrence Memorial/Regis College Nursing Program
170 Governors Avenue, Medford, MA 02155

Massachusetts Bay Community College
19 Flagg Drive,
Framingham, MA 01782

Massasoit Community College 1 Massasoit Boulevard, Brockton, MA 02302

Middlesex Community College 33 Kearney Square,
Lowell, MA 01852

Mount Wachusett
Community College
444 Green Street,
Gardner, MA 01440

North Shore
Community College
1 Ferncroft Road,
Danvers, MA 01923

Northern Essex
Community College
414 Common Street,
Lawrence, MA 01840

Community College
670 W. Boylston Street, Worcester, MA 01606

Springfield Technical Community College
1 Armory Square,
Springfield, MA 01105

Quincy College
1250 Hancock Street,
Quincy, MA 02169

Quincy College
36 Cordage Park Circle, Plymouth, MA 02360

Roxbury Community College 1234 Columbus Avenue, Roxbury, MA 02141

Laboure College
303 Adams Street,
Milton, MA 02186

Visit the Massachusetts BON website for updates.

List of Baccalaureate Degree Programs (BSNs) in Massachusetts

Here’s a list of BSN programs approved by the Massachusetts BON:

American International College
1000 State Street,
Springfield, MA 01109

Anna Maria College
50 Sunset Lane, Paxton,
MA 01612

Boston College William F. Connell School of Nursing
140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

College of Our Lady
of the Elms
291 Springfield Street, Chicopee, MA 01013

Curry College
1071 Blue Hill Avenue,
Milton, MA 02186

Endicott College
376 Hale Street, Beverly,
MA 01915

Fitchburg State University
160 Pearl Street,
Fitchburg, MA 01420

MGH Institute of
Health Professions
36 1st Ave. Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, MA 02129

Northeastern University
360 Huntington Avenue,
Boston, MA 02115

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

Salem State University
352 Lafayette Street,
Salem, MA 01970

Simmons University
300 The Fenway, Boston,
MA 02115

University of Mass Amherst Elaine Marieb College of
Nursing 651 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA 01003

University of Mass Boston Robert and Donna
Manning College of Nursing and Health Sciences
100 Morrissey Blvd,
Boston, MA 02125

University of Mass/Dartmouth 285 Old Westport Road, N. Dartmouth, MA 02747

University of Mass/Lowell
3 Solomont Way, Lowell,
MA 01854

Westfield State University
577 Western Avenue, Westfield, MA 01086

Worcester State University 486 Chandler Street, Worcester, MA 01602

Massachusetts College
of Liberal Arts
375 Curch St., North
Adams 01247

Assumption University Froelich School of Nursing
500 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA 01609

Emmanuel College Maureen Murphy Wilkens School
of Nursing and
Clinical Sciences
400 The Fenway, Boston,
MA 02115

Merrimack College School of Health Sciences
315 Turnpike Street, North Andover, MA 01845

Wheaton College
26 East Main Street,
Norton, MA 02766
(508) 286-8200

179 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115

19 Foster Street,
Worcester, MA 01608

Visit the Massachusetts BON website for updates.

In Summary

Massachusetts offers a lot of opportunities for those who want to become registered nurses. But if you want to reap the full benefits of the nursing industry in this state, we recommend that you take a BSN program. 

A BSN program may be longer than the ADN, but it opens more doors for you to be accepted in hospitals (especially in Boston). 

Nonetheless, whatever program you take, you still need to pass the NCLEX-RN and apply for a license online to get your Massachusetts RN license. 

We hope this helps you understand the RN process! 

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