How to Become an RN in Rhode Island – A Simple Guide

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So, you want to become an RN, right? 

And yet maybe you feel a niggling thought at the back of your mind that perhaps the process is just too daunting and complicated.

Becoming a registered nurse takes time, and it doesn’t help that, after your graduation, there’s still a whole process to undergo before you can get a license. 

Is the process making you hesitate or reconsider your options? 

Well, don’t let it overwhelm you!

The good news is that this article talks about just that – the steps on how to become a registered nurse in Rhode Island. Despite what other people think, the process is simple, and you can do it in 5 steps! 

We’ll walk you through each step, and we’ll even answer some FAQs.

So if you’re still reading this and still interested in becoming an RN, let’s get right to it and talk about the application process.

How to Become a Registered Nurse in Rhode Island in 5 Steps

There are only five steps to becoming a registered nurse in Rhode Island. Here’s a summary of what you need to do: 

  1. Complete a board-approved nursing education program
  2. Apply for a license online and send proof of residency
  3. Submit your Transcript of Records to the board
  4. Complete a Criminal Background Check
  5. Pass the NCLEX-RN

In the following sections, we will talk about each step in more detail. 

Ready? Let’s go. 

How to Become an RN in Rhode Island Step #1: Complete a Board-Approved Nursing Education Program

Every aspiring registered nurse has to study medical concepts and practices. A nursing education program will help you prepare for the real world and the NCLEX-RN that you will be taking later. 

There are two types of RN education programs you can take – ADN or BSN. 

ADN vs. BSN: How Are They Different?

ADN, or Associate Degree in Nursing, and BSN, or Bachelor of Science in Nursing, are two programs you can choose from to be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN. 

The two programs are different, but the commonality is that taking either program will help you qualify to become a registered nurse. 

They also offer courses on chart monitoring and management and basic medical procedures. 

However, the BSN takes four years while the ADN takes two. 

Since the ADN is only half as long as the BSN, it comes as no surprise that it’s a more affordable option. There are fewer laboratory fees too. It is also ideal for those who want to start their RN journey right away.

On the other hand, BSN is a good option if you want a more holistic approach to nursing education. Since the BSN is longer, there’s more time to cover several courses, including laboratory, science research, and management. 

Another edge BSN graduates have is that they are qualified to hold management positions later in their nursing careers. This option isn’t available to ADN graduates. 

More hospitals are also starting to change their application requirements to include only those who graduate from BSN programs. 

This isn’t to say that the ADN is going to be obsolete. Hospitals and clinics still hire ADN graduates, especially for technical roles such as chart monitoring. 

What Does ‘Board-Approved’ Mean?

Whether you choose an ADN or a BSN is ultimately up to you. It depends on your goals, preferences, and resources. 

It’s very important to keep in mind, however, that you should make sure that the program you enroll in (whether ADN or BSN) is approved by the Board of Nursing of Rhode Island. 

If you enroll in a questionable institution, this could cause problems later on when you seek to apply for an RN license. Not to mention that it could mean that you are not getting the proper training to become an RN. 

Here is a list of accredited schools in Rhode Island.

How to Become an RN in Rhode Island Step #2: Apply for a License Online and Send Proof of Residency

When you are about to graduate, you can already apply for a license online from the Rhode Island Board of Nursing. You will need to upload documents and create an account online. 

Follow these steps for your license application:

  1. Apply online at the Rhode Island Department of Health website.
  2. Create a new account if you don’t have an account yet.
  3. Choose ‘Register a Person’ and follow the instructions.
  4. Send the required documents through mail or email to the following details:


Mailing address: Three Capitol Hill – Room 103 Providence, RI

  1. Send proof of residency by sending a copy of your driver’s license, lease contract, or tax return to the same details above.
  2. Pay the application fee of $135 online.

How to Become an RN in Rhode Island Step #3: Submit Your Transcript of Records to the Board

After you send the documents online, you also need to request your nursing school to mail your transcript of records to the Rhode Island Department of Health. Unfortunately, electronic transcripts are not allowed. 

The transcript of records should show the program you take (ADN or BSN) and the graduation date. You must have already graduated during this point. 

Completing the documents in Steps 2 and 3 will help you receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) that you will need in applying for the NCLEX. 

How to Become an RN in Rhode Island Step #4: Complete a Criminal Background Check

While waiting for the ATT, you can already start processing your criminal background check. Follow these steps for a smoother process:

  1. Request a national criminal background check from the Department of the Attorney General. You may call or email their office to schedule an appointment.
  2. Complete the fingerprint form found here before going to your appointment.
  3. Pay the fee of $35.
  4. Take the fingerprint scans from the office of the Attorney General.

For personal record purposes, you may request to have a copy of your fingerprint scans for an additional fee. 

How to Become an RN in Rhode Island Step #5: Pass the NCLEX-RN

Once you have your ATT, you can already apply for the NCLEX. Make sure that you’re applying for the registered nurse type of exam. 

Here are the steps to apply for the NCLEX:

  1. Go to
  2. Create an account via their PearsonVue site.
  3. Choose your schedule and testing venue.
  4. Pay the exam fee of $200.
  5. Wait for the email confirmation of your testing date and venue.

Once you have your confirmation email, you can now proceed to take the NCLEX on your testing day. 

The results will be released in 4-6 weeks. If you pass… congratulations! You will receive an RN license card from the Rhode Island Department of Health. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Registered Nurse in Rhode Island

Now you already know the 5 steps to become an RN in Rhode Island. It isn’t THAT hard, is it? 

But now we will answer some important questions you may still have in mind. 

How much does it cost to become an RN in Rhode Island?

The total fee for the whole application process is $370. The breakdown is as follows:

  • $135 for the application fee
  • $35 for the criminal background check
  • $200 for the NCLEX

How do I get a nursing license in Rhode Island?

You must graduate from a state-approved nursing education program, apply online for a license, submit your transcript of records, and pass both the criminal background check and the NCLEX. 

How many times can you take the NCLEX in Rhode Island?

You can take the NCLEX up to 8 times a year with 45 days between each testing date. You should pass the NCLEX three years from your graduation date. 

How much does an RN in Rhode Island earn?

An RN in Rhode Island can earn up to $50 per hour. That means you can earn around $85,000 a year. 

How long is an RN license in Rhode Island good for?

In Rhode Island, your RN license is valid for 2 years. Once 2 years are up, you will have to renew it by completing 10 hours of Continuing Education, as well as pay a renewal fee. 

How can I apply for an RN license in Rhode Island if I am already an RN in another state?

If you already have an RN license from another state, then you no longer need to retake the NCLEX exam. You can apply for a Rhode Island RN license through endorsement. 

For this, you’ll need to submit some documents, such as a background check, proof of residency in Rhode Island (if you are going to be permanent), and a license verification.

In Summary

Becoming a registered nurse takes a few years, but as you’ve seen from this guide, the process is not as complicated as you thought. 

Plus, it’s a very fulfilling job! 

If you have all the required documents and pass your NCLEX, you won’t experience any delays in becoming an RN in Rhode Island. 

We’re so excited for your journey and we hope this will help you take the first step!

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