How to Become a Nurse Practitioner without a Nursing Degree

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Become an NP - Nurse wearing red scrubs

If you hold a bachelor’s degree, it just may be the first step toward a career changing lives as a nurse practitioner.

The role of a nurse practitioner is to help patients and offer them guidance, treatment and support — among other duties we will get into later in this blog. If you’re interested in learning how to become a nurse practitioner without a nursing degree, now is the time to leverage your prior experience into a career that is not only respected, but also needed and in high demand.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of nurse practitioner positions will increase by 46% between 2019 and 2029 to keep up with demand — that represents another 263,400 NPs needed to enter the workforce.

This blog will help you determine exactly what steps you’ll need to take on your path to becoming a nurse practitioner with a non-nursing bachelor's degree and how the University of St. Thomas Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (2nd Degree) program can help you graduate ready to sit for your nurse licensure exam in as few as 12 months.

Step 1: Use Your Non-Nursing Bachelor’s Degree to Become an RN

Your path toward becoming a nurse practitioner with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree starts with enrolling in an ABSN program like ABSN@UST. While an NP may seem far in the future now, you may be surprised at how soon you’ll be able to earn your RN and transition into an advanced practice degree.

With ABSN@UST, you don’t have to start from scratch to become a nurse practitioner.

Our accelerated program empowers you to leverage your previous degree so you can earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing in as few as 12 months instead of the four years a traditional BSN program will take to complete.

UST’s ABSN program builds the nursing foundation you’ll need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which you must pass before you can practice as a registered nurse and gain enough work experience to pursue a career as an NP.

ABSN@UST offers a comprehensive blended learning model that combines:

In as few as 12 months, ABSN@UST will provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to graduate and sit for the NCLEX. Once you’ve leveraged your non-nursing degree into a BSN through the University of St. Thomas ABSN program, you can start preparing to earn your MSN and become a nurse practitioner.

University of St. Thomas Houston nursing student working in skills lab

Step 2: Enroll in a Master’s in Nursing Program

Once you’ve completed our ABSN program successfully, the first step toward becoming a nurse practitioner is to enroll in a program to earn your master’s degree in nursing.

As a BSN-graduated nurse, you can apply to MSN programs in a variety of clinical and non-clinical areas of specialization, so you’ll need to evaluate your goals and decide which specializations may appeal to you — although you might already have a solid idea from your clinical experiences with ABSN@UST.

Step 3: Gain Real-World Experience

Prior to enrolling in a certificate program (below), you’ll need at least one year of professional nursing experience to get an idea of the day-to-day duties, challenges and tasks a nurse in the field faces. During this time, you’ll collaborate with a team of other healthcare professionals and get some practical experience and perspective.

Step 4: Earn a Nurse Practitioner Certificate

When you’ve completed one year of experience, you will become eligible for enrollment to earn certification as an advanced practice nurse (APRN).

Every certificate program varies, but you can reasonably expect to complete about 13 credits of graduate coursework (about five courses), to earn your certificate.

To earn the certification, you will also need to complete a preceptorship. This immersive experience involves working under a nurse practitioner in a clinical setting.

Step 5: Obtain APRN Licensure

Just as you had to pass the NCELX and earn your RN license through our ABSN program, you’ll now need to earn your APRN license.

three students writing on a chalkboard

However, this process is not as cut and dry, as there is not one universal national standard for the licensure of nurse practitioners, although licensure is required in all 50 states.

Licensing requirements vary depending on the state. In some states you’ll need to hold an APRN license. In others, you’ll earn an “upgraded” registered nurse license.

Either way, you’ll need to take a certification exam that is made up of written and practical components.

For certain NP duties, like prescribing medications, you may need further licensure, depending on the state. To learn more about your state’s APRN licensure requirements, visit

What Is an NP?

A nurse practitioner, or NP, is a registered nurse who holds a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). NPs generally work in hospitals, outpatient care centers, urgent care clinics, community clinics and primary care centers.

Depending on their state of practice, specialization and interests, NPs may choose to treat patients or focus more on administrative and researched-based duties.

NPs are prepared to be able to:

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

In some states, NPs are empowered to act as primary care physicians. More than half of U.S. states permit full practice authority to NPs — meaning NPs may treat patients, evaluate tests and prescribe medications without a supervising physician or physician assistant.

Make a Bold Call For Your Future

ABSN student in lab

Are you ready to become a nurse practitioner without a nursing degree? The first step is a conversation with our admissions counselors, who will help you determine if you’re right for UST’s ABSN program.

The admissions counselors at ABSN@UST are here to answer any questions you may have about our 12-month second-degree ABSN program. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you start your nursing journey.