Begin Main Content Area

Nursing Navigator

The purpose of the Nursing Guide is to provide transparency, inform applicants of expected timelines for receiving your license, and outline steps you can take to reduce mistakes and mitigate delays. To provide the greatest clarity on the licensing process from start to finish, we will break it down into three phases, providing estimated times for each stage of the process, and recommendations for how to reduce processing times.

Registered Nurse

Two of the primary ways to receive an RN license in PA are by exam or by endorsement: license by endorsement, and license by examination.

A Registered Nurse (RN) may:

  • perform health assessments;
  • diagnose* and treat patients' responses to diagnosed health problems;
  • teach and counsel patients about their health;
  • execute medical regimens as prescribed by licensed physicians, dentists, certified registered nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, physician assistants, and podiatrists; and
  • contribute as members of interdisciplinary health care teams and health-related committees to plan and implement health care.

*Nursing diagnosis differs from medical diagnosis in that it includes "identifying and discriminating between physical and psychosocial signs and symptoms essential to effective execution and management of the nursing regimen" only. RNs may not perform medical diagnosis.

Initial Registered Nurse License by Examination Phases and Timeframes

Obtaining a RN license by examination for Pennsylvania graduates means that the applicant completed a Board approved RN nursing program, passed the NCLEX-RN, and meets the additional requirements for licensure.

 Accordion ‭[1]‬

Expand AllClick here for a more accessible version

Initial Registered Nurse License by Endorsement Phases and Timeframes

Obtaining an RN license by endorsement means you have already obtained an RN license in another jurisdiction. A person is eligible for licensure by endorsement if they graduated from an approved professional nursing education program in the United States or Canada, or a professional nursing program deemed to be equivalent to the program of study required in Pennsylvania at the time the program was completed, and obtained licensure in another jurisdiction by passing the NCLEX-RN or another examination equivalent to the NCLEX-RN. If an applicant has not taken the NCLEX or an equivalent examination for licensure, they are required to take and pass the NCLEX-RN for licensure in Pennsylvania.

 Accordion ‭[2]‬

Expand AllClick here for a more accessible version

Process Overview

How to Apply for a Professional License.


What Happens to My Application?


  1. Sign in or create account at

  2. Select the Nursing Board to apply and plain-language questions will appear to help you get started

  3. Application appears – review checklist, upload required documents, follow prompts

  4. Review all information and edit as needed

  5. Pay the required fee and your application is submitted

  6. Keep an eye on your email or get real-time updates at

 Content Editor