The Illinois Nursing Act provides that only graduates of an accredited nursing education program are eligible for a nursing license in Illinois. Nursing education programs can include baccalaureate programs where graduates earn a bachelor’s of science in nursing or BS to RN programs, where graduates of non-nursing bachelor’s degree programs can take nusring courses to become eligible for an RN license. Nursing education programs focus on the basic science education and clinical training required to practice nursing. Anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pharmacology and hands-on rotations through inpatient and outpatient clinics comprise a nurse’s training.

Graduates of accredited nursing education programs apply to take the national examination for nursing certification and licensing, also called NC-LEX. After collecting a $200 fee, verifying a graduate’s education and conducting a fingerprint check, the Illinois Nursing Board issues instructions for how to schedule the computer-based exam online or by the telephone. Once you have taken the examination, the Illinois Nursing Board will issue a letter notifying you if you passed the exam. You may use this letter to obtain employment as a registered nurse in Illinois while you wait for the State to process your application for licensure, although you will not be able to practice nursing without supervision until the license arrives.

Although some nursing graduates in Illinois apply for the nursing examination and licensure at the same time, the processes are separate, meaning that you will need to complete two separate applications for the exam and State licensure. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation provides an online application for licensure to be completed and submitted with transcripts and fingerprint records.