• Certifications and Licenses
  • RN - Massachusetts

    • Not a Compact State
    • Participates in NURSYS
    • Renewal every 2 years

    Overview

    The National Nursing Database recorded nearly 157,000 registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in early 2022. The Board of Registration in Nursing (BORN) applies the statutes and regulations that govern nursing practice and education in Massachusetts. BORN helps protect the safety, health, and welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth by issuing Massachusetts nursing licenses to qualified individuals through initial licensure by exam or reciprocity and licensure renewal.

    About

    Massachusetts RN licensure requirements include completing an approved nursing program. BORN approves all prelicensure nursing programs in Massachusetts and provides statistics about these programs. To gain approval, nursing program faculty must:

    • Design the program per generally accepted academic standards and credit hours for RN programs

    • Develop a nursing curriculum plan that provides essential, sequenced learning experiences that enable students to develop nursing competence

    • Include sciences, humanities, arts, and foundations of the nursing profession as an integral part of the nursing curriculum plan

    • Provide nursing instruction appropriate to registered nursing across the lifespan

    • Include content relevant to local and national healthcare needs

    All initial applications for Massachusetts nursing licenses must be submitted online through Professional Credential Services (PCS) using the PCS portal. PCS processes initial nursing applications for the Massachusetts BORN. Applicants must have a U.S. Social Security number to use its online application portal. Licensed RNs in Massachusetts also renew online but use the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Online Licensing portal.

    All applicants of a Massachusetts RN license by endorsement or exam must meet licensure requirements established by BORN. They must:

    • Be of good moral character

    • Graduate from a BORN-approved RN education program

    • Pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN)

    • Pay all required licensing fees

    Before PCS accepts an application for licensure review, it must receive a fully executed application and all required documentation. Required documentation includes a 2” x 2” passport-style color photo with a solid background taken within the last year. Photos of driver’s licenses or ID cards/passports aren't acceptable. Applicants must upload this photo on their PCS account page after completing the online application.

    Renewal

    Massachusetts RN license renewal occurs every two years. Each RN’s license expires at 11:59 p.m. on their birthday in every even-numbered year. RNs can renew their licenses up to 90 days before they expire. If they renew online, BORN begins processing their renewal immediately.

    As part of the Massachusetts RN license renewal process, licensees must attest, under penalty of perjury, to comply with:

    They also must complete 15 hours of continuing education for the current licensure period. Licensees must complete a one-time training and education course covering the diagnosis, care, and treatment of patients with cognitive impairments, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. 

    Licensed RNs may also renew by mail by emailing a request for a paper Massachusetts RN license renewal form to [email protected]. Once they complete a paper application, licensees should mail it to:

    Mass Department of Public Health Division of Health Professions Licensure Post Office Box 414394 Boston, MA 02241-4394

    Applications shouldn’t be sent as certified mail, which won’t be accepted at the Post Office, causing significant delays. For help with the renewal process, licensees may call the Help Desk at (617) 973-0935 or send an email to [email protected].

    Continuing Education Requirements

    Continuing education (CE) in nursing is a requirement of license renewal. BORN requires RNs to complete 15 contact hours of CE within each two-year licensure period. RNs licensed for the first time aren’t required to complete CE requirements for their first renewal. Licensed nurses must also complete Domestic and Sexual Violence Training.

    All CE programs must be administered by approved CE program providers. Continuing education must cover appropriate subject matter, which includes:

    • Nursing education

    • Nursing science and practice

    • Management, administration, and supervision in healthcare delivery

    • Research in nursing and healthcare

    • Teaching healthcare and consumer health education

    • Legal, political, economic, or social aspects of healthcare

    • Formal nursing programs or programs in a related field beyond requirements completed for original licensure

    • Subject matter that improves competency and isn’t specified in the list above

    Initial certification of Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life support (PALS) may be counted as CE, but not recertification. College courses may be counted if they’re part of a curriculum relevant to nursing or lead to an academic degree in nursing. Refresher programs and educational programs that offer credit recognized by professional healthcare organizations also may satisfy BORN CE requirements. Generally, programs approved by other State BONs or by a professional review process satisfy CE requirements in Massachusetts, but it’s the licensee’s responsibility to know whether a program qualifies. 

    CE providers should supply participants with an authenticated record of attendance that includes the title of the offering, name of the provider, date of the offering, number of contact hours completed, and confirmation of completion of the offering/program. BORN may request verification of CE compliance at any time. Licensees must maintain evidence of CE completion for four years to cover the two most recent renewal periods. However, they shouldn’t send certificates or other evidence of CE completion unless BORN requests them. If requested, BORN directs licensees where to mail CE evidence.

    Requirements

    Fingerprinting Requirements

    Massachusetts doesn’t currently perform criminal background checks for nurse licensure, so fingerprints aren’t required. BORN may perform a criminal offender record information check, if an applicant self-identifies criminal history when responding to the mandatory Good Moral Character questions. However, this is a name-based search limited to Massachusetts information only, so fingerprints aren’t required for these checks either.

    Contact Information

    Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing 250 Washington Street Boston, MA 02108 [email protected] (617) 973-0900 / (800) 414-0168

    Multistate

    Massachusetts isn't part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), despite legislation to join the Compact having been proposed in several previous legislative sessions. Multiple bills related to the Compact were introduced during the most recent (192nd) legislative session. BORN has supported the Commonwealth’s entry into the Compact for many years. Currently, individuals seeking a Massachusetts nursing license must apply for single state licensure.

    Licensure by Endorsement

    RNs licensed in other states must apply for a Massachusetts nursing license by reciprocity/endorsement. Before beginning their online application, endorsement applicants must:

    • Read the Statutes, Rules, Regulations, and Policies

    • Read the Information and Instructions for Application for Licensure as a Registered Nurse by Reciprocity

    • Read the Good Moral Character Requirements for Licensure

      • Be prepared to submit specific documentation for a good moral character evaluation administered by BORN if any questions related to disciplinary or criminal history were answered “Yes” 

    • Gather a complete and accurate list of all licenses ever held

      • Include all active or inactive practical nursing, RN, and advanced practice RN licenses

      • Include license numbers, status, and initial issue dates

    • Request each state of licensure to send license verifications directly to PCS

      • Include all active or inactive PN, RN, and APRN licenses

      • Request verifications through the Nursys license verification system for those states that participate

        • PCS doesn’t accept QuickConfirm License Verification results from Nursys

      • Retain a copy of the Nursys receipt to upload during the application process

      • Send a Verification of Nurse Licensure form to states that don’t participate in Nursys to complete and return to PCS

    • Gather information about the nursing education program that led to initial RN licensure

      • Include school name, location, and graduation date

      • Request the nursing program to send an official final transcript of the program that led to initial RN licensure directly to PCS

    Applicants who have multiple nursing degrees should only have the transcript from their first RN nursing diploma/degree program sent to PCS. Transcripts must come directly from the nursing program. PCS can’t accept transcripts from applicants.

    PCS accepts electronic transcripts sent directly from the primary source, such as the nursing school, Parchment, or the National Student Clearinghouse. Electronic transcripts must be sent through a secure server to [email protected].

    PCS also accepts transcripts sent through postal mail directly from the education program. Transcripts should be mailed to:

    Professional Credential Services, Inc. ATTN: MA Board of Registration in Nursing C/O MA Nurse Coordinator P.O. Box 198788 Nashville, TN 37219

    Once endorsement applicants complete all these steps, they should log into the PCS portal to submit their applications. Applicants must:

    • Pay application fee

    • Complete all sections of the online application

    • Complete the Child Protective Services (CPS) Background Record Request Form

    • Supply an electronic signature attesting they read the Statutes, Rules, Regulations, and Policies as required

    • Upload a passport-style photo immediately after submitting the application

      • Go to Uploads on the account page to submit the photo

    PCS reviews applications after receiving all required documentation and notifies applicants through email if there are any discrepancies. If PCS approves an application, it emails the License Letter to the applicant on behalf of BORN. The applicant should confirm their license on the Massachusetts Health Care Safety & Quality: License Verification Website.

    Applicants with questions or who need help completing their application for a Massachusetts nursing license by endorsement can contact PCS Customer Service at 877-887-9727 or email [email protected].

    Licensure by Exam

    Graduate nurses not yet licensed who need to take the NCLEX must apply for a Massachusetts nursing license by exam. Before beginning their online application, exam applicants must:

    PCS can’t accept transcripts or Certificates of Graduation from applicants. It accepts transcripts electronically if sent directly from the primary source, such as the nursing school, Parchment, or the National Student Clearinghouse. Electronic transcripts must be sent through a secure server to [email protected].

    All Certifications of Graduation must be sent through postal mail directly from the education program to PCS. Schools may also mail official transcripts directly to PCS. Transcripts and/or all certifications should be mailed to:

    Professional Credential Services, Inc. ATTN: MA Board of Registration in Nursing C/O MA Nurse Coordinator P.O. Box 198788 Nashville, TN 37219

    Once exam applicants complete all these steps, they should log into the PCS portal to submit their applications. They need information from their RN education program for the application, including the name and location of the program, their graduation date, and the program code. Applicants must:

    • Pay application fee

    • Complete all sections of the online application

    • Complete the Child Protective Services (CPS) Background Record Request Form

    • Supply an electronic signature attesting they read the Statutes, Rules, Regulations, and Policies as required

    • Upload the Pearson VUE receipt

    • Upload passport-style photo immediately after submitting the application

      • Go to Uploads on account page to submit the photo

    PCS reviews applications after receiving all required documentation and notifies applicants through email if there are any discrepancies. If PCS approves an application, the applicant receives an Authorization to Test (ATT) email from Pearson VUE that allows them to schedule their NCLEX-RN. They must take the NCLEX within 60 days, or the ATT expires, and they must reapply and pay all applicable fees to both PCS and Pearson VUE. 

    Applicants who pass the NCLEX-RN receive a License Letter through email from PCS on behalf of BORN approximately three business days after the exam date. They should confirm their license on the Massachusetts Health Care Safety & Quality: License Verification Website. Applicants who don’t pass receive a Candidate Performance Report and NCLEX Re-examination Instructions by mail about 10 business days after the exam date. Exam applicants who retake the NCLEX must submit a new online application and re-examination fees.

    Applicants with questions or who need help completing their application for a Massachusetts nursing license by exam can contact PCS Customer Service at 877-887-9727 or email  [email protected].

    Licensure for Foreign Educated Nurses

    Applicants who received their nursing education outside the U.S. must follow the Massachusetts RN Initial Licensure by Examination: Foreign Educated instructions. However, if they completed the Certification from a Board-Approved Nursing Education Program Located Outside the United States form and received an approval letter from PCS, they should complete the Initial Nurse Licensure by Examination Application instead. RNs licensed in Canada or Puerto Rico applying for licensure by reciprocity also must complete the Initial Nurse Licensure by Examination Application.

    Foreign-educated applicants must download, complete, and submit the appropriate Massachusetts nursing license application. They also must submit all supporting documentation and pay applicable fees. Besides completing all the standard steps required of applicants educated in the U.S., foreign-educated nurses also must request a Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) evaluation. CGFNS sends its evaluation report directly to PCS.

    Applicants whose nursing education programs weren't in English must pass a BORN-approved English proficiency exam and submit the results to PCS. BORN has designated the following English proficiency tests and scores as acceptable:

    • Canadian English Language Benchmark Assessment for Nurses (CELBAN): Speaking CLB 8/Listening CLB 10/Reading CLB 8/Writing CLB 7

    • International English Language Testing System Academic (IELTS Academic): Overall Band Score 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 on all modules

    • Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic): Overall passing standard of 55 with individual sections at 50 or above

    • Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) (transitioning to Michigan English Test): Total passing score of 81 and a score of 3 on the speaking section

    • Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based (TOEFL iBT): 84 with a minimum score of 26 on the speaking component

    PCS reviews foreign-educated candidates’ applications and documents for completeness and accuracy. If their education doesn’t meet Massachusetts BORN requirements, BORN notifies the applicant in writing. If their education meets BORN requirements, they receive a Letter of Eligibility and the Massachusetts Nurse License Application Packet.

    For assistance with the Massachusetts nursing license application for foreign-educated applicants, applicants may speak directly with an Applicant Navigation Services professional by calling (215) 222-8454.

    Timing

    Applications are completed in the order received and processing times vary based on individual circumstances. PCS does provide estimated processing times and emails applicants once they reach Final Review status. Applications won’t go into final review until after all required documentation has been received, reviewed, and added to the applicants’ accounts. Applicants can streamline the processing of their applications by requesting all required documentation before they submit their applications. Applicants can start working as soon as their Massachusetts nursing license number appears on the Massachusetts Health Professions License Verification website.

    Temporary Nurse License

    Massachusetts doesn’t usually issue temporary licenses. However, temporary licenses were issued to RNs with a license in good standing in another state during the COVID-19 pandemic under its March 11, 2020, expedited licensure policy. BORN issued 8,569 temporary nurse licenses, including 7,509 temporary Massachusetts RN licenses. Temporary licenses were usually valid for one year from the date of issue.

    The Governor extended the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Order on November 12, 2021, which extended the use of temporary licenses for RNs licensed in another State and not currently licensed in Massachusetts. BORN issued these RNs corresponding Massachusetts RN licenses that were slated to remain valid until June 30, 2022, unless extended or rescinded by the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

    Fees

    Applicants must pay Massachusetts nursing license application fees and other related costs with a credit card during the online application process. All fees are nonrefundable and nontransferable. Current fees and related costs include:

    • Licensure by Exam Application: $230

    • Repeat RN Licensure Exam (within one year of initial exam application): $80

    • Repeat RN Licensure Exam (over one year since initial exam application): $230

    • RN Endorsement Application: $275

    • License Verification: $30

    • Foreign Education Credential Evaluation Applicants: $50

    • Massachusetts RN License Renewal: $120

    • RN Renewal with APRN: $180

    • Late Renewal Fee: $57

    • Certified Statement of Registration: $15

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    Frequently asked questions

    How many times can Massachusetts nurse licensure by exam applicants retake the NCLEX-RN?

    Applicants may take the NCLEX multiple times after they become eligible to take it, but there’s a 45-day waiting period in between each attempt. Each time they take the NCLEX, applicants must submit a retest application with PCS, pay an $80 retest fee to PCS and the $200 exam fee to Pearson Vue. Applicants who don’t pass the NCLEX within one year forfeit all fees paid and must reapply with PCS as a first-time candidate.