College of Science and Health | DePaul University > Academics > School of Nursing > Student Resources > Applying to Take the NCLEX

Applying to Take the NCLEX

​As you are probably aware, in order to find employment as a registered nurse, you will first need to obtain a license to practice in the field. Licensure by Examination is the process of applying to become a registered nurse via a national exam, otherwise known as "taking the NCLEX." Upon passing the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination), the state to which you applied will grant you licensure to practice as a registered nurse in that state.

The information on this page is designed to help current students and upcoming graduates navigate the process of applying to take the NCLEX. If at any time you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to nursing@depaul.edu for assistance.

Start by Determining the State in which You Want to Work

RN licensure is granted on a state-by-state basis, and you may only sit for one state examination at a time. So, the first thing you should do is consider where it is that you would like to work immediately upon graduation. For some, this is an easy question, but others may feel divided. You are welcome to reach out to us for guidance.

Once you obtain RN licensure in one state, there is a process to receive licensure in another state, called Licensure by Endorsement. This typically requires the completion of paperwork and a small processing fee, but does not require sitting for another examination. It is important to understand, however, that there can be a significant time-delay between obtaining licensure in your first and second state, which is why we caution students to think carefully about which state they want to apply for.

Finally, it is also important to note that 25 states are currently part of the Nurse Licensure Compact. For all practical purposes, a nurse with licensure in one of those 25 states would automatically be able to practice in the other 24 states. At this time, Illinois is not part of the compact (see here for a map of states​). To obtain a compact (multi-state) license, you must legally reside in a NLC state and declare that state as your primary state of residence. So, again, you do need to determine the appropriate state for which to sit for your NCLEX examination.

In the documentation below, you will note that we divide the process into two tracks: in-state vs. out-of-state.

General Timelines for Getting Started

In general, students do not need to begin the process of applying to take the NCLEX until the final quarter of their program.

We recommend that in-state testers submit a fully completed application two weeks prior to graduation. For out-of-state testers, because an official transcript is needed, most will aim to complete all application paperwork by one month following graduation. 

To determine an appropriate timeline, please read over processes below carefully.

Steps to Take the NCLEX in the State of Illinois

Step 1: Apply for Degree Conferral

All students must apply for degree conferral by the deadline listed below. Make sure that you apply for the last quarter in which you will take courses (e.g. if you graduate in mid-June, you are graduating at the end of Spring Quarter, and should apply for degree conferral by February 1).

​Graduation Quarter ​Deadline to Apply for Degree Conferral
​Autumn Quarter ​October 1
​Winter Quarter ​January 15
​Spring Quarter ​February 1
​Summer Quarter​ ​July 15
If you need assistance applying for degree conferral, contact CSHGraduation@depaul.edu​.

Step 2: Submit SSN Release Form to School of Nursing

The School of Nursing requires that all IL test-takers sign a release form giving us permission to release your name and social security number to the IL state board of nursing. Please submit this form either in hard-copy or to nursing@depaul.edu.​

Step 3: Order Fingerprints

Look up an approved vendor for IL via the IDFPR website. Schedule an appointment time with the vendor (Application Category is DPR-Professional Registered Nurse). You will pay a fee (around $50) which covers both the state and federal costs. 

Some fingerprint vendors are set up to automatically send your fingerprints to Continental Testing on your behalf. Do not assume that this is the case! Check with your vendor and be sure that you understand how and when your records will be sent. Failure to do so will delay your ability to test. Regardless of whether or not the vendor sends fingerprints on your behalf, it is a wise idea to save your receipt. For vendors that do not send your fingerprints, you will need to mail a copy of your receipt directly to Continental Testing at this address:

Continental Testing Services
P.O. Box 100
LaGrange, IL 60525

If you choose to have fingerprints done at the local police versus an Illinois Vendor, you must ensure that the prints will go through the Illinois State Police and the FBI.

You must time your fingerprints with the next step of the process (applying to the State Board of Nursing), as your fingerprints are only valid for 60 days prior to your application submission. Please understand that this deadline only applies to the submission of your application, and has nothing to do with the date that you sit for your exam.

Step 4: Apply to the State Board of Nursing

All students must apply for RN licensure by examination. In Illinois, this is done through Continental Testing. 
  • Start at the Continental Testing home page.
  • Click on “IDFPR – Illinois Division of Professional Regulation Exams.”
  • Then click “041 – Registered Professional Nurse (RN).”
  • Scroll to bottom of page and click “Online Professional Registered Nurse Application.”
There is an $98.00 fee that you must pay at the time of application with credit card, certified check, or money order. The school code is US49501000. If you see another code for DePaul University, please ignore as it is a legacy code.

Following submission of application, you will be asked to complete the "ED-NUR" form. This is a form that confirms that graduates have completed all program requirements. Because DePaul University is within the state of Illinois, we are able to use an alternative process to confirm all of our recent graduates at once. You do not need to complete the ED-NUR form, or take any action, other than completing the steps listed above.

If you have any questions about the application process or about Continental Testing you may contact: Shirley Dzik at sdzik@continentaltesting.net or (708) 354-9911, ext. 112.

Step 5: Register with Pearson Vue

Pearson Vue is the testing vendor that supplies the actual examination. Because this is a nationwide company, this means that you will be able to find a testing location just about anywhere. One nice benefit of this is that students are allowed to test for any state, regardless of the location in which they sit for the exam. So, for example, you can apply for RN licensure in New York, but sit for the exam in Arizona.

To register with Pearson Vue, click “Register for the NCLEX” at https://portal.ncsbn.org/. Follow the prompts. There is a $200.00 fee payable by credit card. Save the receipt for your records.​

Step 6: After Receiving Authorization to Test, Register for Exam Time/Location

If you complete all the steps above at least two weeks before graduation, then you should expect to receive an Authorization to Test email from Pearson Vue about two weeks after graduation. Schedule the location, date, and time of your NCLEX exam on the Pearson Vue website.

If you do not submit your completed application by the two weeks before graduation deadline, then you can expect to receive your ATT about 30 days after your last application materials were submitted.

Steps to Take the NCLEX Outside of Illinois

Step 1: Apply for Degree Conferral

All students must apply for degree conferral by the deadline listed below. Make sure that you apply for the last quarter in which you will take courses (e.g. if you graduate in mid-June, you are graduating at the end of Spring Quarter, and should apply for degree conferral by February 1).

Graduation Quarter Deadline to Apply for Degree Conferral
Autumn Quarter October 1
Winter Quarter January 15
Spring Quarter February 1
Summer Quarter July 15
If you need assistance applying for degree conferral, contact CSHGraduation@depaul.edu.

Step 2: Submit Notification of Intent Form

The School of Nursing asks that all test-takers confirm their desire to test out-of-state by submitting this form​ to nursing@depaul.edu. Based on this information, the SON will not send program completion info to the state of Illinois. 

Out-of-state testers do not need to complete the SSN Release Form.

Step 3: Review the Requirements for Your State

Because all 50 states have slightly different applications and supplementary requirements, it will be necessary to review the exact instructions for the state in which you intend to test. You can do a quick search for "state board of nursing" and the state, and you should find instructions to apply for "RN licensure by examination." Some states include these instructions within the actual application. Read these instructions carefully. 

If your state requires any supplementary requirements beyond a basic application (e.g. fingerprinting, signed documentation from the School of Nursing, etc.), then you should make plans to complete those requirements. It is unlikely that you will need to start before the midpoint of the final quarter, as all 49 states will require a final transcript before your application is considered complete (see step 6).

If there are any requirements which request a signature from the School of Nursing or a University seal, please make us aware and provide us with the necessary forms.

If you are unsure of any of the steps that are required for your state, please reach out to the School of Nursing to set up a meeting to discuss.
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Step 4: Apply to the State Board of Nursing

All states will require that students complete an application, either online or a hard-copy. Make sure that you read the instructions carefully, as some states allow you to submit supplementary requirements separately, while some require all materials be sent in one packet.

There will be a fee to apply, typically in the range of $50-100.

Step 5: Register with Pearson Vue

Pearson Vue is the testing vendor that supplies the actual examination. Because this is a nationwide company, this means that you will be able to find a testing location just about anywhere. One nice benefit of this is that students are allowed to test for any state, regardless of the location in which they sit for the exam. So, for example, you can apply for RN licensure in New York, but sit for the exam in Arizona.

To register with Pearson Vue, click “Register for the NCLEX” at https://portal.ncsbn.org/. Follow the prompts. There is a $200.00 fee payable by credit card. Save the receipt for your records.​

Step 6: Request an Official Transcript

All states other than Illinois will require that the student supply an official transcript that shows your degree conferral. Please read the application instructions for your state carefully, however, as some have specific instructions for how to transmit a transcript.

It is imperative that you wait to request your official transcript until after your degree has been conferred. If you request a transcript before this time, the state will reject it. All colleges within the U.S. must confer degrees within one month of graduation, but students often find that it takes about 2-3 weeks. You will receive an automated email from the university to let you know when your degree has been conferred.

All official transcripts, regardless of the method of delivery, will be ordered by the student through Campus Connect. You will have the option of an e-transcript or paper copy. Again, read the instructions for your state to ensure proper delivery.

Some states (e.g. California) require that additional paperwork be filled out by the School of Nursing and submitted along with the official transcript. Even in this case, you will order the transcript through Campus Connect. When you make the transcript request, please indicate that you have additional paperwork that must be filled out in tandem. Once Student Records receives the request, they will coordinate with our offices to have the state-specific paperwork signed and sealed, and then they will include that with the official transcript in one mailing.

Step 6: After Receiving Authorization to Test, Register for Exam Time/Location

After completing all of the steps above, you should expect to receive an Authorization to Test email from Pearson Vue. Each state will differ in terms of timeline. Once you have your ATT, you can schedule the location, date, and time of your NCLEX exam on the Pearson Vue website.​
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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between Licensure by Examination and Licensure by Endorsement?

A: Licensure by Examination is the process of applying to becoming a registered nurse, otherwise known as taking the NCLEX. Upon passing the NCLEX, the state to which you applied will grant licensure. Licensure by Endorsement is reserved for those who already hold RN licensure in one state, but wish to practice in a second state. Licensure by Endorsement requires the completion of paperwork and a small fee (usually around $50), but does not require the completion of a second NCLEX. All states have different requirements that must be completed for both forms of application.​

Q: Are there multiple test sites available to me?

A: Absolutely! Candidates are able to take the NCLEX at any Pearson Professional Testing location, regardless of the board they are applying to for licensure. In other words, if you apply to test for New York, you can sit for the exam in Arizona or Maine.​

Q: I’m not sure which state I should test for. How should I decide?

A: There is no one answer to this question, as there are many factors that could affect your decision. In general, the most important question you should ask yourself is which state are you most likely to work in or begin applying to jobs? You should strongly consider testing in whichever state you most want to work in, as there will be a significant time delay before you are able to receive licensure in a second state. The exception to this would be for states in the Nurse Licensure Compact.​

Q: Can I test for multiple states at once?

A: No. You may only register to sit for one state examination at a time. Once you are licensed in one state, it is much easier (and cheaper) to apply for licensure by endorsement if you want licensure in a second state. Simply search for that state’s board of nursing and look for information on licensure by endorsement. You may also want to look into the Nurse Licensure Compact.

Q: What is the Nurse Licensure Compact?

A: 25 states have joined the Nurse Licensure Compact, which gives nurses the ability to practice across state lines. No action required. See here for more info: https://www.ncsbn.org/nlc.htm​

Q: Can I change the state that I want to test for after my application has been submitted?

A: Yes, but you will incur a $50 change fee. We recommend calling the state board of nursing to which you originally applied to seek help with the change.​

Q: Help! Everyone else in my cohort already received their Authorization-to-Test. What did I do wrong?

A: The most likely explanation has to do with timing. Most states (including Illinois), will not send an Authorization-to-Test until 30 days after your completed application is received. Before you panic, first check to see when you submitted your application. If you are sure you applied on time, contact a representative at the state board of nursing. For IL, this is Shirley Dzik, sdzik@continentaltesting.net​ or (708) 354-9911, ext. 112.

Q: What is the earliest I can possibly take the NCLEX?

A: Assuming that you complete all of the steps outlined above in a timely fashion, Illinois test-takers can often test as early as three weeks after graduation (about 50% of our graduates test within one month). Out-of-state test times are dependent on the state in question, but graduates will often receive their Authorization-To-Test about one month after submission of all materials.​

Q: How long do I have to schedule a test after receiving my Authorization-To-Test?

A: You must test within the validity dates of the ATT. Validity dates vary from state to state. Illinois = 90 days. Look on your state board of nursing website for others. If you do not test within the validity dates, you will have to re-register and pay all exam fees again.​

Q: Is it better to take the NCLEX as soon as possible or to wait?

A: Research shows that students who take the NCLEX early perform significantly better than those who wait. Our own data supports this research.​

Q: I applied to take the NCLEX but will not graduate this quarter. What should I do?

A: According to the NCSBN website, "All NCLEX registrations will remain open for a 365-day time period during which a board of nursing can determine a candidate's eligibility." What this means is that if you graduate at a later time, your application should still be valid (up to 365 days).​

Q: When will my degree be conferred?

A: Schools in the U.S. are required to confer degrees within one month of the last day of the quarter or semester in which the student graduated (consult the academic calendar for exact dates). Typically, degrees are conferred in about 3 weeks.​

Q: How do I send my fingerprints to Continental Testing?

A: Some fingerprint vendors are set up to automatically send your fingerprints to Continental Testing on your behalf. The best way to figure out which vendors do this is to look on their website or give them a call. Even if a vendor sends your fingerprints, it’s a good idea to save your receipt! For vendors that do not send your fingerprints, you will need to mail a copy of your receipt directly to Continental Testing at this address:
Continental Testing Services
P.O. Box 100
LaGrange, IL 60525

Q: Why do I see two school codes for DePaul University in the application for Continental Testing? Which one do I choose?

A: All students should choose US49501000 as their school code. The other code is a legacy code. Unfortunately, at this time, we are unable to remove the old code.​

Q: What is the ED-NUR form for Illinois, and do I need to fill it out?

A: Ed Nur was one of the founding fathers of Illinois. Just kidding, it’s a silly name for a form. Illinois uses this form to confirm that graduates have completed all program requirements. The School of Nursing completes a version of this form for all of our graduates (except those that test out of state). You do not need to complete this form!​

Q: I’m confused about what is required for my state. Who should I talk to?

A: Reach out to the School of Nursing to set up an appointment with one of our student services representatives. These requirements are confusing, we agree! We’re happy to review and figure it out with you!​

Q: My state requires that I get a form signed and sealed by someone in the School of Nursing. Who should I direct this to?

A: Send any forms to nursing@depaul.edu​ with clear instructions. Keep in mind that we cannot confirm your degree until after you graduate. Also note that the requirement of a school seal can delay the processing of your form. Try to ensure that we have your form early so that we can process it quickly and effectively.

Q: How do I get an official transcript?

A: All transcript requests must be submitted through Campus Connect. If you’re not sure where, simply search the internet for “DePaul transcripts” to find the appropriate portal. You can order transcripts be sent either electronically or as hard-copy (check the instructions for your particular state). Please note: if you order an official transcript before your degree has been conferred, the transcript will not show your degree! You will receive a notification once from DePaul University once your degree has been conferred. The university must process degrees within one month of the last day of the quarter in which you graduate.​
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