Each state is different and has different guidelines. I've seen a nonprofit get approval in as little as three months, while others take six months or longer. Before sending in your package, go through it to make sure you've provided all the information requested and that you've answered every question - that will help avoid delays.
Here's a pdf file that has information about starting a nonprofit in North Carolina. It might answer your questions or at least point you in the right direction; http://www.ncnonprofits.org/faq/HowToStartA501(c)(3)Nonprofit.pdf
Report Cheryl's answer
Thanks, North Carolina was a breeze, we are sending the federal one Monday. Following the directions to a "T".
Report Terry's answer
Terry - I started a non-profit and it took about 6 months to get a 501 c3 approval in Texas. It depends on the nature of your organization, but be very detailed in your application. We had several revision because each time they wanted more details.
Report Shantaya's answer
We applied to the feds in late Feb,, heard in April we were in the "big pile" meaning we did not have any big mistakes. We are already cleared with NC. Just waiting....