Accelerated Nursing Programs Guide

by NurseJournal Staff
Accelerated Nursing Programs Guide

Accelerated nursing programs provide a pathway to a nursing career for students who have already earned a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field.

As the demand for healthcare services increases across the population, registered nurses (RNs) who enter the workplace with at least a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) can find an expanding array of opportunities. According to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs can anticipate an average of 175,900 job openings each year between 2019 and 2029, in varied settings like hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and physicians' offices.

Also known as second degree or fast-track nursing programs, accelerated BSN programs take 11-19 months to complete. Part-time students and those admitted without the necessary prerequisite science credits may need more time to finish their degree. Because students enrolled in accelerated RN programs have already completed their general education requirements while earning their previous degree, their coursework typically consists of nursing requirements and electives.

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Featured Accelerated Nursing Programs Online

How to Apply to an Accelerated Nursing Program

Accelerated BSN programs follow different admission requirements depending on their focus. While some schools offer accelerated nursing programs designed for students who have completed an associate degree in nursing or a nursing diploma, second degree nursing programs typically admit candidates who have earned their prior bachelor's degree in any non-nursing major.

Fast-track nursing programs thoroughly screen candidates to identify those most equipped to handle the rigorous nursing curriculum. Applicants must submit official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement describing career goals. Some schools also require an interview.

Most programs look for strong academic performance in prerequisite quantitative and science courses, such as chemistry, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, and statistics, and an overall minimum 3.0 GPA. Many schools require healthcare-related work or volunteer experience, which demonstrates a commitment to the field.

Helpful Accelerated Nursing Program FAQs

How long does it take to complete an accelerated nursing program? true

Most students can finish their accelerated BSN program in 12-18 months without a summer break. The exact length depends on full- or part-time enrollment, clinical practice requirements, and the number of prerequisite and general education credits accepted at the time of admission. The curriculum typically consists of 72-80 core and elective nursing credits.

What is accreditation and why is it important? true

Attending a regionally accredited school ensures that students receive a quality education and qualify for federal financial aid. Accelerated BSN nursing programs should also hold accreditation from either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. These programmatic accreditations determine eligibility for state licensure and enhance hiring prospects.

How hard are accelerated nursing programs? true

Accelerated bachelor of science in nursing, or ABSN, programs provide an immersive curriculum that includes coursework, simulations, and clinical practice, providing graduates with the skills needed to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and enter the nursing field. Because of the year-round schedule and fast pace, many programs recommend that students do not work while studying for their degree.

Are accelerated nursing programs the same as bridge programs? true

The terminology used to describe accelerated nursing degrees differs by program. A bridge program usually refers to a degree that allows students with an associate of nursing degree to move into the master of science in nursing (MSN) while completing the BSN. Some accelerated programs for licensed RNs lead to the MSN degree. Direct entry programs, designed for students with a non-nursing bachelor's, can lead to a BSN or MSN.

Explore Top Accelerated Nursing Programs and Schools

California State University-Fullerton true View School Profile $ Fullerton, CA 68% 28% 35% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

CSUF's accelerated nursing program is ideal for students seeking a registered nurse license. The program allows candidates with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field to explore the nursing discipline, focusing on evidence-based practice, leadership and management, cultural diversity in health and illness, and other foundational concepts.

Classes begin every fall, and learners graduate in two years. The full-time, cohort-based format combines general nursing courses, lab requirements, a capstone course, and a nursing capstone clinical component.

  • Program: Accelerated bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: Fullerton, California
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $3,588 per semester for in-state; $396 added per unit for out-of state
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in any field from a regionally accredited institution; minimum 3.25 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 2 years
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.55%
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of Central Florida true View School Profile $$ Orlando, FL 73% 39% 57% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Widely regarded as one of the country's most innovative higher learning institutions, this research university offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees across disciplines, including a flexible second degree nursing program.

The bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) curriculum prepares learners who hold a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field to take the National Council for Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Along with the required coursework, enrollees must satisfy 30 residency hours and maintain a 2.5 GPA throughout the program's duration.

  • Program: Accelerated BSN
  • Campus: Orlando, Florida
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $212 per credit hour for Florida residents; $749 per credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution; minimum 3.0 GPA; criminal background check
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 2 years
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.64%
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of Wisconsin-Madison true View School Profile $$ Madison, WI 87% 32% 17% Higher Learning Commission

Second bachelor's degree-seekers at UW can satisfy their accelerated nursing program requirements in as little as one year, completing 49 credits of coursework. The rigorous curriculum explores five core concepts: professional nursing leadership, health and illness, healthcare context and systems, scholarship for evidence-based practice, and person, family, community, and systems-centered care.

Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) candidates work with clinical experts as they learn to care for individuals, families, and communities. Throughout the program, degree-seekers take courses on topics like professionalism in nursing practice, pharmacology essentials for nursing practice, and social justice in local and global settings.

  • Program: Accelerated BSN
  • Campus: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $17,384 per semester for residents; $22,934 per semester for nonresidents
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution; minimum 2.75 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 99%
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
Western Carolina University true View School Profile $$$ Cullowhee, NC 62% 59% 35% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

WCU's accelerated nursing program makes it easy for candidates with a non-nursing bachelor's degree to pursue registered nurse licensure. While the program follows the same curriculum as WCU's traditional bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program, the accelerated format lets students complete all program requirements in four consecutive semesters.

The curriculum explores topics such as nursing assessment across the lifespan, nursing ethics and health policy, and pharmacotherapeutics in nursing. Cohorts begin every fall and end in December of the following year. While schedules may differ, most learners participate in two classes and 1-2 days of clinicals each week.

  • Program: Accelerated BSN
  • Campus: Cullowhee, North Carolina
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $3,451 per semester for North Carolina residents; $5,451 per semester for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution; minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 99%
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill true View School Profile $$ Chapel Hill, NC 89% 27% 14% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

North Carolina's first public higher learning institution, UNC-Chapel Hill was founded in 1789 and began enrolling students in 1795. As one of the nation's oldest universities, UNC-Chapel Hill is also the only institution to have conducted classes during the eighteenth century. Today, the university offers a variety of innovative undergraduate and graduate programs, including one of the country's top accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs.

Students in the accelerated nursing program take classes for four semesters, earning a degree in as little as one year. Eligible applicants must meet prerequisite coursework requirements including fundamentals of human anatomy and physiology, general psychology, and microbiology.

  • Program: Accelerated BSN
  • Campus: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $17,998 total cost of program for residents; $59,921 total cost of program for nonresidents
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution; minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94%
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of North Florida View School Profile $$ Jacksonville, FL 59% 34% 52% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

UNF's accelerated nursing bachelor's degree gives bachelor's degree-holders the knowledge and skills needed to seek registered nurse licensure after graduation. The unique format lets candidates study for four consecutive semesters and earn their degree in about 15 months.

Working in 36-student cohorts, degree-seekers complete clinical/laboratory courses and professional classes. The curriculum explores professional nursing concepts, family and community assessment, and health assessment. Graduates are eligible to sit for the National Council for Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam.

  • Program: Accelerated bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: Jacksonville, Florida
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $105 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution; minimum 3.2 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 15 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.4%
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
Truman State University View School Profile $$ Kirksville, MO 72% 39% 12% Higher Learning Commission

Located in Kirksville, Missouri, Truman's flexible accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs expose learners to fundamental nursing concepts and hands-on clinical experiences. Candidates begin classes during the summer semester, typically satisfying their requirements within 18 months of full-time study.

The 48-credit curriculum includes an National Council for Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) preparation course during each of the final two semesters. Degree-seekers must satisfy specific prerequisite coursework before becoming eligible to enroll in the program.

  • Program: Accelerated BSN
  • Campus: Kirksville, Missouri
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $7,975 per academic year for residents; $15,335 per academic year for nonresidents
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution; 3.0 minimum GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 18 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95.65%
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
Texas A & M University-College Station View School Profile $$$ College Station, TX 82% 32% 8% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

This research university located in College Station became Texas' first public higher learning institution in 1876. The campus spans 5,200 acres, making it one of the largest in the nation. Today, Texas A&M offers more than 150 different, innovative programs, including some highly competitive second degree nursing programs.

Learners must satisfy 59 credit hours of prerequisite coursework before enrolling in the accelerated program. Most are able to graduate in 15 months. Spanning four semesters, the program prepares graduates to sit for the National Council for Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam.

  • Program: Second degree bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: College Station, Texas
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $12,000 per academic year for residents; $38,962 per academic year for nonresidents
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution; minimum 3.0 GPA; personal statement; community service
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 15 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: N/A
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
Stony Brook University View School Profile $$ Stony Brook, NY 74% 38% 17% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Stony Brook's accelerated nursing degree stands out among the nation's fast-track nursing programs for its exceptionally fast graduation time. The 12-month concentrated option is open to candidates with a bachelor's degree in an area other than nursing.

Building upon prerequisite coursework, the curriculum explores topics such as the fundamentals of pharmacology, transitions into professional practice, and professional role development in nursing. Learners also participate in clinical experiences at a variety of healthcare settings, including Stony Brook University Hospital. Graduates can sit for the National Council for Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam after completing the required 69 credits.

  • Program: Accelerated bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: Stony Brook, New York
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $295 per credit in-state; $1,031 per credit out-of-state
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution; minimum 2.8 GPA; personal statement; three letters of recommendation
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100% first-time pass rate
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of South Florida-Main Campus View School Profile $$ Tampa, FL 73% 39% 54% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Tampa-based USF operates as the fourth-largest university in Florida and the seventh-largest public university in the entire nation. Until 2020, USF was part of a university system. Now, the university functions as one institution with campuses across three different locations including Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee. Among the university's vast program offerings, learners can enroll in the accelerated second degree nursing program.

Bachelor's-prepared students who want to explore the nursing discipline can enroll in the flexible 16-month accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) track, completing four semesters of coursework and clinical requirements. USF's program stands out among similar opportunities at other institutions, offering enrollees the opportunity to serve the community through the Peace Corps.

  • Program: Accelerated second degree BSN
  • Campus: Tampa, Florida
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $105 per credit hour for residents; $211 per credit hour for nonresidents
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution; 3.0 minimum GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 16 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.04%
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of California-Irvine View School Profile $$$ Irvine, CA 83% 35% 14% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

One of 10 campuses in the University of California system, UCI serves more than 36,000 students. The institution's varied program offerings include one of the top accelerated nursing programs in the country. Learners who hold a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing discipline can take advantage of direct entry into UCI's accelerated master of science in nursing (MSN) program.

The program features a concentration on population health nursing and exposes enrollees to foundational nursing concepts. The cohort format allows graduate students to complete their requirements alongside undergraduate pre-licensure students. Coursework surveys topics such as applied pharmacology, professional issues in nursing, and health promotion/disease prevention.

  • Program: Master's entry program in nursing
  • Campus: Irvine, California
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $10,242 per semester in-state; $14,323 per semester out-of-state
  • Admission Requirements: A non-nursing bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution; minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 2 years
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.74%
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
CUNY Hunter College View School Profile New York, NY 56% 10% 5% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Hunter serves more than 23,000 students across 170 areas of study, multiple degree levels, and a variety of disciplines. Bachelor's degree-holders interested in a nursing career can enroll in an accelerated nursing program from the college system's flagship nursing school, the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing.

Designed to let working professionals earn their bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) in only 18 months of study, the program combines rigorous coursework with hands-on clinical experiences. Candidates must provide immunization records, proof of health insurance, CPR certification, and documentation for professional liability insurance before participating in clinical work.

  • Program: Accelerated second degree BSN
  • Campus: New York, New York
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $305 per credit in-state; $620 per credit out-of-state
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution; minimum 3.2 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 18 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 76.6%
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities View School Profile $$$ Minneapolis, MN 80% 39% 29% Higher Learning Commission

UMN's accelerated nursing program emphasizes a dynamic format and a diverse student population made up of learners from different professional and educational backgrounds. The program lets students with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing discipline earn a master's degree in nursing in just 16 months of full-time study.

The intensive curriculum integrates bachelor's-level nursing foundations with graduate coursework. Graduates may apply up to 18 credits toward a doctor of nursing practice degree at the university. UMN collaborates with over 250 healthcare organizations to facilitate beneficial clinical experiences.

  • Program: Master of science in nursing
  • Campus: Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $719 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in a non-nursing discipline; minimum 3.0 GPA; GRE scores
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 16 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95.31%
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
Northeastern University View School Profile Boston, MA 88% 36% 9% New England Commission on Higher Education

Founded in 1898, Northeastern provides its diverse student body with a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, including a flexible accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (ABSN) program. The blended ABSN program lets degree-seekers graduate within 16 months of full-time study.

The 67-credit curriculum spans four semesters and prepares learners to take the National Council for Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam after graduation. Enrollees complete most of the required coursework online, coupled with hands-on clinical experiences and opportunities to use simulation labs in person.

  • Program: ABSN
  • Campus: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $54,360 per academic year
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution; minimum 3.0 GPA; letters of recommendation; personal statement
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 16 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 85%
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid
The College of New Jersey View School Profile $$$$ Ewing, NJ 86% 52% 4% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

One of the state's most comprehensive universities, Jersey City-based NJCU presents innovative opportunities for learners across degree levels. Bachelor's degree-holders interested in broadening their skill set into the nursing discipline can enroll in the accelerated nursing program and earn their bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) within 12 months of full-time study.

The rigorous curriculum prepares graduates to take the National Council for Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) after graduation, covering a variety of topics including contemporary professional nursing, nursing informatics and technology for quality patient care, and pharmacology in nursing practice. To gain admission, learners must meet prerequisite requirements in human anatomy and physiology, statistics, microbiology, and developmental psychology.

  • Program: Accelerated BSN
  • Campus: Jersey City, New Jersey
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $8,054 per semester in-state; $11,165 per semester out-of-state
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution; minimum 3.0 GPA; current resume; two letters of recommendation; admission essay
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100% first-time pass rate
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

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