Although the demand for healthcare professionals of all experience levels remains high throughout the country, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that, between 2016-2026, employment of registered nurses (RNs) will continue to grow by 15%, faster than the average for related entry-level occupations such as certified nursing assistants (11%) or licensed practical nurses (12%).
The availability of accelerated nursing programs online provides an avenue for working healthcare professionals to advance in the field. Graduates can access numerous benefits, including higher pay, more job opportunities, and the ability to provide higher quality care to patients. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree in a discipline outside of healthcare can take advantage of a career with excellent prospects through a growing number of online accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs for non-nurses.
Below, discover the top accelerated BSN programs in the U.S. and learn more about what to expect from your degree, including admission requirements, available concentrations, and sample course descriptions.
University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh
Founded in 1871, UWO now serves more than 13,000 students through 200 undergraduate programs and 15 graduate programs. The university also offers a variety of online degrees, including an accelerated BSN program. Students who pursue the accelerated BSN option can earn their degree in just one year of intensive study. Graduates boast a 96% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN.
Students may begin the program on one of three annual start dates. Learners progress through their studies in 30-person cohorts. Before gaining admission, applicants must complete prerequisite courses in composition, general psychology, and human anatomy. Learners may transfer prerequisite course credits from other accredited universities. While candidates complete most coursework online, the curriculum includes three on-campus residencies and clinical rotations at local facilities.
The University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Its nursing programs hold accreditation from the Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education.
Thomas Edison State University
One of the country's oldest adult education institutions, TESU offers degrees at all levels in in over 100 fields of study. Students may earn their degrees at the university's Trenton, New Jersey campus or enroll in one of many distance education programs.
TESU's 60-credit accelerated BSN option was developed for students who already hold a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field but who wish to pursue a nursing career. Candidates can begin taking courses on one of two annual start dates and earn their BSN in just one year of full-time online study. Students complete the program in cohorts and fulfill their clinical requirements at the Trenton and Hopewell campuses. All web-based coursework follows an asynchronous format.
Thomas Edison State University holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The accelerated BSN nursing program holds programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Indiana State University
Established in 1870, ISU boasts a student body of 13,000 individuals. In addition to 100 undergraduate and 75 graduate program offerings available on the university's Terre Haute campus, the university delivers more than 70 online programs through its robust distance learning division.
ISU's on-campus accelerated BSN program targets candidates with bachelor's degrees in non-nursing majors. The 15-month program requires 82 credits, including clinical practice hours. Graduates prepare extensively to sit for the NCLEX-RN and begin working as a registered nurse upon program completion. Admission is competitive, and applicants must complete extensive prerequisite coursework. Learners interested in hybrid study options may take advantage of special on-campus housing and a variety of scholarships for nursing students.
Indiana State University holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The accelerated BSN program holds additional programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
This Pittsburgh institution was founded as a women's college in 1869. Today, Chatham is a coeducational university that serves over 2,000 students on campus and online. Emphasizing the liberal arts and sciences, Chatham's streamlined BSN program allows licensed RNs to complete the flexible, accelerated nursing program online.
Students may transfer up to 90 credit hours towards the BSN's 120 required credits. Along with coursework in general psychology, medical terminology, and media literacy, RN-to-BSN candidates complete 140 supervised clinical hours at an approved healthcare facility near their homes. Transfer students must take at least 30 credit hours at Chatham, including the 26 credits in the RN-to-BSN core curriculum. Candidates may select an optional minor in either business or psychology.
Chatham University holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The RN-to-BSN program holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Gwynedd Mercy University
Located on a sprawling 314-acre campus just 30 minutes from Philadelphia, Gwynedd Mercy University offers more than 50 graduate and undergraduate programs. Learners who hold a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing major can pursue an accelerated nursing program online and earn their BSN in just 16 months of full-time enrollment.
While accelerated BSN nursing program applicants must fulfill certain math and science prerequisites before gaining admission, most prerequisite courses are available online. The 67-credit curriculum includes a capstone course in professional nursing leadership and management, in addition to a clinical practice component. Prospective students should submit their previous undergraduate transcripts, a resume, and letters of recommendation along with their application. Distance learners may apply for one of several institutional scholarships.
Gwynedd Mercy University holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The online accelerated BSN program holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
What to Expect From Accelerated BSN Programs
The sections below explore core components of accelerated BSN nursing programs, including admission procedures, available concentrations, sample courses, program lengths, clinical experience requirements, and online learning benefits. Though representative of accelerated BSN programs in general, prospective students should note that these details may vary depending on the specific schools and programs they select.
Admission Requirements for an Accelerated BSN Program
Accelerated BSN nursing programs adhere to different admission requirements depending on the type of students they serve. Most commonly, prospective students work as nurses or nursing assistants and possess an associate degree or a non-degree nursing diploma. Programs for these professionals typically require applicants to hold valid RN licenses in their practicing states, possess a certain amount of professional experience in nursing, and have completed introductory nursing prerequisites.
However, prospective applicants can apply to accelerated BS-to-BSN programs online, even if they do not possess a nursing degree or experience. In these scenarios, applicants must hold bachelor’s degrees in any discipline to fulfill general education requirements. Depending on their bachelor’s disciplines, some students need to complete additional science prerequisites before beginning nursing coursework.
For online BSN or RN-to-BSN programs, each applicant should prepare to supply materials, including official high school and college transcripts, a brief personal statement, and consent for a background check.
Concentrations Offered for Accelerated BSN Programs
A nursing administrator specialization prepares graduates for employment in management and leadership positions as nurse leaders, administrators, or directors of nursing. Students develop skills in interdisciplinary consultation and collaboration, as well as research and scholarship. Courses cover specialized topics such as organizational management, contemporary issues in HR, and health policy and ethics.
Through a combination of advanced clinical experiences and classroom courses, including evolution strategies for nursing educators, this popular BSN specialization prepares nurses for a career training the next generation of healthcare professionals. Students develop practical skills and knowledge in teaching methods, clinical practice, and scholarship, as well as program development and implementation.
A nursing informatics specialization equips students with the skills to pursue careers as project managers, nurse representatives, or nurse programmers. Courses in database design and development, health informatics, and principles of epidemiology teach students how to integrate nursing and information sciences. Graduates can manage technological resources to promote improved care management and access.
eHealth and Telemedicine
Today, the healthcare industry relies more and more on technology to provide patients with faster, more efficient access to care. An eHealth and telemedicine BSN concentration provides students with courses focused on advancing technology, informatics, and ethics. The concentration prepares nurses to provide safe, ethical, and confidential care in a digital environment.
Mental Health Nursing
In addition to core nursing courses, students taking a mental health concentration complete introductory studies in behavioral psychology and examine how social and political contexts can impact human development. This popular concentration prepares graduates to provide better care to patients dealing with mental disorders and illnesses.
Sample Courses for an Accelerated BSN Program
- Community Health Nursing: A public or community health nursing course emphasizes the importance of population-focused practice and community strategies for disease prevention, health promotion, and disaster prevention. This class develops a nurse’s ability to make population-focused decisions. Students utilize ethnographic, epidemiological, and public policy approaches to explore public health issues.
- Ethics in Professional Nursing: Nurses must possess a thorough understanding of legal and ethical issues to work safely and appropriately in the healthcare profession. In this course, students explore the collaborative nurse-patient relationship, decision-making approaches, and methods of managing patient care during ethical situations that occur in practice.
- Care of Children and Families: Students in this course study a family-centered approach to the nursing care of children. Learners develop skills for nursing practice within the varying contexts of the individual, family, and community. Students analyze the principles of growth and development, health promotion, pharmacologic management, nutrition, and therapeutic intervention.
- Transcultural Nursing: This classroom course provides students with a framework from which they can provide culturally sensitive and competent nursing care. Coursework promotes the study of a combination of historical, theoretical, and cultural topics. Graduates are equipped to work through cultural obstacles that patients and their families may experience during nursing care.
- Nursing Research: In patient care, nurses act both as researchers and consumers of research. Nursing research courses provide students with the skills to evaluate nursing research critically and apply it to healthcare practice. Students may also examine workplace barriers to the use of evidence-based practice.
How Long Does It Take to Complete an Accelerated BSN Program?
Although individual completion times may vary depending on a student’s number of transfer credits and academic performance, most RN-to-BSN programs and accelerated BSN programs for non-nurses take approximately two years of full-time study, including summer semesters, to complete. On average, taking accelerated nursing programs online requires students to enroll in around 72-80 credit hours of nursing core courses and electives before receiving eligibility for graduation.
A non-nurse pursuing a BSN as their second bachelor’s degree may need to study longer and obtain additional credit hours to complete a BSN program’s prerequisite science courses. Similarly, students with associate degrees in nursing may need to complete additional general education courses to satisfy the requirements of a bachelor’s degree. Speaking to an admissions adviser and receiving an evaluation of your prior transcripts is the easiest way to estimate your own personal program length.
Clinical Component for Accelerated BSN Students
The number of clinical hours required by an accelerated BSN program can vary greatly, depending on the program and specialization you select. Some schools require students to complete the bare minimum number of hours as stipulated by state law, while others require significantly more.
Students should expect to spend anywhere from 800-1,000 hours gaining on-site clinical experience under the guidance and supervision of working RNs. Clinical hours expose students to the healthcare environment and allow for practical, real-world applications of classroom teaching. During clinicals, nursing students may spend time in multiple environments, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, ambulatory centers, and nursing homes.
Can I Complete an Accelerated BSN Online?
While many nursing programs only offer on-campus completion options, a growing number of RN-to-BSN programs and accelerated BSN programs for non-nurses allow students to complete most course requirements online. These similarly paced online programs require the same number of course credits, clinical hours, and semesters of study as their on-campus counterparts.
Depending on the school, students may attend class in synchronous (requiring set login times) or asynchronous (allowing for self-paced work within a weekly schedule) formats. Online BSN students complete their clinical hours at approved locations near campus or their places of residence.