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Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) Overview

NurseJournal Staff
Updated August 19, 2022
Interested in transitioning into a career as a registered nurse, even if your undergraduate degree is in another field? Achieve your goals with an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing.
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Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

A young African American nursing school student is discussing class material with his instructor. The student is wearing teal green scrubs, and is taking notes and smiling as he listens to his instructor explain. The instructor is kneeling next to him and showing him something on a notepad. Other students are studying in the background.

Average Program Length

11-18 months

Average Credits Required

120 credits

Average Annual Salary


Registered nurses (RNs) can expect promising job prospects through the next decade. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a9% employment growth for RNs between 2020 and 2030. An ABSN degree, also known as a second degree nursing program, provides a pathway for bachelor’s degree-holders in non-nursing fields to transition into this in-demand career.

Read on to learn more about RN careers and how you can earn an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing degree in 18 months or less.

Opportunities With an ABSN

Earning an accelerated ABSN offers a fast track to a new and fulfilling career as an RN. Building on your prior college training, whatever the discipline, an ABSN can propel you into numerous RN roles and prepare you for advancement into leadership positions.

  1. 1

    Good Career Mobility

    An ABSN can lead to numerous nursing roles, including administrative positions not open to RNs with an associate degree, such as nurse managers, unit supervisors, and department heads.

  2. 2

    Job Potential

    A growing number of employers require their nurse hires to hold a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. The demand for RNs with a BSN or graduate training continues to expand, especially in light of nursing shortages and anticipated RN retirements and turnovers.

  3. 3

    Path to Advancement

    The ABSN provides the required educational credential for entry to graduate nursing programs and certification as advanced practice registered nurses, leading to broader career opportunities and higher salaries.

  4. 4

    Skills Learned

    The typical ABSN curriculum provides students with a combination of scientific, clinical, and soft skills. Nursing graduates develop competencies in evidence-based practice, population health, case management, ethics, leadership, and cultural awareness and communication.

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Featured ABSN Specialties

Graduates of ABSN programs work in diverse healthcare settings, from hospitals and long-term care facilities to physicians’ offices and community clinics. These nurses find fulfilling careers in many generalized and specialized RN roles, and in supervisory positions.

information-circleRegistered Nurse

Licensed to practice by their state, RNs provide and coordinate patient care, develop care plans, educate patients and their families about health conditions, and offer counsel and support.


Job Outlook
9% employment increase from 2020-2030

information-circleGeriatric Nurse

Geriatric nurses focus on the healthcare needs of the elderly, helping them maintain their quality of life. These RNs collaborate with doctors and other healthcare specialists to develop and carry out treatment plans.


Job Outlook
9% employment increase from 2020-2030

information-circleOB/GYN Nurse

OB/GYN nurses work with OB/GYN physicians to provide a variety of patient care services for women, from puberty through the childbearing years, and menopause and beyond.


Job Outlook
9% employment increase from 2020-2030

information-circleTravel Nurse

Travel nurses take temporary nursing positions in various specialties serving high-need areas. They often work in medically underserved communities, both in the U.S. and overseas.


Job Outlook
9% increase from 2020-2030

information-circleNeonatal Nurse

Neonatal nurses care for premature and critically ill infants from birth to several months of age. These specialized RNs also provide education and emotional support for parents and families.


Job Outlook
9% employment increase from 2020-2030

How Much Will I Make With an Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing?

Compared to nurses with an associate degree, RNs with an accelerated bachelor’s in nursing jump start their careers with better job prospects and higher salaries. RN salary levels also vary with board certification and specialization, years of experience, and location. Some states pay much more than others, based on cost of living, nursing demand, and labor conditions.

Annual Salary

Monthly Salary

Hourly Salary

Types of Bachelor’s Degrees in Nursing

Admission Requirements for an ABSN Program

An ABSN degree offers the fastest route to RN licensure and nursing careers for students who have already completed a bachelor’s or graduate degree in a non-nursing discipline. Because the structure of these programs builds on prior learning experience, the workload can be intense, with students completing the same courses and clinical hours in less than half the time of a traditional four-year nursing degree.

Consequently, applicants should prepare to meet rigorous admission requirements, as programs look for students who will thrive in this fast-paced and demanding academic environment. Requirements commonly include:

  • Bachelor’s or graduate degree in a non-nursing field from a regionally accredited institution
  • Official transcripts from previously attended schools
  • Minimum 2.5-3.0 GPA
  • Completion of prerequisites in courses, such as anatomy and physiology, chemistry, microbiology, and statistics
  • 2-3 letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Personal statement or essay explaining your interest in nursing and how your previous experiences (educational, volunteer, personal) have prepared you for nursing school
  • In-person interview
  • Drug test and criminal background check

Core Concepts of an ABSN Program

What you study in an accelerated bachelor’s in nursing depends on the school you attend, your chosen specialization, and state licensing requirements. Most programs consist of didactic coursework and applied clinical experiences that emphasize evidence-based practice, fundamentals of health and illness, healthcare systems, patient-centered care, and ethical and professional issues.

Although the curriculum varies by program, you can expect to take a nursing fundamentals course in the first term. Most programs offer courses in physiology, pharmacology, psychology and mental health, leadership management, population health, nutrition, and community and environmental nursing. Depending on the program, students may take required coursework in topics, such as women and infant health, gerontology, emergency care, and informatics in nursing.

Clinical and Lab Components in an ABSN Program

Clinicals and labs comprise a critical component of ABSN programs. These practical experiences allow students to apply conceptual knowledge in professional environments. Students should expect to perform these tasks:

  • Work in multiple healthcare settings
  • Complete background checks
  • Follow all protocols and policies
  • Work under licensed RNs

Schools may require immunization records, documentation of negative test results for tuberculosis, and a current basic life support certification. Students can also take charge by asking questions and volunteering for additional tasks.

What to Expect From an Online ABSN Program

Online ABSN programs accommodate learners who require flexible hours to earn their degrees. Distance courses may follow an asynchronous format, allowing students to complete assignments at any time before deadlines. Students engage with classmates and instructors through discussion boards, private chats, and email.

However, programs may also use a synchronous format, which requires enrollees to attend live classes through their webcams. While online ABSN programs allow students to complete courses remotely, clinical rotations and labs require in-person attendance.

Should I Get an Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing?

Accelerated BSN programs offer a pathway for professionals to transition into new careers. However, students should ensure that ABSN programs meet their needs.

Advantages to a BSN

  • check-circleProfessionals can quickly transition into lucrative, rewarding careers.
  • check-circleprojections indicate a 9%BLS increase in demand for RNs from 2020 to 2030.
  • check-circleGraduates can eventually advance to leadership roles, unlike associate-level students.
  • check-circleAccelerated students benefit from practical learning experiences that accurately reflect the demands of professional environments.

Disadvantages to a BSN

  • x-circleABSN programs typically do not allow a student to have outside employment while enrolled. Students may have to rely on savings and/or financial aid.
  • x-circleStudents need to complete the same amount of clinical hours as enrollees in traditional programs in less time.
  • x-circleAn accelerated pace may require enrollees to spend more time per week studying than they would in traditional programs.
  • x-circleCondensed timelines require more careful time management.

Frequently Asked Questions About ABSN Programs

question-mark-circleHow competitive are ABSN programs?

Accelerated nursing programs rigorously cover a significant amount of material in a short amount of time, so students should anticipate a competitive admissions process. The best candidates possess a proven track record for success.

question-mark-circleAre ABSN programs hard to get into?

ABSN programs vary in competitiveness. For instance, schools may not offer a highly developed nursing program, making their admission requirements less restrictive. Contrastingly, a school with a larger department, technology, and resources may set high expectations for applicants. Students should research admission requirements before formally applying to any program.

question-mark-circleWho offers accelerated nursing programs?

Aspiring RNs can find accelerated nursing programs in any state. More schools also offer online ABSN programs to accommodate professionals. Students can contact local universities to identify programs or research the best accelerated BSN programs that meet their needs.

Explore BSN Programs

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.