The Best Accelerated BSN Programs

Updated November 23, 2022

ABSN programs are a great option for aspiring nurses who already hold a bachelor's degree in another field. Learn more about fast-track BSN degrees and find the top online programs.
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Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Credit: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / DigitalVision / Getty Images

If you already hold a bachelor's degree and want to earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), an accelerated BSN (ABSN) program can help you complete a nursing degree in two years or less. This guide will help you find accelerated BSN programs that suit your career path, educational background, and learning style.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best accelerated nursing programs, making it easier for you to find an option that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

Keep reading to learn more, or go straight to our list of the best accelerated BSN programs.

What Can You Do With a BSN?

You must complete a BSN or an associate degree in nursing (ADN) to become a registered nurse (RN). A BSN is typically more valuable, and a growing number of employers prefer to hire BSN-holders for advanced positions. A BSN curriculum also prepares candidates to earn a master of science in nursing.

Nursing is one of the nation's fastest-growing and most lucrative careers that requires only a bachelor's degree. Common roles for BSN-holders include:

Registered Nurse

ADN or BSN required

RNs work in facilities such as hospitals, physicians' offices, residential care facilities, and clinics, or in home healthcare. They perform tests, administer medications, monitor patients' vital signs, and educate patients and their families on health conditions.

Learn more about Registered Nurses


Neonatal Nurse

ADN or BSN required; BSN with certification often preferred

These nurses care for infants before, during, and after birth. They work in hospital maternity wards, ICUs, and birthing centers. They also educate and assist new parents.

Learn more about Neonatal Nurses


Nurse Advocate

ADN or BSN required; BSN with certification often preferred

Nurse advocates teach patients about their options and rights. They represent the patient before payers, especially insurance companies, and ensure that patients receive ethical and culturally competent care.

Learn more about Nurse Advocates


What To Look For in an Accelerated BSN Degree Program

The best accelerated nursing program for you depends on:

  • Your professional experience and academic background
  • Your learning preferences
  • Program schedule and format
  • Program curriculum

Some students find ABSN programs stressful, because they are taking advanced courses without necessarily having completed that school's foundational courses. Candidates must adapt to a new school while taking higher-level courses. If you can, talk to alumni from the accelerated BSN program to learn about their experiences, and consider factors like:

  • Admission Requirements

    An ABSN program's admission requirements participants tell you what kind of students are likely to succeed, and how likely you are to gain admission. Most accelerated BSN programs maintain course prerequisites, and your performance in those classes can also suggest how well you may do in a program.
  • Program Curriculum

    Did your undergraduate education prepare you for the ABSN program curriculum? Does the curriculum include courses in your chosen specialty?
  • Clinical Experience

    A program's clinical component should fit your schedule and graduation timeline. If you are attending an online ABSN program, can you fulfill your clinical experience in your community, or is travel necessary?
  • Accreditation

    Most employers prefer to hire graduates of accredited programs, and nursing boards typically reserve certification for individuals who complete accredited programs. Few graduate schools accept applicants from non-accredited programs. Read more about accreditation.
  • Program Length

    While ABSN programs are designed to help you graduate quickly, the best accelerated nursing programs operate at a pace that lets students succeed. Consider streamlined options that offer courses at a manageable speed.
  • School NCLEX Pass Rate

    The National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) pass rate suggests how well-prepared graduates are for RN careers.
  • School Graduation Rate

    A school's graduation rate indicates how satisfied and successful students are. It is especially valuable to consider in the context of the NCLEX pass rate. A high pass rate and a lower graduation rate indicate that a program may not work for all students, while high graduation and pass rates are positive signs.

Featured Online RN to BSN Programs

Applying to an Accelerated BSN Degree Program

Applying to an ABSN program requires time and preparation. Along with your application, you should submit an essay or personal statement, and confirm that you have passed all prerequisite courses with a sufficient GPA.

Admission Materials

Common admission materials include undergraduate transcripts and at least two academic or professional references. Some schools request results from the Health Education Systems, Inc. (HESI) exam.

GPA Requirements

Most accelerated BSN programs require a cumulative 3.0 GPA or higher, and at least a 3.0 in prerequisite coursework. Some may admit candidates with borderline GPAs and high HESI scores.

Other Requirements

Prerequisites vary among ABSN programs, but generally include biology, microbiology, anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and statistics. Some schools require applicants to have taken prerequisite courses within a certain number of years so that the material is current.

Why Is Accelerated BSN Degree Program Accreditation Important?

This guide includes only accredited accelerated BSN programs. Program accreditation is a vital sign of program quality. It is important for many reasons:

  • Many employers do not hire graduates of unaccredited programs.
  • Most nursing certifications are available only to graduates of accredited programs.
  • Master's programs are unlikely to admit applicants who graduate from unaccredited programs.
  • Because independent organizations of academics and nursing professionals award accreditation, it indicates that both teachers and professionals believe the program prepares students to work as nurses.

Paying for Accelerated BSN Degree Programs

Are you wondering how to pay for your accelerated BSN program? Potential costs include tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, and travel expenses. You may not be able to work while studying, or you may be working fewer hours.

Fortunately, there are many sources of financial aid for nursing students. Professional associations, nonprofit organizations, corporations, and government agencies offer many grants and scholarships. Some government programs cover full tuition and other costs, or offer loan forgiveness for candidates who agree to work in underserved areas after graduation.

Learn More About the Top Accelerated BSN Degree Program & Schools

#1 The Best Accelerated BSN Programs

University of Central Florida

  • Orlando, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Central Florida offers one of the best accelerated nursing programs in the state. The 30-credit curriculum features flexible online learning, allowing registered nurses (RNs) to work while completing their bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). 

Admittees may be able to transfer up to 29 credits and can finish the program in as soon as three semesters.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,478
Out-of-state
$19,810
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
44%
Students Enrolled
69,402
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 The Best Accelerated BSN Programs

University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Madison, WI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

RNs with an associate degree in nursing (ADNs) or a nursing diploma can earn their BSN online at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The program requires 24-30 credits, not including UW's general education credits. The part-time curriculum culminates with a 60-hour clinical experience at a student-selected site.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,273
Out-of-state
$36,333
Retention Rate
95%
Admission Rate
54%
Students Enrolled
44,257
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 The Best Accelerated BSN Programs

University of North Florida

  • Jacksonville, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of North Florida's accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (ABSN) program allows RNs to complete their bachelor's online in about one year. Distance learners complete 30 credits on their own schedules and can continue working. Course topics include acute-care nursing, healthcare ethics, scholarly evidence in the workplace, and nursing science.

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,996
Out-of-state
$16,799
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
72%
Students Enrolled
17,117
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 The Best Accelerated BSN Programs

Allen College

  • Waterloo, IA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Affiliated with UnityPoint Health-Waterloo, Allen College offers a BSN as an on-campus accelerated program and an online RN-to-BSN. Instruction for both programs combines coursework with extensive clinical hours, which distance learners can complete in their local community.

Average Tuition
In-state
$17,612
Out-of-state
$17,612
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
656
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
82% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 The Best Accelerated BSN Programs

Saint Louis University

  • Saint Louis, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Catholic, Jesuit Saint Louis University offers an online BSN bridge program for RNs. The 55-credit RN-to-BSN can be completed at students' own pace through six accelerated eight-week terms. A passing score on the NCLEX-RN exam and prior nursing experience may count for up to 38 credits.

Average Tuition
In-state
$44,700
Out-of-state
$44,700
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
12,799
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#6 The Best Accelerated BSN Programs

Oklahoma State University-Main Campus

  • Stillwater, OK
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

RNs can earn a BSN online at Oklahoma State University in 9-12 months. OSU's RN-to-BSN program accepts transfer students only and provides maximum flexibility for working nurses.

Learners can complete the 30-35-credit curriculum full- or part-time, including a capstone and two courses with clinical experiences at student-selected locations.

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,366
Out-of-state
$20,877
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
70%
Students Enrolled
24,079
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
42% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 The Best Accelerated BSN Programs

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville

  • Knoxville, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Designed for RNs with an associate degree or diploma in nursing who want to earn a BSN, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville's RN-to-BSN features fully online learning. 

The 34-credit program's flexible start dates, full- or part-time study options, and virtual clinical components, allow students to finish in one year.

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,332
Out-of-state
$28,522
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
29,460
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
36% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#8 The Best Accelerated BSN Programs

Western Carolina University

  • Cullowhee, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online RN-to-BSN track at Western Carolina University takes as little as four semesters of part-time enrollment to complete. Students can continue working while studying remotely. 

WCU organizes its 30-credit program into blocks, with topics in community health, leadership, professional transitions in nursing, and research.

Average Tuition
In-state
$1,000
Out-of-state
$5,000
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
69%
Students Enrolled
12,167
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#9 The Best Accelerated BSN Programs

Georgia Southern University

  • Statesboro, GA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The fully online BSN at Georgia Southern University enables RNs to complete their undergraduate training while continuing to work. The program features flexible clinical hours, full- or part-time attendance, and individual advising.

Coursework includes community health nursing, leadership and management, nursing research application, and professional nurse practice.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,371
Out-of-state
$15,425
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
54%
Students Enrolled
26,054
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#10 The Best Accelerated BSN Programs

Midway University

  • Midway, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Midway University offers a fully online, ABSN program for working RNs. Coursework focuses on professional nursing theory and complex critical thinking, along with leadership practicums.

Midway's remote learners can meet with nursing faculty in person or by phone, email, or Zoom anytime they need support.

Average Tuition
In-state
$24,500
Out-of-state
$24,500
Retention Rate
69%
Admission Rate
60%
Students Enrolled
1,357
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
73% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Frequently Asked Questions About Accelerated BSN Degree Programs


How long is an accelerated BSN program?

An accelerated BSN program usually lasts 1-2 years, provided you complete all prerequisite coursework beforehand. Most candidates need between four months and a year to fulfill their prerequisites, depending on their educational background and schedule.

What is the fastest BSN program?

Accelerated BSN programs or bridge BSN programs are the fastest, typically taking two years or less to complete. Accelerated programs are intended for students with a bachelor's in another subject, while bridge programs are for ADN-holders. If you need to take prerequisite classes, it may take you more than two years to complete an ABSN.

Are accelerated BSN programs worth it?

While accelerated BSN programs cost less and take less time than traditional bachelor's programs, they're fast paced and best suited to individuals who have completed some courses related to nursing. If you need to complete many prerequisite courses, a regular BSN or an ADN-to-BSN bridge program may be better options.

Can you get a BSN in 1 year?

Candidates who have previously completed prerequisite coursework can finish some accelerated BSN programs in one year or less. These programs are very demanding, and many schools discourage or prevent students from working while enrolled in a one-year BSN program.

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