Projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate a 7% job growth rate for registered nurses (RNs) from 2019-29, a rate much faster than average. RNs also enjoy a median annual wage about $73,300.
Aspiring RNs must hold an associate degree or bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). For those who already work in another field, returning to school for four years represents a considerable time commitment.
An accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (ABSN) program admits individuals with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field. Incoming students can easily transfer credits, bypass general education requirements, and dive straight into nursing coursework. Some learners graduate in 1-2 years.
If an accelerated BSN appeals to you, check out the best ABSN programs below.
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Best Accelerated BSN Programs 2020
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gwynedd Mercy University
Gwynedd Valley, PA
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.
Applying to an Accelerated BSN Degree Program
Accelerated nursing programs usually maintain different admissions guidelines from traditional BSN degrees. Applicants should already possess a bachelor’s degree and have completed general education courses. ABSN programs may require higher GPAs than BSN programs, generally a 3.0 GPA or better.
Applicants usually need to write an essay explaining their educational and career goals. They are often asked to submit letters of recommendation.
Some students may prefer to apply to online accelerated BSN programs, which offer more flexibility. Online ABSN programs share the same admission requirements as on-campus programs, with the addition of reliable internet access.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an accelerated BSN program?
An accelerated BSN allows individuals who possess a bachelor’s degree in another field to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Candidates can transfer their general education requirements toward their BSN and take nursing courses online. Degree-seekers usually graduate more quickly, often within 1-2 years.
What is accreditation and why is it important?
Any degree you pursue should hold accreditation. The accreditation process ensures that students receive a quality education. Employers, graduate schools, and state licensing boards seek candidates with an accredited degree. Nursing accreditation agencies include the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Is an ABSN the same as a BSN?
Yes, although the two programs use different formats. A traditional BSN requires 120 credits, lasts four years, and includes general education courses. An accelerated BSN allows students to transfer previous undergraduate credit, which cuts down on requirements. Students pursuing an accelerated BSN take nursing courses exclusively.
How fast is an accelerated BSN program?
The AACN states that many accelerated or fast-track BSN programs can take 11-18 months to complete. Many programs discourage students from working while studying so they can enroll full time and graduate on an accelerated timeline.