With the need for nurses in basically every state in the US, reputable universities have created a quicker path for creating nurses that hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing: the Accelerated BSN. Due to the severe nursing shortage, there is a significant demand for nursing professionals in all types of care settings.

As a result, accelerated nursing programs are expanding at a fast pace to prepare those interested in becoming nurses to enter the field as quickly while still obtaining a quality education. More and more people desire to abandon their already established careers to become nurses. If you are one such person, this guide will give you important insights about taking 2nd degree nursing programs commonly referred to as Accelerated BSN programs or sometimes just as ABSN (Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing) programs. We will also bring you a comprehensive directory of different Accelerated BSN programs available in each state.

As per the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), accelerated nursing programs are offered in 43 states in addition to the District of Columbia and Guam. Currently there are over 260 accelerated bachelor’s programs and 70 accelerated master’s nursing programs available at the school nationwide.


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At the highest level, Accelerated BSN programs are built to help nursing students finish undergraduate/bachelor’s nursing program requirements with greater speed in a much shorter time frame to get them into the workforce quicker.  It can be a fast ride, with aggressive classes and scheduling to accommodate the rigorous and demanding course work. The accelerated BSN can get you into the workforce with an in-demand BSN degree and a wealth of knowledge, but it is a substantial commitment.

Below are a few featured accelerated nursing programs. Feel free to view and request more information about them to get the ball rolling on getting your BSN degree. Most nursing experts usually recommend talking with 3-5 programs to weight your options.

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★ Featured Online BSN Degrees

The following programs are currently accepting students and have accelerated BSN programs or related healthcare programs that are online or hybrid programs. Be sure to check with each program on specific prerequisites for their program as some programs may require an RN license.
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Some colleges and nursing schools do require that you complete a non-nursing BS degree before you can enroll, and the curriculum is based on the idea that you have already completed General Education and pre-requisite credits, but these programs are usually distinguished as Accelerated Second Degree BSN programs.

Accelerated BSN Program Overview

Accelerated BSN nursing programs can be completed in a year, although some states such as California require up to 5 years in pre-requisites, BSN program courses and General Education courses.

The course work includes the following paradigms:

  • Building communication skills with people of various socio-cultural backgrounds
  • Developing critical thinking and decision making skills
  • Training for nursing care and problem solving
  • Integrating research with practical experience and diagnostic skills, and using one’s findings to affect the planning of patient care
  • Advocate for health education and research
  • Expand knowledge continually throughout one’s nursing career.

The BSN Accelerated program is not for the faint of heart, in other words; it expands the educational experience of one’s first BS degree and takes it to the limit, so to speak.

Typical courses in accelerated nursing programs include anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, chemistry, clinical pharmacology, diagnosis and assessment, treatment planning, patient care, the history and theory of the nursing profession, along with a discussion of practice settings. Science courses may be waived if you have completed equivalent classes as part of your first bachelor’s degree.

Accelerated nursing degree programs also include a clinical training component in various healthcare settings. Most nursing schools partner with area hospitals and other healthcare facilities for the purpose of placing students in clinical training. Clinical training involves supervised hands-on patient care and you will be working alongside physicians and registered nurses.

The contact you make during clinical training may well lead to full time employment after graduation. Upon graduation from an accelerated bachelor’s nursing program you will be eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to obtain full licensure.  This is a computer-based multiple choice exam that covers both the theory and practice of nursing.

Accelerated BSN Programs-What Are They?

An Accelerated Second Degree BSN is an undergraduate nursing program offered to college graduates of non-nursing baccalaureate programs. The term second degree is used to mean that the graduate is taking another baccalaureate degree rather than taking a Master or PhD degree program. On the other hand, accelerated means that students take a lesser time to complete the degree unlike the usual 4-years required to earn a bachelors degree.

Basic Features of Accelerated Second Degree BSN Programs

As you think about changing your career and take nursing through the 2nd degree plan, it is paramount to get some facts right.  The program involves fulltime commitments due to the fast paced format of learning. As such, students enrolling for this program are advised to give-up any employment as it would hamper with their focus on the compressed curriculum.

Prior to starting on the clinical and nursing, it would be wise for you to complete the required the package of Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) pre-requisites and co-requisite courses. Many nursing schools will allow students to transfer all or most of the lower division courses taken during the earlier program. Even with such transfer opportunities, some specific courses may be asked as a graduation requirement in a particular university/college. In this case, prospective students should enquire with a program advisor to see how many courses they can transfer and if there are any outstanding lower division courses that need to be topped-up. Usually, such outstanding courses may be taken at community college or even via online, web based or distance formats.

As much as the 2nd degree BSN will help you enter the lucrative nursing career fast, it is designed for academically endowed students. It may be important to evaluate your learning capacity before enrolling in a fast-paced program. Naturally, quick-to learn students will have an easier time than students who take a little longer to grasp class work.  Slow learners may find it quite taxing to keep pace with studying and testing formats that have hardly any time in between.

Completion Time Requirements For Second BSN Degrees

Essentially, accelerated BSN programs feature a compressed curriculum that does surpass 2 academic years.  The common observation is a curriculum taking 18 months though periods as short as 12 months are observed in a few schools. This projected time is for students who have completed their lower division courses such that they start immediately with the sequence of nursing courses upon admission. Students who have not fulfilled the pre-requisites courses may take a little longer. Either way, most students complete their program in time and become eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN exam) to become Registered Nurses (RN).

Balancing Life and Studies

Enrolling in the fast-paced second degree BSN is not a sentence to lose the other aspects of life. Way above half of students changing careers through the 2nd degree BSNs are adult students with families to take care of. It is for this reason that students need to come-up with a workable progression plan during the time they will be in school. Most schools of nursing will offer members of faculty to guide you in coming-up with an individualized study plan suitable for your needs. Such a plan guides you in balancing books and social and family life.

In view of the above, it would also be wise for you to enroll in schools in your locality to give you an easy time between class and home. However, if the school of choice if out of your neighborhood, you may consider securing accommodation in the university halls of residence on nearby quarters. This is usually the case as there are few schools per state offering the second degree Bachelor of Science in nursing. Such a consideration would save you time to spend on other things.

Career Outlook for Those With an Accelerated BSN Degree

The job outlook for an RN with a BSN is favorable, according to the Bureau of Labor/Statistics, with a minimum of 9% and a maximum of 26% growth potential, from 2008 to 2018.  RNs throughout the United States are consistently employed in numerous medical, crisis and geriatric facilities.  The RN/BSN wager currently stands between $49,000 and $70,000, depending on your state and medical facility.

If you currently have a Bachelor’s of Science (BS) degree and yet are not happy with your career you can take an advanced route to changing careers with an online accelerated nursing program. These programs allow you to work through the requirements to become a nurse from the comfort of your own home and earn your BS in nursing (BSN)  in faster time than you would through a traditional four year program.

What is the Future Career Outlook for Accelerated 2nd Degree BSN Graduates?

Generally, the future is bright for graduates. In most cases, students enroll in the program after observing gaps in the healthcare sector. With the increase in the aging population of Americans, there will be increased need for nurses to take care of the elderly citizens. This projection has been given by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and speculates nursing jobs to increase by over 20 % in the next decade. Graduate therefore have the faith of being cushioned from career instability.

Employment Opportunities
Graduating from an accelerated nursing program will provide you with the same job opportunities as graduates from traditional nursing programs. You may choose to work in a hospital, nursing facility, school setting, private physician offices, home health agency, or corporate health department. Once you have been working in the field for a period of time you may wish to specialize and become a clinical nurse specialist, pediatric nurse, geriatric nurse, nurse midwife, or nurse anesthetist. These are considered advanced practice areas and will require a master’s degree.

No matter the area you wish to specialize your services will be in high demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the anticipated growth rate for RNs is expected to be 22 percent through 2018, much faster than the rate for most other occupations. The aging of the population combined with the nursing shortage are the two main factors contributing to this anticipated growth.

Online Schools that Offer Accelerated Programs

The first thing you need to do is find a listing of the online programs that offer accelerated nursing programs. Once you do this you can proceed to review them and make an educated decision. Some of the best places to look include nursing organizations such as the American Association of Nurses. These are excellent resources to help you find listings of online schools.

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★ Featured Online BSN Degrees

The following programs are currently accepting students and have accelerated BSN programs or related healthcare programs that are online or hybrid programs. Be sure to check with each program on specific prerequisites for their program as some programs may require an RN license.
SPONSORED SCHOOLS

Once you have found the many different schools that are available for you to attend online to get your accelerated nursing degree you should read over what they offer and determine which one is best for you. Some of the most notable online accelerated nursing programs include:

  • University of St. Mary: The University of St. Mary partners with hospitals to help with the training and clinical aspect of a nursing degree so that students can continue their educational trek into the nursing field from their own home for as much of the program as possible.
  • Western Governor’s University: This University specializes in online, accelerated programs to get students out of the classroom quicker and into their field of work. The school is accredited and offers financial aid to students who qualify. The tuition at Western Governor’s University is more affordable than many online schools. The school has been described as the “best relatively cheap university you never heard of” by TIME magazine. However, with current enrollment at 30,000 it appears students are hearing about the school.
  • Northern Arizona University: NAU, commonly known for its traditional on-campus programs ores and excellent accelerated nursing program that can be completed in 12 months through their online nursing program. Students interested in this must act fast as the program only accepts 30 students per year. Additionally, students must take classes sequentially, they cannot be moved around.
  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor: While this is an excellent school for accelerating a nursing degree, the tuition difference for instate students ($7200 per quarter) and those who live outside the state ($20K per quarter). This is something most students will need to take into consideration when making a decision on where to continue their education.
  • Roseman University of Health Sciences: This Las Vegas based school’s online nursing program allows students to earn their degree in as little as 14 months. You should keep in mind that you will need to be able to do your clinical work in the Las Vegas area.
  • University of Phoenix: This is one of the top online universities in many degree choices, including the accelerated nursing degree. Phoenix operates as any other college university in that it is fully accredited and accepts financial aid. Students will find some classes to be synchronous, meaning they need to be able to log in when class is in session and others are asynchronous meaning students can log in when they want to.
  • Chamberlain College of Nursing: Chamberlain College offers a 3 semester program for nurses with an RN who want to pursue their BSN degree. The programs are accredited by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Committee and by the Higher Learning Commission. Entering students can also earn credits by taking the College Level Examination Program standardized tests in different subjects in order to exempt those courses.
  • The University of Massachusetts College of Nurse and Health Sciences has accelerated nursing programs for undergraduates that can be completed over a 15-month period. Some classes are face-to-face and this must be factored in when considering the school. Students considering this course should keep in mind that due to the intensity of the workload, it is a full time program.

Choosing an Accelerated Nursing Program

Accelerated nursing programs are for those who wish to obtain credentials to begin work as a registered nurses as quickly as possible. Successful completion of these programs will require intense focus combined with a good deal of self-discipline. It is important to note that accelerated nursing programs are NOT available online. If you would like to attend an online program but also wish to begin working as quickly as possible, consider becoming a licensed practical nurse/licensed vocational nurse (LPN/LVN) as these programs typically take one year to complete and most class work can be completed online (although clinical training will need to be  completed on-site at a healthcare facility.

Some accelerated nursing programs will only admit students who have a certain number of credit hours in science courses (e.g. anatomy and physiology, microbiology, biochemistry, and chemistry). Other required courses may include Statistics, Psychology, Medical Ethics, and Nutrition. While you may be provisionally admitted to accelerated nursing programs without these course prerequisites, they will need to be satisfactorily completed before you may officially begin the program.

Overview of the BSN Degree

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree is achieved in a four year program, and you get it by registering in an accredited nursing school or any tertiary medical education university.  The BSN is distinguished from the AND (Associate’s degree) in that it is recognized as competitive in the job market (the Associate degree may get you in as a hospital worker, but not much further).

Nurses are moving steadily through nursing programs throughout the country, but not as fast as they might be.  That’s why Accelerated BSN nursing programs were first developed. After all, the need is urgent, with more and more hospitals experiencing overcrowding and lack of staff, and nurses are desperately needed in every field.

BSN is the degree many nurses are striving for: Bachelor of Science in Nursing. With a BSN, you are able to sit for the NCLEX-RN to become a registered nurse with an excellent educational background. And if you know that an RN is what want to be, it makes it that much more competitive for you. 

Although RN programs do exist, nowadays, the BSN is called the “entry point” for anyone wanting to become a professional Registered Nurse. Virtually all nursing leaders who hire novices throughout the job market absolutely require a BSN before they will even consider you as a candidate.

BSN Requirements

Hopefully, you decided on nursing early on and took classes in high school in math and science (particularly biology and chemistry).  And this is a divider for any number of potential candidates: if you were not good at math and science, you will not be good at nursing.

At college level, you should take advanced math and science courses (make sure you include anatomy, physiology, psychology and medical ethics classes).  Once registered in a nursing program (usually at least one year of college must successfully elapse before that is allowed), you commit to a four-year nursing program for your bachelor’s degree.  Remember that your goal is RN as a certificate and BSN as a degree; that is where the Accelerated BSN program kicks in.

These are some of the more noted schools and universities that offer online accelerated nursing degrees. If you don’t see one here that you are interested in, you should not give up your search. Technology is continually changing the way schools offer programs and more schools are going virtual every day.

Online accelerated nursing programs make it possible for nurses to go back to school and get a BSN in nursing or for people with BS degrees to change course and become nurses in a faster time frame than traditional school. There are many different schools to choose from, all of which prepare you to take the certification exam and become a licensed nurse with a BSN.

Typical Admission Requirements

A high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED) is required for entry into most accelerated nursing programs. Most of these programs will also require that you have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA from your first bachelor’s degree or any prior college-level study.

Some programs may require some healthcare-related experience or other background that provides evidence of the ability to work with people and handle stressful situations. You may also be required to submit letters of recommendation from current and past employers or former teachers. Due to the demanding physical and emotional nature of the nursing profession, admission committees of nursing schools want to ensure as much as possible that they admit students who possess strong moral character and are able to successfully function under sometimes pressured and challenging situations.

Accelerated Nursing Programs for those with a Bachelor’s Degree

If you hold a bachelor’s degree in another area, you can select from hundreds of accelerated nursing programs and obtain your Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) degree in a little as one year. You may also be eligible to participate in an accelerated masters or doctorate program. The curriculum of accelerated nursing programs is condensed with no semester breaks as opposed to traditional programs with winter and summer breaks.

This allows you to complete the program in 12 to 15 months, including clinical training. The primary reason that you will be able to complete the degree in a shorter time period is that accelerated nursing programs include only core courses and provide transfer credit for all liberal arts coursework completed as part of your first bachelor’s degree. You will also carry a heavier course load per semester than students in traditional programs. However, if you lack certain prerequisites you will need to pass these classes before you can begin the accelerated nursing program.

Accelerated Nursing Program for those without a Bachelor’s Degree

Those who do not possess a bachelor’s degree will participate in a more traditional BSN degree program although it is still possible to graduate in a shorter time period by attending winter and summer sessions. As with accelerated nursing programs for bachelor degree holders, you will also likely have a greater course load per semester than students in traditional programs. These types of accelerated nursing programs will typically take two years to complete. Those with an associate’s degree may be eligible to have some or most of their liberal arts coursework transferred into these accelerated programs thereby reducing the time frame for program completion.

Accelerated Masters in Nursing Programs (MSN)

An accelerated master’s degree in nursing program provides the opportunity for bachelor’s degree holders in non-nursing areas to pursue nursing education. An accelerated master’s degree works in much the same way as do accelerated bachelor degree programs. Master’s programs also offer coursework on a condensed schedule with no winter or summer breaks.  Students will be eligible for admission to masters level study once certain nursing foundation courses have been satisfactorily completed (as listed under accelerated bachelor’s programs above).

These programs may be completed in two years if you possess the requisite science background. You may still be accepted into an accelerated masters program if you haven’t completed certain prerequisite coursework but you will first need to satisfactorily complete these classes before commencing master’s level study. Even with the need to take foundation courses, you should still be able to complete the master’s degree in less than three years.

Accelerated masters degree programs have been developed to meet the increased demand for highly educated nurses who can assume a leadership role within complex healthcare environments.  Upon satisfactorily completing the nursing foundation courses, students may apply to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Students may also work as registered nurses (RN) while completing their master’s degree (although this will lengthen the time needed to complete the degree).

Accelerated nursing degree programs are now offered by an increasing number of well respected schools. These programs permit those with a first degree in another area of study to complete a nursing program in as little as one year.