Best Accelerated Nursing Programs

An accelerated nursing program is a great way to earn a BSN or MSN quickly. Here, we outline the admission requirements for both.

Updated September 12, 2022 • 6 Min Read

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Schools offer accelerated nursing programs at various levels. These programs allow enrollees to quickly earn nursing degrees. Accelerated nursing programs condense course content into eight weeks and offer courses throughout the year.

Learners with degrees in non-nursing fields often apply to these programs. They can transfer their general education requirements, allowing them to finish a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) faster by focusing on nursing courses only. Online students complete coursework from anywhere and fulfill clinical components at approved local facilities.

This guide outlines accelerated nursing programs, including admission requirements and common courses.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Accelerated Nursing Programs

Q. How Long Does It Take To Get an Accelerated Nursing Degree?

Graduation timelines vary by degree type and learners' prior credits. Accelerated associate degree in nursing (ADN) programs take 12-16 months to complete. Accelerated BSN programs require 11-18 months to finish. Students with non-nursing bachelor's degrees can complete an accelerated master of science in nursing (MSN) program in 36 months.

Q. How Can I Get My BSN Without an RN?

BSN candidates do not usually hold registered nurse (RN) diplomas or licenses. Students can use the BSN to meet education requirements for RN licensure. Many accelerated BSN programs serve learners from non-nursing backgrounds who want to enter the healthcare field.

Q. Does a BSN Make More Than an RN?

RNs with BSNs often earn more than RNs with ADNs. According to PayScale salary data from November 2021, BSN graduates average $87,000 annually. ADN graduates earn an average annual salary of $72,000.

Q. Can You Get an MSN in One Year?

Accelerated MSN programs usually enroll students with non-nursing bachelor's degrees. Therefore, earning this advanced nursing degree takes time. Learners with nursing degrees can explore intensive, one-year MSN programs.

Q. What Are the Prerequisites for Accelerated Nursing Programs?

Prerequisites vary by program. Applicants pursuing an accelerated ADN-to-BSN degree need a transferable ADN. Accelerated BSN and MSN programs often accept applicants with transferable bachelor's degrees in non-nursing fields. Nursing students complete prerequisite courses in microbiology, chemistry, and statistics. Some programs require courses in nutrition and anatomy.

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The Accelerated BSN

Aspiring nurses with non-nursing bachelor's degrees often enroll in accelerated BSN programs. Learners with relevant associate degrees can complete accelerated BSN programs in 1-2 years. Enrollees gain skills and knowledge they can apply in many healthcare careers. Graduates can use a BSN to qualify for RN licensure examination.

Accelerated BSN Admission Requirements

Admission requirements vary by school. Applicants usually need a minimum 2.5-3.0 GPA and a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. BSN degree-seekers complete prerequisite courses in nutrition and chemistry. Other prerequisites include psychology and microbiology.

Applicants submit official transcripts, personal statements, and recommendation letters. Many programs waive standardized test scores for applicants with strong GPAs.

Accelerated nursing programs usually run up to six eight-week terms annually. Larger schools may admit new students every term. Some cohort-based programs admit students 1-2 times annually. Application deadlines vary by program. Students should check their prospective schools' admissions pages for more information.

Accelerated BSN Sample Coursework

Accelerated BSN programs require at least 60 credits of core and elective coursework. Learners build skills in patient assessment and care management. Many nursing programs also teach enrollees how to work with different populations, such as older adults and nursing mothers.

BSN curriculum usually aligns with the specific education and experience requirements students need for RN licensure. Practicums allow enrollees to apply their learning in supervised, real-world clinical settings.

See below for common courses in accelerated BSN programs.

  • Foundations of Nursing

    This core course covers proven healthcare assessment and treatment. Learners study clinical and scientific nursing concepts and processes. Students learn how to communicate effectively and use nursing technologies. The course may include a practicum.
  • Nursing Women and Families

    This course focuses on nursing care principles and practices for childbearing women and their children. Enrollees learn how to assist patients with childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant care. Students explore health promotion and education for parents and young children.
  • Mental and Behavioral Health Nursing

    Students learn how to use biological, psychological, and sociological insights to care for those with mental and behavioral health challenges. The course covers addiction and personality disorders. Enrollees learn mental health assessment and treatment-planning fundamentals.
  • Nursing Research and Statistics

    This course covers statistical measurements and hypothesis testing. Enrollees learn how to evaluate research studies and use research evidence in decision-making. Coursework covers how nursing research and data analysis informs nursing practice.
  • Professional Nursing

    Common in both undergraduate and graduate nursing programs, this core course explores nursing ethics and social justice issues that influence health disparities. Some course versions focus on nursing research and professional development. Learners may discuss safety and risk management concepts.

The Accelerated MSN

Traditional MSN programs follow BSN programs. Accelerated MSN programs condense BSN and MSN curricula into a four-year, dual-degree program. Also known as direct-entry nursing programs, accelerated MSN programs accept candidates with transferable credits from non-nursing degrees.

Accelerated MSN Admission Requirements

Admission requirements and application timelines vary by program. Some schools serve practicing nurses through accelerated ADN-to-BSN-to-MSN programs or accelerated RN-to-BSN-to-MSN programs. Nurses enroll in these programs to get specializations or to advance their careers.

Some accelerated BSN-to-MSN programs accept applicants with non-nursing degrees. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and prior bachelor's degrees from regionally accredited schools. Accelerated MSN programs may require prerequisite coursework in topics such as statistics and microbiology. Many schools also require prior nutrition, pharmacology, and pathophysiology coursework.

Not all programs require GRE scores. Some nursing schools require that applicants pass the standardized Test of Essential Academic Skills. Applicants submit recommendation letters, personal statements, and official transcripts. Cohort-based programs may offer 1-2 start times annually.

Accelerated MSN Sample Coursework

Many accelerated MSN programs require 60 credits across five semesters. Learners complete core courses in nursing leadership and tested nursing practices. Enrollees learn skills for providing patient-centered care to various populations, including adults with complex health concerns. Enrollees can often specialize in areas such as nursing education or family nursing.

See below for common courses in accelerated MSN programs.

  • Foundations of Nursing Education

    This core course covers key nursing theories and ethical principles. The curriculum focuses on patient safety, advocacy, and nursing research. The course prepares enrollees to pass the Certified Nurse Educator Exam.
  • Acute and Complex Care

    Learners study how to care for patients with severe health crises or many health conditions. Coursework prepares medical professionals to assist patients facing the end of life. Enrollees study assessments and interventions for complex, unstable health conditions. The course includes a clinical component.
  • Healthcare Policy

    Students explore how healthcare policy gets developed and implemented. Enrollees study current policies and how they impact patients and nursing practices. The course familiarizes learners with historical and political factors that shape healthcare policy.
  • Nursing Informatics

    This course integrates nursing and information science. Students learn how to use various patient care technologies. They also analyze the benefits and cost effectiveness of these technologies. Coursework teaches nursing informatics' uses in nursing education and research. Enrollees examine the legal and ethical standards for using various health and information technologies.
  • Nursing Leadership and Management

    This course builds key administrative knowledge and skills. Students learn how to train and oversee nursing personnel and operations. Coursework focuses on primary nursing management roles such as staffing and scheduling. Enrollees learn how to organize, direct, and delegate nursing activities.

The Accelerated BSN to Ph.D.

Accelerated BSN-to-Ph.D. programs provide a fast track for ambitious BSN graduates. This research-focused, terminal degree qualifies graduates to teach college-level nursing courses or work as nursing research scientists. Graduates can also work as administrators or open private practices. Some Ph.D. graduates conduct research that influences nursing policy and practice.

Students pursuing an accelerated BSN-to-Ph.D. degree do not complete a master's degree. BSN-to-Ph.D. programs take 3-6 years to complete. Learners complete advanced coursework, including dissertation research and writing.

Core coursework includes several research courses. Students also learn nursing ethics and data management. Most programs include healthcare informatics and policy courses. Some Ph.D. programs allow enrollees to choose between administrative, education, or nursing science tracks.

The Best Accelerated Nursing Programs

  1. Linfield College
    Location

    McMinnville, OR

    Chartered in 1858, Linfield operates a main campus in McMinnville, Oregon, and a nationally renowned nursing school in Portland. Linfield established its Good Samaritan School of Nursing in 1982 as a component of the Good Samaritan Hospital — an institution in Oregon since 1873. Today, in conjunction with Legacy Health System, Linfield offers programs accredited through the Oregon State Board of Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The School of Nursing offers its online RN-to-BSN program through a partnership with Linfield's Online and Continuing Education Department. Students begin their studies at Linfield with a transition to professional nursing course. The college uses a generous transfer policy for students with prior experience, with no expiration of course credits. Students enrolled in the online RN-to-BSN program at Linfield must complete an integrated experiential learning course during the fourth (and final) semester of the program. Candidates must arrange their clinical placement with a service learning coordinator during their third (penultimate) semester. Online students may complete the service learning requirement locally or through Linfield's international service learning program. Applicants currently enrolled in a community college in Oregon may benefit from Linfield's co-admission partnership agreements with local institutions. Linfield charges a per-credit rate for online tuition. The college also offers discounts to Legacy Health members and specific scholarships for students enrolled in its RN-to-BSN program online. Linfield is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  2. Northeastern University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    One of three professional divisions comprising Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern, the nursing school offers bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and continuing education programs. The school maintains partnerships with healthcare institutions in the communities surrounding its campus in Burlington, Massachusetts, to provide immersive clinical options for nursing students. Northeastern's online RN-to-BSN degree requires students to complete a combination of advanced nursing core coursework and residency credits, emphasizing professional skills in communication, ethics, and pathophysiology. All nursing students at Northeastern must also complete a community or public health practicum under the supervision of a nurse leader. This online nursing degree requires students to complete 45 credits at Northeastern, as well as a 72-hour clinical experience. The program runs on a hybrid model. Students may enroll full or part time, completing their degree in one or two years. Applicants must hold an active RN license, a regionally accredited associate degree, and a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. Additionally, the program requires applicants to complete prerequisites and bring in at least 83 transfer credits. Northeastern also offers an accelerated BSN degree option online. The university charges tuition per credit, depending on which of these programs a student pursues. Northeastern is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Its School of Nursing delivers programs approved by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing and it is also accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  3. University of Rochester
    Location

    Rochester, NY

    In 1925, the University of Rochester became one of the first schools in the nation to offer a nursing diploma. The school still incorporates its original model into its nursing programs, emphasizing the correlation between nursing research, practice, and education. Rochester's community healthcare partnerships and generous financial aid packages contribute to its ranking among the best nursing schools in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. Rochester offers an online RN-to-BSN that is in full compliance with New York's "B.S. in 10" law, which requires nurses to obtain a bachelor's degree within 10 years of receiving initial licensure in the field. This online nursing degree comprises major-related coursework, as well as arts and sciences classes. Students complete one modular course at a time, with full-time students graduating in four years. Upon admission into the online RN-to-BSN program, students can automatically apply 32 transfer credits based on prior nursing major coursework. Applicants may transfer in a maximum of 96 credits based on prior learning, enabling some online students to graduate in 16 months. Distance learners must complete a capstone course to conclude the program. Students receive an iPad once they begin taking core nursing courses online. The university offers multiple financial aid options, including scholarships, employee discounts, and regional merit awards. The program provides an average tuition assistance rate of 50-55%. The university accepts applications on a rolling basis, with program start dates in September, January, and May. Nursing programs at the University of Rochester hold accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  4. Sacred Heart University
    Location

    Fairfield, CT

    As New England's second-largest Catholic-affiliated university, Sacred Heart provides liberal arts programs that embrace education and spirituality. All academic programs incorporate The Human Journey — Sacred Heart's signature core curriculum. The RN-to-BSN track at Sacred Heart prepares graduates to meet education requirements for entry-level nursing jobs. The curriculum for this online nursing degree includes a combination of nursing major, liberal arts, natural science, and elective requirements. Students must also complete a Catholic intellectual tradition seminar. Applicants must meet prerequisites and have an RN license, an associate degree or nursing diploma, and a minimum GPA of 2.5. Additionally, students must submit a resume, a professional statement, and two letters of recommendation. They must also complete a background check. Applicants may transfer in up to 90 credits, including 30 credits of lower-division undergraduate nursing coursework. Students who graduated before 1986 may also have the opportunity to apply 30 credits from an associate degree toward their online RN-to-BSN degree. Students complete all coursework asynchronously. The program offers six start dates throughout the year. The university maintains small class sizes for personalized instruction in its online courses. The nursing program holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  5. Quinnipiac University
    Location

    Hamden, CT

    Quinnipiac's nursing school offers the only program in New England — and one of only 12 in the U.S. — that holds an endorsement from the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation. The nursing school promotes a collaborative approach to clinical practice, incorporating interdisciplinary healthcare coursework through the Center for Medicine, Nursing, and Health Sciences. Students must complete nursing core and elective courses to earn their online RN-to-BSN. The online nursing degree curriculum emphasizes contemporary issues, research, evidence-based practice, and diversity. The program delivers all of its coursework asynchronously through the Blackboard learning management system. Students applying to Quinnipiac may transfer in up to 88 credits from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants must hold an RN license in good standing and an associate degree or nursing diploma from a regionally accredited school. Additionally, applicants need a minimum 2.7 GPA. Quinnipiac accepts applications on a rolling basis and enrolls students in the fall and spring semesters. Quinnipiac offers an online orientation to introduce distance learners to resources such as its library, financial aid services, and technology support. The university charges the same per-credit tuition rate for online coursework, regardless of a student's state of residence. Quinnipiac's nursing programs hold accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  6. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Choosing from Massachusetts campuses in Boston and Worcester, as well as an additional location in Manchester, New Hampshire, MCPHS students can gain access to some of the best healthcare facilities in New England. The college operates five clinics for nursing and medical students, enabling learners to gain hands-on experience in their field of expertise. During an average year, nursing students enrolled on campus and online treat more than 22,000 patients in Manchester and Worcester. Students must complete a total of 122 credits, including professional nursing and general education coursework, to earn their online RN-to-BSN degree. The online nursing degree curriculum also requires 135 clinical hours. Students conclude the program with a capstone project exploring leadership in the nursing profession. The program awards qualified first-year students up to 42 credits for prerequisite coursework and 25 credits for a completed associate-level nursing degree. MCPHS charges per-credit tuition rates based on a typical course load of 12-18 credits during the fall and spring semesters; students enrolling in less than 12 or more than 18 credits during these terms may pay more per credit. Students enroll in this online RN-to-BSN program in the summer term, and the program requires an initial orientation on campus. After that, courses are delivered entirely online. The college maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 13-to-1, with 90% of full-time faculty holding terminal degrees. MCPHS students can talk to college mentors, coaches, and advisors.

  7. Labouré College
    Location

    Milton, MA

    Established in 1892 in Milton, Massachusetts, Labouré focuses on providing nursing and healthcare programs in the Catholic tradition. Labouré is the longest-running education institution for nurses in the Boston area. It also qualifies as one of the most affordable nursing schools in Massachusetts. The online RN-to-BSN program at Labouré uses an accelerated format, with each semester split into two seven-week sessions. The curriculum combines nursing-specific classes with general education coursework, culminating in an integrative seminar and a senior capstone. Topics explore professional nursing, evidence-based practice, and leadership and management in healthcare. Students pay the same flat rate for all RN-to-BSN courses. Applicants must submit all official college transcripts with their application and hold a current RN license. Non-licensed applicants may qualify for conditional admission if they receive specific permission from the program chairperson. Students can enroll at one of six entry points. Learners who bring in ample transfer credits may graduate within four semesters. The program accepts a maximum of 90 transfer credits. Labouré's online nursing program holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Students complete coursework online by participating in discussion boards and live virtual meetings with peers and instructors. The college maintains multiple support resources, including academic tutoring and coaching, career services, and technology tools. The Student Success Center also assists students with disabilities.

  8. The Catholic University of America
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Beginning operations in 1932, the Conway School of Nursing at the Catholic University of America offered the nation's first professional coursework in nursing education. Today, the university offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in nursing online and on campus in Washington, D.C. The school's RN-to-BSN program follows a traditional format, enabling students to complete primary elements of the degree online. The curriculum includes classes in the arts and sciences, nursing, and electives. Courses explore evidence-based care, transition to professional practice, and management of healthcare delivery. Students may complete an optional practicum in complex nursing. Aspiring BSN students accepted to the Conway School of Nursing must complete 60 credits through the Nursing Exploratory Program, after which they can apply for admission into the upper-division BSN track. Students must earn a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, meet chemistry and biology prerequisites, and earn a minimum composite score of at least 75% on the HESI entrance exam during the fall semester of their sophomore year. Students who choose to enroll part time may extend their degree completion timeline beyond four years. The program accepts a maximum of 12 completed college transfer credits. The Catholic University of America's nursing programs hold accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  9. New England Institute of Technology
    Location

    Warwick, RI

    One of the most prestigious technical universities in Rhode Island and southeastern New England, NEIT enrolls more than 3,000 students in more than 50 programs on campus and online. NEIT's online RN-to-BSN track includes 67 quarter credits and caters primarily to students with prior experience, allowing learners to transfer in both general education and nursing credits. This online nursing degree culminates in a leadership and management course and a capstone practicum experience. In coordination with a faculty advisor, students may select a practicum site and preceptor of their choice. Depending on their number of transferable credits, some distance learners can complete the program within three years. Applicants must hold an associate-level nursing degree or diploma with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.77. They must also earn a minimum grade of "C+" in certain biology, psychology, sociology, and English prerequisite courses. Applicants must also maintain current, unencumbered nursing licensure and demonstrate academic eligibility for the NCLEX-RN exam. Students complete the majority of program coursework entirely online. Distance learners can access 24/7 technology support; career services; and the Academic Skills Center, which provides tutoring, coaching, and enrichment courses. NEIT charges all students the same per-credit tuition rate for RN-to-BSN courses, no matter where they live.

  10. Loyola University of Chicago
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    When it opened its doors in 1935, the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing at Loyola became the first collegiate nursing facility in Illinois. The school now offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs in nursing. Loyola also features specialized programs for aspiring dieticians, as well as degrees in exercise science and health systems management. Loyola's online RN-to-BSN degree completion program provides a fast track to a professional nursing career. This online nursing degree includes a combination of nursing, universal core, and professional nursing e-portfolio coursework. Applicants can bring in up to 66 transfer credits with them when they enroll, though they must complete at least 30 credits through Loyola's nursing school. Students may enroll in part-time or full-time study. Full-time students with significant transfer credit can graduate in one year. Each online course lasts 6-8 weeks, and many students graduate in three years. Applicants must have an active nursing license and a GPA of at least 2.5. Students complete courses asynchronously through the Sakai learning management system. Loyola encourages distance learners to attend one of its monthly online orientation sessions through the Zoom platform. Distance learners pay the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of their state of residence. Loyola accepts applications on a rolling basis and offers fall, spring, and summer start dates.

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