September 27, 2023

Best Accelerated BSN (ABSN) Programs 2024

What are Accelerated BSN (ABSN) Programs?

An accelerated BSN program is specifically designed for those who have already earned a Bachelor’s degree in another field and now want to become registered nurses (RNs). 

Depending on the program structure and intensity, accelerated BSN programs range from 12 months to 19 months, though some can be as long as 2 years, but are generally much quicker than earning a traditional BSN. During these months, you will be taking nursing-specific courses, many of which may be condensed in order to accommodate the faster pace toward graduation.

The advertised length of the program does not include the time it may take to complete the prerequisite courses that are required in order to apply. To help you find the best accelerated nursing programs, we've ranked them for you!

Best Accelerated BSN (ABSN) Programs 2024

Finding an accelerated program can be overwhelming, with many programs throughout the country. To help you with your decision, here are the top 10 accelerated BSN programs of 2024, ranked in no particular order.

Our ranking methodology is based on acceptance rate, tuition cost, the overall length of the program, NCLEX pass rate, as well as other essential criteria.

1.) University of Pennsylvania 

Considered one of the best nursing programs in the nation, this Ivy League school provides students with the opportunity to matriculate into an MSN/NP program during their second semester. Students have the opportunity to sub-matriculate into 11 master’s specializations, as well as dual degrees in public health, bioethics, and even law. 

Students gain access to the numerous advantages of being enrolled in Penn, including a wide network of healthcare professionals.

  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tuition: $115,225 (total program cost)
  • Length of Program: 15 months
  • Acceptance Rate: 35%
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 94.6% (including traditional BSN program)

2.) Duke University 

One of the most competitive accelerated nursing programs on the list, Duke University is a top-tier program with an impressive NCLEX pass rate. Because of the extremely high pass rate, the school consistently gets hundreds of applicants for only a handful of spots.

This program is a full-time, on-campus program that boosts the Center for Nursing Discovery is the only accredited healthcare simulation education facility in North Carolina. The Duke University School of Nursing Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) Program ranked #3 in the 2023 U.S. News & World Report Best Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Programs report.

  • Location: Durham, North Carolina
  • Tuition: $101,032 (total program cost)
  • Length of Program: 16 months
  • Acceptance Rate: Not reported
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 95%

3.) Villanova University 

Villanova University has a very reputable accelerated nursing program, but most importantly, it is one of the fastest programs and cheapest programs in the country. But just because it is cheaper than most other programs doesn’t mean it is any less difficult or reputable. The 14-month program and 23-month program have the same tuition cost. The longer program is specifically designed for students who may need to work part-time or have additional home responsibilities.

With a new state-of-the-art simulation lab, the accelerated nursing program utilizes a combination of classroom, simulation lab, and clinical coursework throughout the program. 

  • Location: Villanova, Pennsylvania 
  • Tuition: $49,800 (total program cost)
  • Length of Program: 14 months or 23 months
  • Acceptance Rate: Not reported
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 88.69% (including traditional BSN program)

4.) Northeastern University

Northeastern University offers a full-time program that combines online didactic coursework and hands-on learning experiences. Because of the ability to complete a majority of the coursework online, students do not have to be located directly on campus. This can be an exciting opportunity for those wanting a Northeastern education without living in Massachusetts. 

  • Location: Burlington, Massachusetts
  • Tuition: $81,874 (total program cost)
  • Length of Program: 16 months
  • Acceptance Rate: Not reported
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 98% (including traditional BSN program)

5.) Loyola University Chicago 

Loyola University’s Marcella Niehoff School Of Nursing offers accelerated nursing students seven different clinical rotations during a 16-month program with start dates in either January or August. Students are given many opportunities to gain hands-on clinical experience that has proven invaluable to students. 

  • Location: Maywood or Downers Grove, Illinois
  • Tuition: $60,920 (total program cost)
  • Length of Program: 16 months
  • Acceptance Rate: Not reported
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 88.6%

6.) Clemson University 

Clemson University offers priority to previous Clemson alumni to the program but does accept students from around the country. Students will typically not live on campus but rather in the surrounding area of Greenville, South Carolina, for their clinical rotations. This program is incredibly competitive, only accepting 32 students to each cohort. 

Regarded as one of the top public universities in the country, Clemson University offers students not only the practical skills needed to work at the bedside but also the leadership skills needed to grow beyond the bedside. 

  • Location: Clemson, South Carolina
  • Tuition: $51,588 (total program cost/out-of-state)
  • Length of Program: 16 months
  • Acceptance Rate: 5.2% (including traditional BSN programs)
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 90.61% (including traditional BSN program)

7.) George Washington University 

George Washington University, located in our nation’s capital, offers clinical rotations at some of the best hospitals in the country. Students are offered nurse residency programs through the Washington Square and GW Hospital Nursing Scholars program.

Furthermore, accelerated program students are offered opportunities that are typically only given to traditional BSN programs, including international clinical opportunities in countries such as Costa Rica, Ecuador, Haiti, and Uganda. Furthermore, accelerated nursing students can take up to nine graduate credits that can be applied toward an MSN degree. 

  • Location: Ashburn, Virginia, at the Virginia Science and Technology Campus 
  • Tuition: $79,200 (total program cost/out-of-state)
  • Length of Program: 15 months
  • Acceptance Rate: Not Reported
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 94.2% (including traditional BSN program)

8.) Metropolitan State University of Denver 

Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU) offers students multiple options for achieving a BSN, including a fully accredited accelerated BSN program. With an exceptionally high acceptance rate, MSU allows students to get the hands-on experience needed as well as the didactic coursework in ethics, leadership, and research. They also require all graduates of the program to complete a multicultural course, so you’ll get a well-rounded education. 

  • Location: Denver, Colorado
  • Tuition: $40,000 (total program cost/there is no difference for out-of-state or in-state students since the school receives no state funding)
  • Length of Program: 17 months
  • Acceptance Rate: 83%
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 96%

9.) University of Washington 

Nursing students accepted in the University of Washington’s second-degree program complete over 1,000 clinical hours at one of 700+ respected community partnership sites, including Seattle Children’s Hospital and the top-ranked University of Washington Medical Center. The program consistently produces quality graduate nurses who have earned top jobs throughout the country. 

  • Location: Seattle, Washington
  • Tuition: $47,752 (total program cost/out-of-state)
  • Length of Program: 4 quarters
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 78.72% (including traditional BSN program)

10.) Mount Sinai Beth Israel 

The Phillips School of Nursing at Mount Sinai Beth Israel offers accelerated nursing students an interesting perspective into the world of nursing. Most programs associated with a hospital do not allow students to earn a BSN; however, this one does.

One of the few programs in the country directly affiliated with a top-tier hospital, this program is regarded as one of the best in the country. Students are consistently given hands-on experiences that 

  • Location: New York, New York
  • Tuition: $56,755 (total program cost/out-of-state)
  • Length of Program: 15 months, hybrid
  • Acceptance Rate: Not reported
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 80.46% 

Online Accelerated BSN Programs

Online accelerated BSN programs are a popular choice for many busy professionals looking to transition into the nursing field because they offer the opportunity to complete your coursework online.

Although you will be able to complete the majority of your coursework online, you will still need to attend in-person clinicals at an approved site local to you, as well as some meetings on campus, as required. 

Who is an Accelerated BSN Program Right For?

Accelerated BSN programs are a good choice for many different reasons. Specifically, these programs are ideal for students who want to attend a nursing school that may not be local to them and need flexibility in attending classes due to work, family obligations, or other commitments. It also may be a viable option for students who live in more rural areas and do not have easy access to nursing programs.

How Long Are Online ABSN Programs?

Online accelerated BSN programs are similar in length to in-person programs, taking anywhere between 11-18 months to complete.

What Are the Requirements for BS to BSN Programs?

Just like in-person accelerated BSN programs, the program can be competitive, and the admission requirements are as strenuous, if not more.

The good news is that many programs do offer online accelerated BSN programs, as they are increasingly becoming the preferred route for those pursuing their BSN degrees. 

What Colleges Offer Accelerated BSN Programs Online?

As an example of some of the online offerings for accelerated BSN programs, the following schools offer online accelerated BSN programs: 

Requirements and Prerequisites for ABSN Programs

Prerequisite Courses

Besides having a bachelor’s degree, many accelerated programs require a number of core prerequisite courses. Common subjects include microbiology, statistics, and sometimes anatomy and physiology. If it has been a few years since you completed these courses, be sure to check if the school requires the classes to be taken within a certain amount of years. 

Entrance Exam

Most programs have an entrance exam as a requisite for entering the nursing program, and the same holds true for accelerated applicants. The entry exam covers the subjects that are needed for entry to nursing school: math, reading, science, and English. Whether it’s the HESI, ATI, or TEAS, there are many resources to help you review and score well on the entrance exam. 

GPA

GPA is an important consideration for accelerated BSN programs, as many programs will require a minimum GPA for application. Usually, the minimum GPA for consideration into the program ranges from 3.0 to 3.5. 

>> Find RN-to-BSN Programs Accepting Applications Now

3 Tips For Getting Accepted Into an Accelerated BSN Program

Accelerated programs can be highly competitive due to limited seating as well as a high number of applicants. These 3 tips will help you stand out.

  1. In order to make you a more competitive applicant, be sure your GPA meets at least the minimum standard.
  2. If there are any recommended personal statements, take the time to craft a compelling statement detailing why you want to obtain nursing as a second degree.
  3. Depending on the demand and the region, these programs could have an average of hundreds of applicants with as little as 50 seats per cohort. 

Many nurses who have completed their BSN as a second degree feel that this was a good investment. The life experience that you bring to the program and to the profession of nursing is especially needed when treating a wide range of patients.

Accelerated BSN Program Coursework

The concept of the accelerated BSN is that students take intensive nursing coursework without repeating the required coursework in a regularly-paced bachelor’s program that they have already completed.

Typically, an accelerated BSN program will only focus on science-based courses and nursing classes, including:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Chemistry
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology

Additionally, the program includes hands-on clinical instruction in labs and real-life healthcare settings like hospitals, nursing homes, or other medical facilities.

Between classroom instruction and practical skills, graduates should be adequately prepared to pass the NCLEX-RN and to enter the field as RNs.

Because of the immersive nature of an accelerated BSN, some students treat the program like a full-time job and choose not to work while pursuing the degree. By moving through the program year-round, including spring and summer semesters, you can complete the program as fast as possible to minimize disruption in your employment. 

As a sample of what you can expect from an accelerated BSN program, your coursework could include: 

  • Semester 1: Foundations of Clinical Nursing, Pathophysiology, Nursing Research, Nursing Lab 
  • Semester 2: Pharmacology, Med/Surg Nursing, Mental Health, Geriatric Health, Clinicals
  • Semester 3: Family Health, Community Health, Clinicals
  • Semester 4: Nursing Leadership, Ethics, Advanced Clinicals

Will I take the same classes as traditional first-degree BSN students? 

It depends on the program. Some programs have crafted courses for accelerated students, covering content in a shorter time frame. Other programs integrate accelerated nursing students into the traditional semesters, yet with a heavier course load or a different semester-to-semester structure. 

>> Click to Compare RN-to-BSN Programs

MSN vs Accelerated BSN

If you already have a Bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing related field, it is possible to enroll in a direct-entry MSN program instead of a BSN program, meaning you would graduate with your RN/MSN instead of your RN/BSN. 

Choosing between an accelerated BSN and an MSN program largely depends on your long-term goals. An MSN might be right for you if you’re interested in moving directly to more administrative, managerial, or research-based opportunities.

Additionally, an MSN can be a stepping stone for even more advanced education, such as a doctorate or advanced nursing specialty degree.

Here are some considerations for choosing an accelerated MSN vs. BSN:

  • An MSN will take longer and, thus, also cost more. For instance, one MSN program lists its full MSN program with close to 80 credit requirements, so it could take upwards of two years to complete.
  • An MSN could be almost twice as expensive as a BSN degree. On the flip side, if you plan to pursue your MSN or an advanced nursing degree after your BSN, choosing your MSN from the beginning could save you money in the long run. 
  • You may be able to move directly from an accelerated MSN program into a doctorate or advanced nursing specialty degree. 
  • With a BSN degree, you are more limited to working in direct patient care, such as in bedside hospital nursing or a clinic-based setting, while MSN-prepared nurses have more flexibility in choosing more broad-based employment, such as managerial or leadership, or advancing even higher in their education. 

Overall, a direct-entry MSN program may be right for you if you have more time to complete your degree and are looking to move quickly into an advanced nursing position. 

>> Get Started! Find MSN Programs

Paying for an Accelerated BSN Program

Even though it’s a shorter duration than an associate degree program, you can expect to pay more for an accelerated BSN program.

Most students, however, qualify for some type of financial aid, scholarships, or low-interest student loans. In some cases, for those already working in the healthcare industry, employers might sponsor your education or offer tuition reimbursement. 

The good news is that upon graduation, you will command a strong starting salary to help you begin making payments on your educational debt. As of May 2022, the annual median salary for registered nurses was $81,220, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Even more encouraging is the strong job outlook, with the employment of registered nurses projected to grow 6 percent from 2022 to 2032.

>> Click to See RN-to-BSN Programs

Is an Accelerated BSN in Nursing Right for You?

As with any educational commitment, deciding to pursue an accelerated BSN is not a decision to be taken lightly. To start, it’s a big financial investment, and there’s also the fact that for the next 11-18 months, your life will revolve around the program on a full-time basis. That being said, here are some of the pros of choosing this type of program: 

  • Although it’s possible to work as an RN without a BSN, many employers will indicate that a BSN is preferred. In other words, gaining access to more exclusive opportunities will likely require a Bachelor’s degree. The same goes for promotions and advancement opportunities.
  • You’ll be ready to move forward should you decide to pursue Advanced Practice Nurse specializations, such as a nurse practitioner (NP), certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), or certified nurse midwife (CNM). 
  • By completing an intensive, accelerated program, students are thoroughly prepared for the NCLEX-RN licensing exam.
  • While your starting salary as an RN will likely be the same whether or not you have a BSN (although some facilities can offer higher pay for BSN-prepared nurses), there is more potential for higher earnings for those with strong educational credentials.

On the flip side, an associate degree in nursing (ADN) is usually a less expensive option that can still get you into the profession in two years. This option may be more realistic for those who can’t commit to the stringent, full-time student schedule that being an accelerated BSN student demands or if your goal is to strictly work as a bedside nurse. Many ADN RN-to-BSN programs are designed for working nurses and can be completed completely online. 

If your career aspiration is to become a Registered Nurse, pursuing an accelerated BSN degree could help speed the process along. If you have already completed a bachelor’s degree in another field of study, have a strong academic record, and can commit to an accelerated program, your RN career could very well be right around the corner.

5 Tips for Getting Through an ABSN Program

Once you’re admitted into an accelerated BSN program, the real work begins. The next year or so of your life will feel like a whirlwind. With these tips, you can focus on doing everything you can succeed: 

  1. Build a support network. If you have children, a support network will be crucial. Even if you don’t, it is helpful to have people “on call” who can help you in a pinch. From letting the dog out to swinging by the store to pick up your groceries, knowing you have some backup to help when your schedule gets out of control can be invaluable. 
  2. Remember the long-term goal. The pace at which you will be working during your accelerated BSN program is not forever, and that’s important to keep in mind. No one can — or should — maintain that pace forever. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that your workload is accelerated right now for a reason: to get you to the finish line faster. 
  3. Don’t skimp on self-care. Even if it is as simple as taking a bubble bath or taking a night off to go see a new movie, don’t fall into the trap of thinking more time equals more effective work. Slogging through four hours of studying without a break is actually less efficient than taking a break when you need one.
  4. Connect with others going through the program with you. Especially if you’re doing an online program and are feeling isolated at home working toward your next paper deadline, make an effort to stay connected with others who know what you’re going through. Nurses need nurses, and that starts in nursing school. 
  5. Prep your family and/or partner before the program begins. You may know what you’re in for when signing on for an accelerated BSN program, but your family may need a little help understanding how the program will affect them. Carve out some time before the program begins for a sit-down discussion with your family and/or partner and be open and honest about what changes they should expect. You can even draw up a list of added responsibilities they will be required to take on (more applicable for kids, of course, than a partner!). Stress that the program is really a family effort and that the benefits for everyone will make all the hard work worthwhile. 

Find Nursing Programs

Accelerated BSN Program FAQs

  • How much do accelerated BSN programs cost?

    • Accelerated BSN programs can range widely in cost, anywhere from $40,000 to over $80,000. Some select programs may even cost over $100,000. 
  • How long are accelerated Bachelor's programs?

    • Depending on the program structure and intensity, accelerated programs range from 12 months to 19 months, though some can be as long as 2 years. 
  • Who is eligible for accelerated BSN programs?

    • Accelerated BSN programs are intended for those with a non-nursing Bachelor’s degree.
  • Does it matter what your first degree is in?

    • No, any completed bachelor’s degree will be sufficient to apply for an accelerated program. You will, however, have to complete the prerequisite coursework prior to application. 
  • What are the requirements for an accelerated BSN program?

    • Basic requirements for an accelerated BSN program include a Bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field, a 3.0 GPA, and certain prerequisite courses. 
  • Can you work while completing an accelerated BSN program?

    • You can work while in an accelerated program, although it may be difficult. Many accelerated programs can be seen as a full-time position in terms of time commitment. The scheduling may vary, but many programs hold classes daily, sometimes even Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. Programs typically discourage working during the length of the accelerated program; however, many accelerated BSN students will find the time to work once a week, depending on their needs and availability.
  • Are there online accelerated nursing programs?

    • While most BSN accelerated programs are brick-and-mortar, more online options have become available. Hybrid programs will combine online coursework with in-person clinicals.

*Indicates an affiliate link. At no additional cost to you, Nurse.org may earn a commission if you click through and use this service.

Go to the top of page