April 29, 2024

I Already Have a Bachelor's Degree, How Can I Become a Nurse?

For those who are considering a career change into nursing and already have a bachelor’s degree in another subject — finance, restaurant management, or even music — a second-degree nursing program, AKA an accelerated BSN program, may be an excellent option for you.

Accelerated BSN (ABSN) programs are for non-nurses with bachelor's degrees who want to enter the nursing field. Read on to learn about second-degree nursing programs, including their cost, length, and whether one is right for you. 

Popular Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University
GCU’s RN-BSN program is tailored to meet the needs of the RN adult learner and to maximize the strengths that the working RN already possesses. Transfer up to 90 credits and earn a BSN in as little as 12 months. GCU’s online classes allow you to study at the times that work for your schedule while still enjoying a close connection with your classmates and instructor via online discussions.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

The University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington’s online programs are designed to help you achieve more in your nursing practice with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. They offer convenient, flexible options for completing your RN to BSN or BSN online, both designed to fit into your busy schedule.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Liberty University
At Liberty, you’ll benefit from 30+ years of learning, growing, adapting, and innovating for the distance learner — and more than a decade of researching the needs of the online student. You can be confident that we’ve taken the time to learn what’s important to you.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

What is an Accelerated Nursing Program?

A second-degree nursing program, also known as an accelerated nursing program or a direct-entry nursing program, is designed for individuals who already hold a bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing but want to pursue a career in nursing. These programs are structured to provide an accelerated pathway into the nursing profession by building upon the student's previous educational background.

Second-degree nursing programs typically offer a condensed curriculum focusing on nursing coursework and clinical experiences. This allows students to complete their nursing education more quickly than traditional programs. The exact length of these programs can vary, but it is often around 12 to 24 months.

These programs are intensive and require significant time and effort, as students must quickly acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to become competent nurses. Upon completing a second-degree nursing program and passing the required licensure exams, graduates are eligible to become registered nurses (RNs) and pursue employment in various healthcare settings.

>> Related: Top Accelerated BSN Programs in Houston, Texas

How Long Is an Accelerated Bachelor's Program? 

Depending on the program structure and intensity, accelerated programs range from 12 to 18 months, though some can be as long as 2 years. During these months, you will be taking nursing-specific courses, many of which may be condensed to accommodate the faster pace toward graduation.

One thing you need to consider is that the advertised length of the program does not include the time it may take to complete the prerequisite courses that are required to apply.

Does It Matter What Your First Bachelor's Degree Is If You Want to Enroll in an ABSN? 

No. You can hold any completed bachelor’s degree and apply for an ABSN program. You will, however, have to complete the prerequisite coursework before application. 

What Are the Prerequisites for Second-Degree Nursing Programs?

Besides having a bachelor’s degree, many accelerated programs require several 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, check if the school requires the classes to be taken within a certain amount of years. 

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 needed for entry to nursing school: math, reading, science, and English. Whether it’s the HESI, ATI, or TEAS, many resources help you review and score well on the entrance exam. 

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

>> Related: What Degree Do You Need to Be a Nurse?

Are There Online Second-Degree Nursing Programs?

While most BSN accelerated programs are brick-and-mortar, more online options have become available. By completing the track online, students are typically responsible for setting up their clinical experience to meet the required hours at the bedside. This may include approaching the facilities affiliated with your program and finding a preceptor to shadow when completing your hours. 

It is a good idea to begin your search for online BSN accelerated programs by speaking to those who work at the facilities near you. This will help ensure that you apply to a program accommodating your locale.

Can You Work While Attending ABSN Programs? 

Many accelerated programs can be seen as full-time positions in terms of time commitment. The scheduling may vary, but many programs hold classes daily, sometimes even Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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. 

Will You Take the Same Classes as Traditional BSN Students in an ABSN? 

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 with a heavier course load or a different semester-to-semester structure. 

How Much Does an Accelerated BSN Program Cost?

Depending on the program and the school, the cost of completing an accelerated program can range from $12,000 to $75,000 for private institutions. Online programs are typically more expensive.

Popular Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University
GCU’s RN-BSN program is tailored to meet the needs of the RN adult learner and to maximize the strengths that the working RN already possesses. Transfer up to 90 credits and earn a BSN in as little as 12 months. GCU’s online classes allow you to study at the times that work for your schedule while still enjoying a close connection with your classmates and instructor via online discussions.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

The University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington’s online programs are designed to help you achieve more in your nursing practice with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. They offer convenient, flexible options for completing your RN to BSN or BSN online, both designed to fit into your busy schedule.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Liberty University
At Liberty, you’ll benefit from 30+ years of learning, growing, adapting, and innovating for the distance learner — and more than a decade of researching the needs of the online student. You can be confident that we’ve taken the time to learn what’s important to you.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Tips on Getting Into an ABSNProgram

  • Accelerated programs can be highly competitive due to limited seating and many applicants.
  • To make you a more competitive applicant, be sure your GPA meets at least the minimum standard.
  • 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.
  • 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 you bring to the program and the nursing profession is especially needed when treating a wide range of patients!

FAQs

  • How long does it take to become a nurse if you already have a bachelor's degree?

    • If you have a bachelor’s degree in another field, you can become a nurse in as little as one to two years.
  • Can you get a BSN if you already have a bachelor's degree? 

    • Yes, you can get a BSN if you have a bachelor’s in another subject. Many schools offer accelerated BSN programs for students who have degrees in other areas.
  • Is an accelerated nursing program hard? 

    • Accelerated nursing programs are more fast-paced and intensive than a traditional nursing program because they have to cover the same amount of content in a compressed time period.
  • What is the difference between a BSN and an ABSN? 

    • A Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and an Accelerated Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (ABSN) will be roughly equivalent. The main difference is that an ABSN gives the student credit for some courses already completed in their first Bachelor’s program. 
  • What GPA do you need for an accelerated nursing program? 

    • The minimum GPA requirement for an accelerated nursing program will range from around 2.8 to 3. 
  • How do you survive an accelerated nursing program? 

    • Remember that this is a short time period and put all of your focus on getting through the program. Prepare your family ahead of time and build up a support team to help you. It’s also important to get enough sleep and self-care because that will help you ultimately succeed. 
  • Is an accelerated nursing program worth it? 

    • An accelerated nursing program can be a great option for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another subject and want to become an RN.

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