June 12, 2023

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, even music — an accelerated BSN as a second degree may be an excellent option for you.

Accelerated BSN programs are popularly known to offer Associate Degree Nurses a fast-track option for obtaining their Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. However, there are also many programs across the country that offer an accelerated program for students who already have a bachelor’s degree - even if it’s not in nursing. Read on to learn the details of the BSN Accelerated Program for second-degree students.

How long is an accelerated bachelor’s program? 

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. During these months, you will be taking nursing-specific courses, many of which may be condensed in order to accommodate the faster pace towards graduation.

It is important to know that 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.

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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. 

>>Related: Top 5 Affordable and Fast Online RN to BSN Programs

What are the prerequisites for the BSN Accelerated Programs?

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. 

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 TEASE, there are many resources to help you review and score well on the entrance exam. 

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. 

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

Are there online options?

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 in order to meet the required hours at the bedside. This may include the responsibility of approaching the facilities affiliated with your program and finding a preceptor to shadow when completing your hours. 

*Note: It is a good idea to begin your search of online BSN accelerated programs by speaking to those who work at the facilities near you. This will help assure that you are applying to a program that will accommodate your locale. 

For a few examples of the requirements of online accelerated programs, check is this one at Texas A&M Corpus Christi and another one at Emory University

Can I work during the program? 

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. 

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. 

How much does an accelerated BSN degree cost?

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

Tips on Acceptance Into an Accelerated Program

  • Accelerated programs can be highly competitive due to limited seating as well as a high number of applicants.
  • In order 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 that you bring to the program and to the profession of nursing is especially needed when treating a wide range of patients!

FAQs About Accelerated BSN Programs

  • 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 I get into nursing if I already have a degree? 

    • You can become an RN if you have a degree in another area. In fact, you can enroll in an accelerated program if you have another degree. 
  • 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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