Accelerated BSN Programs
It is no secret that there has been a mind-boggling demand for nurses over the past few years. Our healthcare system currently requires close to one million replacement and new nursing professionals. This overwhelming appeal is on the rise and will continue to be for quite some time. By 2026, it is estimated that the employment of RNs (registered nurses) will grow 15%, far above the average for occupations across the board. A result of this dramatic increase in nursing students has been the development of additional job openings. But more important is the significantly higher number of accelerated programs designated specifically for talented, hard-working students ready to devote their hearts to nursing and complete their training in under 2 years.
Who is this program for?
Are you an aspiring nurse with outstanding learning techniques, unshakable commitment and a knack for academic excellence? Do you have a Bachelor’s Degree in an unrelated field but want to join the healthcare force? Have you just switched careers and are ready to become a nurse as soon as possible but lack the credentials and studies for it? Look no further than an Accelerated BSN program – the ensuing certification will offer you a stable, high-paying job, plenty of firsthand experience within a clinical setting and a solid theoretical foundation that you can cover in as little as 12 months.
What are the requirements for this program?
The prerequisites for an Accelerated BSN program may vary from school to school, but typically include a GPA of 3.0 or higher and a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited university or college. Note that for the latter, the certification can be obtained in any major, including a non-nursing specialty. But you are required to own a degree to enroll in the training, so if you do not have a leg to stand on when it comes to your academic background, you might want to consider joining a traditional program, a diploma program or pursuing an Associate’s Degree.
Other admission requirements include a personal statement, official copies of all your transcripts, an online application, two letters of recommendation, and test results. If you’ve had previous experience in the healthcare field, it will be a major plus for you. Keep in mind that the nature of an accelerated program is much more aggressive and fast-paced than that of a traditional BSN track. You will need mental stamina, dedication, and some serious studying skills to manage a year or more of this type of training. Some programs will require you to submit your GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) scores. Lastly, you will need the following prerequisites: microbiology, statistics, developmental psychology, human anatomy, and physiology.
What will I learn during an Accelerated BSN program?
An Accelerated BSN program, also known as a second-degree program, will teach you the fundamentals of nursing practice with an emphasis on both theoretical knowledge and clinical work. However, most of the information you study during a full-fledged 4-year traditional BSN program you will now have to learn and excel at in under two years. This might seem intimidating at first, but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences, which can teach you all about critical thinking skills, health assessment, evidence-based practice and decision-making under pressure, as well as help you progress in your career and gain invaluable hands-on experience with your profession before you enter the workforce.
You will receive financial aid and specialized instruction from well-trained professionals who will help you transition from a different field or subject area to the healthcare specialty. You will be introduced to basic nursing procedures and education, become familiarized with the demands of working in a high-stress environment and learning effective communication both with your colleagues and with the patient’s relatives or families.
The core curriculum is similar to that of a traditional BSN program. One of the main differences is the time you have at your disposal to cover it. Here are some of the main courses you will attend if you choose to apply for the accelerated track:
- Nursing Practicum
- Theoretical Frameworks for Advanced Nursing Practice
- Health Assessment
- Issues and Policies in Healthcare
- Life Span
- Community Health
- Methods of Nursing Research
- Leadership in Nursing
- Applied Statistics
How long will the program take?
An Accelerated BSN program typically takes 12 consecutive months of full-time study to complete. But it can also last up to 18 months, depending on the school, online agency or type of curriculum. In addition, there are fewer breaks and a school semester is much more crowded with coursework than in a traditional program. You will have a notably higher number of classes, far more information to absorb and also a more intensive learning plan. You should already be familiar with your preferred method of study going in (visual, auditory, kinesthetic), as this will help you assimilate and compartmentalize theoretical knowledge faster and more efficiently.
Will there be clinical hours?
Yes. An Accelerated BSN program involves less clinical practice than a traditional Bachelor’s Degree track, but it still requires a certain number of hours in order for you to gain experience and become attuned to your future working environment. The exact number will differ according to your university or school of choice. For example, in a 12-week semester, you will need to accumulate up to 60 credit hours and up to 800 hours of clinical practice.
There are usually around six major teaching hospitals associated with the higher education institution you’re attending where you will complete your on-site hours. You might not be assigned to a hospital, but to a healthcare facility near the university. Bear in mind that most students of Accelerated BSN programs are older, take the initiative and have excellent learning skills. There will be increased competition: this can be a downside or a benefit for you. It all depends on how committed you are and how well you perform under pressure.
Traditional or Accelerated track – which should you choose?
In 1990, there were only 30 accelerated BSN programs in the entire country. Today you have over 200 options, and the number is consistently growing. Although the time required to complete the program seems accessible and the promising job prospects are a noteworthy plus as well, isn’t the traditional Bachelor’s Degree what you should be aiming for here? Comprehensive 4-year training, more high-end positions (at least initially) and no pressure or hassle to absorb massive amounts of information in such a short period? Well, it depends.
Although a traditional BSN program might seem like the better option and undoubtedly the certification most employers are seeking, entailing no risks of being penalized, there are several reasons why a standard Bachelor’s Degree is not for everyone (at least not in the beginning of their career):
- Structure: the 4 to 5-year didactic curriculum of a conventional BSN program is indeed less intensive, but it also covers more extensive training and requires many more clinical hours than the accelerated track. This can easily interfere with your career plans if you expect to start work as soon as possible, you’re only interested in learning the basics of nursing first or you’re looking to pursue higher education later in your life;
- Time: not everyone has the option to spend almost half a decade in university before working; the sheer number of hours required to earn a traditional Bachelor’s Degree can be very intimating or simply not be feasible if you need financial resources as soon as possible and you want to begin your practice right now. In addition, having two extra years off the bat can give you the necessary time to establish yourself in your new profession or land a secure job; you can always return to the 4-year BSN program after you’ve completed the accelerated track and are currently working;
- No college degree: you might be an aspiring nurse who does not possess a college degree; if this is the case, an accelerated program is the perfect choice for you; you might not have as many breaks as you would in a traditional program, but you get the chance to work towards your dream job;
- Education in a non-nursing field: there are thousands of new people every year who change their career paths or develop a passion for nursing, but they have studies in a completely unrelated subject area; for them, an accelerated track is the only option.
- Resources: a regular BSN track is no walk in the park when it comes to tuition, student loans, and additional fees; some prospective students simply do not have the necessary funds to pursue this type of certification, but must instead choose to enroll in alternative programs.
The bottom line is that each program has its perks and shortcomings, and choosing one or the other will largely depend on your academic skills, career goals, availability and financial possibilities.
Can you join an online accelerated BSN program?
Definitely. You might find that distance learning is a much more convenient, cost-effective and overall fitting alternative for you and your nursing ambitions. Furthermore, if you have a degree or education in an unrelated field of study, then e-learning is most likely your best bet and the fastest way you can master healthcare fundamentals and start practicing. You should also keep in mind that when it comes to Bachelor’s Degrees, accelerated and online programs are more common than conventional tracks, since the country needs more nurses and education institutions want to provide as many options as possible for potential workers.
Here are some of the most accomplished and widely-known universities that offer online options for an accelerated BSN program:
- Marian University
- Indiana State University
- Chamberlain College of Nursing
- University of Texas at Arlington
- Thomas Edison State University
- University of Wisconsin
- Chatham University
- Roseman University
- Gwynedd Mercy University
- Utica College
How much does the program cost?
Prices for an accelerated BSN program vary anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000. Typically you would pay over $10,000 for every semester and somewhere between $700 and $800 per credit. Keep in mind that it is not recommended to work during accelerated BSN studies due to the voluminous and intensive nature of the program. Certain schools prohibit their students from being employed. Also, there are extra fees that might not be included in the tuition such as meals, transportation, stethoscopes, uniforms, books or parking at the clinic.
If the cost is too much for you, take a look at some financial aid options and grants or ask for professional help and receive financial counseling. Currently, there are over 1,000 federal grant programs in the country, and you are bound to find something that will reduce your expenses significantly. You can apply for college or student loans, private loans (if your credit score is above 650), loan repayment programs, PLUS loans and Stafford loans that you can look into to help you manage the costs.
What about accreditation?
When deciding on an accelerated BSN track, you should ensure that your chosen school is authorized by an official institution and that the program it provides is accredited by either The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or The Accreditation Commission For Education in Nursing. All of the previously mentioned universities and online options offer programs that have been fully authorized by these organizations. After earning your certification from an accredited university, you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) in order to practice.
How much will you earn after completing an accelerated BSN program?
As an RN with a Bachelor’s Degree obtained through an accelerated program, you can earn anywhere between $60,000 and $77,000 every year. You will also be eligible to work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, physician’s offices, teaching hospitals and nursing facilities. When you are a newly graduate, you can apply to practice as an RN or for a nursing internship. Here are just a few job positions you can pursue after finishing your accelerated BSN track:
- Nursing assistant
- Forensic nurse
- Hospital assistant
- Nurse educator
- Pediatric nurse
- Public health nurse
- RN Specialist
- Travel nurse
- Wellness nurse
- Family nurse
- Geriatric nurse
- Psychiatric nurse
- Home care nurse