Fast Track to Nursing Understanding Accelerated Programs & Finding the Right Fit

Accelerated nursing programs may be the answer to the growing demand for nurses. These programs give students a chance to fast track their studies so they can start their nursing careers earlier. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 16 percent job growth for registered nurses between 2014 and 2024, making it one of the fastest growing professions in the U.S. Learn about the benefits of starting an accelerated nursing program, what it takes to graduate and who may be a good fit.

Meet the Expert
Susan Grinslade
Susan Grinslade Read More

Accelerated Nursing Timeline

Between classes, labs and studying, accelerated nursing programs cater to students who have both the time and ability to complete a degree on a shorter schedule. But what does that schedule look like, and how long will it take to complete? See how one school helps nursing students move through a degree program in just four semesters.

The typical September back-to-school season doesn’t necessarily apply to accelerated nursing programs. Some programs begin in spring or summer, and others have a “rolling” enrollment where students can begin any time of the year.

October
First Semester – 16 credits Sample Courses:
  • Introduction to Practical Nursing + Clinic
  • Health Assessment and Health Promotion + Clinic
  • Nursing Informatics
  • Advancing Nursing Practice
April
Third Semester – 15 credits Sample Courses:
  • Nursing Care of Vulnerable Populations + Clinic
  • Public Health Nursing
  • Public Health Nursing
January
Second Semester – 14 creditsSample Courses:
  • Nursing Care Across the Lifespan + Clinic
  • Research in Nursing
  • Nursing Informatics- Concepts and Issues
July
Fourth Semester – 15 creditsSample Courses:
  • Integrated Advanced Nursing Concepts + Clinic
  • Leadership and Management in Nursing
  • Validating Nursing Competence

Top Accelerated Nursing Degrees & Programs for 2016-2017

For maximum student benefit, online accelerated nursing degrees and programs must show a desire for student success while maintaining affordability, accreditation, and high NCLEX pass rates. Quality accelerated nursing programs should also employ professors that are trained to educate students in the virtual classroom and can provide industry-specific information to boost student comprehension. Through our methodology, we have compiled a list of the top accelerated nursing degrees and programs for the 2016-2017 year. Discover which programs stood out above the rest.

Rank School Name Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % #ONLINE PROGRAMS Student-teacher RatioNCLEX Pass Rate
1 University of Saint Mary 99.68 99% 2 9:1 91%

Nursing students at the University of Saint Mary can earn their BSN in one year in a program designed for career changers and non-traditional learners. The program begins in late June, with students graduating the following June. Applicants must have earned a bachelor's degree in another field in order to be admitted. The school is conveniently located near Kansas City and numerous hospitals and health care facilities where students are assigned clinical rotations. Classes are seven or eight weeks long, and students complete 58 credit hours and 772.5 clinical and laboratory hours in total. Clinical work may include nights, weekends, and 12-hour shifts.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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2 University of Wyoming 98.87 65% 2 15:1 93%

At the University of Wyoming, aspiring nurses can participate in the "Bachelor's Reach for Accelerated Nursing Degree" (BRAND) program. BRAND is a distance learning program that combines online courses, hybrid courses, and in-person clinical placements. In their first summer, students alternate weeks on and off campus. For the next two semesters, students must complete on-site clinical rotations in Wyoming for two weeks out of each month. In their final semester, students do a senior residency in Wyoming at a location chosen by instructors. The program takes 15 months to complete, with students beginning in May and graduating in August of the following year.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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3 The Sage Colleges 98.58 99% 1 12:1 87%

The Sage Colleges' RN to BSN program allows working professionals to advance their training and qualifications. Curriculum focuses on collaborative and contemporary nursing practices and students gain leadership skills that will help them advance their careers. The program has a self-paced format that is flexible to accommodate working adults and those with personal responsibilities. Students take some courses online and others at two local hospitals. There are a range of clinical opportunities available in hospital, home care, and ambulatory care environments. In their final year, students can take two graduate level nursing courses that may be counted towards a master's degree.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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4 University of Indianapolis 98.54 97% 2 11:1 87%

Students seeking a second bachelor's degree in nursing can study at the University of Indianapolis, earning their degree in 15 months of coursework and clinical placements. The program includes clinical rotations at practicum sites including hospitals, community settings, schools, and long-term care centers. Students also participate in simulation experiences to practice their skills. Graduates are positioned to enter a master's level program, and students can take up to three graduate-level courses during their undergraduate studies. Registered nurses can complete an RN to BSN program while working full time, with accelerated online, accelerated on-campus, and off-campus partner cohort options.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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5 Samford University 98.25 97% 3 12:1 99%

Samford University's accelerated nursing program gives students who have a bachelor's degree in another field of study the opportunity to earn a BSN in 12 months. The fast-paced program combines classroom learning and clinical experiences, with low student-to-teacher ratios and access to a patient simulation center and skills lab. The school also offers a slower-paced program for second-degree earners, with a program spread over five semesters. Veterans can pursue a unique BSN program that builds upon their military experience and training in health care. The school hosts a chapter of an international honor's society for undergraduate nursing students, allowing them to strengthen their leadership qualities and commitment to the profession.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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6 University of Saint Joseph 97.69 100% 3 11:1 77%

Accelerated nursing students at the University of Saint Joseph can earn a nursing degree in 15 months, including one full academic year and two summers. Curriculum in the program brings together the principles and practices of nursing with natural sciences, behavioral sciences, and the humanities, as well as extraprofessional skills. Students learn to work collaboratively and communicate with coworkers, doctors, and patients to provide the best level of care. The program also includes information on caring for diverse groups of clients: families, individuals, communities, and populations. Registered nurses can enter the RN to BSN program, which provides online and on-campus options for study.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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7 Creighton University 97.59 98% 2 11:1 91%

At Creighton University, students can pursue an accelerated BSN or an RN to BSN to fast-track their nursing career. The accelerated program, designed for those who have a bachelor's degree in another field, takes 12 months to complete. Students gain critical thinking skills to support the reasoning, analysis, and decision-making needed for effective nurses. Curriculum also includes the use of evidence-based practice, professional communication, and consideration for legal and ethical standards. RN to BSN students complete an online program that can be completed through full- or part-time study, with coursework in leadership, ethics, population-based healthcare, and healthcare policy.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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8 Jacksonville University 97.55 98% 2 11:1 84%

Jacksonville University's nursing department offers numerous choices for students who desire an accelerated program, including a second degree program for non-nurses, an online RN to BSN, and an online RN to MSN. All programs require full-time coursework, with most semesters including lectures from 8am to 4pm some days, and clinical rotations for 12 hours one or two days per week. On occasion, students will have a clinical day over the weekend. The school rotates students through their available clinical placements, which are spread throughout the Jacksonville area. For veterans, the school offers pre-licensure and licensed RN programs with veteran-specific training and academic support.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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9 Simmons College 97.54 96% 3 10:1 94%

Prospective nurses at Simmons College can enter a "4+1" BS and MS program that grants students their master's degree after 5 years of study. The program begins with an accelerated BS program that prepares students for their RN licensure test. After passing that exam, students begin graduate-level studies. Curriculum includes research and primary care, as well as foundational courses. Graduates can sit for the family nurse practitioner exam, and may choose to move on to a Doctor of Nursing program. Students complete six group clinical rotations and conclude the program with a preceptorship. Through clinical hours, students have the opportunity to work with patients from pediatrics to geriatric care.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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10 Lewis University 97.49 99% 1 13:1 95%

The accelerated nursing program at Lewis University is designed for adults with an academic background outside of nursing. The two-year program emphasizes communication skills that benefit interactions with patients and colleagues, as well as skill sets for nurses as caregivers, managers, and leaders. Students learn about community health concerns and how to leverage their roles as leaders who advocate for patients, with a holistic approach to nursing. The program offers small class sizes and clinical groups. Those who are already working as registered nurses can complete the RN to BSN program, which grants credits for years of nursing experience.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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11 Lynchburg College 97.22 100% 1 11:1 100%

Lynchburg College's second degree nursing program begins in May of each year for students who seek a career change to nursing. The program begins with sophomore-level courses taken in the first summer in an accelerated format. Subsequently, students complete junior and senior-level courses at a traditional pace over four semesters. The program's curriculum prepares nurses to work with all populations with a foundation of caring, holistic, and scientific practice. Students learn through group work, teacher-student communication, and the use of technology. Graduates move on to work in a variety of settings, including hospitals and doctors' offices, schools, companies, and the military.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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12 Saint Xavier University 97.01 100% 3 13:1 83%

Nursing students at the undergraduate level can choose from several programs at Saint Xavier University to earn their BSN. The RN to BSN program can be completed in four or five semesters through online coursework. Each course is seven weeks, and students complete them one at a time. Aspiring nurses who have a bachelor's degree in another field can enter an accelerated 15-month BSN program. This track can only be taken through full-time study, with no time off between semesters. The school also offers a minor in gerontology that prepares students to work with older adults.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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13 DeSales University 96.97 100% 2 14:1 94%

DeSales University's accelerated BSN program prepares students to work as nurses in 15 months of study and clinical placements. Students begin their courses at the end of May, and graduate in the following summer. As the program is full time, students can expect to be occupied with classes from 8am to 4pm. Clinical placements may also be held in the evening s or occasional Saturdays in area hospitals, nursing homes, and similar healthcare settings. Employed students may choose to pursue the school's evening/weekend BSN program instead, as it is not recommended that students work while in the accelerated program.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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14 Duquesne University 96.94 100% 8 13:1 92%

The second degree BSN program at Duquesne University offers a nursing education at an accelerated pace. Students complete three semesters of intensive study over the course of one year, and are then eligible to sit for the nursing licensure exam. The program begins in August. Curriculum includes clinical judgement skills, ethical and legal standards, practicing with a caring attitude, and collaborating with fellow healthcare professionals. The program also delves into the technology used in clinical settings to help students become competent with these tools. The schools' RN to BSN program offers numerous start dates, fully online classes, and the option of full- or part-time study.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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15 Valparaiso University 96.78 96% 4 12:1 93%

Valparaiso University has an accelerated BSN program for students who are seeking a second degree. The program takes 15 months to complete for those who begin in May and have all prerequisites complete; those who need to take their prerequisites or choose a different start date will have a somewhat longer program. Classes educate students in different areas of nursing, including psychiatric mental health, gerontological care, and childbearing families. Students also learn about public health and leadership strategies. Instructors in the program act as mentors and guide students to a career that is professionally, socially, and spiritually rewarding.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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16 Adelphi University 96.21 90% 1 11:1 79%

The accelerated nursing program at Adelphi University provides career changers with a path to a BSN through full-time study for 14 months. Students are grouped into cohorts and learn through classroom, clinical, and research experiences. The program begins in the summer, and students must complete all prerequisites before their first semester. Curriculum guides students in care for varying populations, including older adults, families, and patients with mental health needs. Working nurses can pursue the RN to BSN program, with on-campus, online, and hybrid options, and classes scheduled one day a week. This program includes coursework in global health, nutrition, and management.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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17 The College of Saint Scholastica 96.16 100% 8 14:1 91%

The post-baccalaureate nursing program at the College of St. Scholastica offers students a second bachelor's degree in nursing after four semesters of study. Students can take courses on campus or online, with intensive lab and clinical experiences completed face-to-face. Curriculum in the program prepares students to be nurse leaders, following holistic nursing principles and Benedictine values. The school also offers an RN to BSN online, allowing students to follow an individualized completion plan that is in line with their schedule as well as their career goals. Although courses are online, students collaborate with peers and communicate frequently with instructors and personal advisors.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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18 Utica College 96.16 96% 1 11:1 100%

Utica College offers accelerated nursing programs in Syracuse, New York and St. Petersburg, Florida. The program includes 16 months of classroom and clinical study for students who have a non-nursing bachelor's degree. Instruction is delivered through online courses and in-person lab simulations, as well as clinical experiences in local healthcare settings. Nursing simulation labs provide real hospital equipment and medical manikins that allow students to participate in mock clinical experiences. Prospective students can participate in a "Prerequisite Priority" program that prepares them with the required prerequisite courses online. Those who successfully complete the program are offered admission to the BSN program.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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19 Barry University 96.11 96% 4 12:1 82%

At Barry University, registered nurses can earn a BSN with 27 credits of coursework. The online program takes four semesters to complete, and prepares students with a curriculum of community health, healthcare technologies, nursing leadership, and health care policy. Aspiring nurses who have a bachelor's degree in another field of study can enter the accelerated BSN track. This program, also four semesters, prepares students to change careers and join the field of nursing. Class sizes are small, as only 10-20 students are accepted each year, and frequent communication between students and professors is encouraged. The program begins in the spring semester.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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20 Shenandoah University 95.84 96% 4 10:1 86%

Shenandoah University offers an accelerated second degree track program for those looking to enter the nursing profession. The program takes 15 months to complete, and requires intense full-time study. Students are encouraged to collaborate and learn from one another, as well as through classroom studies and learning at clinical locations. Professors guide students to analyze their nursing knowledge and intellectually engage in their experiences, while learning to provide quality and ethical nursing care. The school offers free peer tutoring for every course, as well as a writing center and math enrichment center for those looking to strengthen their academic skills.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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21 New Mexico State University-Main Campus 95.54 39% 3 17:1 82%

Accelerated nursing programs at New Mexico State University are available for registered nurses as well as second-degree seekers who have not previously studied nursing. The program for RNs can be completed online and is designed to educate nurses who wish to further their career with a bachelor's degree. Program participants receive credit for their past academic and nursing coursework, allowing them to earn their BSN in about one year of study. The program for second-degree seekers is 67 credits and was developed for students from a variety of academic backgrounds. Graduates of this program can sit for the exam to be licensed as a registered nurse.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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22 Drexel University 95.36 93% 15 10:1 94%

At Drexel University, students with a bachelor's or graduate degree in any field of study can apply for the BSN accelerated career entry program and receive the education needed to become a registered nurse. The program has two tracks: an 11-month track with daytime and afternoon classes full-time, and a 24-month track with evening and weekend classes. The 11-month track includes activities five days per week and face-to-face classes. In the 24-month track, students take both online and on-campus courses, including classes every other weekend. In both tracks, students learn to care for the sick and conserve health, and how to share their medical knowledge with clients and other professionals.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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23 Olivet Nazarene University 95.27 100% 2 16:1 87%

The accelerated BSN program at Olivet Nazarene University is delivered in a hybrid format that combines online theory courses and face-to-face clinical experiences. Students participate in the program full-time for 16 months to earn their degree. Applicants must have at least 60 credit hours, an associate's degree, or a bachelor's degree in another field in order to be accepted into the program. Curriculum guides students in the fields of health assessment, child health nursing, research, and transcultural nursing to develop well-rounded practitioners who can find employment in many different healthcare settings. There are two start dates per year, in January and May.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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24 University of Alabama at Birmingham 95.05 66% 3 18:1 96%

The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers an accelerated program for students with a non-nursing degree who wish to earn a master's in nursing. This pathway begins with the pre-licensure portion, where students work towards becoming RNs, followed by the MSN portion where students take graduate-level courses. In the pre-licensure portion, students must take a full-time course schedule with 40 or more hours each week spent on class time, clinical rotations, and coursework. During the MSN portion, students work as nurses while taking courses. These classes may be taken online, depending on the specialty chosen.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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25 University of Hawaii at Manoa 94.41 61% 4 13:1 90%

At the University of Hawaii at Manoa, registered nurses can pursue a bachelor's degree through one of two programs. The RN to BS track is designed for nurses with less than two years of work experience, allowing them to take coursework that supplements their prior nursing studies and graduate with a bachelor of science degree. The executive RN to BS track is intended for nurses with two or more years of experience and includes guided independent study. Both programs offer a hybrid format of course delivery, with online and face-to-face learning. Students receive individual academic advising to support their studies and an on-time graduation.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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26 Seton Hall University 94.36 97% 6 14:1 75%

Aspiring nurses who hold a bachelor's degree in another subject area can pursue the BSN accelerated second degree program at Seton Hall University. This 14-month program begins in the fall semester each year, pairing students in cohorts for classroom and clinical experiences. Students learn how to provide care in a multitude of settings, including community health agencies and long-term care facilities, as well as ambulatory care environments. In addition to learning how to provide care, students gain knowledge in cultural competency and the financial and legal elements of the health care system. Curriculum includes simulations and skills labs where students can hone their practice.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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27 Southern Nazarene University 94.35 95% 2 15:1 79%

Southern Nazarene University offers online and on-campus courses in its accelerated RN to BS program. The program features small classes in a Christian environment. On-campus students meet for courses one night per week for 15 months; students can also choose to take the program fully online. Curriculum addresses health assessment, nursing research and leadership, chronic diseases, and community health nursing. Students may also be able to earn credits from life experiences, job training, and military training. The university offers its students numerous services including a counseling center, a writing and tutoring center, and career services.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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28 Wilkes University 94.29 96% 2 15:1 84%

Career changers interested in nursing can pursue a bachelor's degree with Wilkes University's accelerated BSN program. Adult students with non-nursing bachelor's degrees enter the program and complete 48-credits of work in three full-time semesters to earn their nursing degree. The program includes classroom learning, clinical courses, and practice in an on-campus nursing simulation center. Classroom courses address nutrition, physical assessment, and trends in nursing, and clinical placements are held in acute, chronic, and community settings. Registered nurses can earn a degree at Wilkes as well, through the school's online RN to BSN and RN to MSN programs.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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29 Ball State University 94.17 47% 7 15:1 93%

Ball State University's second baccalaureate degree program allows students with an undergraduate degree to earn a bachelor's in nursing at an accelerated pace. The program is 19 months long and prepares students to sit for the registered nurse licensure exam. The school also offers an accelerated program for registered nurses in its RN to BSN program. This degree is offered online and is flexible for working students, with full- and part-time study permitted. Curriculum includes both nursing science and liberal arts fields like fine arts and humanities. The program also emphasizes care for women and children in need.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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30 University of Miami 94.14 73% 1 12:1 96%

The University of Miami offers an accelerated BSN program for students with a bachelor's degree in a field outside of nursing. The program is three semesters a long, with January and May start dates. Students learn through classroom education and clinical work, with a focus on hands-on training. Clinical placements are available at 170 partner organizations, including a local acute care hospital, an academic medical center, and a public teaching hospital in inner-city Miami. The school's RN to BSN program provides training for registered nurses looking to further their education. Students in the RN to BSN program can also pursue international study opportunities in Chile, Mexico, Spain, and Haiti.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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31 Quinnipiac University 93.95 91% 6 13:1 96%

Second degree students can earn a BSN at an accelerated pace at Quinnipiac University in 12 months. The program starts in August, and students complete a traditional junior year of coursework in August through May. The following months, May through August, consist of a 15-week intensive summer session for the rest of the nursing major requirements. Due to the accelerated nature of the program, students are advised to have limited, if any, employment during the fall and spring semesters, and no employment in the summer sessions. Those who wish to complete the bachelor's degree at a slower pace while they keep working can apply as a transfer for the traditional BSN program.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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32 Robert Morris University 93.90 87% 2 15:1 90%

Robert Morris University's 15-month accelerated BSN program blends study of the natural and behavioral sciences and liberal arts with professional courses. Students learn to use critical thinking and judgement, combined with strong technical skills, to become effective nurses. Curriculum also highlights a global perspective and the use of technology, with all students using handheld technologies for data collection and other applications. The school offers a simulation education center where students can practice their skills before bringing them into clinical settings. There are also international travel opportunities within the program. Registered nurses can advance their education online with RN to BSN and RN to MSN programs available through distance study.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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33 University of Delaware 93.90 54% 2 15:1 85%

The University of Delaware offers a 17-month nursing program for students who hold a bachelor's degree in another subject. This accelerated program requires full-time study and awards graduates with a bachelor of science in nursing. The school also has programs for registered nurses, including an RN to BSN and an RN to MSN program. Nursing students can complete clinical rotations in adult health nursing, maternity nursing, psychosocial nursing, community health, and pediatric nursing. Clinical groups include eight students with each faculty member. Students seeking academic health can work with tutors from the nursing honors society, and access additional support from undergraduate teaching assistants.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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34 University of Memphis 93.77 40% 4 14:1 100%

Nursing students at the University of Memphis can complete the accelerated BSN program in four semesters of full time study. Curriculum includes nursing for many populations, including pediatrics, families, older adults, and communities. Students will also learn about patient-centered care and mental health nursing. The RN to BSN program provides an accelerated pace as well, with a program designed for working registered nurses. This program is online and flexible, centered on individualized and learner-centered teaching that guides students through the curriculum. Registered nurses may be able to receive credits for prior learning experiences or through standardized exams.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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35 Rutgers University-Newark 93.68 43% 1 11:1 100%

Career changers with a bachelor's degree or higher in a non-nursing field can pursue an accelerated BSN at Rutgers University. Offered through full-time study for 14 months, the program requires intense study and dedication to coursework and clinical rotations. Classes center on nursing care with evidence-based practice, and guide students in becoming nurses for clients at all stages of life. Students also learn about leadership and management in the nursing profession, as well as trends and issues in health care delivery. A second accelerated program designed for registered nurses offers a path to a BSN through primarily online study.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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36 New York University 93.64 52% 1 10:1 86%

At New York University, registered nurses with an associate's degree can complete an accelerated program to earn their BSN. The program has two start dates each year, and offers international study opportunities. Curriculum is individualized for each student, depending on prior coursework completed in their associate's degree. The school also offers an accelerated second BSN program for students who have a degree in another field. This program is 15 months, or four semesters, and also has two start dates per year. Coursework covers nursing for adults and the elderly, as well as pediatrics and maternity nursing.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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37 University of Northern Colorado 93.57 79% 6 17:1 88%

The University of Northern Colorado offers two accelerated BSN programs: one for career changers with a bachelor's degree in another field, and one for working registered nurses. The second degree program requires full-time study and can be completed in 20 months. Students participate in clinical experiences in many settings, from hospitals and nursing homes to industry and school environments. The RN to BSN program is also 20 months but its format is less intense, allowing students to continue working full-time while taking two courses per semester. For all nursing students, the school hosts a local chapter of the Student Nurses Association as well as a nursing honor society.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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38 Loyola University Chicago 93.26 93% 8 14:1 92%

Loyola College's school of nursing has an accelerated BSN program that grants a degree to students who hold a bachelor's in a non-nursing field after 16 months. The full-time program offers nursing curriculum that is identical to that of the traditional program; prerequisites and core requirements are somewhat different. In addition to classroom learning, students spend time in a simulation laboratory where they practice basic clinical skills. Students bring these skills into the field in rotations at hospitals, schools, psychiatric settings, and senior centers. Rotations begin in the second semester. In their final semester, students act as beginning nurses supervised by a mentor in their clinical placement.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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39 East Carolina University 93.14 50% 11 18:1 97%

Students at East Carolina University can earn a second-degree BSN in an accelerated, 12-month program. Students begin in the spring semester and take full-time courses. Areas of study include health assessment, behavioral health, and nursing research. A second accelerated program is in place for registered nurses, who can earn a BSN in four semesters (including summer courses). Classes in the RN to BSN program are delivered online, with some in five and a half week blocks and others in seven week sessions. In additional to traditional nursing science courses, students will learn about nursing leadership and finance, as well as professional communication.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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40 University of North Florida 93.12 54% 3 20:1 94%

The nursing department at the University of North Florida offers two accelerated undergraduate programs: an RN to BSN program for registered nurses, and a prelicensure program for those with a degree in another field of study. The RN to BSN program can be completed online or on campus, with both tracks taking about one year to finish. Online students select a local community agency, such as a homeless shelter, hospital outreach program, or health clinic, where they can complete "experience hours." The pre licensure program is three and a half semesters and has a focus on community engagement. Students are provided with diverse clinical experiences, including the chance to work with vulnerable and underserved populations.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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41 Albany State University 93.07 11% 1 16:1 61%

Albany State University's accelerated BSN program is designed for second degree students. The program includes study of nursing throughout the lifespan, with coursework on community health and geriatrics. Students will be prepared to sit for the licensure exam to become a registered nurse. Those who already work as RNs can enter the RN to BSN program, or the RN to MSN program. In all nursing programs, curriculum combines nursing studies with liberal arts and science to produce well-rounded nurses who provide holistic and culturally-competent care. Students can access academic advising, learning supports, and a writing lab to foster their success.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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42 University of Arizona 92.97 77% 10 20:1 90%

Registered nurses can enroll in the University of Arizona's RN to MSN program to earn their master's degree at an accelerated pace. The program offers two tracks: a two-year track for RNs with an associate's degree, and a 15-month track for RNs with a bachelor's degree. Both tracks are offered online, without any travel to campus or residency required. Students can begin the program in January, May, or September. Curriculum prepares students as clinical systems leaders, offering registered nurses skills in designing and leading patient-centered care environments, evaluating care systems, and understanding the business and finance elements of healthcare environments.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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43 Clemson University 92.89 59% 3 16:1 93%

Clemson University's nursing department offers an RN completion program and a second degree nursing program for students seeking an accelerated path to a bachelor's degree. The second degree program, for career changers who have an undergraduate degree in another field, accepts 32 students each fall semester. The program involves 16 months of full-time study in nursing foundations, genetics, mental health, and pediatrics, among other topics. Students in the RN completion program take a combination of online and face-to-face courses, with on-campus meetings every other Tuesday. Full-time students can complete the program in 12 months; part-time study is also an option.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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44 Georgia Southwestern State University 92.88 32% 1 16:1 90%

Three accelerated programs are offered for nursing students at Georgia Southwestern State University: a second degree BSN program, an LPN to BSN program, and an RN to BSN program. The second degree program, designed for those who have not studied nursing, is about 22 to 24 months long, allowing students to earn a bachelor's degree in the same amount of time that it would take to earn an associate's. The RN to BSN program is fully online and can be completed in as little as one year. Students can progress at their own pace, however, and some choose to take two, three, or even five years to finish.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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45 Baylor University 92.86 94% 1 15:1 97%

Baylor University's "FastBacc" program is an accelerated second degree program for students to earn their BSN. The program can be completed in 12 months, with 62 hours of nursing course work. Students begin their studies in the summer, learning from classroom courses, online studies, clinical placements, and laboratory experiences. In addition to nursing basics like health assessment and human needs, students will learn about nursing for the elderly, childbearing women, and patients with mental health needs. Courses integrate Christian values and promote free discussion and discovery of ideas. The school's learning resource center provides students with reference materials, books, printers, a computer lab, and study rooms to support their success.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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46 Northern Arizona University 92.86 66% 8 18:1 91%

Accelerated nursing students at Northern Arizona University can choose from a second degree BSN or RN to BSN program. Those in the second degree program must hold a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field, and must also complete several pre-professional pre requisite classes. They can then complete the program in 12 months through a full-time and intensive schedule. While students may continue working part-time, they are advised to work 16 or fewer hours per week. The RN to BSN program provides a more flexible schedule. Courses are online and students can complete clinicals in their hometown, allowing them to participate in the program without relocating.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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47 Texas Christian University 92.67 64% 3 13:1 92%

At Texas Christian University, students can complete the accelerated second-degree nursing program in 16 months. While participants fulfil the same number of clinical hours as those in the traditional BSN program, courses and rotations follow a different schedule that allows for maximized experiences and a faster path to graduation. The program begins in the fall and is complete in the following winter. In addition to classroom and clinical learning, students benefit from simulation and practice labs where they can gain skills before moving to a hospital setting. The program includes a professional nursing residency that students complete in their last semester.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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48 Indiana Wesleyan University 92.58 50% 12 16:1 87%

Indiana Wesleyan University has a "transition to nursing" program for second degree students who are changing their career focus to nursing. The program includes 14 months of study and provides students with a foundation of nursing, leadership, and research skills. Curriculum includes transcultural nursing, maternal and newborn nursing, and nursing from a Christian worldview. All students participate in a transcultural practicum as well, which places them in an inner-city clinic, a healthcare clinic in an emerging nation, or a similar setting. Graduates may pursue jobs in hospitals and healthcare environments, or continue their education in a master's level program.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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49 West Virginia University 92.52 57% 4 21:1 93%

West Virginia University's BS/BA to BSN program offers college graduates an accelerated path to a nursing degree. The program begins in the spring and is five semesters long. The school has two simulation facilities for its aspiring nurses, where students can practice placing IVs, assessing patients, and giving injections. Upon graduation, students can apply for the school's BSN-DNP program to continue their studies at a higher level. Two programs for RNs are also available: an RN to BSN program that can be completed online in three semesters of full-time study, and an RN to MSN program that is eight semesters long.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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50 Ohio University-Main Campus 92.38 68% 4 18:1 87%

Registered nurses can earn a bachelor's degree online through Ohio University's RN to BSN program. There are eight start dates each year, and courses are held online in five-week sessions. In each class, students have access to a facilitator who assists the professor. Facilitators are leaders in their fields with a master's or doctoral degree, and they're in place to answer students' questions and provide feedback as needed. The school also has an online "RN to BSN Nursing Knowledge Center" that gathers information and assistance for students in the program, including forms, library services, important dates, and tech support.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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Accelerated Nursing Programs vs. Traditional

As the demand for nurses grows, schools are exploring ways to increase student enrollment. One way schools are doing this is by offering accelerated nursing programs for those who have already earned a degree in another field, otherwise known as “second degree” students. Typically offered at the baccalaureate and master’s degree levels, these take less time to complete than traditional nursing programs. However, these programs may not be for everyone. Below is a chart to help you decide whether an accelerated program is right for you.

  Accelerated Nursing Programs Traditional Nursing Programs
Time Requirement

Classes are taught back-to-back and there are no scheduled breaks during the program.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs can take four years or more to complete. Summer and holiday breaks lengthen the time it takes to earn a degree.

Prerequisites

Students have often completed prerequisites during their initial degree program and aren’t required to repeat those courses.

Prerequisites are part of a traditional four-year degree and can eat up a lot of time, therefore delaying entry into the workforce.

Financial Aid Availability

Students can receive financial aid at most schools. Since the time commitment is intense, many healthcare settings partner with schools to provide financial assistance for students.

Financial aid is usually offered through the school a student attends. Students can go directly to the financial aid office on campus for more information.

Free Time

Classes run back-to-back and students are required to take the same amount of clinical hours as traditional students. The course load in addition to clinical hours limit students’ free time.

Students are expected to report to class at specific times, which leaves them less flexible for other plans. However, traditional schools typically offer winter and summer breaks, which are not offered in accelerated programs.

Employer Pay Options

Students in an accelerated program may already be working in the health care field. Those, and employers seeking to boost their collective skill set without hiring, may sponsor an employee’s graduate schooling through tuition reimbursement.

Students beginning a traditional program may not be already working in the health care field, and will not be able to get employer tuition assistance. If, however, the student participates in an employer-educator partnership these opportunities may be available.

Pre-Accelerated Nursing Program Checklist

Before entering into an accelerated nursing program it is important to research the impact it will make on one’s personal and professional life. To get an idea of where to start researching to find the best fit, SUNY School of Nursing’s Assistant Dean Susan Grislade, PH.D., provides a list of things to do before enrolling.

  • Do your homework. Research a number of programs within your regions and compare them.
  • Talk to graduates of those programs to find out what it is really like.
  • Ask questions of prospective employers, including what the differences between traditional versus accelerated graduates are, and if there is a preference in hiring one over the other.
  • Look at admission criteria and prerequisite coursework to determine what you will need to do to be admission-applicant ready.
  • Talk to family and friends and consider what-if scenarios: What if I can’t work, can we support our family on one income? If I focus more time on school, how can we support each other so this is a win-win for everyone?
  • Explore financial resources and scholarships to sustain tuition.

Tips for Accelerated Program Success

While graduates of accelerated programs may reap rewards after completion, survival in a fast-paced program can be a challenge. Students are expected to learn material and complete their clinical practice in a shortened amount of time. Those used to traditional on-campus learning experiences should keep these tips in mind before enrolling in an accelerated program:

  • Define priorities

    It can be difficult to balance a personal life with nursing school. It’s important to clearly communicate to family and friends that nursing school is the top priority in an accelerated program.

  • Practice the new skills

    Whether it is information learned in a lecture class (also known as didactic classes) or in a clinical class (labs, etc.), be sure to practice the material.

  • Learn how to take exam-style questions

    Knowing how to apply different strategies to various questions on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is critical for success at exam time. For example, knowing normal lab value ranges, electrolytes, how to prioritize diagnoses, etc.

  • Step up in clinical practice

    Take every opportunity to perform any tasks in clinical classes. Start IVs, take someone’s vitals and be willing to do what’s asked. The more comfortable students are with procedures, the better off they will be when working in a clinical setting.

  • You are not alone

    At times, students may feel like they’re drowning in medical terminology and dosage calculations; their classmates are in the same situation. Other nursing students can serve as a great support system and can help build up a nursing network. Join a study group or ask classmates if they’d like to form one.

  • You can’t do it all – and that’s OK

    Students might have been happily holding down job, family and volunteer commitments while organizing book club meetings and driving kids to soccer practice before enrollment, but that won’t be the case with an accelerated nursing program. Ask friends or neighbors to start a ride-share schedule to shuttle kids, and divide family responsibilities into age-appropriate tasks: Designate a teenage chief dish washer and a younger child as head of the family’s sanitation department (which sounds more important than “trash-taker-outer.”)

  • Take time for yourself

    Accelerated programs don’t schedule summer or holiday breaks, which may make it seem like life has turned into one prolonged study session. Be sure to schedule time for entertainment and activities – a workout, a walk or brunch with friends.

  • Clinical practice: 5 steps to getting ahead

    The first day of clinical practice can be nerve-wracking to anyone, no matter how well they’ve done in their courses. From figuring out where essential equipment is kept to being self-sufficient, here are several tips for a great first day:

    • Familiarize yourself with the emergency equipment

      It’s important to know where emergency equipment is located, what to do in case of emergency, and where the emergency contact list is located.

    • Determine the most frequently used equipment

      Whether it is oxygen, ventilators or more complex machines, taking a few minutes to figure out how the equipment works will save time in the future. Just like class, it may be a good idea to take notes.

    • Ask questions

      Being in a hospital can be intimidating, especially when students are still learning. That said, don’t be afraid to ask questions when shadowing other nurses.

    • Be resourceful

      The hectic hospital environment means nursing students may be brushed off at times. Don’t be offended. Find other resources when looking for information. Some ideas include: the internet, head nurses, your CI. It’s okay to be persistent.

    • Remember the individual

      Each patient and their family has specific needs. Successful students remember this during clinical practice and address each need to the best of their ability.

Research and Support: Nursing Organizations

Want more information before committing to an accelerated nursing program? There’s a lot to consider, including school selection, degree path and traditional versus non-traditional education options. Below are a few resources that will help prospective accelerated nursing students narrow the choices.

Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses

Dedicated to the practice of medical-surgical nursing, AMSN provides networking and professional opportunities to medical-surgical nurses.

American Association of Colleges of Nursing

Prospective students can learn facts, figures and fast-track education requirements to become a nurse.

American College Health Association

The American College Health Association is a network for college health professionals.

American Nurses Association

The ANA is a professional organization representing the interests of the nation’s registered nurses through its constituent and state nurses associations.

National Council of State Boards of Nursing

The NCSBN is an independent, not-for-profit organization through which boards of nursing act together on matters concerning public health, including the development of nursing licensure examinations. Here students can find information on the NCLEX-RN exams.

National League for Nursing

The National League for Nursing provides resources for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education as well as opportunities for professional development.

PreHealth Advising Program

Northeastern University developed a resource for prospective students interested in careers in medicine. This particular page is geared toward those interested in practical nursing.

Expert Advice on Accelerated Nursing Programs

Susan Grinslade has been the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Programs and a clinical professor at the University at Buffalo, SUNY School of Nursing since 2006. She earned her nursing diploma from the Barnes Hospital School of Nursing in St. Louis in 1969 and went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Education and Medical-Surgical Nursing, culminating with a Ph.D. in Nursing Science. She has won numerous awards for her work.

Interview with Susan Grinslade

What should prospective students consider before enrolling?
  • The program is intensive and not for the faint of heart.
  • The cost is not spread out over a period of time.
  • It’s crucial for students to understand that if they start an accelerated program and then find out nursing is not a good fit, they have probably already made huge investments in a life change that is costly and not easily undone.
Who is a good candidate for this program?

Susan says: “Accelerated nursing programs are not for everyone. Some individuals need more time to process and assimilate not only new knowledge but values and commitments.”

  • Individuals who are goal-directed
  • Individuals who are dedicated to keeping commitments
  • Second-career individuals who know exactly what being a professional nurse entails
How much time is dedicated to finishing an accelerated nursing program?

Susan says: “Our accelerated baccalaureate program is 12 months. Students are in class or clinical five days a week, six to eight hours a day.”

  • Factor in study time, outside the classroom
  • Note the time it takes to get to and from class
  • Estimate time taken by other life responsibilities, like child care or work
  • Plan to make time for maintaining healthy relationships