Accelerated Online Nursing Programs 2021

Accelerated degrees allow motivated students to graduate as soon as possible. Many top colleges and universities offer this degree entirely online.

September 29, 2021

reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Accelerated Online Nursing Programs 2021

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Nursing Degree Fast Track

Registered nurses (RNs) improve patient outcomes by maintaining records, administering medication, operating medical equipment, and answering patients' questions. Some professionals with advanced training specialize in a medical subfield, such as pediatrics or oncology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that U.S. RNs earn a median $75,330 annual salary.

The BLS projects the need for RNs to grow 7% from 2019-2029. Prospective degree-seekers interested in entering an online nursing program can begin with an accelerated nursing programs online. Accelerated degrees allow motivated students to graduate as soon as possible. Many top colleges and universities offer this degree entirely online, opening higher education to busy professionals unable to attend on-campus courses.

Questions About an Accelerated Degree

true Q. What is an accelerated degree?

The best accelerated nursing programs require or allow students to take a heavier course load each semester. Although more rigorous than a full-time program, they allow learners to graduate faster.

true Q. Can you get a nursing degree online?

Accelerated online nursing programs include an RN-to-BSN. Students earning this degree already possess RN licensure but need additional college credits to earn a bachelor's.

true Q. How long does an accelerated nursing program take?

The answer depends on how many college credits an incoming student possesses. Learners with a bachelor's degree in another field may need only 18 months to earn an accelerated nursing degree.

true Q. Which nursing specialty is the most in demand?

In-demand specialties include pediatric, oncology, emergency room, and operating room nursing. Specializations involve taking upper-division coursework and completing multiple clinical rotations.

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Why Get a Degree in Nursing?

A nursing degree confers many potential benefits, such as improving patients' lives and attaining a fulfilling career. RNs with a bachelor's degree can specialize in a nursing subfield and earn more than their coworkers with only an associate degree. A bachelor's degree's other advantages include an emphasis on nursing leadership and management.

Accelerated nursing programs online provide learners with the academic flexibility to continue working while in school. This feature benefits RN-to-BSN students significantly, as they apply new knowledge and skills on the job. Working may also reduce degree-seekers' reliance on government and private student loans.

How Much Does a Nursing Degree Cost?

Typical public colleges and universities with accelerated nursing programs charge in-state students the most affordable tuition rate. Out-of-state degree-seekers may pay as much for a degree as if they enrolled in a private school. Private colleges and universities charge more per credit but may help accelerated learners save money if they offer a per-semester tuition rate.

Many public and private schools provide tuition discounts to specific groups, such as active-duty military personnel, alumni, and learners working for a partner company or organization. Colleges and universities with this policy may offset this discount by charging international students more for a degree.

In addition to researching schools with an affordable tuition rate, prospective degree-seekers should determine their institutional and departmental financial aid eligibility. Students who transfer to an accelerated nursing RN-to-BSN program may qualify for a transfer or academic merit scholarship, depending on their undergraduate GPA. Other financial assistance may include need-based grants.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse - Nursing Timeline

A typical nursing degree can take 2-4 years to complete. Each level of nursing has its own timeline, and that timeline can vary depending upon factors like part-time vs. full-time enrollment, certification, and the type of program. 

Below is an overview of the typical amount of time it takes to complete a nursing degree, keep in mind that the length provided is for the amount of time it takes to complete that segment of the degree, not the entire academic path overall:

Nursing Degree LevelTime of Completion
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) 2-3 years
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)1-2 years
Registered Nurse (RN) 4 years
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) 4-5 years
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)1.5-3 years
Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) 1-3 years
Break down your current financial situation, and receive a college tuition estimate you can afford to pay.

How Much Do Nursing Majors Make?

Multiple factors influence salary, such as employer and geographic location. RNs working for a government agency or hospital earn considerably more than the profession's median salary. Professionals employed by a school district or residential care facility may earn less. RNs living in California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts make more than their peers in other states.

RNs with a bachelor's degree can return to school to earn an MSN. This advanced degree qualifies graduates to become a nurse practitioner. These professionals earn a median $117,670 annual salary. The BLS projects the need for these highly trained nurses to grow 45% from 2019-2029, 11 times the average projected growth rate for all U.S. careers.

Other methods to increase salary include earning a certification from a professional organization. These organizations allow practicing RNs to hone and demonstrate their skills without committing to an academic program. Employers may require job applicants to possess a certification in pediatrics, gerontology, or ambulatory care.

Courses in Nursing

The best accelerated nursing programs online train students in the latest safety techniques and evidence-based practices. Coursework involves examining the challenges facing the nursing profession, healthcare equity, and affordability. A final-semester capstone asks learners to develop a professional portfolio and perform original research.

The following sample curriculum describes three courses typical to RN-to-BSN accelerated nursing programs. As course names and requirements vary among colleges and universities, prospective students should consult a school's online curriculum guide to review detailed course descriptions. Admissions counselors also provide applicants with in-depth information regarding the academic experience.

Certifications and Licensure for Nursing

All RNs need a state-issued license to practice. Professionals not interested in an MSN degree advance their career through one or more professional certifications. Typical requirements include passing an exam and joining an organization. As with their license, RNs renew a certification by taking professional development courses.

The HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board recognizes RNs with at least two years of experience treating patients with HIV/AIDS. The board awards an advanced certification to RNs with a master's and additional on-the-job training. Recertification requirements involve earning at least 70 continuing education points every four years. Organization members receive a significant discount. RNs in all states must possess a nursing license. Universal requirements include graduating from an approved nursing program and passing the NCLEX-RN exam. Other licensure steps may involve submitting to a criminal background check. Thirty-four states participate in a national licensure reciprocity program, allowing RNs to practice across state lines without meeting additional requirements. RNs with at least two years of experience treating patients with cancer pursue the OCN. Other requirements include earning at least 10 continuing education credits within the prior 36 months. Candidates take a three-hour, 165-question exam covering six subjects. Interested nurses join the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation to qualify for a certification discount.

Scholarships for Nursing

Like institutional financial aid, private scholarships help accelerated nursing degree-seekers graduate debt free. Numerous awards accept applications in 2021, and nearly all consider online, accelerated learners. Some renew as long as recipients remain in good academic standing.

Scholarships for Nursing
Scholarship Amount Who Can Apply

American Indian Science and Engineering Society A.T. Anderson Scholarship

$1,000-$2,000 AISES awards funding to Native American students pursuing a degree in a STEM-related field, including nursing. Interested degree-seekers must join AISES before applying. Candidates need a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA.

BestNursingDegree.com $1,000 Honors in Nursing Scholarship

$1,000 Undergraduate and graduate nursing students with a minimum 3.5 GPA may qualify for this competitive award. Application materials include official transcripts and an essay addressing how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the applicant's career aspirations.

Career Mobility Scholarship

$1,000 The Dermatology Nurses' Association (DNA) awards this scholarship to member nurses returning to school to earn a bachelor's or graduate degree. Applicants must hold at least two year's of work experience in dermatology.

Accelerated Online Nursing Programs 2021

Texas A & M University-College Station View School Profile College Station, TX $19118

Texas A&M's College Station campus offers various nursing programs online. The MSN family nurse practitioner track follows a hybrid format and requires only 45 clinical hours. The coursework includes 48 credits.

The accelerated online nursing program requires a BSN and a current registered nurse license. The curriculum teaches learners pharmacology basics and how to do health assessments. Students learn about leadership and management topics. Graduates should know about evidence-based practices.

Although students do most of the degree online, they must complete clinical hours at the Bryan-College Station campus.

The college suggests people apply with at least a 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit their GPA for their most recent 60 credits completed. Texas A&M holds accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The University of West Florida View School Profile Pensacola, FL $9091

Located in Pensacola, UWF offers an online MSN. The program prepares people to become family nurse practitioners. After graduating, students use the knowledge they gained to pass the national certification exam.

Classes teach students how to evaluate and manage a patient's health. Learners see how health issues vary in different populations. The curriculum talks about cultural and political influences on nursing. Graduates know how to use evidence-based theories on the job.

The program includes 45 credits and requires 600 practicum hours. Most students finish the degree in 27-30 months.

Applicants need a BSN for admittance. UWF earns accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The University of Texas at El Paso View School Profile El Paso, TX $7720

UTEP offers an online accelerated nursing degree. The nurse practitioner program includes 46-49 credits and takes about two years. After the program, students do 675-775 clinical hours.

While classes take place online, learners may need to travel up to 200 miles for clinical requirements. Program administrators expect students to visit campus up to three times per semester. Each class lasts about seven weeks.

Students can personalize their degrees by choosing from one of five concentrations. Most of these concentrations focus on caring for a specific age group. People who want to work with children can select the pediatrician track. The school also offers a psychiatric mental health concentration.

UTEP holds regional accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Georgia College & State University View School Profile Milledgeville, GA $20478

Georgia College offers an online MSN with a family nurse practitioner concentration. The degree does require a few mandatory on-campus visits. The program starts with a four-day in-person campus experience where students meet their professors and classmates. In addition, learners must complete all 630 clinical rotation hours in Georgia.

Class formats vary. Interactive sessions follow a synchronous lecture and discussion format. The asynchronous classes include pre-recorded lectures and online discussion boards students can access at their convenience.

The program only accepts students once a year. People must submit their applications by March. The priority deadline falls on the second Tuesday in January each year. Georgia College earns accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Northern Arizona University View School Profile Flagstaff, AZ $14882

Located in Flagstaff, NAU teaches the next generation of nurses. The school offers an online MSN with a family nurse practitioner concentration. The 48-credit program prepares students for Arizona Endorsement in the nursing profession.

All students start the program with a theoretical foundations class. Participants identify patterns between advanced theories and ways to apply this knowledge to the profession. Other classes cover leadership principles and how to manage acute and chronic health issues in patients. Learners complete an evidence-based capstone and clinical experience.

Applicants need a 3.0 GPA. They must submit three recommendation letters and official transcripts. Besides tuition, students pay a fee of $60 per credit hour. NAU earns accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission.

California State University-Dominguez Hills View School Profile Carson, CA $4533

CSUDH offers an MSN-nurse practitioner concentration. The 48-credit program takes most students 3-4 years to complete. Participants must finish 576 hours of clinical practice as well. While learners take classes online, the program requires 1-3 campus visits each semester.

Like most accelerated online nursing programs, CSUDH's MSN covers advanced pathophysiology and pharmacology basics. Students learn about ethics and advanced nursing roles. Some classes focus on disease prevention or giving care to specific types of people. Graduates leave with knowledge on how to care for anyone, no matter their age or gender.

Applicants need two years of experience offering direct clinical care to patients. CSUDH maintains accreditation through the WASC Senior Colleges and University Commission.

The University of Texas at Arlington View School Profile Arlington, TX $12277

Aspiring nurse practitioners can earn an online MSN from UTA. The 46-credit program takes students 31-36 months to complete. As of August 2021, the degree costs $30,084. Once students enroll, they lock in that rate if they complete their degree uninterrupted.

Learners develop knowledge on diagnostics and health assessments. Students learn how to conduct advanced research and clinical management. Class lectures focus on caring for humans at every life stage. Learners do labs in topics like adult-gerontology or pediatrics.

To qualify for admission, applicants need an active registered nurse license. Prospective students must submit official transcripts. UTA maintains regional accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The University of Texas at Tyler View School Profile Tyler, TX $12437

UT Tyler offers an MSN-psychiatric mental health nursing track. Students do most of the degree online, but need to go to a few on-campus meetings. The program requires 500 clinical hours, and most learners complete it in 2-3 years.

Classes follow a flexible format with small cohorts. Each class offers information to prepare for the national certification exam. Since this program focuses on mental health nursing, classes cover prescribing medications and therapies. Graduates leave the program knowing how the brain's structure affects mental health.

UT Tyler maintains regional accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The degree also holds programmatic accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

George Washington University View School Profile Washington, DC Unconfirmed

Located in our nation's capital, GW offers an online MSN. The degree requires an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner concentration. Before graduation, students must do 650 clinical hours.

Students learn how to offer care to critically ill patients and support their families. Class discussions encourage students to use diagnostic reasoning and critical thinking to assess case studies in emergency environments. The degree best suits current nurses who want to work in urgent care centers and specialty units.

Applicants must submit two recommendation letters and all official transcripts. The school accepts students with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The program requires one year of nursing experience in an acute care setting. GW earns accreditation through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of Indianapolis View School Profile Indianapolis, IN Unconfirmed

Learners can become a family nurse practitioner with an MS in nursing from UIndy. The degree best suits people with a passion for public health. The program requires 15 classes totaling 48 credits. Students must complete 720 clinical hours. People complete this program in as few as three years.

Classes cover caring for humans of all ages and governmental health policies. The degree requires classes common to accelerated online nursing programs. Students take anatomy and applied statistics courses. Upon graduation, learners understand pharmacology basics and how to care for different populations.

While students do most of the degree online, they must go to in-person class at least once a week. As of August 2021, the program costs $488 per credit. UIndy earns accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission.

Loyola University New Orleans View School Profile New Orleans, LA Unconfirmed

Aspiring nurse practitioners can meet their career goals with an online accelerated MSN from Loyno. The program requires 48 credits and 720 practicum hours. The school lets students do the practicum hours in the state that licensed them to practice.

Students learn how to oversee healthcare for infants through adults. Learners can also pick optional electives in topics like advanced statistics and scientific writing. Graduates can conduct advanced health assessments and understand pathophysiology.

The college offers an alternative MSN with a leadership track. The program only requires 36 credits and 180 practicum hours. The curriculum focuses more on topics like healthcare safety and theories in the healthcare system.

Loyno earns regional accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Olivet Nazarene University View School Profile Bourbonnais, IL Unconfirmed

About an hour from Chicago, ONU teaches the next generation of nurses. The school offers an MSN-nurse practitioner track. The program requires 52 credits, but some students complete it in 24 months. The online classes last eight weeks. Students can take more than one course at a time. Learners must do 720 practicum hours.

At the Christian university, students learn to approach the nursing profession from an ethical and spiritual perspective. The program prepares graduates to earn jobs in different settings. Some people find jobs at clinics or in community-based settings. Others work at long-term care facilities or hospitals.

Prospective students need a current registered nurse license to apply. The program requires a 3.0 GPA and 2,000 hours of professional experience as a registered nurse. ONU earns accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission.

Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale View School Profile Fort Lauderdale, FL Unconfirmed

Keiser offers an MSN-nurse practitioner track. To graduate, students must complete 49 credits with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The program also requires 510 clinical hours and two residencies.

Classes prepare students to pass the Family Nurse Practitioner National Board Certification Examination. Learners must take this test before finishing the program's last class. Some classes focus on ethics within nursing, and learners reflect on moral and healthcare practices. The curriculum encourages students to become critical thinkers who apply evidence-based research to the practice.

The program accepts students with a 3.0 GPA and a clear criminal background check. Applicants must submit three recommendation letters, with two written by healthcare professionals. Keiser earns accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Concordia University-Wisconsin View School Profile Mequon, WI Unconfirmed

Concordia offers a master of science in nursing. Students can complete the 41-credit nursing program online. The program follows a flexible format. Students can do their clinical rotations in the fall or spring. Learners pick either part-time or full-time enrollment.

The degree prepares learners to thrive as family nurse practitioners or clinical researchers. Students deepen their understanding of advanced pathophysiology and pharmacology. Classes cover health policy and how to collaborate with other professionals. As a Christian school, the program approaches the nursing profession from a spiritual perspective.

Due to licensing requirements, the program does not currently accept students from 16 noted states. As of August 2021, the program costs $779 per credit. The school offers thousands of dollars in scholarships to working and nontraditional learners. Concordia earns accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission. The degree also maintains programmatic accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Duquesne University View School Profile Pittsburgh, PA Unconfirmed

Located in Pittsburgh, Duquesne offers a convenient online MSN. The program focuses on providing care as an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner. The program includes 12 courses totaling 42 credits. Learners must complete 750 clinical hours.

Students learn how to provide care to young and aging adults. Classes talk about acute and complex chronic illnesses common among older humans. Learners talk about how these illnesses affect people in their day-to-day lives. Graduates know how to run diagnostic tests and make treatment plans.

Applicants need a BSN with a 3.0 GPA from an accredited school. They must submit a resume, official transcripts, and two recommendation letters. Candidates must hold a current RN license. Duquesne maintains accreditation through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Saint Joseph's College of Maine View School Profile Standish, ME Unconfirmed

SJC prepares future nurse practitioners. The college offers an online MSN that learners can complete from anywhere with WiFi. Depending on the concentration, the program takes as few as 27 months to finish.

The program's professors all have professional experience in the field. Through their studies, future nurses perfect their diagnostic skills. The school offers four tracks that vary from 42-48 credits. Those wanting to work with older populations can pursue the adult-gerontology acute care track. People preferring a more generalized approach might pick the individuals across the lifespan track. The school also offers an education or administration concentration.

As of August 2021, the program costs between $28,686-$32,784. SJC earns accreditation through the New England Commission on Higher Education.

University of the Cumberlands View School Profile Williamsburg, KY Unconfirmed

Located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, Cumberlands offers a master of science in nursing. The program includes 48 credits and 720 clinical hours.

The curriculum combines nursing theories and humanities and relates them to nursing care. Students learn how to care for different populations and use effective communication strategies. Learners read case studies and talk about the best moral and ethical practices in nursing. Some exams cover pharmacology basics and laws affecting the field.

Classes prepare students to earn certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center and pass their state licensing exam.

Applicants need a cumulative 3.0 GPA in all previous classes. They must hold a current registered nursing license. Cumberlands holds accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Sacred Heart University View School Profile Fairfield, CT Unconfirmed

Future registered nurses can meet their career goals with a master of science in nursing from SHU. Located in Fairfield, Connecticut, the school lets students take classes entirely online. Some learners finish their degree in as few as three years. The program requires 42 credits, and as of August 2021, costs $955 per credit.

Classes focus on hands-on learning and clear communication skills. Learners talk with classmates about healthcare policies and ethics. Classes cover pharmacology basics and how to do an advanced health assessment. The program requires one statistics course explaining how statistics relates to decision-making in nursing.

The program gives graduates the knowledge needed to pass the American Nurses Association or the American Association of Nurse Practitioners certification exams. SHU earns accreditation through the New England Commission on Higher Education.

Nova Southeastern University View School Profile Fort Lauderdale, FL Unconfirmed

Located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, NSU offers an online MSN. The program features different concentrations. Students wanting to work with older adults can take the adult-gerontology acute care concentration. The school even offers unique concentrations like psychiatric mental health or nursing informatics.

Like most accelerated online nursing programs, the program covers topics like pharmacology. Learners also study pathophysiology. Students learn how to listen actively and make a care plan for different patients.

The number of required credits varies by concentration. The nursing education track requires 36 credits. As of August 2021, the nursing education track costs $712 per credit hour. The family nurse practitioner track requires 51 credits and costs $750 per credit, as of August 2021.

NSU earns accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Graceland University-Lamoni View School Profile Lamoni, IA Unconfirmed

Graceland University offers an online MSN. As of August 2021, the program costs $830 per credit. However, people with a GU undergrad degree get a discounted rate of $705 per credit.

Students learn how to give the best care for different people. Learners wanting to work with all ages can choose the family nurse practitioner track. The concentration teaches more than just general pathophysiology and diagnostics. Noteworthy topics include pediatric care and adult care. Students put their knowledge to the test in an advanced practice competencies lab.

Applicants must submit three references and a 150-word professional goals statement. Candidates must also pass a background check.

GU holds accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission. The degree also earns programmatic accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

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