Your Ultimate Guide to Accelerated Nursing Programs

In the world of healthcare, there is an increasing emphasis on higher education in nursing. More employers are seeking trained and educated nurses with a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BSN) can improve a nurse’s job prospects, increase their salary potential, and broaden their skillsets beyond the basics of nursing.

However, a bachelor’s degree is a big commitment—especially for those who have previously invested time in school. The traditional bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete. And for you, that may be too long. You may be seeking an accelerated nursing program to level up your career.

The nation needs registered nurses (RNs) more than ever, and accelerated nursing programs are aimed at getting nurses into the field fast. Read on to learn about the fastest ways to earn your nursing degree.

What is an Accelerated Nursing Program?

An accelerated nursing program is a fast-track option for aspiring nurses seeking a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). These programs involve intensive coursework that can be completed much quicker than traditional, on-campus BSN programs. Typically, accelerated nursing programs are designed for people who already have undergraduate degrees in another major, but wish to change careers to nursing.

It’s worth noting that a nursing education should never (and can never) be rushed. Because this career is centered around patients’ lives, it’s important for registered nurses (RNs) to learn the ins and outs of nursing through both classroom and clinical experiences. With that in mind, you may be wondering, “How do accelerated nursing programs work?”

Accelerated nursing programs typically work on a year-round format. Rather than taking the summers off, students participate in summer courses to complete their BSN degrees on a shorter timeline. Most accelerated nursing programs also operate on a full-time class schedule. Most notably, accelerated nursing programs can be sped up when previous educational credits are applied towards the degree. For example, in the accelerated BSN program at Goodwin University, students are automatically awarded 38 credits for the attainment of their first bachelor’s degree. This accelerates their remaining coursework.

Types of Accelerated Nursing Programs

There are various types of accelerated nursing programs, offered at different levels and in different formats. For example, some programs will be held entirely on-campus, while others might offer a hybrid, online format. Those enrolled in online, accelerated nursing courses typically need to complete clinical rotations and laboratory requirements in-person.

As noted above, the most common type of accelerated nursing program is the accelerated BSN (ABSN), which is specifically designed for students who have a degree in another, non-nursing major. However, other types of accelerated nursing degrees are available. Below is a breakdown of each potential option.

  • Accelerated BSN programs – The ABSN pathway is meant for students who are changing careers to nursing but have previously earned a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing major. Accelerated BSN programs credit students for their prior college education and use those credits to speed up the nursing degree timeline. At Goodwin University, the accelerated BSN program can be completed in 16 months full-time and makes graduates eligible to pursue their RN license.
  • Fast-track RN-to-BSN programs – RN-to-BSN programs are designed for already-licensed nurses who wish to further their education with a bachelor’s degree. However, these nurses may not have the time to invest in a full-time BSN program. RN-to-BSN programs enable seasoned nurses to complete their degree on a fast and flexible timeline, and in an online format. At Goodwin, nurses can complete the RN-to-BSN program in just 12 months part-time.
  • Accelerated MSN programs – Some Master’s in Nursing (MSN) programs are offered in accelerated or fast-paced formats. These programs are designed for nurses in pursuit of a graduate degree, without a long-time commitment. The length of an MSN program will vary by institution and program specialty. For example, APRN-MSN programs are usually not accelerated due to the clinical requirements involved. However, broader or leadership-focused MSN programs may have flexibility for accelerated formats. At Goodwin, the core MSN program can be completed online in as few as 20 months part-time.

Can an Associate Degree in Nursing Program Be Accelerated?

The associate degree in Nursing (ADN) is the standard, entry-level requirement for new nurses. It prepares students with the fundamental knowledge and clinical skills needed to care for patients. Typically, these programs take between two to three years to complete and cannot be accelerated. This is because there are a number of credit requirements and clinical hours that need to be fulfilled before becoming a registered nurse.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), accelerated baccalaureate nursing programs are most common, and a few accelerated master’s programs (at the entry-level) are available. However, the AACN does not cite any accelerated associate degree programs for nurses in their guide.

Is an Accelerated Nursing Program Right for You?

For aspiring BSN degree holders, an accelerated nursing program is a great way to get a jumpstart in the nursing field. Today, the majority of healthcare employers express preference for nurses with a bachelor’s education. (See why here.) So, if you are looking to change careers to nursing, or simply looking to expand your opportunities as a nurse, an accelerated program is a great way to get there fast.

Accelerated nursing programs make the most sense for students who fall into one of these categories:

  • Earned a degree in another, non-nursing major, but would like to change careers to nursing, OR
  • Completed an entry-level nursing program, became an RN, but would like to grow their skillsets and career potential with an advanced nursing degree

For these individuals, an accelerated nursing program enables them to accomplish their educational goals fast and get into a career they love quicker than a traditional nursing program. However, keep in mind that accelerated nursing programs are typically not right for aspiring nurses with no prior college education.

When deciding whether an accelerated nursing program is right for you, you may also ask yourself:

  • “Can I handle a full-time course load at this time?”
  • “Am I prepared to take on an intensive amount of coursework, in a short timeframe?”
  • “Do I have good time management skills, to balance nursing school with other obligations?”

Other Frequently Asked Questions about Accelerated Nursing Programs

What is the curriculum of an accelerated nursing program?

Accelerated nursing classes will vary by institution and program level. Most accelerated BSN programs, however, cover the fundamentals of nursing as well as advanced leadership topics. For example, you may take courses in Anatomy and Physiology, Pharmacology, Health Assessment, Nursing Theory, Nursing Research, and Nursing Leadership. Many accelerated curriculums also have a clinical component.

How long are accelerated nursing programs?

Accelerated nursing programs typically take between 12 and 20 months to complete, depending on the student’s prior education and experience.

Who is eligible for an accelerated nursing program?

This answer depends on the nursing school, as well as the level of degree being offered. For accelerated BSN programs, eligibility requirements typically include:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited school, in a non-nursing major
  • A minimum GPA requirement (3.0 at Goodwin) in your most recent college coursework
  • Completion of a pre-admission examination
  • Completion of pre-requisite science courses, including Biology and Chemistry

For an RN-to-BSN program, however, the main eligibility requirement is an active RN license.

Is an accelerated nursing program hard?

As mentioned, accelerated nursing programs are comprehensive nursing programs, structured at a faster pace. This means a lot of material is packed into a shorter timeframe. While this is entirely achievable for aspiring nurses, you may find these programs challenging at times. Fortunately, there are resources to help you succeed. On top of ensuring good time management skills and study habits, ask about your nursing school’s mentoring resources, exam support, and other helpful student services.

Earn Your Nursing Degree Fast at Goodwin

Accelerated nursing programs offer students an avenue to pursue intensive nursing courses over a much shorter period of time. And while these programs are intensive and comprehensive, they can also be flexible. At Goodwin University, our nursing programs are all designed with your schedule in mind. We work hard to accommodate working students, students with children, and those with other obligations. Depending on the nursing program you choose, you can find day, evening, weekend, and even online courses available. Part-time and full-time scheduling options may also be available to you.

As an accredited nursing school in Connecticut, Goodwin University tailors our nursing programs to meet the different needs of our students. No matter if you are an aspiring or seasoned nurse, we certainly have a nursing program for you.

Learn more about our nursing programs online or call 800-889-3282 to learn more about our fast-track and accelerated degree offerings.