Online Bachelor's in Accelerated BSN (ABSN) Degree Programs

macbook pro displaying group of people

Chris Montgomery / Unsplash

Nurses play a central role in the healthcare system, and their role is comprehensive, far-reaching, and impactful for patient outcomes. Nurses care for individuals through health promotion, patient advocacy, patient and family education, illness and injury prevention, and support. Nurses save lives and collaborate with other healthcare providers to enhance the quality of care for patients.

To become a highly skilled registered nurse (RN), you may take the traditional bachelor’s in nursing (BSN) pathway if you have not enrolled in classes before. It is generally the first degree you earn after completing a traditional BSN program. But why not consider one of the online ABSN programs that are offered by leading institutions to help you earn your degree?


What Is An Online Accelerated BSN Program?

An online accelerated BSN program is meant to give individuals with a bachelor’s degree the chance to gain the educational qualifications needed to become a nurse. An online accelerated BSN program is deeply intensive and crams semesters’ worth of work into more than one calendar year. Students will learn the skills necessary to earn their nursing license and enter the workforce. Given the continued shortage of nurses in today’s healthcare environment, an online ABSN may be ideal for individuals looking to earn the necessary working credentials and enter the workforce as quickly as possible. By obtaining your ABSN, you can virtually guarantee a chance to gain employment as a nurse. 

The rise in the need for nurses has led to many nursing opportunities nationwide. As such, if you want to participate in an online ABSN program, you must do extensive research to ensure that a program meets your educational and flexibility needs. Attending a program with sufficient flexibility is very important: Many individuals who earn their ABSN are already in the workforce or raising a family and may still need extensive flexibility. 

Finally, you must ensure any school you attend offers a CCNE-accredited BSN program OR a CCNE-accredited MSN program. The CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) is responsible for accrediting nursing programs that you may want to attend. The CCNE accredits schools based on the guidelines of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing guidelines. 

Attending an accredited school is not optional for anyone wanting to enter the workforce as a nurse. Accreditation means schools follow minimum standards, have an educational curriculum of sufficient rigor, and adequately prepare students to enter the workforce and excel as nurses. 

Online ABSN Curriculum

An online ABSN curriculum will be the same as an in-person curriculum. There should be absolutely no difference. Regardless of your program, you will still be expected to attend lectures, complete projects, participate in group discussions, and more. 

The critical difference is that most (if not all) of this work will occur online. In some cases, you may enroll in a hybrid program. This program will allow students to learn in person and online. In these instances, you must be physically close enough to the school to be able actually to get to these classes, discussions, or labs. As such, hybrid schools may limit your educational options. 

Each school will offer somewhat different curricula. Furthermore, many allow prospective nurses to take certain electives that align with their future career prospects or desired specialties. Common courses include:

  • Foundations of Nursing Practice, in which students will begin learning the basic nursing care concepts. 
  • Medical-surgical nursing, in which students will learn more advanced skills that relate to nursing, as well as skills that specifically address how to be a nurse in a medical or surgical setting.
  • Many schools offer specific nursing care to older adults or students, with a specific emphasis on not only the physical requirements of the job but also how to address the various social, psychological, and cultural needs of individual patients. 

Other classes often involve anatomy, psychology, physiology, social work, statistics, nutrition, diet, and much more. While there will be basic prerequisites that each student will have to take, students will find that they have a high degree of flexibility in what courses they may want to pursue. 

Furthermore, many online ABSN schools will also offer additional assistance, including tutoring for the NCLEX (licensure examination) or tutoring on an as-needed basis. 

How is an Accelerated BSN Different Than a Regular BSN? 

The main difference between an accelerated BSN and a regular BSN is the time to earn your degree. 

An accelerated BSN can be earned in as little as fourteen months. Keep in mind that going through an accelerated BSN program means taking multiple classes, juggling coursework, attending lectures, and more. You will also have to prepare for the NCLEX, the licensing examination that allows you to practice as a nurse.

A regular BSN typically takes four years. However, in many cases, this BSN is part of a student’s other undergraduate work. An accelerated program is for someone who has already obtained a bachelor’s degree and is looking to supplement that degree with a nursing education. 

Both programs allow students to earn identical degrees and certifications. Fundamentally, educational content is the same between an accelerated BSN and a regular BSN. The educational content, clinical, homework, and course rigor are the same – the only difference is the timeframe. 

In many cases, obtaining your ABSN online is easier than obtaining it in person. The reasoning is simple: An accelerated BSN can be extremely demanding. Earning your degree online allows you to fit extremely demanding educational requirements into a tight timeframe. 

Prerequisites for an ABSN Program

An ABSN program requires you have already earned your bachelor’s degree, allowing you to focus your academic energies on classes exclusive to nursing. Different schools will likely have different academic requirements. However, you will likely have already taken various classes, including:

  • Human anatomy and microbiology
  • Chemistry
  • Nutrition
  • Probability & statistics
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

Lab work, clinical experience, or internships may count towards meeting some of your prerequisites, and it is worth contacting a school you are interested in to determine what prerequisites you still have to meet. In most cases, you must earn a minimum grade in any of these classes, usually around a “C” or higher. 

In many cases, schools will allow you to take these classes before enrolling in an ABSN program. However, you will have to pay for these classes, which may slow your progress towards earning your ABSN.

Once again, this emphasizes the need to select a program that minimizes the additional classes you must take. Doing so will ensure you aren’t taking any other time before earning your BSN, saving you money and allowing you to enter the workforce quickly. 

How Fast Can I Earn My BSN? 

The timeline of a BSN degree will vary by school. However, most entry-level BSN programs take four years to complete. You may complete the ABSN program in 15 months depending on the program.

Benefits of Earning Accelerated BSN Programs Online

An online accelerated BSN offers many important benefits as you pursue your chosen path in nursing. Here are a few key benefits of ABSN programs. 

Job Security

Through 2029, registered nurses are predicted to be among the top jobs in demand, with jobs growing faster than average at 7%. Many states still need to mandate a BSN degree for RN licensure, but many employers strongly prefer nurses with a BSN degree. Nurses with a BSN are also better prepared to continue their education in nursing through graduate school.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), employers value graduates of ABSN programs since these graduates are often more mature, more dedicated, and possess skills that can be easily transferred into nursing.

Higher Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median salary for registered nurses is $73,300. Healthcare settings vary widely across the country, and this figure encompasses them all. Washington (the state with the highest average salary) has a BSN-prepared nurse earning nearly $94,000, while Hawaii (the 10th highest average salary) has a BSN-prepared nurse earning almost $77,000.

Baccalaureate-educated nurses advance in their careers to take on other positions. Nursing professionals can work at hospitals, ambulatory care centers, physician offices, schools, community clinics, and nursing homes. The BSN is becoming increasingly important as a point of contact between patients and physicians.

New Work Environment Opportunities

Nurses who have graduated from online ABSN programs can pursue several positions beyond the bedside. Some require experience practicing as a clinical nurse, while others do not. Many of these roles are performed in hospital settings, while others may be supervised by a pharmaceutical company, health insurer, or non-healthcare-related business organization. 

  • Nursing managers act in a supervisory role, overseeing other nurses and ensuring they deliver high-quality care. 
  • Nurse case managers coordinate home care services and conduct case review conferences. 
  • Research nurses assist investigators in gathering data from participants, managing selection protocols and other key tasks. 
  • Quality specialists improve patient safety and patient experience in the hospital setting, using and developing processes that ensure the best patient outcomes. 
  • Nursing informatics specialists work with nursing and information technology teams to ensure clinicians can access data systems efficiently. 

Advancement Potential

Nurses with a BSN degree can pursue graduate-level training. A Master of Science in nursing (MSN) degree allows nurses to advance their careers in clinical or leadership positions. Nurses with MSN degrees may operate within collaborative environments or with greater autonomy and independence depending on the role.

On the clinical side, nurses can become advanced practice registered nurses with specialties in emergency care, critical care, certified registered nurse anesthetist, certified midwifery, nurse practitioner, and other roles across the continuum of care.

Master ‘s-prepared nurses who become nurse practitioners can provide patient care in alignment with a concentration of their choosing, such as family care, adult-gerontology primary care, or psychiatric/mental health care. Nurses with MSN degrees can also seek administration, education, policymaking, or informatics positions.

Better Patient Outcomes

Online ABSN programs prepare students for evidence-based clinical care, community, and leadership education. This ultimately leads to better patient outcomes. Several studies cited by the AACN indicate that patients have a better survival rate when they are under the care of BSN-educated nurses. 

What Are Online Accelerated Second-Degree BSN Programs? 

You might consider online accelerated second-degree BSN programs if you have a bachelor’s degree in a different, unrelated field and desire to pursue a career as a registered nurse or advanced practice nurse.

What Can You Do With a BSN?

With a BSN, you could become a bedside nurse in hospitals, clinics, and physician’s offices. You could pursue a career as a clinical research nurse, health policy nurse, nurse educator, nurse health coach, nurse informaticist, or nurse recruiter.

BSN Salary and Job Outlook

The Bachelor of Science for Nursing (BSN) degree is the gold standard for nursing education because it gives you the skills and knowledge to succeed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as a registered nurse, you may earn a median annual salary of $77,600. For the lowest-earning positions, you might earn $59,450. As a high-earner in the field, you might earn a salary of $120,250.

How Much Does an Online Accelerated BSN (ABSN) Cost?

The costs for an online accelerated BSN (ABSN) program vary depending on the university. Here are a few examples of the costs you can expect from these programs.

  • Walden University’s ABSN program costs $2,980 and $75 for tuition and subscription period technology.
  • Online degrees at Grand Canyon University range in cost from $395 to $470, depending on the program.
  • Baylor University’s accelerated BSN cost around $1,150 per credit hour. 
  • The tuition for the online ABSN program at Purdue University Global costs about $40,950.
  • BSN-prepared nurses in Washington earn close to $94,000 compared to Hawaii’s $77,000.

BSN Scholarship Information 

AfterCollege/AACN $10,000 Scholarship Fund

The AfterCollege-AACN Scholarship Fund offers $10,000 in support to students who are seeking a degree in nursing. 

Bridge Your Career

This $500 nursing scholarship goes to a nurse with the commitment and understanding of education and how it can achieve improved patient outcomes.

A Place For Mom Senior Wisdom Scholarship

The Senior Care Scholarship for $2,000 is available to students enrolled in nursing degree programs at an accredited four-year university.

Caroline E. Holt Nursing Scholarship 

This one-time $2,500 award supports three students in an accredited nursing school based on need. 

Senior Caregiver Scholarship 

This $2,000 scholarship is offered to an eligible student who has been a caregiver for a senior friend or relative. 

Doctor Thomas P. and Edwina H. Devlin Medical Scholarship Fund

This scholarship provides grants for tuition, books, and equipment for deserving students who are attending medical or nursing schools.

Barbara Rhomberg Nursing Scholarship

Non-traditional, full-time nursing students pursuing undergraduate degrees are awarded the Barbara Rhomberg Excellence in Nursing Scholarship annually. 

Geraldine “Polly” Bednash Scholarship

Two $5,000 scholarships will be distributed to top nursing school applicants.

American Association of Critical Care Nurses Scholarships

AACN’s Continuing Professional Development Scholarships help you continue your professional and personal growth. 

Online BSN Requirements 

Every BSN program is different, so you should research the school to determine the admission requirements. Here are a few of the typical admission requirements:

Prior Education

Most BSN programs require a bit more education than Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs, which only require a GED or high school diploma. Some BSN programs require students to have finished their two-year general education requirements before applying. 


If you’ve researched, ADN programs accept students with GPAs as low as 2.5. A student’s high school GPA is usually the determining factor. It is, however, more challenging to enroll in a BSN program. GPAs of 3.0 or higher are commonly accepted, but GPAs below 3.5 are not generally considered.


You may have to complete certain courses to apply for a BSN program. You might be required to take anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, chemistry, developmental psychology, and statistics as part of the program. 

Entrance Exams 

ABSN programs require students to demonstrate competence in the field. You may need to take a TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) to determine your skill set. 


You will probably need to write a personal statement or essay as part of your application process. You may need to share why you are pursuing the ABSN degree program. 

Letters of Recommendation

You may only need to submit a letter of recommendation to one of the competitive nursing programs. If you are required to submit a letter, you should consider professional references.

Common Courses in Online BSN Programs

ABSN programs require 60 credit hours and 546.5 clinical hours. In addition to foundational skills, the coursework teaches complex and specific nursing applications for children and adults. A sample of the ABSN online coursework includes:

  • Foundations of Professional Nursing
  • Adult Health Nursing
  • Maternal Child Health Nursing
  • Complex Care of Adults

12 Popular ABSN Programs for 2024

As noted earlier, various schools now offer an ABSN program. This wide array of programming is excellent news for prospective students, as it gives you a chance to determine from a vast array of prospective schools. Each school has its own strengths and unique features, and it is worth taking the time to engage in extensive research and better determine what school will be the best fit for you. 

All of the schools below are accredited and constantly updating their ABSN offerings to ensure they are as effective as possible for students who enroll. 

Marymount University 

Marymount University is one of the many schools offering an ABSN, promising to help students obtain their BSN in as little as sixteen months. The school offers in-person and online options, enabling students to get their BSN in nursing in a manner that best suits their needs. The school boasts about its 93% NCLEX pass rate, and deep partnerships with various local hospitals, enabling students to find employment quickly and easily. It also offers highly unique courses, like health promotion, illness management, and risk reduction in communities. Such a program may be ideal for students interested in working with at-risk populations. 

Furthermore, Marymount University recently unveiled a specific Nursing Workforce Scholars program. This program – which the school describes as “highly competitive” – is a $10,000 scholarship. However, it is limited only to students who attend in person. 

University of Texas (UT Health San Antonio)

UT Health San Antonio offers an ABSN that can be completed in as little as fifteen months, making it one of the fastest programs to appear on this list. UT Health San Antonio offers some specializations besides its standard ABSN, allowing students to earn “distinction” in research or clinical service. It also specifically refers to earning a nursing degree as “an act of social justice,” which may appeal to individuals looking to enter the nursing field to improve communities across the country.

Northeastern University

Northeastern University offers an ABSN for students living in Charlotte or Boston. It does not offer 100% online options, but provides a hybrid model to interested students. Furthermore, it offers transfer credit, meaning that a student looking to switch their ABSN school can transfer to Northeastern.

Additionally, the school offers extensive scholarships, potentially giving interested students as much as $26,000 towards their education. These scholarships are generous – more than many others on this list – and may help make obtaining an ABSN much more affordable for interested students. 

Kent State University 

Kent State University offers an ABSN for students who live in the Ohio area, offering three different semesters of classwork for students who may want to earn their ABSN. The school prides itself on its highly flexible options: In addition to its three semesters, it also offers classes during the daytime, evening, and weekend. These offerings should enhance the ability of busy students to get their ABSN. 

Furthermore, Kent State University has multiple competitive advantages over other schools. Specifically, it discusses their state-of-the-art simulation laboratories, clinical experiences offered at major Ohio hospitals, and 90% NCLEX pass rate. 

Baylor University

Unlike other schools, Baylor University notes their ABSN is available online. Their program – which they note is #3 ranked in Texas – can allow students to earn their ABSN in just a year. Two campus visits are required for some students, but other than that, students should be able to get their ABSN online. Courses can also be extremely intensive on their own, and students may complete certain classes in as little as three weeks. To that end, students interested in potentially attending Baylor will want to ensure that they can clear their calendars in a way that allows them to complete the necessary classwork.

The fact that Baylor specifically offers a high-ranking online ABSN may make it an ideal school for students interested in distance learning. 

Methodist College 

Methodist College refers to its ABSN as a “prelicensure program.” This emphasis seems to carry across its entire ABSN offerings, as the school repeatedly discusses its efforts to educate students and help them pass the NCLEX. 

Furthermore, Methodist College can brag about having one of the most up-to-date and recently revamped curricula on this list, with a new curriculum coming online in Spring 2022. This curriculum also reduced the requirements to obtain an ABSM from 122 to 120. Sample curriculum for the program includes evidence-based practice in professional nursing, transcultural & population health, health policy & professional leadership, and more. Students can earn their ABSN in as little as four semesters of work.

Emory University 

Emory University specifically refers to its BSN as a “Distance Accelerated BSN.” In other words, this program is explicitly designed to help individuals earn their BSN, even if they do not physically live near Emory. The program notes that students can earn their BSN in as little as three semesters – less than the four or five semesters that many other schools on this list offer. 

Furthermore, Emory has lower prerequisite courses than other schools on this list, requiring students to take just five physical sciences classes, one statistics class, and one class on human growth and lifespan development. As a result, students who may not have realized they wanted to pursue a career in nursing may be better positioned to seek this educational background. 

Finally, Emory also offers assistance in clinical placement, even if students are not near the Emory healthcare system. However, they do not make any guarantees of such a placement. 

Rockhurst University

Rockhurst University offers an online ABSN which enables students to obtain their ABSN in as little as sixteen months. According to the website, Rockhurst’s program can be 100% online, with one exception: Students must complete a ten-day residency on campus. They will participate in in-person coursework and use the state-of-the-art simulation lab during this time. Students can also explore campus, meet with college officials to discuss post-graduation employment options.

Furthermore, Rockhurst offers robust clinical placement options, working with students (no matter where they live) to ensure they can gain the necessary post-graduate education. The school also notes that their tuition – $46,980 – is about $7,000 less expensive than similarly located ABSN programs. 

University of Wisconsin 

Students who attend the University of Wisconsin’s ABSN program can obtain their ABSN via multiple pathways, either by using the UW Flexible Option or BSN@Home. This is among the most flexible options offered, as students can select either program depending on their needs and flexibility requirements. As such, students who attend the University of Wisconsin are guaranteed access to multiple high-quality ABSN programs that will either allow them to get their degree fast or in a very flexible manner that fits their career requirements.

Roseman University of Health Sciences 

The Roseman University of Health Sciences boasts an extremely impressive array of statistics that may attract many types of students. They offer an ABSN that students can obtain in less than eighteen months. There are on-campus or hybrid options, meaning students can earn much of their degree online. From a flexibility perspective, the school offers four semesters, meaning that students can start their educational experience at Roseman once every three months. Finally, the school’s NCLEX pass rate is 98.57%, one of the highest on this list. 

Xavier University 

Like many other schools, Xavier University offers various in-person and online options. Students who attend Xavier can complete much of their coursework online or at any of the school’s three Ohio locations. Xavier also goes deeply into their various online offerings, noting that they allow students to participate in interactivities, case studies, discussion boards, and more. The school also goes out of its way to stress the accessibility of its progressors, noting that it can be contacted in many ways – including texting. In this sense, Xavier seems to truly be dedicated to ensuring that all students – even those online – have access to the same resources as students who attend the school in person. 

Wilkes University 

Wilkes University offers an online or in-person accelerated program. According to the website, students can obtain this ABSN in as little as fifteen months, which is the fastest time it will take to complete the 11 courses that come with this degree. There are only two start dates, but students can earn their degree in four highly compressed semesters. Finally, students can complete two residencies – one in-person and one online – thus ensuring that they can get the blend of real-world experience and flexibility that can allow them to obtain their ABSN as fast as possible. 

Online Accelerated BSN (ABSN) Program FAQs

Can Anyone Get Into an Accelerated BSN Program?

No, an accelerated BSN program is NOT an entry-level degree. An individual will have to have already earned their bachelor’s degree. Furthermore, students interested in attending an accelerated BSN class will have to have completed numerous prerequisites as determined by the individual school they are attending. These prerequisites often include biology, chemistry, anatomy, and more. Different schools and programs have different standards, and you must check what requirements you must have earned before enrolling in any program.

Finally, most accelerated BSN programs have different admission standards based on quality and competitiveness. Students will usually have to have earned a minimum GPA, completed an application, submitted a writing sample, and sent a letter of recommendation. 

Is an Online ABSN Program Even Faster Than a Traditional ABSN Program?

The answer ultimately depends more on the student and the specific program design you enroll in than any set answer particular to an online ABSN or traditional ABSN.

Online ABSNs often have numerous advantages for the individual. They are more flexible and may allow for asynchronous learning, meaning students can often participate in lectures and small group work at their own pace and around their work schedule. These advantages often enable students to continue to work or raise a family while earning their ABSN. Alternatively, in some cases, they may allow a student to earn their degree faster.

Do I Need To Be a Nurse To Be Accepted Into an Accelerated BSN Program?

You do not need to be a nurse to be accepted into an accelerated BSN program. In fact, in most cases, you won’t be. Generally speaking, a BSN program is for individuals interested in becoming a nurse. In most cases, individuals who enter a BSN will have already earned their bachelor’s degree in another field.

However, in some cases, you may have already earned another nursing degree, like an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). In such instances, a BSN may help you advance your skills, gain greater job security, and increase your pay. ADNs also have likely taken many of the prerequisites necessary to earn a BSN, thus making it even easier for them to complete the necessary coursework and earn their degree. 

Why Would I Want to Attend an Online Accelerated BSN Program?

An online accelerated BSN program can often represent the best of both worlds. Attending an online BSN program allows you to earn your BSN in a highly flexible manner customized to your needs. You can also usually save a good amount of money by earning a BSN online, as you never have to worry about transportation, many educational supplies, or eating out. An online BSN allows you to save time if you are busy – such as working or trying to raise a family.

The program’s accelerated nature helps in that you can earn your degree in just more than a year. To that end, you can quickly earn the skills necessary to enter the workforce and ensure that you can increase your overall earnings potential.

Lastly, a BSN can be foundational for additional nursing degrees, such as an advanced practice nursing degree (APRN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Any of these degrees are far more advanced and less common than a BSN, and by earning a BSN, you can start your path to a better, long-term degree. 

Final Thoughts

ABSN programs online offer all the benefits of achieving your nursing degree in an area that has already seen strong interest. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), student enrollment in nursing continued to increase in 2021. Regardless of the reason for your interest in pursuing nursing, accelerated bachelor of science in nursing programs could allow you to achieve your goal faster.

Scroll to Top