If you’re interested in applying for the best accelerated nursing programs, you might be considering to help you sort through the many pathways. Accelerated programs have compact curriculums that allow students to complete their graduation requirements in less time compared to a traditional length program. Accelerated programs offer a range of benefits that include reductions in the cost of living, more efficient graduation path, and the avoidance of excess debt from tuition expenses. The demand for nurses outweighs the supply. This means that for anyone currently on the fence about pursuing this career path, the time has never been better. In this blog, we will outline the best accelerated nursing programs and explain how to get accepted.
Accelerated nursing programs are designed for people who earned their bachelor’s degree in a program other than in nursing and who want to pursue a Bachelor of Science (BSN) in Nursing. Most programs offer a combination of online and in-class work, which gives you the flexibility to learn in a more convenient format. The length of accelerated programs can vary, but generally, you can complete an accelerated program in as few as 12 months. The main appeal of an accelerated nursing program is that you can enter the job market sooner. So, anyone who wants to fast track their way into a nursing specialization of their choice is the ideal candidate for these condensed programs. And because motivation is such a key aspect of becoming a nurse and choosing an accelerated pathway, students who encounter the question in interviews can offer a unique perspective in their answer.
Accelerated programs involve three aspects that are important to highlight. Firstly, these programs generally involve a specific number of online courses that you are required to complete. The e-learning format give you the flexibility to learn all the information and skills required of a nurse in the more compact design of the curriculum. For most programs, you will be allowed to choose which courses they take online, which can include subjects such as human anatomy and physiology, nursing care of adults, nursing ethics, research and evidence-based practice, and more.
The second aspect to consider is skills labs. Skills labs are practical work stations involving simulated scenarios or environments give you the ability to learn and apply course concepts to situations you might encounter in the field. During this portion of the curriculum, you will learn how to perform assessments, take and read vitals, insert IVs and catheters, and more. Labs are generally conducted using manikins that are designed to exhibit certain conditions that you learn to identify and treat accordingly.
The final aspect of the accelerated programs is the clinical rotations feature. Clinical rotations are also sometimes called placement programs, in which you enter a health care environment such as a hospital or clinic. During rotations, you take the practical concepts you learned from the labs and the theory you learned in the classroom to experience real health care scenarios. You will have the help of one or more supervisors, generally RNs or nurse practitioners who can guide you through your respective duties. Rotations are used to expose you to different situations and environments in a non-simulated format to facilitate the development of essential nursing skills.
But why would someone choose to complete an accelerated program rather than complete a more traditional pathway? To help answer this question, let’s take a closer look at some of the best programs for accelerated nursing and how to get accepted to each.
McMaster University Accelerated Nursing
Location: Hamilton, Ontario
Duration: 20 months
Overview: This program is ideal for students who have completed at least two years of study, or have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing. This program uses a science-based, patient-centered approach to educate students. The hallmark of the McMaster Accelerated Nursing Stream program is the problem-based learning approach, which emphasizes the development of strong interpersonal and leadership skills.
How to get accepted: To get accepted into the McMaster Accelerated Nursing Stream, students must have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing. Of the course requirements, students should have completed their credits with a minimum average of B-. Students will also have to complete and pass the CASPer assessment, and must demonstrate a minimum grade of C- in the following courses: introductory psychology, human physiology or human anatomy and physiology, biochemistry or combination of biochemistry and nutrition, and statistics.
Northern Arizona University Accelerated Nursing
Location: Flagstone, Arizona
Duration: 12 months
Overview: This program operates under a philosophy of constructing a fortified nursing infrastructure to sustain not just individual clients and families, but entire communities. This program seeks to synthesize skills from a variety of disciplines, including science, arts, and humanities to form a fully integrated approach to nursing.
How to get accepted: Like all other accelerated programs, students have to complete their bachelor’s degree in a field besides nursing. Students must have completed 27 credits of pre-professional requirements, including courses in biology, nutrition science, either psychology or statistics, and others. Students must have an average of C or higher in their prerequisite courses, and a minimum GPA of 3.0 overall. As part of the application process, students must complete the KAPLAN admissions exam, which is used to measure and rank nursing students using sections for reading, writing, math, and science. Applicants also must take the CASPer exam and snapshot.
University of Saint Mary Accelerated Nursing
Location: Leavenworth, Kansas
Duration: 12 months
Overview: The University of Saint Mary Accelerated Nursing Track is also a 12-month curriculum involving essential nursing courses, including behavioral health nursing, mission in nursing, research and evidence-based practice, pathophysiology, and more.
How to get accepted: Prerequisites include credit hours in nutrition, chemistry, microbiology, human anatomy and physiology, introduction to statistics, introduction to sociology or psychology, additional credit hours in psychology/human development branch, and credit hours in a communication course. Students who apply must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, and a minimum GPA of 3.0 in science prerequisite classes. Students with a bachelor’s degree in any other program besides nursing can apply. An additional requirement is the completion of the ATI TEAS exam, which is a multiple-choice exam designed to assess academic skills. Also required are two reference letters, a personal statement, and an optional resume.
University of Washington Accelerated Nursing
Location: Seattle, Washington
Duration: 12 months
Overview: The accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Washington offers a comprehensive training package that incorporates tools from a balanced curriculum over the span of four consecutive quarters (semesters) of classes. The curriculum involves a combination of self-directed work, lectures provided by experienced health care professionals, clinical simulation exercises and labs, and supervised placements with evaluated performance-based competencies for direct patient care. Examples of required course work includes health assessment, community and public health nursing, and pediatric nursing.
How to get accepted: Anyone interested in applying must have completed their bachelor’s degree in another field with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8. Course prerequisites include credits in the following classes: general chemistry, organic chemistry, microbiology, anatomy, physiology, and nutrition with a minimum GPA of 3.0 for each class. This program also requires a minimum of 100 volunteer or paid hours over the course of three months in a single health care setting.
University of Pennsylvania Accelerated Nursing
Location: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Duration: 15 months
Overview: The Accelerated Nursing program at the University of Pennsylvania offers two program options for prospective nurses. The first option is the accelerated BSN, and the second option is the BSN/MSN, designed for students who want to become nurse practitioners or continue their nursing education. Both options are pre-licensure, meaning students who complete the program become eligible to write the required examination to become an RN. Part of what makes this program different from others is that it emphasizes clinical experience to go with the theoretical learning that students acquire in their classes
How to get accepted: To apply, students must have earned a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing. Application requirements include a , two letters of recommendation, transcripts, followed by a . Prerequisite courses include general chemistry, biology, physiology, microbiology, nutrition, statistics, and health care ethics. Preferred cumulative GPA is 3.0, but applications will be assessed based on all materials provided.
University of Toronto Accelerated Nursing
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Duration: 24 months
Overview: University of Toronto offers a two-year accelerated program in nursing for students who have their bachelor’s in another field of study. The curriculum combines aspects of theory, practice, and research-based learning to provide students with the experience and conceptual foundation to enter the work force equipped with the skills they need to succeed. During the first year, students enter a clinical setting to gain experience caring for two client populations and their families. In the second year of study, the focus shifts more to theory, which includes classes such as current issues in medical microbiology, and policy, ethics, and leadership. The final 11 weeks culminate in a clinical practicum chosen in collaboration with supervisors from the program.
How to get accepted: Prerequisite courses include credits in human physiology, statistics, life sciences or physical sciences, social sciences, and humanities. To be eligible to apply, students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in their most recent 5.0 credits.
University of Kentucky Accelerated Nursing
Location: Kentucky, Ohio
Duration: Continuous 16 months, including the summer term
Overview: The flexible curriculum offers both online and in-person learning options to complete credit requirements. Course structures are divided neatly between in-class learning with both labs and clinicals to give prospective nurses the experience of applying theoretical concepts to real-life scenarios.
How to get accepted: To apply, students must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 in the following courses: human anatomy, human physiology, general biology, general chemistry, general psychology, and composition and communication courses. Students must also complete credits in general microbiology, nutrition, and statistics with a 3.0 average prior to their first semester in the program. Selected applicants are also interviewed virtually, which will occur after the initial GPA and academic requirement evaluation.
Creighton University Accelerated Nursing
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Duration: 12 months
Overview: Creighton University ABSN prepares students to enter the health care industry as a nurse in a variety of specialties, such as critical care, community and population health, pediatrics, and psychiatric and mental health.
How to get accepted: Admission requirements are standard, with one personal statement, three letters, an optional resume, and official transcripts. Academic requirements include a bachelor’s degree or higher, with course credits in sociology, psychology, developmental psychology, ethics, statistics, human nutrition, human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, and microbiology. Minimum cumulative GPA is 3.0.
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Baylor University Accelerated Nursing
Location: Waco, Texas
Duration: 12 months
Overview: The Baylor University accelerated program is offered to students who’ve earned their bachelor’s degree in another field, who want to focus on developing the nursing skills to work in underserved communities. This program has one of the more flexible and experience-oriented options with the majority of course work being accessible online, adjunct with 720 total hours of practicum requirements. This program also provides clinical placement services for students to facilitate career development and practical hands-on learning.
How to get accepted: Admissions requirements include 52 completed credits from an accredited institution, with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 for prerequisite courses, and a 2.75 GPA for prerequisite science credits. Applicants must also complete the HESI exam, which is a multiple-choice entrance exam that tests the skills and knowledge deemed important to succeed as a nurse and in the program.
Western University Accelerated Nursing
Location: London, Ontario
Duration: 19 months
Overview: The Western University accelerated nursing program provides students with a broad curriculum that prepares prospective nurses for a variety of clinical environments and specialties ranging from mental health to long-term care facilities.
How to get accepted: To apply, students must have either completed their bachelor’s degree or two years of study. To be considered, students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their last 10.0 completed credits. Course requirements include human physiology, anatomy, and statistics. Applicants must also complete the CASPer exam.
As with most programs, admissions requirements will vary by institution, so it’s important to do the necessary research to gather all the essential documents before submitting an application. That said, there’s more to getting accepted than just submitting what’s required. Besides transcripts and written documents, there’s also academic and standardized test performance to consider as well. Having a standout application will also help you practice .
Let’s review what you can do to get accepted to an accelerated nursing school program:
Meet the GPA Requirements
One of the best ways to improve or maintain your GPA is to meet with a tutor. Schools often have learning centers that can connect you with a tutor for your subject. If you’re struggling with a class, you can also ask your instructor to meet with you to discuss how you can improve. Make sure you know their office hours before initiating a request to meet with them. You could also ask some of your classmates to form a study group or join an existing one. Also, you can explore academic skills resources at your school, which typically offer workshops for developing good study habits, creating goals, and planning your daily and weekly tasks.
Complete the Prerequisite Courses
If you’re planning your academic schedule and you’re wondering how you can organize your course work optimally to apply for an accelerated nursing program, you can talk to a consultant or an advisor about your credits. Bachelor of Science programs often share most of the prerequisites for applying to an accelerated nursing program. If you aren’t in a position where your program involves these required courses, you can still register for them as electives or additional credits that you can take during a summer semester. Some schools also offer an academic requirements tool that organizes the credits you need to complete each semester and year to ensure you meet graduation requirements. Accessing this tool can also help you see which credits you need to take to ensure you qualify to apply for accelerated nursing.
Get Strong Nursing School Recommendation Letters
Some, but not all accelerated nursing programs require reference letters, usually up to three. Reference letters will typically come from either employers, colleagues, professors, or supervisors. For nursing programs, if you have volunteer or work hours in a health care setting, and you know someone who can attest to your skills, professional characteristics, and attitude in that setting, they can generally provide the strongest letters. For the references you want to use, it’s best to explain why you’re writing to them and what the program you’re applying to is about. To ensure that your references have enough time to write you a quality letter on your behalf, you should ask at least two months in advance. To initiate the request a reference letter through e-mail, consider the following example:
Hello Dr. Rogers,
I hope this message finds you well.
Volunteering at the long-term care facility under your supervision in 20XX-20XX was an enriching and valuable professional experience for me. Your strong leadership and guidance provided me with the knowledge and direction to pursue a career in nursing.
I am applying to an accelerated nursing program, and I was hoping that you would be willing to write a letter of recommendation on my behalf.
If you would be so kind, please let me know at your earliest convenience and I would be happy to discuss the program and answer any questions you might have. I can provide you with any information that might support your writing of the letter, and I can also assist where necessary.
I understand if you aren’t able to provide me with a letter, but I appreciate your consideration in any case.
Are you working on your nursing school letter of intent?
Work on a Strong Nursing School Personal Statement
Most schools also require a personal statement as part of your application. These documents can prove especially important for students that haven’t completed their bachelor’s degree, or who earned a diploma or other college degree, which only some programs will allow. The hallmark of an effective personal statement is a focused explanation of your path to nursing. In short, it’s a chance to tell your story (briefly) and provide evidence for your motivation to become a nurse. In other words, the personal statement prompt is “why nursing?” or in relation to nursing. Generally, your personal statement shouldn't be any longer than one to two pages, so between 700 and 1000 words. Check out this example of a personal statement for an accelerated nursing program:
It was my first time leaving the city, let alone leaving the country. After a long, drawn-out decision, I decided to go on my grade eight school volunteering trip to Haiti. I was incredibly nervous about leaving home for the first time. In spite of the anxiety, what kept me going was the feeling that I was going to do something that was bigger than myself, and the urgent desire to want to venture out to experience a different culture. Our project was to build a school for a small, underprivileged community. During the trip, we had to work hard together to accomplish our goal, which was a real test of physical and mental endurance for me to adapt to a new culture combined with the strain of physical labor. One of the volunteers I met was from another country, but she wasn’t a student. She told me she was a nurse who was part of an organization dedicated to providing free health care services in developing countries. I watched her one morning as she met with some of the local children who were ill. The way she was able to soothe the anxious children with a calm and receptive tone, while performing her duties in a smooth and effective manner, even managing to make some of them laugh, was remarkable to witness.
That nurse inspired me to consider a career as a nurse. However, what firmly planted the idea in my mind was an experience I had visiting the ER for a severe allergic reaction to something I ate. I was very confused and scared, because I never had an allergic reaction before, but the calm voice of the nurse who was caring for me reassured me and explained everything that was happening in clear detail, effectively diminishing my bewilderment. After I was set up in the bed and told to just rest, the nurse came back every few minutes to make sure if I was okay or to ask if I needed anything. Ever since then, I knew that she was the kind of person I wanted to be, both in profession and in character.
In college, I studied biology, because I knew I was interested in the sciences, but I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of career I wanted to have. During my senior year, I was working at a long-term care facility. During that time, I got to know some of the residents and nurses, many of whom were working in palliative care. There was one particular resident who I saw every day and spoke to casually, and I always looked forward to talking with him. One day, I didn’t see him when I usually did, and I noticed one of the nurses, Deb, talking with his family who I’d seen from time to time whilst they were visiting. I was informed later that day that the resident had passed away. I was heartbroken by the news. Comforting me, Deb explained that he passed peacefully, and that it was her job to give him the dignity of a comfortable passing. The deep level of compassion showed by Deb moved me to want to finish my degree and re-consider what I wanted to do when I graduated.
When I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Biology, and I was applying to jobs and doing interviews. At the time, my grandfather was in the hospital with terminal cancer. In his last few days, I remember watching the nurses working hard to make sure he was comfortable and calm. They managed his painful symptoms throughout the course of his illness, giving him the chance to live out his final days being with his family, and doing some of the things he loved. I was immediately reminded of the resident and the nurse I worked with at the long-term care facility. Witnessing that level of compassion once again awakened the desire in me to want to become a nurse, and I knew that I would be willing to do whatever it takes to become the kind of person I saw in Deb and the nurses that cared for my grandfather.
My introduction to nursing through Deb and my experience working at a long-term care facility could not have come at a better time. Witnessing the astute ethical and empathetic decisions of the nurses making sure my grandfather was comfortable in his final days, made me realize that my true calling is to be a nurse. An accelerated nursing program will allow me to pursue the career that I know I belong in, so I can devote myself to improving lives one person at a time. Word count 776)
Prepare for the CASPer Exam
Some nursing schools require completion of the CASPer exam, which is an online multiple-choice . CASPer? To prepare for this exam, your best option is to go through a series of to get you familiar with what’s on the exam. If you can practice your answers to sample questions in a mock simulation, with a consultant or someone who can provide feedback on your answers, this will help you get comfortable with the formatting and what a strong answer looks like. If you’re asking yourself , there is no definite answer, but it’s never too soon to start preparing.
Write a Compelling and Relevant Nursing School Application Cover Letter
A cover letter for a nursing program highlights your work experience, volunteer experience, education, and other important aspects about yourself. Some schools require cover letters in addition to or instead of personal statements. When you’re crafting this document, make sure you customize it for each school, and demonstrate why you think you’re a good fit for the program based on the schools’ mission, goals, values, etc.
Consider Writing a Nursing School Letter of Intent
A letter of intent is a document that expresses your interest in a specific program. Typically, this document is part of an application for research-centered programs. Your letter of intent is an opportunity to express how you think you will fit into the department according to their research values. Make sure you research the department and some of their research goals so you can craft your letter accordingly. Also, for programs that require a letter of intent, you might want to consider , which is a highly sought-after skill for research-centered programs. Your letter of intent should include a combination of personal information, what it would mean for you to become a nurse, volunteer or work experience in health care, and other qualifications, including potential research experience.
1. What is an accelerated nursing program?
An accelerated nursing program is a condensed Bachelor of Science in nursing program for students who have already earned their bachelor’s degree in another field and want to pursue nursing as a career in a quicker time frame.
2. What different types of nurses are there?
Typical titles for nurses include licensed practical nurses (LPN), registered practical nurses (RPN), registered nurses (RN), or nurse practitioners (NP).
3. What kind of curriculum does an accelerated program have?
Accelerated programs typically have a combination of e-learning lectures or activities, in-class work, clinical rotations, and labs or simulated environments.
4. Can I apply to an accelerated program if I haven’t finished my degree yet?
Some schools will consider applicants who haven’t finished their degree yet, as long as they have the prerequisite classes complete.
5. Can I apply to an accelerated program if I don’t have my bachelor’s?
The majority of programs only consider students who have their bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing program, but some institutions will consider students with diplomas or other degree depending on the program and school.
6. What do I need to submit in my application?
You should be prepared to submit some or all of the following: personal statement, transcripts, reference letters, proof of English language proficiency, and CASPer test results. Other programs may have other requirements beyond these, so be sure to check in with the institution.
7. Who can I request a letter of recommendation from?
For applicants of accelerated nursing, it’s advantageous to acquire a letter of recommendation from a past supervisor, employer, teacher, or colleague in a health care setting.
8. When can I start applying?
You can start collecting your application materials immediately. Application deadlines can vary by school, but generally, most schools in the US and Canada are open for submissions starting in the early fall.