Fastest Online Nursing Degree Programs

RNs or those with bachelor's degrees can apply to accelerated nursing programs. Explore the fastest online nursing programs of 2022.

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by Doug Wintemute

Published on July 21, 2022 · Updated on July 27, 2022

Reviewed by Brandy Gleason, MSN, MHA, BC-NC

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Accelerated programs offer students one of the fastest paths to earning a degree and entering the workforce. In an accelerated bachelor's program, learners take condensed courses that can cut the standard degree completion time in half.

Students in degree-completion programs use transfer credits to reduce graduation times. In comparison, an accelerated degree in nursing has the same amount of credits as a standard program. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average undergraduate tuition was $9,349 and $32,769 in 2019-20 for four-year public and private schools, respectively.

Graduates can also pursue the same careers as those from traditional nursing programs. This page examines accelerated nursing degrees, highlighting what students can expect before, during, and after the program. We also rank the fastest online bachelor's in nursing (BSN) programs from the top online schools.

How Fast Can I Get an Online Bachelor's in Nursing?

Accelerated nursing programs vary in length, but students can find many options with 2-3 year completion times. This means accelerated learners can complete the 120 credits for a bachelor's program in half the standard time. Accelerated programs reduce class sessions from 14-16 weeks down to 7-8 weeks or less.

While programs vary, learners can expect to take about 20 three-credit courses each year. By doubling the course load of a standard program, students effectively double their work. Therefore, degree-seekers in an accelerated bachelor's in nursing could spend about 30 hours in class and study 60 hours weekly.

What Can I Expect From an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Nursing Program?

Nursing professionals are often compassionate and calm in stressful situations. They also possess strong communication and critical-thinking skills. Prospective students pursuing an accelerated degree in nursing should also have a strong work ethic.

In an online bachelor's degree in nursing, students complete extensive coursework and clinical experiences. In addition to classrooms and clinicals, students also participate in simulation labs with various types of medical equipment.

Nursing programs may feature specialization options in critical care, neonatal, and mental health nursing. However, accelerated programs may offer limited specialization options.

While all bachelor's in nursing programs award a BSN, students can pursue various paths to a bachelor's in nursing. For example, students with an associate degree in nursing (ADN) may apply to ADN-to-BSN. Registered nurses (RNs) can consider RN-to-BSN programs.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Nursing Program?

Nursing Fundamentals

This course covers theoretical nursing foundations and major skills required for nurses to provide client care to various age groups. Students explore the different healthcare systems and learn the strategies and protocols for delivering safe and quality care.

Physical Assessments

Students explore how to conduct physical examinations and health assessments for patients of various ages. Students also learn the cognitive and decision-making skills needed for accurate assessments.

Pharmacology

In this course, students learn about drugs and their properties. They study the effects of drugs on the human body and the different therapeutic outcomes on clients throughout the life cycle.

Public and Global Health Nursing

This course covers public and global health nursing topics, such as access to care and health promotion. Students learn about the differences in healthcare systems around the world and how various places and cultures practice medicine.

Healthcare Policy

Students learn about the role of government and institutions in the development of healthcare policies. They also study the effects of policies on people and communities, access to healthcare, and the cost and quality of the care.

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What Are Admission Requirements for an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Nursing Program?

While every bachelor's in nursing program has its own admission requirements, prospective students typically need a high school diploma or a GED certificate for entry. Some BSN programs also require applicants to have a GPA minimum, healthcare experience, and course prerequisites.

Admission requirements for an online bachelor's in nursing do not differ much from on-campus programs. However, most schools set minimum device and technology requirements that online learners must satisfy.

Application

Prospective students can submitundergraduate applicationsindifferent ways, including directly to the school or through an online portal. Depending on the school, applicants can also use a college application system to streamline the process. These systems make submitting multiple applications easier and guide applicants through the various steps.

Test Scores

Undergraduate program admission requirements may include results from one of several college entrance exams. The most common tests include the SAT and ACT exams. Competitive programs often set score minimums, while others provide test waivers.

Letters of Recommendation

College applications usually includeletters of recommendationas a requirement, as they can provide helpful information about the applicant. Most schools require 1-3 letters from professionals in a relevant field. Useful references may include current or former teachers, school counselors, or employers.

Essays

Prospective students can showcase their writing skills and discuss a personal topic through college application essays. Schools may provide applicants with essay prompts or allow students to write about a topic they choose themselves.

Official Transcripts

Schools require all applicants to submit official transcripts. For students applying to an accelerated bachelor's in nursing, transcripts can help determine if they have the prerequisites for admission. For transfer students, transcripts are required to award transfer credits.

What Can I Do With an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Nursing Degree?

Career Outlook

An accelerated degree in nursing can lead graduates directly into the nursing profession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 9% growth for RN jobs between 2020 and 2030, which is average for all occupations. That works out to more than 275,000 new nursing jobs during that period.

The median annual salary for registered nurses was $77,600 in 2021, more than $30,000 higher than the median annual salary for all occupations. One of the most popular college majors, a bachelor's in nursing can also lead graduates to pursue various nursing specialties and healthcare occupations.

Graduates can also build on their training or develop a specialization with an advanced degree or industry certification.

Career Paths

Registered Nurse

Registered nurses provide education and care to patients in various healthcare settings. They assess patients, keep records on their condition and progress, and administer medications and treatments in collaboration with the care team. Nurses might specialize working with neonatal, cardiovascular, or geriatric patients.

Median Annual Salary: $77,600

Nurse Administrator

Nurse administrators work in healthcare management and oversee nursing staff and facilities. Depending on the facility size, they may oversee a specific department or a nursing staff as a whole.

Average Annual Salary: $89,486 (Payscale, July 2022)

Legal Nurse Consultant

These licensed consultants specialize in providing care and counsel at the intersection of the legal and medical fields. These professionals work at medical facilities, long-term care centers, legal firms, and insurance companies. In law offices, they offer attorneys foundational medical knowledge. In medical settings, they may handle medical evidence, review legal documentation, or participate in case management.

Average Annual Salary: $82,041 (Payscale, July 2022)

Public Health Nurse

Public health nurses run and take part in health education, health promotion, and other healthcare initiatives for individuals and communities. They develop campaign materials, identify at-risk individuals, and advocate for people and communities in need. Public health nurses work with other healthcare professionals, educators, churches, and community organizations.

Median Annual Salary: $63,090

Nurse Educator

Nurse educators work with hospital administrators to facilitate continuing education for nurses in a medical facility. They conduct research on critical advances in the field and prepare educational materials to inform medical staff. They may also be responsible for training new hires.

Average Annual Salary: $78,856 (Payscale, July 2022)

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Continuing Education

Graduates with a bachelor's in nursing have many continuing education options available. The most direct route takes them into a master's in nursing, which can lead to advanced practice registered nursing positions.

Other avenues include a master's in nursing administration or a master's in healthcare administration. A graduate degree in healthcare management may also be available for aspiring leaders. For graduates looking for shorter and more specialized training, there are several graduate certificates in nursing.

How Do I Choose an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Nursing Program?

Cost

Many students consider tuition as a major factor when choosing between programs. Learners can compare the cost of online and on-campus programs, in-state and out-of-state tuition, and public and private school programs. Students should also factor in other fees when calculating the true cost of education.

Program Format

Students should look at the differences between full-time and part-time studies and synchronous and asynchronous courses. They might consider how the various formats fit with their current schedules and learning styles. For accelerated bachelor's degrees, students usually need an open and flexible schedule since these programs often require full-time enrollment.

Location

Students must first decide whether online or on-campus programs are right for them. However, online students should still think about how location might impact their studies. For example, they may encounter on-campus residency requirements or tuition rates that vary depending on the student's location.

Accreditation

No matter the field, online college accreditation should be the first thing students look for in a school. Programs in regulated fields, such as nursing, also require accreditation. Most nursing programs receive accreditation from the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

Student Support

On-campus student services and online student services help learners navigate their college experience more effectively. These resources provide academic support and career preparation services. Through a school's student services, degree-seekers might also access helpful college mentorships, networking opportunities, and internship programs.

Fastest Accredited Online Bachelor's in Nursing Programs

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#1

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

School Information
Location Little Rock, Arkansas
Admission Rate 66%
Graduation Rate 43%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $280
Out of State | $280

Credits to Graduate
121

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock offers an online RN-to-BSN degree completion program that students can complete in 12-18 months. After transferring credits from their RN associate degree program, students complete upper-level nursing classes in professional nursing role development, community health needs, healthcare economics, and evidence-based practice in nursing.

Applicants to this online program must hold active RN licensure. Prospective students must gain admission to UA Little Rock and apply through the school's nursing department.

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#2

Southeastern Louisiana University

School Information
Location Hammond, Louisiana
Admission Rate 90%
Graduation Rate 39%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $306
Out of State | $306

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Established in 1925, Southeastern Louisiana University offers various nursing programs, including an RN-to-BSN track that students can complete in about one year. Degree seekers complete 31 credits of core nursing classes such as healthcare informatics, health assessment of groups, research in nursing, and promoting a healthy community.

Prospective students must hold an accredited associate degree or nursing diploma and an active RN license. Additionally, applicants must have a minimum 2.5 GPA and complete all relevant prerequisite courses.

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#3

Lewis University

School Information
Location Romeoville, Illinois
Admission Rate 64%
Graduation Rate 67%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 43% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $456-$610
Out of State | $456-$610

Credits to Graduate
128

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Established in 1932, Lewis University is an Illinois-based school that offers an accelerated BSN for students with bachelor's degrees. The school also offers an RN-to-BSN program. 

Enrolled students typically have general education classes and focus entirely on nursing coursework. Standard nursing classes include topics such as pharmacotherapeutics, community health nursing, and evidence-based practice and nursing research.

Prospective BSN students must submit an application with official transcripts. Additionally, applicants must hold a minimum 2.75 GPA for all previous undergraduate coursework.

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#4

University of North Florida

School Information
Location Jacksonville, Florida
Admission Rate 72%
Graduation Rate 67%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $285
Out of State | $285

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

The University of North Florida offers a 100% online RN-to-BSN bridge program. Working RNs admitted into this program receive 30 credits for successfully completing the NCLEX exam. Advanced nursing coursework includes topics such as leadership management concepts in nursing, community practice nursing, and ethical and legal concerns in nursing practice.

Prospective students must hold an associate degree and an active nursing license. Applicants also must have a minimum 2.80 GPA from previous undergraduate coursework.

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#5

AdventHealth University

School Information
Location Orlando, Florida
Admission Rate 51%
Graduation Rate 41%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hybrid | Self-Paced Classes and Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $540
Out of State | $540

Credits to Graduate
121

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

AdventHealth University is a private medical institution based in Orlando, Florida. Advent Health offers an accelerated BSN program in a hybrid format that students can complete in just over three years. Before graduating, students complete 121 credits, including major requirements in professional issues in nursing, introduction to nursing research, and community health.

Once admitted to the university, students can apply to AdventHealth's bachelor's in nursing program. Prospective students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA for prerequisite classes.

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#6

McKendree University

School Information
Location Lebanon, Illinois
Admission Rate 63%
Graduation Rate 60%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $400
Out of State | $400

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Established in 1828, McKendree University is an Illinois-based institution that offers a 100% online RN-to-BSN program. Students complete 31 credits of upper-division nursing classes in diversity in healthcare delivery, research application in practice, and concepts of leadership and management. 

Prospective students can transfer up to 90 credits and must have an active RN license. Applicants must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA in all coursework to receive their BSN degrees.

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#7

New Mexico State University-Main Campus

School Information
Location Las Cruces, New Mexico
Admission Rate 55%
Graduation Rate 48%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hybrid | Self-Paced Classes and Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $262
Out of State | $327

Credits to Graduate
124

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

New Mexico State University has an accelerated BSN program designed for students holding an unrelated bachelor's degree. Students complete courses in nursing pharmacology, intro to nursing concepts, and evidence-based practice. Students also gain hands-on experience through clinical requirements.

Students can complete five semesters of coursework in about 19 months. Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

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#8

Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus

School Information
Location Portales, New Mexico
Admission Rate 58%
Graduation Rate 36%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 69% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $170
Out of State | $255

Credits to Graduate
40

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Eastern New Mexico University offers a RN-to-BSN completion program that students can complete entirely online. Core requirements for this degree completion program include foundations of professional nursing, community health nursing, and cultural competencies for nurses. 

Applicants must hold an active RN license and submit an application with academic transcripts. Additionally, prospective learners must submit three professional references and a letter of intent outlining academic and career goals.

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#9

Madonna University

School Information
Location Livonia, Michigan
Admission Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 60%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 61% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Hybrid | Self-Paced Classes and Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $979
Out of State | $979

Credits to Graduate
53

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Based in suburban Detroit, Madonna University offers an accelerated bachelor's in nursing that students can complete in 6 months. Those with bachelor's degrees complete 53 credits over four full-time semesters. Core academic requirements include intro to professional nursing, holistic mental health nursing care, and dynamic nursing leadership.

This blended degree allows students to complete foundational requirements online and hands-on clinical experiences in person. Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution.

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#10

The University of Tennessee-Martin

School Information
Location Martin, Tennessee
Admission Rate 64%
Graduation Rate 47%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $426
Out of State | $463

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

The University of Tennessee-Martin hosts an RN-to-BSN degree completion program that students can complete entirely online. Prospective students pursuing their bachelor's in nursing must hold an active RN license and complete upper-level nursing classes. Classes include pathophysiology, transitions to professional nursing, pharmacology, and leadership and management.

Applicants must submit official transcripts, proof of RN licensure, and letters of good standing. Students must complete all BSN requirements with a grade of "C" or better.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Fastest Online Nursing Programs

Can I get a bachelor's degree in one year? true

Yes. Students can complete a bachelor's degree in one year if they have the required transfer credits. Many schools allow transfer students to bring in up to 90 credits, which reduces the credits needed for a bachelor's degree to about 30 credits.

Though possible with a degree-completion program, accelerated programs may not offer one-year completion times. Since these programs typically feature 120 credits, and several hundred clinical hours, condensing the training into one year would be too demanding for students.

Are accelerated degree classes worth it? true

Yes. Accelerated degree classes can be very worthwhile, especially for students needing to finish their training in a shorter period of time. Accelerated programs take about half the time as standard programs, allowing students to graduate and enter the workforce more quickly than traditional learners.

Degree-seekers in an accelerated online bachelor's in nursing may also benefit from the value of an online degree. Online learning can add greater flexibility, savings, and accessibility. Before choosing, however, prospective students should think about how the accelerated training might affect their learning experience.

Are accelerated bachelor's degrees as valuable as traditional degrees? true

Yes. An accelerated bachelor's degree is just as valuable as a traditional degree. The programs cover the same material and most college diplomas do not distinguish between accelerated and standard training.

For students, accelerated bachelor's degrees can provide even more value than a standard program because they finish twice as fast. For employers, accelerated degrees may carry a high value as well. Graduates have proven they have exceptional organization and time management skills and can manage considerable workloads.

Is an accelerated bachelor degree in nursing right for me? true

While an accelerated degree has many benefits for learners, it is not ideal for all students. An accelerated degree in nursing requires a very flexible schedule to fit in the heavy course load. As a result, this program format might not suit working professionals.

While the intensive training can create challenges for some learners, determined and motivated students who excel academically and prioritize graduating faster can thrive.

Are accelerated degree programs affordable? true

For the most part, accelerated bachelor's degrees cost the same as standard programs. While every school sets its tuition, most schools charge by credit. Accelerated degrees feature the same number of credits as traditional degrees.

However, schools may have different prices for accelerated programs. Some charge more for these programs because of the value provided to students by graduating sooner. Others charge tuition by semester or year, which can result in discounts for those in an accelerated bachelor's in nursing.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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