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University of Maine at Fort Kent • 23 University Drive, Fort Kent, ME 04743

Putting Your Career on the Fast Track With an Accelerated Nursing Program

June 11, 2018
Posted by: David Sands

Accelerated BSN Program

There are many ways to begin a nursing career, but if you want to spend less time in the classroom and get into scrubs in less than two years, an accelerated nursing program may be the right path for you.

What Is an Accelerated Nursing Program?

An accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is designed for students who have already earned an undergraduate degree in another field and now want to become a Registered Nurse (RN). These accelerated degrees can be completed in 12 to 18 months, depending on the program, which is even less time than it takes to finish an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) program.

These programs have exploded in popularity in recent years, in part because they require less classroom time than a traditional BSN degree. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) says there are more than 230 accelerated BSN programs offered at universities across the U.S.1

How It Works

An accelerated BSN program allows students to get their degree in less than two years by offering intensive coursework. You don’t have to repeat any of the prerequisites, such as English, history or other liberal arts classes that you already completed the first time you went to college.

Instead, you’ll take many science courses, such as anatomy, chemistry and microbiology. You’ll also receive hands-on experience in labs and real-life healthcare settings, like hospitals and nursing homes.

Once you complete the necessary coursework, you can apply to take the NCLEX-RN® exam to become an RN. Before you take the exam, you must follow these steps:

  1. Apply to the board of nursing/regulatory body (BON/RB) to determine eligibility
  2. Register and pay for an exam through Pearson VUE
  3. Wait to schedule test until you receive an Acknowledgement of Receipt of Registration and Authorization to Test (ATT)
  4. Schedule your exam with Pearson VUE

You must complete the exam within the ATT validity period, which is typically 90 days.2 You can prepare for the test by reading the NCLEX Candidate Bulletin and familiarizing yourself with the format of the exam.

Getting Into an Accelerated Nursing Program

Accelerated BSN programs tend to be very selective, which makes it difficult for prospective students to get accepted. Admissions programs usually require a GPA of 3.0 or above, and if your original degree wasn’t in a science field, you may have to take certain prerequisites before you’re eligible to start the program. Other admission requirements may include letters of recommendation, a transcript from your former school and essays.

Because the accelerated BSN program is so immersive, it’s recommended that you treat it as a full-time job, and not take on any outside work while completing your degree.

The Cost of an Accelerated Nursing Program

Though an accelerated BSN takes less time than an ADN, it can cost more. Most students qualify for some type of financial aid, whether it’s a scholarship, federal grant or low-interest student loan. You can apply for financial aid through your school or online.


As of 2017, the annual median salary for Registered Nurses was $73,550, with BSN-educated RNs who have one to four years of experience earning about $8,000 more than ADN-educated RNs with the same experience.3,4

Choosing an Accelerated Nursing Program

With hundreds of programs across the U.S., it can be overwhelming to find the right one for you. The AACN has a full list of schools offering an accelerated BSN program to help you with your research.

Before applying, check the admission guidelines for the school you’re considering to ensure that you’re eligible. You may have to complete additional coursework to prepare for the program.

If you’re considering a quality accelerated BSN program in New England, look no further than the University of Maine at Fort Kent. We offer our students the ability to complete their degree in as little as 14 months through traditional classroom courses, hands-on labs and distance learning.

The UMFK nursing program prepares students for a fulfilling career as an RN through:

  • Supportive community
  • Exceptional faculty
  • Creative wellness-focused curriculum
  • Innovative digital instruction
  • New state-of-the-art nursing facility

Schedule a campus visit online or call (207) 834-7600 today to learn more about our accelerated BSN program.