accelerated BSN vs. traditional BSN

ABSN vs. BSN: What’s the Difference?

With a median annual wage of $77,600, a projected employment growth rate of six percent by 2031, and 203,200 openings projected each year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s no wonder that nursing is a popular and in-demand field.

And chances are, if you are looking to become a registered nurse (RN), you are also passionate about taking care of patients and their families in various medical settings.

So, how do you pursue this essential, rewarding, and fulfilling career? Many students choose between an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) degree or a Bachelor of Science (BSN) in Nursing degree. But what’s the difference?

Today, we’ll explain the critical differences between these two programs to help you determine which path is best for you.

What is an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing?

An Accelerated BSN Nursing degree program is ideal for someone who has already earned a bachelor’s degree in a different subject or non-nursing field. It is designed to help aspiring nurses enter the field quickly without going through another four years of school.

Through evidence-based practice and courses, this degree prepares students to work as nurses in various healthcare settings and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

What is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing?

A traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is an educational degree that prepares students to work as a nurse in the healthcare industry and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. It is the most common way to become a nurse for students starting college for the first time or who have not yet completed a degree.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing students engage in similar coursework and clinical and didactic experiences as students in an accelerated program. Furthermore, students in these programs will sit for the same licensure exam.


Discover how University of Bridgeport can prepare you for success through our BSN program!


What are the Differences Between These Two Programs?

While both programs offer the same coursework and outcomes, an accelerated program differs regarding timeline, method of instruction, and previous education requirements.

1. Length of Program

As the name suggests, an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree allows students to complete the program faster. Most accelerated programs can be completed in fewer than two years, some in as little as fifteen months.

While beneficial for students looking to enter the nursing field quickly, this shortened timeline means there are no breaks between completing classes and a year-round educational format with fall, spring, and summer courses.

On the other hand, students in Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs generally spend four years earning their undergraduate degree, with the first two years taking general education courses.

2. Educational Degree Requirements

One of the easiest ways to determine which program is right for you is by considering your educational background.

Students considering an accelerated program must complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and a minimum GPA. ABSN requirements will vary depending on the school or university, so do your research when applying.

Additionally, students are often required to have completed some prerequisite math and science courses before starting an accelerated program. These may include anatomy, chemistry, college algebra and statistics, and microbiology.

In traditional nursing programs, students do not necessarily need prior college experience or prerequisites as programs include both the general education and nursing education required for a nursing career. However, if transferring into a traditional nursing program, students will need to have completed prerequisites at an accredited institution.

3. Method of Instruction

The last key difference between these two programs lies in the method of instruction. Traditional programs run like most college programs in that classes occur on-campus, in-lecture halls or classrooms, at a set time each day.

Some accelerated programs will utilize online learning to teach and expedite academic learning. This allows students maximum flexibility and the ability to study at the time and location that works best for them.

What are the Similarities Between These Two Programs?

These nursing programs are subject to the same accreditation, quality curriculum, and The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) preparation and requirements. Additionally, students in both programs must complete 120 credits.

Typical courses in both programs include:

  • Health Assessment
  • Nursing Theory
  • Nutrition
  • Population and Global Health
  • Trends in Nursing

Students in accelerated programs often have sixty-four credits in general education from their previous studies and earn the additional fifty-six credits in nursing to obtain their Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Which Program is Best For Me?

Accelerated programs offer students the opportunity to graduate in half the time, establish themselves in the profession, and show future employers a high level of determination.

Nursing school is a challenging program, and accomplishing this difficult task in half the time demonstrates immense work ethic and drive.

However, enrolling in a traditional nursing program is just as challenging and leads to similar career outcomes. In addition, students have two more years to complete the program, which means more opportunities to explore leadership positions on-campus, boosting their resume upon graduation.

No matter what degree you choose, both an Accelerated Bachelor in Nursing and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing set students up for a rewarding career as a nurse.

Find out more about our programs at University of Bridgeport and take the first step toward your nursing career!