Accelerated vs. Traditional BSN Programs: Which Is Right for You?

Accelerates vs. Traditional BSN Programs
Athina Hansen

Athina Hansen

Content Writer at Gradehacker

So, you found this article in hopes of finally getting a clear understanding of what an accelerated and traditional BSN program involves. This means it would be safe to say that you are looking to embark on a nursing career!

Well, you’ve made a great choice as the  U.S. News & World Report rank registered nurse (RN) as #13 out of 100 best jobs. And if this doesn’t further inspire you to pursue that career, the  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that R.N.’s employment will grow 7% from 2019-2029. This expected change in employment surpasses the average for all occupations, which is 4%.  

At Gradehacker, our work consists of helping students in their college journey. We have years of experience assisting students in different types of nursing programs with their coursework or exams. Having helped out so many students in accelerated and traditional BSN programs, we have a deep understanding of the differences between them.

So, put your questions related to accelerated BSN programs aside because, in this article, we will help you understand these two types of programs and which one will be the best fit for you

Why is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree Important?

Okay, so first, let’s start with the basics. Why should I get a BSN degree in the first place? Why is it important?

To become an R.N., you can either earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), but you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

So, you may be wondering, can’t I just opt for an ADN degree

Well, a BSN degree is more valuable nowadays as it dramatically increases your job opportunities. A BSN degree allows you to attain better-paying jobs and better positions! In fact, the majority of hospitals prefer to hire R.N.’s with a BSN degree rather than with an ADN degree.

In 2019, a survey conducted by the  American Association of Colleges of Nursing found that 43.2% of hospitals and other healthcare settings required new hires to have a BSN degree. Whereas a whopping 82.1% of employers expressed a preference for nurses with a BSN degree.

Why a BSN Degree Is Important in Nursing

What is a Traditional BSN Nursing Program?

Let’s start by talking about traditional BSN nursing programs.

A traditional BSN nursing program generally lasts 4-5 years. Due to its length, it is an option that tends to be chosen by those who have not pursued a bachelor’s degree previously. 

In a traditional BSN nursing program, students endure a didactic and clinical curriculum. This curriculum prepares the student to become an R.N. by teaching them how to care for patients in different healthcare facilities.

And the best part is that, in the U.S., there are over  670 traditional BSN degree programs that you can choose from! Also, you can decide which modality will work best for you, whether online or on-campus.

So what happens after finishing a BSN degree? Well, the daunting NCLEX-RN exam awaits you…

Isn’t this the same exam that those with an ADN degree sit? Yes, it is! However, a BSN program better prepares you for the exam as it covers areas that an ADN degree does not.

For example, a BSN degree covers skills related to:

  • The sciences.
  • Critical thinking.
  • Humanities.
  • Communication and leadership.
  • Public health nursing.

By choosing a BSN track, you will be exposed to clinical research related to evidence-based nursing care.

What is an Accelerated BSN Nursing Program?

Okay, so now that we know what a traditional BSN program entails, what about an accelerated BSN nursing program?

Well, one big difference between the two is that not everyone is eligible for an accelerated BSN nursing program. Unlike a traditional BSN program, an accelerated BSN program is considered a second-degree program. What does this mean? It means this type of program is meant for those who already pursued a bachelor’s degree unrelated to nursing

Another difference is the length of this program, which is much shorter! An accelerated BSN program lasts anywhere from 12-24 months, depending on the prerequisites and requirements of that particular program.

After learning about this program’s length, you might be led to believe that this type of program is easier than a traditional BSN program. However, that could not be farther from the truth!

Even though this type of program is shorter, the material covered remains the same as in a traditional BSN program.

Both types of programs both cover topics such as:

  • Pharmacology
  • Mental health
  • Holistic nursing care
  • Population-focused care
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Nursing leadership

In fact, due to the quick-paced nature of this program, it can be considered more difficult than a traditional BSN program. So, don’t be fooled that because it is shorter, it is any easier!

Again, there are several programs which you can choose from. According to the AACN, there are  255 accelerated BSN nursing programs in the U.S.

Accelerated BSN

Which Type of BSN Program is Best For Me?

A traditional BSN program will suit you if:

  • You have not pursued a previous bachelor’s degree (meaning you can afford to dedicate 4 years).
  • Prefer and learn best in a slow-paced program.

An accelerated BSN program will suit you if:

  • You have a previous bachelor’s degree
  • You want to earn your degree quickly.
  • You can cope with a fast-paced/intense program.

We understand that it is difficult to decide which nursing program will be the best fit for you. After reading this article, we hope that you better understand the differences between a traditional and accelerated BSN program and are closer to choosing the right match for you!

Would you like to learn more about the NCLEX exam? Read our article on NCLEX: 7 Essential Questions You Need to Know About the Exam.

Are you interested in learning about the differences between an ADN and a BSN degree? Check out our article on  ADN vs. a BSN Degree: What’s The Difference.

Do you not have a clear understanding of what evidence-based practice is? Be sure to read our article on  What’s Evidence-Based Practice and Why It Matters So Much for Nurses?

Athina Hansen

Athina Hansen

Athina has worked with Gradehacker both as a content writer and a study consultant, where she assisted college students with nursing courses. Athina has a background of educating others and producing content, having tutored college students and produced articles for her school magazine. She brings her experience to her current role, where she writes content to empower and assist the non-traditional college student who is often overlooked. You can find her on LinkedIn

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