Degrees

What Is an ABSN and Is It Worth It?

An Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program is for students with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees who want to earn their BSN. Also called second-degree nursing programs, ABSN paths are expeditious, allowing students to earn a BSN in just 11 months. However, many students overlook ABSN programs because the small cohorts make getting into one highly competitive.

So the question remains: is an ABSN worth it? This guide will dive into what an ABSN is, the pros and cons of earning the degree, how to succeed in a program, and why it might be a great fit for you.

ABSN programs bridge the gap between nursing education and non-nursing degrees. ABSN programs are shorter than traditional BSN programs because your previous college credits may apply to the degree. However, students are responsible for completing all prerequisite courses per the individual program.

How Long Are Accelerated Nursing Programs?

ABSN programs are typically between 16 and 24 months, depending on the program. Currently, the shortest available ABSN nursing program lasts 11 months. However, it’s quite intensive, with limited breaks and time off.

How Much Do ABSN Programs Cost?

ABSN degree costs vary based on several factors, the most significant being whether the university is private or public. Students can expect to spend anywhere from $35,000 at public schools to as much as $150,000 for private schools.

What Do You Need to Get Into an ABSN Program?

Each ABSN program will have specific requirements for entrance. However, generally speaking, all ABSN programs have similar admission requirements. 

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Some of the most common ABSN prerequisites include the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field from an accredited college or university 
  • Completed prerequisite courses
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Resume or CV
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • All official transcripts
  • Personal statement
  • Official application
  • Interview with the nursing department 
  • Entrance exam 

Pros and Cons of ABSN Programs

Pros

  • Quicker completion than traditional BSN program
  • Classes are strictly related to nursing
  • Multiple degrees/skill sets make you a more marketable employee
  • Focus on technical and clinical skills
  • Don’t waste previous bachelor’s degree
  • Life experience can be rewarded and nurtured
  • Closer relationships with professors and classmates
  • Access to the same university resources as traditional students

Cons

  • Overall cost
  • Program intensity and rigorous curriculum
  • Poor school-life balance
  • May be unable to work throughout the program
  • Limited choices in classes/set program progression
  • Massive time commitment
  • Fewer scholarships and financial aid available
  • Lack of free time

If you don’t think an ABSN is suitable for you, you may prefer these paths:

Associate Degree in Nursing

You might consider an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) if you don’t want to earn a BSN. ADN programs result in RN licensure, take about the same time as an ABSN, and offer more time flexibility.

However, most employers prefer BSN nurses, and ADN-RNs often earn less money. You can find them at community and vocational colleges.

Master of Science in Nursing

Students who want a more expansive education may prefer applying to a program culminating in a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. These direct-entry MSN programs are for non-nurses pursuing careers as APRNs, nurse educators, leaders, or administrators. They are typically longer and more expensive than an ABSN program.

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Nursing school accreditation is the most important thing to consider when applying to ABSN programs. If the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) does not accredit the program, you may not be eligible to sit for the NCLEX and become a registered nurse.

You will also want to consider the following when applying to ABSN programs:

  • Cost and financial assistance options
  • Program length (shorter programs may seem better but can be too intense and cause burnout)
  • Clinical rotation locations
  • In-person versus online classes
  • Availability of professors and support staff

An ABSN program is the best option for aspiring nurses with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees. Here are a few reasons why an ABSN may be worth pursuing:

1. Career Outlook and Opportunities

The registered nursing field will grow by 6% from 2022 to 2032, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This growth is faster than the average for all other occupations. The BLS also reports that there will be 193,100 openings for RNs each year during that time.

2. Salary

Nurses make comfortable wages nationwide and are in high demand, suggesting a stable lifestyle. The BLS reports the average annual salary for registered nurses is $81,220 or $39.05 per hour. California nurses currently earn $133,340 annually on average.

3. Return on Investment 

An ABSN program can cost as little as $35,000, and most nurses will earn double that upon graduation.

4. Doesn’t Waste Your Previous Degree 

Often, students are afraid to return to an ABSN program because they feel they wasted their previous college degree. However, your previous education and life experience may help you succeed in your ABSN program.

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Additionally, employers seek out candidates with multiple degrees and diverse educational backgrounds. Therefore, an ABSN may help you stand out and succeed in the job market.

5. Focus on Nursing and Clinical Components

ABSN programs solely concentrate on nursing courses and clinicals. This focus ensures you won’t become overwhelmed by other classes and busy work.

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