What Is an Accelerated RN Program?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Paramedic certification qualifies applicants for most accelrated RN programs.
Paramedic certification qualifies applicants for most accelrated RN programs.

An accelerated RN program offers a faster path to getting certification as a registered nurse. These programs may last about one to three years, while the traditional RN degree takes at least four years to complete. The type of degree earned is dependent on the program and applicant. Some qualifications for enrollees are that they have a four-year degree in a different field or that they possess licensed practical nurse (LPN) or paramedic certification. Students interested an accelerated RN program need to consider the cost, time commitment and reputation before applying.

The type of degree and length of studies are often related. A one to two year accelerated RN program could be suitable for students transitioning from a bachelor of arts (BA) to bachelor in registered nursing (BRN or BSN). Alternately, paramedics or LPNs may find programs that help those with an associate of arts (AA) earn a BSN or BRN. The bachelor of arts (BA) to master of science in nursing (MSN) is the most time-consuming program. It usually requires three years to complete and is only open to people with a four-year degree.

It makes sense to offer accelerated studies for applicants with a college degree. Getting an RN through a traditional route is superfluous to someone who has already fully completed all undergrad level general education requirements. Making a person do these over again isn’t sensible. The focus of the accelerated RN program is then solely on nursing and related science topics.

On the other hand, a paramedic or LPN doesn’t possess the general education of the RN. An AA to BSN curriculum is designed to fill in these gaps and provide the advanced nursing training the LPN or paramedic lacks. Due to training, LPNs and paramedics don’t require the introduction to nursing practice needed by BA to BRN or MSN students. An accelerated RN program differs depending on the individual’s background.

The most challenging of these programs is the BA to MSN. Students must transition from little or no science knowledge through the curriculum of the RN, and then to the advanced graduate study. Even though this degree is harder and takes longer to earn, it’s often preferable for students with a BA. It means they’ll enter the nursing field with a higher education level, and their studies earn an advanced degree.

The popularity of all the different accelerated RN programs is increasing. In recent years, enrollment and the number of available schools have steadily expanded. There continues to be demand for nurses exceeding their supply and people with other bachelor’s degrees may especially be interested in an accelerated RN program if their current studies are not valued professionally. LPNs and paramedics may seek to move up, too, because it can translate to greater professional rewards.

The cost of these programs varies. Students who are completing their first bachelor’s degree are more likely to qualify for grants. Those already possessing a degree often must use loans for support.

Though an accelerated RN program doesn’t take a long time, a great deal must be learned in a short period. Many students find they cannot work even part-time while they’re in school. Some individuals are better suited to a traditional path to the RN that is conducted at a less intensive pace.

Students should also consider education quality. Programs should be approved by recognized nursing education agencies, hold appropriate accreditation, and offer students a blend of practical and theoretical instruction. Before applying to a school, applicants are advised to verify that a program adequately prepares participants to take RN board examinations. Online schools may be more convenient, but they don’t always meet these standards.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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    • Paramedic certification qualifies applicants for most accelrated RN programs.
      Paramedic certification qualifies applicants for most accelrated RN programs.