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Accelerated BSN Programs in Chicago, IL - Online & Campus

You can fast-track your nursing education in Chicago by exploring the accelerated BSN programs below. Keep reading for a look at sample timelines, benefits and challenges, and more.

Author: Austin Doty
Editor: Mikalee Byerman

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A panoramic view of Chicago's skyline along Lake Michigan. The image captures Chicago’s tall skyscrapers, a clear blue sky with scattered clouds, and the vast lake with its shoreline curving alongside the city. The water appears blue with a few light patches.

Are you looking for an accelerated path to your future healthcare career? Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) programs are a lucrative, time-saving option. Whether you have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field and want to transition into allied healthcare or are a current nurse looking to upgrade your credentials, accelerated BSN Chicago programs can help you reach your goals.

Chicago ABSN programs are available both online and on-campus, allowing you to choose from tailor your experience to your learning style and needs. Online students can learn from anywhere with an internet connection through interactive online modules, virtual simulations, and chances to attend clinical rotations at nearby healthcare facilities. Students in campus based ABSN programs benefit from a more traditional approach to learning, with access to simulation labs equipped with cutting-edge technology and on-site clinical training.

Both online and campus-based accelerated BSN Chicago prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of modern nursing practice, instill critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills, and fulfill the educational requirements for licensure as a registered nurse (RN). Read on to explore school spotlights, and ABSN-specific considerations, and resources as you continue along your nursing journey.

Inside Traditional & Blended Accelerated BSN Programs in Chicago

The first step in finding accelerated BSN Chicago programs that speak to your needs and interests is exploring your options. The three programs highlighted below are among the Chicago nursing schools that allow students to use their prior degrees to fast-track their way to a BSN. With rigorous curricula and clinical experiences, graduates are well-prepared for various nursing roles.

Lewis University

Lewis University’s accelerated BSN program is in Chicago’s southwestern suburb of Romeoville, where students can pursue their degree on campus or in a convenient blended (hybrid) format. The CCNE-accredited program is designed to be completed in as little as 16 to 24 months.

The bachelor’s to BSN degree pathway culminates in a both a degree and eligibility to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. Admission criteria includes a minimum 2.75 GPA and satisfactory grades (“C” or higher) in prerequisite courses essential for nursing core eligibility.

The program places great importance on its comprehensive curriculum, which utilizes the students’ existing knowledge while establishing a solid foundation in nursing theory and practice. The coursework is diverse and covers a range of subjects such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, nursing ethics, and holistic patient care. This curriculum adheres to accreditation standards and prepares students for the NCLEX-RN exam.

Clinical rotations across various healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and community health agencies, are integral to Lewis University’s accelerated BSN Chicago program, providing students with hands-on learning opportunities.

Roosevelt University

Students accepted into Roosevelt University’s accelerated BSN Chicago program become part of the first-year nursing cohort and can start taking nursing courses in their first semester.

The application process evaluates candidates using a holistic approach, which considers their academic achievements during high school. Applicants should have completed at least 12 academic units across different disciplines, such as English, math, laboratory science, and social science while maintaining a minimum unweighted GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. Additionally, they must have scored at least 1200 on the SAT-I or 23 on the ACT. Participation in student activities demonstrating leadership, teamwork, or community service will also be considered during the application process.

This CCNE-accredited program is a bit longer, with degree completion expected in about three years. The comprehensive curriculum covers nursing theory, clinical skills, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, ethics, and evidence-based practice. Students get practical experience through simulation labs and clinical rotations, which help develop critical thinking and practical skills essential for nursing practice in different healthcare settings.

Saint Xavier

Saint Xavier University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN/ACC) program is offered through the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. This intensive program is designed to build upon your undergraduate academic degree, culminating in completion in as little as 15 months.

Eligibility for the program requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 and completion of all BSN prerequisite courses. Once admitted, students immerse themselves in a comprehensive curriculum focused on nursing theory, clinical skills, and professional practice. This curriculum encompasses core nursing concepts such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, health assessment, and ethical considerations in nursing.

The ABSN program at Saint Xavier University is structured to provide a well-rounded education through classroom instruction, hands-on learning, and immersive clinical experiences. Students benefit from simulation labs and clinical rotations in diverse healthcare settings, allowing them to apply knowledge and develop critical thinking, clinical judgment, and practical communication skills essential for nursing practice.

With experienced nursing professionals as faculty members, students receive high-quality education and mentorship, fostering a supportive learning environment that encourages collaboration, critical inquiry, and evidence-based practice.

Timeline of an Accelerated BSN Program in Chicago, IL

Gain insight into the structured progression of coursework, clinical experiences, and licensure exam preparation as we look at the stages and milestones you can expect on your fast-paced journey to becoming a degree-holding RN.

Six Months Before

After choosing where to pursue your ABSN, you should prepare by focusing on completing prerequisites and ensuring you meet admission requirements. You should also become familiar with the program curriculum, review foundational concepts in healthcare, and consider shadowing or volunteering in clinical settings to gain exposure to the nursing profession. Additionally, you can begin organizing your schedule, obtain necessary immunizations, and mentally and emotionally prepare for the intensive nature of the ABSN program.

First Six Months

During the initial six months of an ABSN, you’ll likely be concentrating on adjusting to the demanding pace of coursework and clinical rotations. Prioritizing effective time management will be necessary, as will your ability to pay active attention in classes and establish healthy study habits. Seeking support from peers and faculty, actively participating in clinical experiences, and maintaining self-care practices to handle stress are also crucial.

Last Six Months

In the final six months of your Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, you’ll be putting more effort into preparing for the NCLEX-RN exam, applying for nursing positions, and participating in clinical rotations with increased autonomy and leadership. It is essential to focus on refining clinical competencies, networking with healthcare professionals, and solidifying post-graduation plans, including applying for licensure and continuing professional development.

Six Months After

Upon completing your ABSN, you’ll shift your focus to successfully passing the NCLEX-RN examination, obtaining licensure, applying for nursing positions, and transitioning into the workforce. During the six months following graduation, it is highly recommended that you pursue professional development opportunities, network and join professional organizations, and continue to enhance your clinical skills and knowledge through ongoing education and training.

Benefits & Challenges of Accelerated BSN Programs for Non-Nurses

Students enrolling in an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program face unique challenges and benefits. On the one hand, you must adapt to the fast-paced and intense nursing culture, prepare for licensing exams, and make a significant initial investment. Doing so allows you to benefit from a quick and efficient pathway to a nursing career, which offers high returns on investment and opens doors to advanced degrees. Despite its condensed timeframe, ABSN programs provide a comprehensive education that prepares you for success in the field.

Benefit: High Return on Investment

An ABSN program is shorter, offering you a high return on investment. Once completed, the program can lead to earlier entry into the nursing workforce and higher earning potential. ABSN graduates often secure well-paying jobs quickly, which helps offset the initial program cost and provides long-term financial stability.

Benefit: Fast Track to Nursing Career

This type of nursing program is designed to provide a fast track to a nursing career by condensing the curriculum into a shorter timeframe, usually 11 to 18 months. If you’re a student with a non-nursing degree or you didn’t earn your BSN to become an RN, you can quickly transition into the healthcare field as a registered nurse and meet the high demand for nursing professionals after you receive your degree.

Benefit: Preparation for Advanced Degrees

Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs provide students with the knowledge and skills required for immediate entry into nursing practice and act as a foundation for pursuing advanced degrees in nursing. The comprehensive curriculum and extensive clinical experiences offered by ABSN programs equip graduates with strong foundations, making you well-suited for pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees in specialized nursing fields such as Nurse Practitioner or Nurse Anesthetist.

Challenge: Adaptation to Nursing Culture

If you’re a nursing student pursuing an ABSN, you might face difficulties adjusting to the complex nursing environment, which includes ethical dilemmas, interdisciplinary teamwork, and patient advocacy. Students must develop skills such as clinical judgment, workload management, and navigating the hierarchy of healthcare settings. In addition, effective communication, cultural competence, and resilience are vital in ensuring successful integration into the nursing profession.

Challenge: Intensive Pace

One of the primary difficulties experienced by ABSN students is the program’s fast-paced nature. The shortened timeline necessitates the rapid acquisition of significant quantities of nursing knowledge and expertise, which requires excellent time management, commitment, and the capacity to manage high-stress levels while maintaining academic achievement and clinical competence.

Challenge: Transition & Preparation for Licensing Exams

One of the biggest challenges for students pursuing an accelerated BSN is the fast-paced transition into the nursing field. The condensed curriculum requires quick adaptation to complex nursing concepts, clinical skills, and exam readiness. You’ll also be expected to take part in the intense preparation required for licensing exams like the NCLEX-RN. This necessitates strong time management skills, effective study strategies, and an adequate support system — which includes peers/family as well as the resources provided by your college — to help you succeed.

Resources for Chicago ABSN Students

  • Illinois Department of Public Health Nursing Education Scholarship Program
    The IDHP created this scholarship to boost the nursing workforce in Illinois through financial aid. Full-time BSN students at a public college or university may receive up to $17,125 per academic year.
  • Illinois Medical District
    The Illinois Medical District (IMD) in Chicago is a great resource for ABSN students. It offers various opportunities for clinical rotations, access to advanced healthcare facilities, networking with healthcare professionals, and potential job placements after graduation. The IMD’s resources and partnerships can enhance ABSN students’ learning and career prospects in the healthcare industry.
  • Illinois Nurses Foundation
    The Illinois Nurses Foundation can assist ABSN students in Chicago through scholarships, financial aid, educational resources, networking opportunities, and advocacy for nursing education and workforce development.
  • Illinois Nursing Workforce Center
    The Illinois Nursing Workforce Center supports ABSN students by providing data insights, promoting workforce development, offering education resources, and advocating for nursing policies.The Illinois Nursing Workforce Center supports ABSN students by providing data insights, promoting workforce development, offering education resources, and advocating for nursing policies.