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Guide to Accelerated Nursing Programs in North Carolina

An accelerated nursing program is a fast pathway into nursing from another field. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, use this guide to learn everything you need to know about accelerated BSN programs in North Carolina.


Jordan Cosselman


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If you’re looking to transition to an in-demand healthcare career with high earning potential, nursing might be the field for you. This is especially true if you live in North Carolina, where there’s a severe nursing shortage. But while moving into nursing can be a great career move, how to make the move can be confusing. If you have a bachelor’s degree in another field, an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) can help you get the necessary education and training in only a couple of years.

This guide can help you take the first step towards your ABSN degree. In it, we highlight the best accelerated nursing programs in North Carolina, take a detailed look at what you’ll learn, and answer common questions from prospective students just like you.

Best Accelerated BSN Programs in North Carolina: 2024

Searching for a high-quality accelerated nursing program can be time consuming. To help you speed up your search, we’ve spotlighted three of the best ABSN programs in North Carolina for those with bachelor’s degrees in another field. Programs are all accredited and state approved, and they’ve been ranked based on their combination of affordability, high academic quality, and strong student support services.

Eastern Carolina University

Eastern Carolina University has one of the fastest ABSNs in NC, allowing students to complete their degrees in as little as 12 months. The program can be completed so quickly because its requirements are demanding. Because of this, the university recommends students don’t have full-time jobs while enrolled. Students typically divide their time between nursing coursework and clinical hours. Clinical hours are arranged with nearby hospitals and clinics to provide students with hands-on opportunities to explore various areas of nursing. The program also provides resources to help students pass the NCLEX to become registered nurses and professional development training to make getting a job after graduation easier.

The University of North Carolina

The University of North Carolina has a long-standing reputation as a leader in healthcare education. Its ABSN program is in-person on the Chapel Hill campus, and clinicals are usually completed within the UNC hospital system, one of the best in the country. Successful applicants already have their bachelor’s degrees in other fields and have taken certain prerequisite undergraduate courses in subjects like anatomy and physiology. While tuition is more than at other programs in NC, the school’s Hillman Scholars Program provides scholarships to nursing students to help make the program more affordable. The program can be completed in four semesters, though most students also take summer courses to complete their degrees in under two years.

North Carolina Central University

Looking to complete your ABSN in less than 15 months? Check out the program from North Carolina Central University. Designed for students who already have bachelor’s degrees in other fields, this program is fast-paced and includes coursework that develops practical nursing and critical thinking skills. Successful applicants have already taken certain prerequisites, like college-level biology and anatomy, or complete them before starting their nursing-specific coursework. There is an option to complete the program in longer than 15 months with those courses included as well. Students also complete clinical training each semester to give them experience in a variety of nursing specializations and help them understand what area of nursing they want to specialize in.

Curriculum Components for ABSN Programs in North Carolina

ABSN programs often combine classroom and experiential learning in the field. Your degree will likely consist of nursing courses, any needed general education requirements, and clinical training. These components are broken down below to give you a better idea of what to expect.

1. Nursing Classes

The main component of an ABSN program is nursing coursework. These classes teach practical nursing skills along with soft skills like leadership and critical thinking. Typically, classes are in-person, though some schools have online or hybrid options. Some programs, like Northeastern University with its nursing simulation facility, also have hands-on, experiential course requirements.

2. Clinical Training

Every accredited ABSN program requires that students complete clinical training rotations. During clinical training, nurses work in healthcare settings to apply their classroom learning. Since North Carolina has some of the best research hospitals in the country, students at universities like the University of North Carolina can get specialized clinical training rotations. Even online programs like the one from Western Carolina University require in-person clinical training at clinics, healthcare practices, and hospitals near campus.

3. General Education Coursework

Some programs also have general education coursework, though this differs from program to program. Programs like the one at North Carolina Central University include general education coursework that covers critical thinking and leadership skills. Others, like the program at the University of North Carolina, have general education coursework more focused on basic science courses. Still other programs, like Western Carolina’s ABSN program, do not include general education coursework.

FAQs About Accelerated BSN Programs in North Carolina

How long is an accelerated BSN program in North Carolina?

An accelerated BSN program in NC only takes about two years to complete. The University of North Carolina program, for example, takes two years if you take summer classes. Other programs, like Eastern Carolina University’s 12-month ABSN program, take much less time. Shorter programs are usually more intensive and difficult to balance if you are also working full-time, though.

How many credits can be transferred to my North Carolina ABSN program?

The number of transfer credits allowed depends on the program. Usually, about 60 credits (i.e., half of a full BSN degree) can be transferred. Some schools, like the University of North Carolina, require that certain general education courses (e.g., anatomy) have already been taken. If students haven’t already taken these courses, they must take them as part of their ABSN degrees and should expect to take longer to graduate. Other programs, like the ABSN at Western Carolina University, have less specific requirements for courses taken in a previous bachelor’s degree.

How much do ABSN programs in North Carolina cost?

ABSN programs typically cost less than full BSN programs since students complete their degrees in two years instead of four. Some schools have a set price for their BSN programs while others have per-semester or per-credit tuition rates. The three popular North Carolina programs listed below give an idea of how much you can expect to pay.

What are the admission requirements for accelerated nursing programs in North Carolina?

Admissions requirements differ from university to university, but there are standard components most admissions offices and accelerated BSN programs require. Those include:

  • A completed bachelor’s degree or a certain number of credit hours at the undergraduate level. To verify this coursework, students usually submit official transcripts.
  • A completed application for admittance to the university, which sometimes includes essay questions about why a student is applying for a program.
  • A completed application for the ABSN program that is separate from the university application. While this isn’t always a requirement, schools like Western Carolina University do have it.
  • Completed coursework (e.g., anatomy) in the sciences is often required for ABSN programs, though the specifics depend on each program.

What are signs that an accelerated North Carolina BSN program is of high quality?

A high-quality accelerated BSN program is approved by the North Carolina State Board of Nursing and then accredited by either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Beyond these indicators, you also want a program with courses in your areas of interest, career development opportunities, and a suitable learning format.

Can I get help paying for my ABSN program in North Carolina?

Because nursing is an in-demand career in North Carolina, there are plenty of financial aid opportunities. Along with national nursing scholarships, the state of North Carolina provides a loan forgiveness program for nurses. To qualify, you must have your RN license and be employed in NC. North Carolina also has 50 more general scholarships available along with state-funded financial aid. There are also nonprofits like the North Carolina Nurses’ Association that offer scholarships for NC nursing students.

To learn more about financial aid options, check out this free financial aid guide.

Exploring Online Accelerated BSN Programs in North Carolina

Since most ABSN programs require significant hands-on experience, it’s hard to find fully online programs in North Carolina. However, there are high-quality hybrid programs that have in-person attendance for certain elements and completion of other coursework online. Western Carolina University offers this type of ABSN program. Most programs in North Carolina require students to complete clinicals at approved partner hospitals and clinics, meaning students must live in the geographic vicinity of their campus. It’s also common to have in-person requirements for classes with online components, such as the skills-based class sessions in the nursing simulation facility at Northeastern University.

For online options outside North Carolina, check out this list of online accelerated BSN programs across the U.S.

Examples of Quality Online Accelerated BSN Programs in North Carolina

Northeastern University

Northeastern University offers a 16-month accelerated BSN program students can take fully online. While most classes are available online, students must complete clinical training rotations in person. Some classes also have an in-person requirement at the campus’ advanced nursing simulation facility in Charlotte. Most clinical partners are also near Charlotte, so students should be local to Charlotte or able to relocate. In both online and in-person class sessions, students are taught by leading faculty. Students need either a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or 62 credit hours of non-nursing credits before applying. Since the program is intense, the university recommends students treat it as their full-time job instead of trying to work and complete the program at the same time.

Western Carolina University

Those who want to work full-time while completing their degrees should consider the flexible ABSN program at Western Carolina University. While the curriculum for the program is the same as its regular BSN, it’s offered in four semesters instead of eight with no general electives required. All classes are offered online and in person, but clinical rotations must be completed in person at approved clinical partner hospitals, most of which are near Western Carolina University. Students will most likely have to live or relocate to the area. Typically, students have classes two days a week and clinicals one to two days a week. They can also take evening or weekend classes. Students need bachelor’s degrees in another field to apply.

Becoming Licensed After Your Accelerated Nursing Program in NC

In addition to getting your BSN, you also need state licensure to become a nurse in North Carolina. A high-quality nursing program prepares you for this process. To give you a general idea of what to expect after your ABSN program, review this five-step nursing licensure process.

  1. Complete an RN or BSN program that is approved by the North Carolina Board of Nursing
  2. Take the NCLEX, a national exam that tests nursing skills. The example costs $75.
  3. After passing the NCLEX, fill out North Carolina’s online application for state licensure. You’ll need your exam score, NCLEX identification information, official transcripts from your nursing program, and Pearson VUE (the NCLEX testing center) registration information.
  4. After your information is submitted, your university’s program director must verify your application.
  5. Obtain a criminal background check, which includes forms about your criminal history and a fingerprint test.

After completing these steps, the NC Board of Nursing will inform you if your license has been approved within four weeks. RNs must renew their licenses every two years.

Demand and Salary Outlook for BSN Nurses in North Carolina

Nursing is an in-demand and high-paid field in almost every state, including North Carolina. Just how in demand are nurses in North Carolina, though, and how much can you expect to get paid? Below is a review of the demand and job outlook for RNs in NC to give you an idea of what to look expect after graduation.

Are BSN registered nurses in high demand in North Carolina?

North Carolina is currently facing a shortage of 12,500 nurses and a job growth rate of 11.5%, higher than the national average. If nurses are willing to work in hospital settings, have health informatics experience, or are specialized in geriatric nursing, their skills are in even higher demand in North Carolina. This demand will only grow over the next decade, too, since many nurses in the Tar Heel State are nearing retirement.

Job Outlook for Registered Nurses in North Carolina (2020-2030)

New JobsJob Growth RateAverage Annual Openings
North Carolina113,92011.5% 6,780
United States 276,7009% 194,500

Source: Projections Central

How much do BSN nurses make in North Carolina?

As of May 2021, registered nurses in North Carolina make $71,200 annually on average according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While this is lower than the national average of $82,750, having your BSN degree puts you in a position to negotiate a much higher salary than RNs who only have an associate degree.

To increase your earning potential in North Carolina, consider taking specialized classes while getting your accelerated BSN, interning, or getting a part-time job in an in-demand workplace (e.g., a hospital) to gain experience.