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Accelerated BSN Programs in Pennsylvania (PA) – Online & Campus

An accelerated degree lets you graduate and become a nurse faster. Continue reading to learn about the best accelerated BSN programs in PA.

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Author: Angela Myers
Editor: Kari Scare

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A panoramic view of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at dusk showcases the city's skyline with buildings illuminated. Multiple bridges span the rivers converging at the city, reflecting the lights, with lush green areas visible along the water bodies. The sky is a deep blue.

There’s never been a better time to become a nurse in Pennsylvania. With the state’s recent nursing shortage, many hospitals are offering higher salaries, flexible work schedules, and tuition reimbursement to licensed nurses.

If you’re not yet a licensed nurse, one of the fastest ways to become one is through an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Accelerated BSN programs in PA typically take one to two years to complete. While faster than traditional programs, graduates can still sit for the nursing licensure exam just like graduates of a standard four-year degree. Accelerated programs are often offered online or in hybrid formats for increased flexibility.

This guide explains what an accelerated BSN (ABSN) program is, who should enroll in one, and the process for applying to and completing these programs. It also rounds up the best accelerated BSN programs in PA to help guide your search for the right program. Read through to the end to discover the most common challenges accelerated nursing students face and how to overcome each.

Inside Accelerated Online & Hybrid BSN Programs in PA

When looking at accelerated medical programs, it can be hard to tell which one is right for you. While the best program differs from person to person, some stand out in terms of academics, student support resources, and flexibility. To guide your search, three of the best accelerated BSN programs in PA are spotlighted below to help you know what to look for in an online or hybrid BSN degree.

Holy Family University

        Logo of Holy Family University in Pennsylvania featuring the university name in blue text accompanied by a blue emblem on the left. The emblem includes three fleur-de-lis symbols and stylized book pages at the top.

One of the top accelerated BSN programs in PA comes from Holy Family University. This online Accelerated BSN is designed for those who already have bachelor’s degrees in other fields. Students only take nursing coursework and not general education classes. The program requires only one week of an in-person residency at Holy Family’s Philadelphia campus. All other coursework can be completed online. While clinical hours must be completed in person, the school’s clinical department works with students who don’t live in Philadelphia to find a clinical site in their communities. Given the fast pace of coursework and clinical hours, students can graduate from this rigorous and demanding program in 14 months. The school also provides National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) prep resources and boasts an 89.87% NCLEX pass rate.

Misericordia University

    Logo of Misericordia University featuring a blue graphic of an architectural structure on the left and the text "MISERICORDIA UNIVERSITY" in blue capital letters on the right, proudly representing its Pennsylvania roots.

Misericordia University easily has one of the best accelerated BSN programs in PA. This intensive Accelerated Bachelor of Science can be completed in 16 months, covers the necessary nursing skills, and completes nursing clinicals. While all class lectures are online, the program is considered hybrid because of its in-person labs at the university’s Coraopolis campus and clinical rotations with local healthcare partners. Graduates are prepared to sit for the NCLEX through NCLEX exam resources outside of coursework. Applicants need bachelor’s degrees in other fields and should live near Pittsburgh since that’s where most clinicals take place. The school offers financial support resources to help students pay for their degrees, and each student is automatically considered for scholarships of up to $10,000.

Wilkes University

As the first university in Pennsylvania to offer an Online ABSN, Wilkes University is well-adapted to online learning and offers one of the most rigorous accelerated BSN programs in PA. Along with virtual coursework, students complete nursing clinicals in person along with a one-time, on-campus residency. The school uses a competency-based assessment to better prepare them for the NCLEX than a traditional grading style does. Students can also connect with some of the best healthcare organizations in the area, thanks to Wilkes University’s large network. This BSN program takes 15 months to complete. Successful applicants have bachelor’s degrees in other fields and GPAs of 3.0 or higher. There are also two prerequisite courses, microbiology and human anatomy, for this program.

Inside Traditional Accelerated Pennsylvania BSN Programs

If you don’t want to attend class online or are curious about what an in-person accelerated program looks like, there are plenty of traditional accelerated BSN programs in PA to explore. Three of the most popular are spotlighted below to show what a stand-out program looks like in terms of academics and experiential learning.

Gwynedd Mercy University

The logo of Gwynedd Mercy University, located in Pennsylvania, features a red griffin on the left and the university name in black text to the right. The griffin, a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle, is prominently displayed.

Gwynedd Mercy University hosts a robust Accelerated Nursing Program (ABSN, Second Degree) program that can be completed in 16 months. This program is designed for those who already have bachelor’s degrees in other fields and would like to transition into nursing. All coursework takes place on Gwynedd Valley’s campus and often includes hands-on labs where students practice what they learn in lectures. Students also complete clinical rotations with nearby employers for more experiential learning and to network with the local healthcare community. The university also boasts one of the highest NCLEX pass rates and provides many NCLEX prep resources for students. Successful applicants should have completed a series of prerequisite courses that include nutrition, developmental psychology, anatomy courses, statistics, microbiology, and chemistry. This accelerated program’s coursework builds off these skills and offers electives for students to explore the areas of nursing they are most interested in.

University of Pittsburgh

The image shows the logo of the University of Pittsburgh, featuring a blue shield with a yellow and blue checkered pattern, three blue castles, and the text "University of Pittsburgh" in blue to the right of the shield. This emblem represents one of Pennsylvania's premier educational institutions.

Those who want to get their BSN in three semesters should consider the Accelerated 2nd Degree BSN from the University of Pittsburgh. This in-person, accelerated degree covers the foundations of nursing, including clinical skills, healthcare management basics, and foundational knowledge in areas like anatomy and microbiology. Students also connect with a career center that can help them decide what type of nursing they may want to pursue and if they’d like to continue their education by becoming a nurse practitioner or healthcare manager. Along with on-campus classes, students complete on-campus labs and offsite clinical rotations with local healthcare partners. The university is also committed to making this degree as affordable as possible by offering a $8,333 scholarship split across the three semesters. Should students take courses during the summer semester, they can graduate in 12 months.

York College of Pennsylvania

Green logo of York College of Pennsylvania featuring a stylized 'Y' within a shield, evoking the rich history and tourism appeal of Pennsylvania, followed by the text "York College of Pennsylvania.

York College of Pennsylvania offers a robust Accelerated Nursing BSN that can be completed in as little as 17 months. Unlike other accelerated BSNs, this one is open not just to applicants with bachelor’s degrees in other disciplines but also to those with significant college coursework but no degree. Students take a variety of foundational courses that cover topics like pharmacology, research, providing nursing care to children and adults with acute nursing problems, and leadership within nursing. The program also requires a nursing practicum, and many courses have in-person labs. Classes are all in-person as are offsite clinical rotations with local healthcare organizations. Students can also specialize in a specific area of nursing, including cardiology, pulmonary, neurology, or family practice. Because this accelerated program is quite challenging, students are assigned a faculty mentor, and many courses have teaching assistants and/or organized study groups to help navigate coursework.

Timeline of an Accelerated BSN Program in Ohio

Before you begin your accelerated BSN, it’s helpful to not only scout out available nursing scholarships but also gain a clearer picture of what the degree process might look like. The timeline below tells you what to keep in mind at different points in your accelerated BSN journey.

Six Months Before

In the six months leading up to your accelerated BSN studies, you may need to finish your previous bachelor’s degree or arrange to take time off to study if you’re already working as an RN. Depending on your program and your previous educational background, you may also need to complete prerequisite courses before the start of your program. If you’re studying in person, make sure your commute and living situation are established in the six months leading up to your start date.

First Six Months

The first six months of your accelerated BSN program will likely be heavy on traditional coursework and, potentially, labs and clinicals. Most of the accelerated BSN programs Ohio schools offer will pair you with clinical sites for the hands-on portion of your degree. Your first six months will also likely include an orientation and health and safety training for your clinical site. Six months is also, in most cases, enough time for at least some of your first midterms or finals, so be prepared to study.

Last Six Months

The final six months of your accelerated BSN program will be some of the most intense of the whole program. Not only will you be working hard at your clinicals and preparing for final exams, but you’ll also begin (or continue with greater intensity) studying for your licensing exam. Many schools provide licensing exam prep as part of their program.

Six Months After

Six months after completing your accelerated BSN program, you’ll probably have taken and hopefully passed your NCLEX and any other relevant licensing exams. This means you can create a winning nursing resume and start looking for nursing jobs in Ohio’s hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other healthcare settings. Keep in touch with your former instructors and classmates, too, to help build your professional network in your new nursing career.

Benefits & Challenges of Accelerated BSN Programs for Non-Nurses

If you’re new to nursing or even the healthcare field in general, your accelerated BSN is going to represent an exciting but challenging transition. Here are some of the benefits of your program you can look forward to as well as strategies for addressing some of the challenges you may face.

Benefit: High Return on Investment

Nursing is not only a rewarding career but a lucrative one with many nurses earning over $125,000 yearly. Your accelerated BSN has a shorter completion time, which can lead to lower tuition for the same qualifications as any other BSN degree, so your return on investment should be excellent.

Benefit: Fast Track to Nursing Career

If you’re interested in becoming a nurse, why wait? An accelerated BSN helps you begin a nursing career at the same level as someone who has a four-year nursing degree but in less than half the time that a traditional degree. This means less time preparing and more time nursing. Take time to learn more about how long certain programs, like those taking you from RN to BSN, can take to better understand what type will work best for you.

Benefit: Preparation for Advanced Degrees

A BSN can be only the beginning of your nursing education. If you’re interested in specializing in nursing in fields like anesthesiology, midwifery, gerontology, or forensics, you may want to pursue an MSN or even a nursing doctorate (PhD). An accelerated BSN can be a great first step to get you there.

Challenge: Adaptation to Nursing Culture

Non-nurses may need to adjust to the professional culture around nursing. Working in a healthcare setting and communicating with doctors, technicians, and patients is a unique environment and may take some getting used to after coming from a different professional setting.

Challenge: Intensive Pace

An accelerated nursing program is an intensive one, packing four years of nursing education into as little as one year. To avoid burnout, keep your schedule reasonable and practice self-care and self-compassion throughout your studies.

Challenge: Transition & Preparation for Licensing Exams

Non-nurses may not be familiar with the process of becoming licensed and looking for nursing jobs. Your school will be aware of this and may even help you prepare for your licensing exams and your job search, even if you decide to pursue a non-nursing career with your nursing degree, but be sure to speak up if there’s anything about the process that confuses you.