What is an ABSN and How is it Different From More Traditional Nursing Degrees?


Nursing degrees typically conform to a traditional college schedule. You enroll in the program as a freshman. Over the next four years, you complete curriculum requirements— in this case, outlined by both the state and federal government. 

Nurses are required to complete a specific set of classwork and prerequisites but they also need to complete clinical requirements as well. 

Usually, fulfilling all of these obligations takes a minimum of four years. Sometimes even longer. Is there a way to wrap things up quicker? There is for people pursuing an ABSN.

In this article, we take a look at what that is, how you qualify, and if it is a good option for you.

What is an Accelerated Nursing Degree?

Accelerated nursing degrees allow you to complete your educational requirements in 12-18 months instead of the traditional four years. It typically is an option available to people who have already completed a four-year college degree in a subject area other than nursing. 

For example, let’s say you majored in English. Maybe you worked as a copywriter for the last ten years. The work paid fine but now you are interested in doing a job that feels fulfilling and important to you. The issue? Spending the next four years in classrooms with a bunch of early twentysomethings does not appeal to you. You need to get the ball rolling on your next career as soon as possible. 

In this case, an accelerated degree may be the perfect fit. Because you already have a college degree, you won’t need to complete gen-eds. You will still need to complete all of the clinical requirements which means that for about a year your life will revolve largely around getting your new credentials. 

That’s not something everyone can manage. However, if you can swing the new responsibilities the rewards are often well worth it. Accelerated nursing degrees are just as effective at helping you find employment opportunities as other degrees. 

There are online options available— although you will need to get clinical experience in person. The programs are not cheap but they usually cost less than four-year degrees. 

Some programs are designed for people already working as a nurse. If you want to pivot into a new healthcare career, you may find accelerated programs that allow you to do that more quickly than would be possible with a traditional college education.

Below, we take a look at some pros and cons that might help you decide if an accelerated degree program is right for you. 

Pros and Cons of an ABSN

Getting an accelerated degree is naturally an awesome way to jumpstart your career. It may appeal particularly to people who are trying to pivot after beginning their professional life in a different occupation. Nursing is a pretty common choice for people who want to change career lanes.
But there is a problem. Most 38-year-olds don’t have the patience to spend four years pursuing an undergraduate degree. 

Getting an accelerated degree can be a good solution to that problem. It’s also an awesome option if:

  • You are eager to start working: You don’t have to be an established adult to want to stop working as soon as possible. Personal finance is a long-term game. If you can start working and saving money when you are 21 instead of 23-24, it can make a major difference in when you are ready for certain major milestones like homeownership or even retirement. Accelerated degrees could potentially make you eligible for these things much sooner than you would be with a traditional four-year degree. 
  • You want to get your master’s degree: If you take a traditional route to getting your master’s degree, you may spend 7-8 years total in college. While that option is fine for some people, it means a lot of student loans and nearly a decade where you aren’t meeting your full earning potential. Getting an accelerated undergraduate degree may allow you to complete all of your requirements in around 4 years. 

It sounds great, right? So why isn’t everyone doing it?

Concerns to Keep in Mind

The biggest issue with pursuing an accelerated degree is built right into the name. The program is accelerated. This means that all of the stress and hard work so commonly associated with getting a college education is truncated into 18 months instead of four years. For many people, that’s simply not tenable. 

If you are raising a family or already working a job it can be very difficult to pursue an accelerated degree. Even traditionally paced college curriculums can require 30+ hours of work per week. Accelerated programs can be significantly more than that. 

It’s certainly tempting to get school out of the way as quickly as possible. However, it may be better in the long run to take your time. Unlike many professionals, nurses use the things they learn in school every day. It’s important to choose a program you can fully engage with and commit to. Remember— when all is said and done there is a big nasty test waiting on the other side of your college education. 

While there are curriculum modifications, the NCLEX remains unchanged. If you can’t adequately prepare for it in an accelerated program, you won’t be able to become a registered nurse, regardless of how quickly you got your degree. 


Do you think an accelerated degree might be the right choice for you? Difficult though the process may be, many people find it rewarding. While the challenges of compressing four years of learning into a short period of time might not be for everyone it’s important to remember that the struggle is only temporary. 

The relatively brief struggle of learning a new trade comes with a reward that is proportionate to your effort. Nursing careers are a rewarding way to make a living. There are TONS of options that you can pursue once you get your degree. Figure out what program is right for your needs and start hitting the books.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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