Accelerated BSN Vs. Accelerated MSN Programs

The COVID-19 pandemic and increased lifespan have surely created a shortage of nurses. It has been predicted that this shortage will increase by 2030. Getting a nursing degree means greater work opportunities in the near future.

Registered nurses (RNs) can choose one out of many degree programs available for nurses. Even individuals with no medical background can opt for the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) or the Master’s Entry in Nursing Practice (MENP) degrees to become a certified nurse. Some institutes offer the MENP degree by referring to it as a direct-entry MSN or accelerated MSN program.

If you are interested in switching careers or want to obtain higher education in nursing, then you need to know the difference between accelerated BSN and MSN degrees. Today, we shall look at both programs in detail, how they compare, and which one will be a suitable choice for you. Let’s get straight to it.

Accelerated BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing)

An accelerated BSN degree program is perfect for students that pick nursing as a second career path. Individuals with a Bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing niche can easily apply to enroll in this program. 

Graduates can sit for the NCLEX-RN (National Nurse Licensure Exam) to obtain licensure and become a registered nurse. It is a good idea to opt for this program if you wish to enter the field of nursing in the shortest possible time and are interested in direct patient care.

Curriculum and Prerequisites

Students that wish to apply need to have a minimum GPA (Grade Point Average) and a bachelor’s degree to be considered. The exact requirements depend on the institution you wish to enroll in. GPA requirements are often lower than those demanded for MENP/MSN program enrollment.

An ABSN degree holder is suited for general nursing care and practice. Students are often trained using coursework that is required to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. The syllabus includes:

  • Nursing practice knowledge
  • Patient care and population health
  • Quality, safety, and interprofessional partnerships
  • IT, healthcare tech, and system-related practices
  • Personal, leadership, and professional development
  • Disease prevention, chronic disease care and restorative care
  • Hospice and ethics

Program Duration and Format

An ABSN degree can be obtained in a year or a year and a half. This duration is shorter than 4-year degree programs as it has been designed to keep students’ prior learning and knowledge in mind.

The degree is a combination of clinical practice hours and nursing theory. Online degrees allow students to finish coursework from home and complete practical hours at the nearest assigned clinic. This helps train students and allows them to apply nursing knowledge to real-life situations without putting patients at risk.

An accelerated program allows students to attain education faster as compared to a traditional BSN degree. Upon graduation, students can start working immediately or opt for higher studies.

Accelerated MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) or MENP (Master’s Entry in Nursing Practice)

An accelerated Master’s degree in nursing is also suitable for individuals that wish to switch careers. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing/nursing discipline to be eligible.

The MSN/MENP degree prepares individuals so they can pass the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain licensure for nursing practice. However, a Master’s program is a bit more advanced than a Bachelor’s nursing program as it inculcates leadership skills in students.

MSN graduates are not only taught about maintaining quality and safety, but they can also sit for the CNL (Clinical Nurse Leader) exam. Those that successfully pass the exam are fit for leadership roles and management tasks in any healthcare facility. This simply means better pay and higher job posts. MENP or MSN degree holders can opt for additional programs such as a postgraduate degree or a doctoral degree like a Ph.D. or DNP.

Curriculum And Prerequisites

Students that wish to opt for a MENP or MSN program must have a minimum GPA as demanded by the institute they wish to enroll in. The GPA requirements are often higher as compared to ABSN programs.

Degree holders can practice general patient care, apply for leadership roles, and are often responsible for keeping quality and safety in check. A CNL license allows MSN/MENP degree holders to be easily considered for higher posts in medical facilities.

Students are taught a syllabus similar to that of an ABSN program but in greater detail. This prepares students for both the NCLEX-RN and a CNL exam so they can land better roles compared to a nurse with only a Bachelor’s degree. This advanced degree also focuses on:

  • Communication and compassion
  • Work ethics, kindness, inclusion, equity, and diversity
  • Clinical judgment and health policies
  • Evidence-based best practices and social determinants of patient health

Program Duration

A MENP or accelerated MSN degree takes longer to complete compared to an ABSN degree but shorter than a traditional Master of Science in Nursing program. Students graduate in two or three years with basic nursing knowledge, leadership skills, and knowledge of quality/safety best practices.

This program too combines practical hours and theoretical knowledge. However, it also focuses on leadership skills so graduates can land higher posts. Students can study on-campus or online based on preference. One or two campus residences may also be a requirement.

The intensive coursework leaves no time to work for MENP students. But the good news is that this program can be completed quicker than a traditional MSN degree program or BSN program.

Career Outlook For ABSN And MENP Graduates

Accelerated MSN and BSN graduates are suitable for second-career nurses that wish to be employed as Registered Nurses (RNs). RNs are responsible for patient education and care in a variety of medical facilities. Nearly 35% of nurses are posted in ambulatory clinics and hospitals. Other facilities include community health care centers, outpatient clinics, smaller clinics, urgent patient care, infusion, acute care, post-partum, emergency care, and post-surgery.

Nurses that do not work in either of the above sectors can become educators, college professors, diabetes consultants, and hospital unit educators. They can also work in the governmental sector, and become informants or administrators. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has estimated that nursing jobs will grow by 6% between 2021 and 2031. This is greater compared to other professions.

  • Nurses achieve job satisfaction by positively affecting people’s lives.
  • The average annual salary of a nurse is $77,600. This can be even greater for nurses with a Master’s degree. A MENP program is costlier as compared to the ABSN degree but better salary and leadership roles eventually bear fruitful returns on the initial educational investments made.
  • MSN degree holders can opt for even higher degrees and enter the field of advanced practice nursing. They can also pass the CNL exam to work in healthcare technology, in a pharmaceutical company, or opt for a management post in a large hospital. Some may even work as care coordinators and risk assessors.


Both MENP and ABSN programs are perfect options for second-career nurses. Students that wish to opt for leadership roles and are willing to study longer should consider an accelerated Master’s program. An ABSN degree is great for those that wish to become an RN in the shortest time to directly deal with patients.