What is an Accelerated Nurse Practitioner Program?

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Nurse practitioner schools—whether online or onsite—are often able to accommodate varying points of academic entry, depending on the experience of an applicant. The flexibility of these programs is ideal for prospective NPs who did not earn Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees as undergraduates but still want to pursue the career. It is important to note that there exists different terminology around these NP programs:

  • Bridge: When a student has earned an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and wants to pursue graduate studies, a “bridge” program generally allows him or her to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), then immediately segue into Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) courses. These are available online and onsite. Some schools that offer bridge programs include Frontier Nursing School, Grand Canyon University, and Loyola University.
  • Direct Entry: Interested applicants who have already earned a bachelor’s degree but studied something other than nursing can choose a direct entry program. Applicants with non-nursing degrees can gain admission to an MSN program with the understanding that the first portion of their coursework will be nursing prerequisites. Please note that online “direct entry” programs typically require applicants to have an RN license, while many of their on-campus counterparts may not have this requirement. A few of the direct entry programs in the U.S. are available at Ohio State University and the MGH Institute of Health Professions.
  • Accelerated: Typically, an accelerated nursing program such as those offered by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Oregon Health & Science University or the University of South Alabama is the same as a direct entry program, although these almost always require applicants to have an RN license. The “accelerated” terminology refers to the intensive prerequisite program that precedes the master’s level coursework, but it’s generally at a quickened pace since enrollees have already achieved an RN license. These programs may require less time and credits than their ADN-to-MSN “bridge” counterparts. Please note how NursePractitionerSchools.com uses this term below.

Following are a few more examples of how different programs name themselves to indicate an accelerated nursing track:

School Program What it Means
Hunter–Bellevue School of Nursing, CUNY ACCELERATED SECOND-DEGREE NURSING PROGRAM (A2D) RN + Non-Nursing Bachelor’s to MSN
University of California, San Francisco MASTERS ENTRY PROGRAM IN NURSING (MEPN) RN + Non-Nursing Bachelor’s to MSN
Johns Hopkins University ENTRY INTO NURSING RN + Non-Nursing Bachelor’s to MSN
Vanderbilt University PRESPECIALTY ENTRY RN + Non-Nursing Bachelor’s to MSN

At NursePractitionerSchools.com, the term “accelerated” refers to programs which require applicants to have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and not necessarily an RN license, although a majority of online “accelerated” programs require applicants to have an RN license. Also, on this site, “direct entry” programs generally refer to hybrid (or on-campus) programs for applicants with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees but don’t require applicants to have an RN license.

Overall, the terminology is mutable and is used slightly differently among schools.