ABSN vs Traditional BSN: What’s the Difference?

Each blog post is dated and contains accurate information as of that date. Certain information may have changed since the blog post publication date. If you would like to confirm the current accuracy of blog information, please visit our ABSN overview page or contact admissions at (844) 319-2107.

An ABSN differs from a traditional BSN when it comes to timeline, method of instruction and previous education requirements. While these two paths differ, they both are subject to the same accreditation, quality curriculum and NCLEX preparation.

Nurse sitting thinking to herself

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already decided that a career in nursing is in your future. And you’re making a smart decision — in 2022, U.S. News & World Report ranked registered nurse (RN) No. 12 on their list of top 100 best jobs.

On a more local level, Michigan’s Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives listed RNs among the 50 most in-demand jobs with 3,372 projected annual job openings in the state through 2024.

Before deciding on a nursing program, you’ll want to understand the differences between Accelerated BSN vs. traditional BSN programs.

Why Choose a BSN Program?

It’s helpful to understand why a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is so important to anyone planning for a lifelong career as a registered nurse. (Hint: If you don’t earn your BSN now, you’ll be required to do so eventually.)

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, a survey of 515 nursing schools found that 43.7% of hospitals and healthcare providers required nurses to have BSNs, and a whopping 78.6% expressed a strong preference for nurses with BSN degrees. These numbers will only go up as more and more hospitals and other healthcare providers focus on accreditation and achieving the coveted Magnet® status. (To learn more about this trend and the close relationship between baccalaureate nursing degrees and improved patient outcomes, read about the Institute of Medicine’s 80% by 2020 initiative, which was not met in 2020 but had an impact on boosting the number of RNs who hold BSNs.)

Preparing You for a Future in Nursing

Whether you choose a traditional BSN program or an Accelerated BSN program, like Madonna’s ABSN program in Michigan, the goal is to set you up for a successful future in nursing by providing comprehensive training on topics such as:

  • Pharmacology
  • Mental health
  • Holistic nursing care
  • Population-focused care
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Nursing leadership
  • And more…

Both modalities are subject to the same rigorous accreditation, testing, simulation lab, and clinical requirements. And regardless of the nursing program you choose, you must pass the NCLEX-RN® exam to become a licensed registered nurse.

So which pathway to a BSN is right for you?

ABSN vs Traditional BSN Programs: How Are They Different?

The main difference between a traditional BSN and Accelerated BSN is the time it takes to earn a degree. Traditional BSN programs — like other bachelor’s degree programs — take four years to complete, whereas most Accelerated BSN programs take 12–24 months depending on prerequisites and program requirements.

This is in large part due to the educational experience requirements for each:

  • Traditional BSN programs are for students who have no previous college experience, and they require only a high school diploma.
  • ABSN programs are designed to accommodate students who already have non-nursing degrees or, at the very least, enough college credits to qualify for admission. At Madonna University, for example, the requirement is 60 credits.

Traditional vs. Blended Learning Models

Traditional BSN and Accelerated BSN programs (sometimes referred to as “ground-based programs”) consist of the type of classroom lectures you would expect to find on any college campus — along with homework, exams, hands-on labs and clinicals.

However, some ABSN programs, such as the one offered by Madonna University, take a different approach by blending online course instruction and homework assignments with in-person exams, skills and simulation labs and clinicals.

nursing student studying on laptop

Blended ABSN programs, like Madonna’s Accelerated BSN, offer the best of both worlds. Students still get the valuable hands-on experience only skills labs and clinical placements can offer, but they also enjoy the benefits and flexibility of online learning. Namely, interactive, online coursework:

  • Helps learners better retain information by accommodating different learning styles
  • Allows learners to choose when and where to complete their work — especially helpful when contending with a busy schedule of coursework, skills and simulation labs and clinicals
  • Can be revisited as needed throughout the program

Which Is the Better Choice for You?

Whether a traditional BSN or an ABSN program is best for you depends on a number of factors, including current education level, motivation and whether you intend to hold a job while working toward your BSN.

If you can’t wait to become a nurse, and you meet the minimum credits required for an ABSN program or already have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, an Accelerated BSN program may be the quickest path to your new career. However, if you do not have any college credits or plan to work while earning your degree, a four-year BSN program is your best bet.

Get Your BSN from Madonna University in As Few As 16 Months

If you are ready to start your nursing journey and have a non-nursing degree or a minimum of 60 credits from an accredited regional institution, Madonna University’s Accelerated BSN program in the metro Detroit area may be right for you.

Madonna ABSN students in classroom

As a Madonna ABSN student, you’ll benefit from our blended learning model, which offers:

  • Online nursing courses designed for multiple learning styles – whether you are a visual, aural, tactile, or social learner, our engaging online coursework will help you retain the material.
  • State-of-the-art, hands-on skills and simulation labs — put what you have learned into practice in a safe environment.
  • Clinical rotations through Ascension’s St. John Providence and other clinical partners — gain real-world clinical experience working in diverse patient care settings at the largest provider of inpatient care in southeast Michigan, among others.
  • Supportive faculty dedicated to your success — communicate with professors in real-time and via face-to-face meet-ups.

Plus, with three start dates each year and no waiting list to get into the program, you can be on the road to an extraordinary life of service sooner than you might think.

Madonna’s ABSN vs Traditional BSN Programs

Traditional BSNMadonna University ABSN
Completion TimeFour YearsAs few as 16 months
Instruction MethodTraditional classroom with simulation and skills labs and clinicalsInteractive online coursework with on-site skills labs, simulation labs and clinicals
Program Start DatesTwo: Fall and WinterThree: Fall, Winter and Summer
RequirementsVaries depending on the schoolNon-nursing degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8 or 60 credits with a cumulative GPA of 3.0
Pre Admission ExamVaries depending on the schoolAcceptable ATI TEAS exam composite score of 65% or greater
Clinical PlacementsOften spread across multiple hospitals and health care providersAscension’s St. John Providence and other facilities

Your Future in Nursing Begins Here

Enrolling in Madonna University’s Accelerated BSN program begins with an admissions representative, who will guide you through the admissions process. Whether you are unsure of how to go about fulfilling remaining prerequisites, are ready to enroll, or just want to know more about the program, an admissions representative can help.

Talk to an admissions representative today at 844-319-2107 to jumpstart your future in nursing with an ABSN education from Madonna University.