What Is an ABSN, and Are You an Ideal Candidate?

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.

What is an ABSN? It’s an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program that can allow you to leverage prior non-nursing college education to earn a well-respected nursing degree in as few as 16 months. How does an accelerated nursing program work? You’ll complete online coursework and onsite learning activities.

nursing student studying

What is an ABSN, and is it right for you? An Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program is a fast-track education option that allows you to leverage your non-nursing college experience to earn your nursing degree sooner. This option could be a fit if you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 college credits.

At Madonna University, we provide a values-based nursing education to prepare future nurse leaders to strive for healthcare excellence. Our ABSN program can allow you to graduate in as few as 16 months. Take a closer look at the program and its requirements here.

What Is an ABSN Program?

What is an ABSN program? An ABSN is a program, not a degree. An ABSN program confers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. It’s an accelerated program that allows you to earn your BSN in as few as 16 months.

How soon you can start depends on which classes you have previously taken. It’s common for aspiring nursing students to need to complete some prerequisites successfully before applying for acceptance into the program.

What’s the Difference Between ABSN and BSN Programs?

madonna nurses with mannequin

A traditional BSN program typically requires four years of full-time study. Students take general education classes along with nursing-specific courses. In contrast, an ABSN program may only require 16 months of full-time nursing education before students can sit for the NCLEX (licensure exam).

ABSN programs aren’t designed for students who have just graduated from high school. Instead, they are intended for those who have already earned a non-nursing college degree or a minimum threshold of college credits. Because of this, ABSN programs eliminate the general education requirements to facilitate the accelerated timeline.

How Does an Accelerated Nursing Program Work?

Madonna University’s accelerated nursing program leverages your non-nursing college experience to expedite your nursing education. With the mix of blended online learning curriculum, skills and simulation labs and clinical rotations, our ABSN program provides you with everything you need to graduate as a practice-ready nurse.

The Blended Curriculum

student nurse doing homework

Madonna University’s ABSN program uses a blended learning format that combines online and hands-on learning. The blended curriculum allows students flexibility when completing their online nursing theory coursework. Then, they can put what they’ve learned online into practice during hands-on skills and simulation labs at our ABSN Learning Site and clinical rotations inside top area hospitals, including Ascension’s St. John Providence.

Online Learning

Our dynamic e-learning platform offers a high level of learning convenience, teaching you about nursing theory anytime, anywhere. While you must complete assignments under the deadlines set forth by instructors, the flexibility of studying when it best fits your schedule makes this an ideal option for many busy adults who have decided to change career paths.

Top instructional designers developed the online nursing curriculum, which Madonna University’s trusted faculty members lead. While the online portion of the curriculum isn’t in a classroom, you still have the support of your instructors and classmates through chat rooms, email and other forms of communication.

Nursing Skills and Simulation Labs

Skills and simulation labs allow you to put your online work into practice in a safe environment with state-of-the-art hospital equipment and high-fidelity patient simulators.

Skills Lab

Under the guidance of nursing school faculty, students learn to apply various nursing skills safely and correctly on patient simulators using advanced medical equipment. Skills lab allows students to get comfortable with objects like vials and needles before using them in a real-world environment.

Simulation Labs

Simulation labs put students in practical patient scenarios, allowing them to collaborate and problem-solve through various situations without risk of harm to an actual patient. During simulations, students may play different roles, acting as a nurse or family member, so they can understand fully all the skills needed to be an effective caretaker.

Madonna ABSN student working with sim manikin

Clinical Rotations

Diverse clinical rotations inside top area hospitals, including Ascension’s St. John Providence, give students a chance to use their online nursing theory and hands-on lab experience to help actual patients in need. Clinical placements also allow students to build relationships with members of the local healthcare community.

Students can gain a deeper understanding of nursing through a variety of practice areas that may include:

  • Adult and Older Adult Health
  • Maternity and Pediatrics
  • Acute Care
  • Mental and Behavioral Health

The first clinical experience for Madonna ABSN students happens during the first semester. It might seem a little stressful to step into an actual care setting during your first semester, but not to worry! You’ll begin by doing more straightforward tasks and then gradually progress to more advanced tasks. Plus, you’ll work under the watchful eye of experienced registered nurses (RNs).

two nurses in blue scrubs sitting and talking

Curious about career options after graduation? Check out these 14 alternative careers for nurses.

What are an ABSN Program’s Benefits?

What are the benefits of an ABSN program like Madonna University’s? If you already have some college education or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, then the two major benefits of an ABSN program are speed and accessibility.


Because qualified students must have 60 prior college credits with a cumulative 3.0 GPA or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree with a minimum cumulative 2.8 GPA, they can transfer credits for general education courses and start their nursing classes immediately. This allows students to earn their BSN in as few as 16 months.


While many programs can only offer a limited number of seats to nursing students and offer one start per year, Madonna University’s ABSN program makes earning a BSN more accessible for students. Madonna offers three start dates per year and has seats available now for qualified students.

The Cohort Model Boosts Camaraderie

Although speed and access are the top benefits, enrolling in an ABSN program has other perks. You’ll work through coursework and take onsite labs as a member of a tight-knit nursing cohort. It’s common for members of a nursing cohort to grow close and support each other through the many challenges of accelerated nursing school. You may forge friendships that can last a lifetime (and gain valuable professional networking opportunities to draw on later).

Madonna nursing students sitting in class

Confers the Same Quality of Nursing Education

Although an ABSN program proceeds on an accelerated timeline, it’s important to note that the pace doesn’t adversely affect education quality. The curriculum doesn’t compromise; you’ll still study the same topics that four-year nursing students cover—you’ll focus solely on nursing-specific coursework designed to prepare you for the NCLEX and your nursing career.

One study highlighted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) noted that hospitals with more BSN-prepared nurses (as opposed to Associate Degree in Nursing-prepared nurses) have lower patient mortality rates among 30-day surgical inpatients. This is regardless of educational pathway—meaning that the patient care outcomes of ABSN graduates vs. four-year BSN graduates are the same.

Are You a Candidate for an ABSN Program?

Now that you have a better understanding of what an ABSN is, you need to ask yourself if it is the ideal program for you and if you have what it takes to be successful in an accelerated program. While no secret formula for success exists, many successful ABSN students possess consistent traits. They include people who are:

1. Previous Non-Nursing Students

To graduate in as few as 16 months, you must have previous college experience with a minimum of 60 credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree.

Explore more on how you can turn your previous bachelor’s degree into a nursing degree.

nurse wearing white coat

2. Highly Organized

It’s important to stay organized so you don’t fall behind. Aside from just your nursing curriculum, staying organized in your nursing career is essential, so being in the habit now will only help you in the future. If you keep a calendar and stay on top of projects, this may be the program for you.

3. Critical Thinker

If you can solve problems quickly and think on your feet, you may succeed in an ABSN program and as a registered nurse.

two Madonna ABSN students in sim lab

Learn more about what makes an effective healthcare provider in this blog, which explores the 11 qualities of a good nurse.

4. Driven

Determination is vital to making it through an ABSN program. If you are someone who never gives up, then an ABSN program would be a great fit.

5. Able to Study Full Time

Becoming a registered nurse is a full-time job, so it’s best to be a full-time student. You will want to stay focused to earn your BSN in as few as 16 months. We recommend not working during the program if possible. (Contact our Financial Aid Office to learn about getting help financing your education.)

smiling nursing student

Ready to Get to Work?

Now that you know the answer to the question, “How does an accelerated nursing program work?” you’ll need to decide if this path is right for you. There’s only one way to find out. Contact an admissions representative to get started on the journey today.

You’ll be assigned to a dedicated admissions rep who will help you navigate each step of the admissions process. Remember: With three start dates per year, you could start your nursing education sooner at Madonna!