What is an Accelerated Nursing Program?

Accelerated Nursing Programs in California are designed for individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field. This might be the program for you if you have shown your ability to manage time, study effectively, and retain information while enrolled at university. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, most of the foundations courses should be completed.

Accelerated BSN (ABSN) programs, like traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs, provide a strong foundation for a successful nursing profession.

ABSN programs achieve this by leveraging your prior academic experience, allowing you to focus only on nursing-specific coursework rather than electives and general education courses. “Previous academic experience” may refer to a particular quantity of college credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree depending on the program.

ABSN programs generally take 9 to 15 months. There is a catch, however. Most accelerated nursing programs demand that you have previously completed specific prerequisites before enrolling. These courses are generally focused on the field of nursing (for example, anatomy and physiology), although they may also encompass elements important to a school’s core values or purpose. A key component of any BSN degree is the clinical.  Students in accelerated programs receive the same number of clinical hours as do their standard BSN counterparts.

Entrance Requirements for Accelerated Nursing Programs in California

  • Bachelor’s degree: You need to have your bachelor’s degree to be eligible for accelerated nursing programs, but it can be in any subject!  
  • GPA: You do not need to take a test for eligibility but most schools will require that you have a minimum GPA of 3.0. These can vary by school so check before applying!
  • Complete pre-requisites: While your bachelor’s degree can be in anything, you may need to complete certain courses before you can apply to an accelerated nursing program. Usually these will be science courses such as biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, and more.
  • Letters of recommendation: Like any application you need letters of recommendation. Make sure to reach out ahead of time to the people you want to write your letters so that you are not scrambling at the last minute. 
  • Submit applications: You should look over the applications in advance so you know how much time you will need to complete them. In addition to demographics and basic questions, you may have essays to write. You will also need to collect past transcripts, submit and updated resume, and possibly additional paperwork.
  • Interview: Most schools will not require an interview but it always helps to check!

List of 8 Accelerated BSN (ABSN) Programs in California

California State University-Stanislaus

  • One University Circle, Turlock, CA - 95382-0299
  • 209-667-3122
Nurse Admin: Marla Seacrist, Phd, RN
Title: Director

Turlock, a scenic town in Central California, is home to Stanislaus State University that operates as an open university with two campuses. While well known for business administration, teacher education, the School of Nursing offers an accelerated BDSN at the Stockton location. All have had positive learning outcomes. The pre-licensure nursing track leads to the Bachelor of Science degree. Incoming freshmen should have taken high school chemistry and biology with a lab, and at least three years of college prep math. Transfer students must adhere to CSU transfer policies. Nursing-bound students will indicate “Nursing (Pre-Nursing)” when applying. It is a competitive program with a supplemental criterion for permission to enroll. The faculty is well-versed in healthcare trends and technologies.

Undergraduate programs – The Accelerated Second Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ASBSN) program is designed for people who hold a baccalaureate degree in a field other than nursing and are aspiring to become registered nurses. There are ten weeks of courses taken over seventeen months for 59 total credits. The degree, requiring hands-on experience, is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Graduates will be able to integrate the knowledge, theories, and methods of various disciplines to inform decision-making. The goal is to promote quality care and patient safety while applying leadership skills in healthcare settings. They have skill in using patient care technologies, information systems and communication devices that support safe nursing practice for all populations.

California State University-Northridge

  • 18111 Nordhoff St, Northridge, CA - 91330
  • 818-677-1200
Nurse Admin: Rebekah Child, PhD, RN
Title: Associate Professor

California State University Northridge is conveniently located in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. Students chose it for its long history of commitment and dedication to nursing. CSUN offers innovative programs geared specifically to the needs of the local community. The mission of the CSUN Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is to develop professional leaders in all areas of practice who can apply new and past nursing knowledge and build upon existing competencies. The school values integrity, advocacy, excellence, lifelong learning, respect for others, and competence.

Undergraduate programs – The school does not offer a traditional BSN. The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (A-BSN) is a fast-paced program for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree (in any field). Graduates of this 15-month track can become registered nurses (RNs). About four consecutive semesters are needed complete the courses required for licensure. Students learn to assess, restore, maintain, promote, and evaluate patients’ health while they serve families, groups, communities and populations in a variety of healthcare settings Nursing courses include classroom instruction and clinical laboratories in patient care settings. Students receive regular one-on-one and group counseling by the program director on a regular basis. Hands-on experience is essential. Thus, students find suitable placement at hospitals and clinical facilities in the greater Los Angeles area. This allows them to focus on learning the methods, principles and practices of nursing, without worrying about logistics.

At its accelerated pace, the A-BSN program meets the objectives of those interested in a career in nursing and health care. It gives students the knowledge they needed to jump into the field fully equipped with the confidence, training and experience to make a real difference. CSUN A-BSN graduates are working as direct care providers, school nurses, public health nurses, managers, staff educators and clinical instructors in schools. Many have pursued graduate degrees and are now nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, faculty, administrators and clinical specialists.

Concordia University Irvine

  • 1530 Concordia West, Irvine, CA - 92612-3203
  • 949-854-8002
Nurse Admin: Cheryl Smythe-Padgham, DNP, RN, WHNP-BC
Title: Assistant Dean, Director of Nursing

Concordia University, a noted Christian institution, believes in caring, compassionate, and competent nursing. Toward this end, the Nursing Program is a contemporary, comprehensive program that has been uniquely designed for students to learn the requisite information and acquire the advanced skills for excellent nursing care. The Department of Nursing is committed to educating a culturally and academically diverse student population to become holistic nursing professionals who uphold Christian values in their service to individuals, families, and communities.

The school sees nursing as both an art and a science that embrace the development of the individual through liberal studies and scientific preparation. The goal of nursing is to view each individual as a bio-psychosocial, cultural, and spiritual being with individual needs that are of utmost concern to the profession.

Undergraduate programs – in just 15 months, students can earn an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN). For those holding a bachelor’s degree and looking to transition to nursing, this ABSN second degree program offers a fast-track to a new career. It builds on the foundation of prior coursework and complete the program with required hands-on experience. In addition to classroom time, students will complete 765 hours in clinical settings throughout program.

Mount St Mary’s University-Los Angeles

  • 12001 Chalon Rd, Los Angeles, CA - 90049-1599
  • 310-954-4000
Nurse Admin: Stephanie Collazo, RN, PhD, CNS
Title: Dean of Nursing

It is a picturesque drive up the hill to Mt. Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles. Students at this women’s college will enjoy the scenic vistas as they prepare for their degree in nursing. They can choose the traditional BSN track, the RN to BSN format, or the fast-paced accelerated BSN to enter the workforce with expediency. Academic options include Undergraduate Bachelor Programs, Undergraduate Associate Programs, Graduate Programs, Online and adult Undergraduate Bachelor Programs, each with their respective admissions requirements. The school’s Veteran Affairs Liaison certifies enrollment for Mount Saint Mary’s University students eligible for educational assistance administered by the Veterans Administration.

Established in 1925, Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU) is nationally recognized for its academic programs and focus on preparing the next generation of citizen leaders. The traditional baccalaureate program is offered at the Chalon Campus in west Los Angeles. Associate, weekend, accelerated and graduate programs are offered at the Doheny Campus near downtown Los Angeles. MSMU is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The following special commissions and boards have accredited specific programs at MSMU: the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, and the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Of note, 3,028 students across two campuses, including Chalon, Doheny, and online degree programs.

Undergraduate programs – Students are encouraged to apply online to the ABSN program for students already holding a Bachelor’s degree. The Accelerated Baccalaureate Nursing (AccBSN) Program is the same curriculum design as the Baccalaureate Nursing Program (BSN), follows the same philosophy, and students meet the stated objectives. The program is completed within one year over three consecutive semesters. In short, it is a rigorous program of study. The AccBSN program is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing.

National University

  • 11255 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA - 92037-1011
  • 800-628-8648
Nurse Admin: Susan Drummond, PhD, MSN, APRN CNE
Title: Department Chair

National University is a veteran-founded, San Diego-based nonprofit. Since 1971, the mission of the school has been to provide accessible, achievable higher education to adult learners. It educates students from across the U.S. and around the globe, with over 180,000 alumni worldwide. National University is proud to expand the candidates who enter the growing nursing field. The need for registered nurses is strong, and a bachelor’s or master’s degree can help graduates develop the high-quality, patient-centric care to excel in the field. The program focuses on effective communication, how to prioritize care, and developing the judgment to manage patients across a variety of health care settings.

Students seek desired outcomes and learn to apply current evidence to their practice to provide continuous improvement while meeting safety standards. The baccalaureate degree program in nursing, the master’s degree program in nursing, and the post-graduate APRN certificate programs at National University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The program is also approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing. National University has 20 locations throughout California, with 4 military learning centers. They have multiple types of nursing programs, from BSN, LVN to RN, LVN to BSN, RN to BSN, doctorate of nursing practice, master of science in nurse anesthesia and master of science in nursing.

Undergraduate programs – the fast track at National University is the accelerated ABSN. It is a varied and intense program that in addition to the traditional courses, entails recording patient medical histories and symptoms, giving patients medicines and treatments, and setting up plans for patient care or contributing to existing plans. Students carefully make observations to share with doctors. They may operate and monitor state-of-the-art medical equipment and assist in performing diagnostic tests and analyzing results. The curriculum incudes effective ways to teach patients and their families how to manage illnesses or injuries. Graduates will develop critical thinking, communication, and therapeutic nursing skills within the framework of transcultural nursing. To finish faster, students can take four-week-long classes with evening and week-end options on campus, or they may choose an online format.

Samuel Merritt University

  • 3100 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA - 94609
  • 800-607-6377
Nurse Admin: Steven L. Rush, PhD, RN, CNS, PNP
Title: Interim Dean

Samuel Merritt University prides itself on preparing nurses for more than a century since 1909 with current undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and nursing certificate programs at its four campuses. The mission of the Nursing School is to provide compassionate and skilled clinicians and nurse leaders. The faculty is known for its large number of graduates who enter all levels of the field from clinical positions to advanced placement in primary care and nursing leadership in Northern California and the Central Valley. They all have expertise in best practices, outcome-based healthcare and inter-professional simulation.

In line with SMU’s core values, the programs prepare nurses to promote health and well-being across diverse populations and communities, who recognize the importance of social determinants of health, and practice with compassion, kindness, and respect. The curriculum blends theory, research, and practice and prepares students to make evidence-based decisions and work independently or in tandem with other caregivers. Graduate nurses are trained to improve the health and well-being of the people and communities they serve and transform their healthcare experience through novel partnerships and collaborations, robust interdisciplinary training,. conscientious and explicit use of research and evidence, and pioneering innovations in nursing education

Undergraduate programs – students can accelerate their BSN nursing degree if they have a bachelor’s in another field. The fast-track format was designed to build upon previous learning and professional experience, allowing students to complete a BSN in just about 12 months. The intensive, short-term program is a mix of theory and clinical education, imparting both the knowledge and skills needed to transition to a new career. The accelerated programs are offered at the Oakland, Sacramento, and the San Francisco peninsula campus in San Mateo. They offer summer, fall, and spring application periods.

Graduate programs – Graduate degrees at Samuel Merritt University range from an entry level Master of Science in Nurse – either in case management or as a nurse practitioner – or a standard MSN for both majors. There is an online Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Doctorate for a family nurse practitioner for advanced, experienced students. Courses are offered at the Oakland San Francisco campuses.

San Diego State University

  • 5500 Campanile Dr, San Diego, CA - 92182-0001
  • 619-594-5200
Nurse Admin: Karen Macauley, PhD, DNP
Title: Director and Professor

San Diego State University’s nursing students are unique. They train in state-of-the-art facilities, study and travel all over the world, and participate in research. Many elect to join the SDSU-SNA – Student Nurses Association. Among the academic programs are a BS in Nursing, an RN to BSN track, an MS in Nursing, and LVN to RN. The School of Nursing was established as a baccalaureate program within San Diego State University in 1953, with a Master’s was added in 1982. The faculty is committed to providing excellent learning opportunities for graduate students within an intellectually stimulating environment incorporating clinical practice, research, and service to the University and the community. The baccalaureate and Master’s degrees in nursing are accredited by the by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Undergraduate programs – Students in the undergraduate nursing program acquire knowledge from the natural and social sciences. In the six-semester (three years) BSN track, they hone and develop critical thinking and professional decision-making abilities, utilize current research in the application of the nursing process, develop leadership potential and accountability in professional practice, become aware of the emerging roles of the professional nurse and of the social forces and trends affecting health and health care systems. They also learn to balance professional and personal growth and values. Students enjoy the exceptional media lab, nursing fundamental skills lab and Sharp Healthcare Human Patient Simulation Lab.

The undergraduate pre-licensed Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program is available to incoming freshman admitted via Direct-Entry, transfer students from approved community colleges and four-year institutions, and second baccalaureate students. Additionally, graduates of Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs and Diploma in Nursing programs may continue their studies to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree via the RN to BSN program. If offered admission, second bachelor’s degree students will complete 55 units in nursing coursework. General Education coursework is not required and students do not have to complete the International Experience requirement.

California State University-San Marcos

  • 333 S Twin Oaks Valley Rd, San Marcos, CA - 92096-0001
  • 760-750-4000
Nurse Admin: Wendy Hansbrough, PhD, RN, CNE
Title: Director

Your nursing journey to an ABSN starts here. SCUSM School of Nursing a a dynamic leader in the art and science of nursing. It seeks to educating ethically and culturally-sensitive nursing students with the goal of alleviating suffering while promoting, preserving, and restoring dignity for all patients.

The mission of the School of Nursing is to offer innovative models of instruction, generates cutting edge research and creative activities, and advocates for health care needs in diverse local, regional, and global communities. Of note, two Cal State San Marcos faculty members in the School of Nursing have received a grant of $1.33 million to help further build the pipeline of psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners in California. The program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Undergraduate programs – Cohorts enter the ABSN in the Fall, Spring, and Summer terms and enjoy the same professional support network together. The fast-paced, 24-month additional Bachelor’s is for students who hold a degree in a discipline outside of nursing and have not completed any LVN or RN coursework.

Students will earn approximately 78 semester units of study in both didactic and clinical coursework under expert guidance and using the best resources available. Upon completion of the program, students will be awarded the degree of Bachelor of Science in Nursing from California State University San Marcos. Many go on to earn an MS in nursing, available on campus.

CSUSM has an RN to BSN program. It is an accelerated, online format designed for registered nurses. This fully-online program gives nurses the opportunity to earn their BSN in just 14 months. According to registerednursing.org, CSUSM’s RN to BSN program has been ranked #1 online RN to BSN program in California and #5 online RN to BSN program in the United States

How Long Does it Take to Complete Accelerated Nursing Programs in California?

This all depends on the school of course so take some time to shop around. In general you will be able to earn your BSN through an accelerated nursing program in 18 months or less. Some of these programs will be non-stop year round, while others may factor in a break. You will complete not only course work but also required hands on clinical experiences during this time so that you can master your new nursing skills. 

What Prerequisite Science Courses Will I Need for an ABSN Program in California

First applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an approved university. The typical list of prerequisites for admission to the Accelerated BS in Nursing program at California State University, Northridge is as follows:

  • BIOL 211/212: Human Anatomy and Lab (2/1)
  • BIOL 215/L: Introductory Microbiology and Lab (2/2)
  • BIOL 281/282: Human Physiology and Lab (3/1)
  • CHEM 103/L: Introductory Chemistry I and Lab (3/1)
  • MATH 140: Introductory Statistics (4)

What Will I Study in My California Accelerated Nursing Program?

Curricula will vary a little but they are all designed to prepare you to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam.  Most schools will have course lists available online of what you will take during your program. In general you can expect to take courses similar to the following curriculum as offered by California State University, Fullerton in their full-time, cohort style, and five semester program where summers are required.


  • Health Assessment
  • Health Assessment Lab
  • Concepts of Professional Nursing
  • Integrated Pathophysiology/Pharmacology
  • Foundations of Nursing Practice
  • Foundations of Nursing Practice Lab


  • Evidence Based Practice Nursing
  • Cultural Diversity in Health & Illness
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Mental Health Nursing Lab
  • Management of Medical-Surgical Adult & Older Adult Clients
  • Management of the Medical-Surgical Adult & Older Adult Clients Lab


  • Reproductive Health Nursing
  • Reproductive Health Nursing Lab
  • Child Health Nursing
  • Child Health Nursing Lab


  • Population Health Nursing
  • Population Health Nursing Clinical
  • Management of the Adult with Complex Health Alterations
  • Management of the Adult with Complex Health Alterations Lab


  • Leadership/Management in Professional Nursing
  • Leadership/Management in Professional Nursing Lab
  • Nursing Capstone
  • Nursing Capstone Clinical

What Are the Clinical Requirements for an ABSN in California

The number of supervised clinical hours you will be required to complete will depend on the state you live in. In general however, most states require between 500 to 800 clinical hours for you to earn your BSN and sit for the NCLEX RN exam. Check with the California Board of Nursing to see the latest requirements. Clinical hours are experiences where you are paired with an experienced nurse (called your preceptor) and get to practice your clinical skills on real patients. Having someone to supervise you as you master these skills helps you be prepared to be a safe new nurse when you become licensed. 

Learn More About ABSN and MSN Accelerated Nursing Programs:

4 Steps To Register for the NCLEX

Be sure to talk to your school about the requirements for signing up for the NCLEX. They can help you with timing and steps. The process can take some time, so don’t wait until the last minute. Here are some important steps you need to take to register for the big day:

  1. Check out your state’s Board of Nursing (BON) website to sign up so that you are eligible to take the NCLEX. The NCBSN website has information you need on your state’s BON.
  2. Your NCLEX eligibility requirements can be found through your BON.
  3. After this you should register for the test through Pearson VUE. Don’t forget to find your program code when doing this! If you’re not sure where to find it, contact your school.
  4. The last step is to use our NCLEX tips and practice exams to study!

List of Accelerated BSN Nursing Programs in California

University Offered asCity/State
California State University-Stanislaus Campus, OnlineTurlock, CA
California State University-Northridge CampusNorthridge, CA
Concordia University Irvine Campus, OnlineIrvine, CA
Mount St Mary’s University-Los Angeles CampusLos Angeles, CA
National University Campus, Hybrid, OnlineLa Jolla, CA
Samuel Merritt University Campus, HybridOakland, CA
San Diego State University CampusSan Diego, CA
California State University-San Marcos Campus, Hybrid, OnlineSan Marcos, CA

List of Accelerated MSN Nursing Programs in California

University Offered asCity/State
Azusa Pacific University Campus, Hybrid, OnlineAzusa, CA
California Baptist University Campus, OnlineRiverside, CA
California State University-Dominguez Hills Campus, Hybrid, OnlineCarson, CA
Samuel Merritt University Campus, HybridOakland, CA
University of San Diego/Hahn CampusSan Diego, CA
San Francisco State University Campus, HybridSan Francisco, CA
University of San Francisco Campus, Hybrid, OnlineSan Francisco, CA
University of California-Los Angeles CampusLos Angeles, CA

FAQs for California Accelerated Nursing Schools

Students are expected to not work during their year of nursing study and clinicals so that they can devote all their time fully towards exam preparation and gaining experience in nursing with a goal of taking the NCLEX-RN, which is required to become a registered nurse.

The typical duration for an Accelerated BSN program is 11 to 18 months, depending on the prerequisites. An accelerated master’s degree in nursing will generally take about three years.

Yes. These are generally call LPN to RN or RN to BSN programs and are designed for nurses who already nurses but want to earn an advanced degree.

Since ABSNs are only 11-18 months long, ABSN students often struggle with staying ahead of their coursework as well as keeping up with clinical rotations . The need to balance academics while working towards practical experience can place great strain on ABSN students who want to excel academically but also maintain a high standard during clinical rotations. Therefore it is often advised for ABSN students not to work while attending school.

Find a list of merit-based best ranked nursing programs in Colorado.

Accelerated nursing programs are known for their intensity. They cover the same material as traditional programs but in a much shorter time, requiring strong commitment, time management skills, and resilience.

If you have a strong academic background, the dedication to complete an intensive course, and a desire to enter the nursing profession quickly, an accelerated program may be a suitable choice.