What is an Accelerated Nursing Program?

An accelerated nursing program is a way for people with bachelor’s degrees in non-nursing field to earn their BSN quickly. With the nursing profession projected as one of the fastest growing professions in the Wisconsin, it is no wonder that people from all backgrounds are considering nursing as a career change, and an accelerated nursing program is one such option. 

Not only does it offer job stability and a sustainable salary, but it is also highly rewarding and challenging.  However, for the career-changer who has already completed a Bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field, or even for the LVN who has completed some level of training, the idea of obtaining a second Bachelor’s degree, can be daunting and deter people from entering the field. Fortunately, many universities in Wisconsin offer accelerated nursing programs and LPN to BSN degree programs for just such populations.

Why Should I Complete an Accelerated Nursing Program In Wisconsin?

Accelerated nursing programs are specifically geared toward students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in something else.  If you have already proven you ability to manage time, study effectively and retain knowledge, and are hoping to become a nurse, this may be the program for you. If you have your bachelors you likely already taken most foundational courses in a bachelor’s degree program.

This means that if you complete a 4 year BSN program, you will repeat a lot of classes. While there may be some science pre-requisites to complete, almost all courses in an accelerated nursing program are focused specifically on the skills needed to be an RN. When you finish the program you will have your BSN and be a highly sought after nurse. You will have the training and skills to complete the NCLEX-RN exam and work in almost any clinical setting.

In a standard BSN, students spend at least the first year, and sometimes the first two years, taking only foundational bachelor’s degree courses; nursing courses do not typically begin until the sophomore or junior year, and even  then, they are often mixed in with other college courses.  The student in an accelerated nursing program takes only the nursing courses, significantly shortening the time it takes to complete the degree.  Most programs take between 11 and 18 months.  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.

Additionally, if you are an LPN and are hoping to earn your BSN you do not need to take 4 years of classes. There are accelerated programs for you too! These are called LPN to BSN programs, but unlike the accelerated programs we’re discussing here you DO NOT need to have your Bachelor’s degree to enter them, but you do need to be licensed as an LPN. These programs are shorter than 4 years but slightly longer than RN to BSN programs. During 4-5 semester program you will complete the foundational courses to earn your BSN as well as additional nursing courses. 

Entrance Requirements for a Wisconsin Accelerated Nursing Program

  • 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 5 Accelerated BSN (ABSN) Programs in Wisconsin

Bellin College

  • 3201 Eaton Road, Green Bay, WI - 54311
  • 920-433-6699
Nurse Admin: Mary Rolloff, PhD, RN
Title: Dean of Nursing

Bellin College was founded in 1909 and has grown to become one of Wisconsin’s premier private, not-for-profit nursing and medical imaging colleges. the College’s BSN is a fast-track program designed for applicant with at least a 3.0 GPA at least 12 credits that meet the stated requirements of 56 credits in general education that comprise the natural and social sciences, humanities, and general electives. They can earn their second degree in 15 months or seven consecutive 8-week sessions. There are two start dates: January and June with completion in May or October of the subsequent year.

The program has a focused curriculum, extensive hands-on practice, leadership and service learning. It adheres to the values of excellence, integrity, community, and caring. The facilities are state of the art and the small class sizes allow students to know their professors. In fact, the student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. The Bellin College BSN, along with the MSN, is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

There are several other options. The BSN Traditional Option is for students with a high school diploma at the time of enrollment. Traditional students begin as freshmen and complete the degree in four years. The Junior Transfer Option is also available. Students begin the program in the summer (two online nursing courses) and graduate in two years. Students succeed academically and professionally with an emphasis on leadership and management. However they enter, graduates are all in high demand.

Edgewood College

  • 1000 Edgewood College Drive, Madison, WI - 53711-1997
  • 608-663-4861
Nurse Admin: Margaret C. Noreuil, PhD, RN
Title: Dean and Professor

Edgewood College has a mission to produce well-rounded experienced nurses within one year of their initial degree in any other field. The post-baccalaureate accelerated program if for students seeking a change of career through a fast-track curriculum. Applicants who apply by January 15th receive priority consideration. Edgewood utilizes a holistic approach for candidate selection, evaluating transcripts, personal statement, and resume/CV for fitness and character. Entry is twice a year for twenty-one qualified candidates, displaying academic excellence, leadership, and a passion for the profession. The college boasts of self-sufficient nurses who have attended practical and theory courses in various experiential learning settings.

The intensive, comprehensive program earns 53 nursing credit hours and 900 clinical hours. Clinical hours are approximately 90% onsite at up to eight well-respected settings and 10% in the simulation lab with interactive practice.  Known to be exceptional, the program has a faculty student/ratio of 7:1, one of the best in the country. Students are taught by clinical faculty rather than preceptors. The clinical experiences take place at regional hospitals. Of note, the NCLEX passage rate is consistently at the top of nursing schools in the state. Upon graduation, the nurses enjoy rewarding careers in a sought-after healthcare profession. have the ability to practice holistic nursing care in a variety of health care settings.

Milwaukee School of Engineering

  • 1025 N Broadway, Milwaukee, WI - 53202-3109
  • 800-332-6763
Nurse Admin: Carol sabel, PhD, RN, CNE
Title: Chair and Professor

Students wanting to change careers and are seeking a second degree (BSN-ASD) in an accelerated program come to MSOE University. They hold a BA or BS from any accredited institution having completed general coursework in math and life sciences (including organic biochemistry). The program in the Ruehlow Nursing Complex is a technology-rich experiential learning and simulation center that trains the nurses of tomorrow.

Both the baccalaureate degree program in nursing and the master’s degree program in nursing at Milwaukee School of Engineering are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and rank at the top of all such programs in the state. Students accepted into the Direct Entry MSN program will complete their accelerated BSN and be directly admitted into either MSN program: MSN Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner or MSN Leadership & Management.

Graduates go on to the military and find immediate employment as nurses are in high demand. The coursework of the B.S. in Nursing focuses on information literacy and communication within the social sciences. Anatomy and physiology are included along with statistics, developmental psychology, microbiology, and nutrition. Required are clinical (≈ 750 hours) and lab hours (≈ 200 hours), plus participation in at least 20 simulations. Ethics is fundamental to preparedness as a professional nurse. Following graduation, there are a variety of clinical opportunities including a team work environment. Graduate nurses look forward to helping others and improving lives.

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

  • 800 Algoma Blvd, Oshkosh, WI - 54901
  • 920-424-1234
Nurse Admin: Seon-Yoon Chung, PhD, RN, CNE, CHSE
Title: Dean of the University

Those with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree from accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 2.5 qualify for this Bachelor of Science in nursing. UW Oshkosh’s undergraduate nursing program is fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The Accelerated BSN Option starts three times each year in February, May and October and takes two years. A significant amount of independent study is characteristic along with a structured online schedule. All students work at the same pace and progress together.

More than a thousand graduates have gone through the program since 2003. In fact, it was the first accelerated nursing program in the U.S. and now boasts of students from diverse backgrounds who achieve a high NCLEX passing score.

The Accelerated BSN curriculum is rigorous and imparts the highest quality nursing education, including courses in nursing theory. Of note, the attrition rate is extremely low. Along with coursework, students participate in clinical rotations in their community. There are three on-campus residencies and a two-week lab/clinical combination. The program concludes with advanced concepts and a capstone week.

University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • 500 Lincoln Dr, Madison, WI - 53706-1380
  • 608-263-2400
Nurse Admin: Linda D- Scott, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
Title: Dean and Professor

The UW-Madison School of Nursing opened in 2014 in Signe Skott Cooper Hall. It now boasts of its status as a preeminent nursing research institution. As the only Academic Health Center in Wisconsin, it is a fundamental part of the state’s healthcare system. In fact, it collaborates with the School of Medicine and Public Health, School of Pharmacy, and UW Hospitals and Clinics.

For almost a century, UW-Madison School of Nursing has produced innovative professions and critical thinkers in an evolving field. They become leaders in the profession and serve society with a view toward improving health and well-being. They go on to teach future nurses and help advance nursing practice.

This one-year program runs from May to May with forty-nine credits toward the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Students are seeking a second degree and have the prerequisites in general education in any field. They attend classes in person under the supervision of clinical experts. The program includes hands-on care to individuals and families in the community.

Students enjoy state-of-the-art technology and the highest academic standards. They can expect high-fidelity clinical simulation labs and interactive, technology-enhanced classrooms. There are spacious research suites; museum-quality exhibits, exercise and meditation rooms for self-care, and individual and group study spots. Graduates are prepared to manage hospitals, work in OB-GYN, organize disaster relief efforts, and conduct seminars in health education. Many serve in the military or conduct research.


How Long Does it Take to Complete an Accelerated Nursing Program in Wisconsin?

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 Will I Study in My Wisconsin 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 supplied by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh:

Course TitleCredits
Nursing 105 Intro to Professional Nursing1
Nursing 203 Caring and Human Behavior: The Foundation of Nursing Practice3
Nursing 328 Evidence-Based Practice2
Nursing 206 Health Assessment Theory2
Nursing 348 Pathophysiology I2
Nursing 310 Adult Health I with Pharmacologic Implications3
Nursing 358 Pathophysiology II2
Nursing 207 Health Assessment Lab – on campus1*
Nursing 307 Skills Lab – on campus1**
Nursing 313 Adult Health I Clinical – on campus1***
Nursing 404 Legal and Ethical Care2
Nursing 346 Pharmacology II2
Nursing 314 Adult Health II Theory3
Nursing 315 Adult Health II Clinical2***
Nursing 412 Nursing: Childbearing Families2
Nursing 426 Mental Health Theory2
Nursing 427/411 Specialty Clinical – Mental Health or Obstetrics2***
Nursing 424 Nursing: Children and Adolescents2
Nursing 214 Nursing: The Aging Client System2
Nursing 423/428 Specialty Clinical – Pediatrics or Aging2***
Nursing 416 Community Health Theory3
Nursing 418 Community Health Clinical3***
Nursing 437 Leadership and Management2
Nursing 419 Senior Clinical Synthesis3***
Nursing 490 Advanced Concepts/Capstone Project – on campus2

* Health Assessment Lab 1:1 hours (14 hours per credit)
** Skills Lab 3:1 hours (42 hours per credit)
*** Clinical Course 4:1 hours (56 hours per credit)

What Are the Prerequisites Requirements for an ABSN in Wisconsin

While each school has its own grade point and prerequisite course requirements, a typical list from Carroll University where entering students must have a C- or better in the following courses:

  • Anatomy & Physiology I and II with labs*
  • Essentials of Chemistry + lab*
  • Organic & Biochemistry*
  • Microbiology with lab*
  • Intro to Sociology
  • College Composition
  • Basic Communication
  • Statistics
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology

What Are the Clinical Requirements for an ABSN in Wisconsin

The number of supervised clinical hours you will be required to complete will depend on the state you live in and the school you attend. For example, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh has a 728 Clinical hour requirement for you to earn your BSN and include rotations for Adult Health I, Adult Health II Clinical, Obstetric or Mental Health Selective Clinical, Pediatric or Geriatric Selective Clinical, Community Health Clinical, Clinical Synthesis before you can sit for the NCLEX RN exam. 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. 

After Completing Your Accelerated Nursing Program. 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 Wisconsin

University Offered asCity/State
Bellin College Campus, Hybrid, OnlineGreen Bay, WI
Edgewood College CampusMadison, WI
Milwaukee School of Engineering CampusMilwaukee, WI
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Campus, Hybrid, OnlineOshkosh, WI
University of Wisconsin-Madison Campus, Hybrid, OnlineMadison, WI

Wisconsin Accelerated Nursing Schools FAQ

Can I Work During My ABSN?

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.

How Long Are Accelerated Nursing Programs in Wisconsin?

The typical duration for an Accelerated BSN program is 11 to 18 months, depending on the prerequisites. Master’s degrees in accelerated programs generally take around three years.

Are There Accelerated Nursing Programs for LPNs or RNs?

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.

How Hard Is an Accelerated Nursing Program?

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.

What Are the Best Ranked Nursing Programs in Wisconsin?

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