Are There Accelerated MSN Programs?

While many students may know early on that nursing is their chosen career, many more decide after completing a bachelor’s or master’s in a field other than nursing. For these students, rather than completing an associate’s degree or bachelor’s in nursing, there is the option to complete an accelerated master’s of science in nursing, also called a direct entry master’s of science in nursing or a master’s entry program in nursing. These programs offer a unique opportunity for candidates from non-nursing backgrounds to pursue an MSN degree, bypassing the traditional route.

There are many advantages to completing a direct or accelerated MSN degree. These programs offer time efficiency, career advancement opportunities, diverse student backgrounds, an integrated curriculum, and increased marketability. By completing an MSN, individuals can enter the nursing field sooner, equipping them with advanced skills for leadership roles not typically taught in associate or bachelor’s programs. Additionally, employers highly seek MSN degrees which can be advantageous when applying for jobs.  

However, these programs require dedication and hard work as the curriculums are rigorous. While the most traditional format for a direct or accelerated MSN is on campus, hybrid and online options exist for students who want more flexibility. All MSN programs will require in-person clinical experiences. Some schools only offer these at approved locations, while hybrid and online programs offer more flexibility and assistance in helping a student locate a program near their home. 

The duration for an accelerated or direct entry MSN will vary based on the prerequisites completed and if the program is full or part-time. Students can complete their degree in 18 months, although some programs may take a little longer. Students should not anticipate working while completing one of these programs as the time demands are significant to earn this degree in such a short time frame. 

Keep reading to learn about the admission requirements for an accelerated or direct entry MSN program, the importance of accreditation, and top programs that offer online or hybrid learning options. 

Admission Requirements

Admission into a direct-entry MSN program generally has a few key requirements. First, applicants should have a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited institution. The degree should be in a field other than nursing. Second, they typically need a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in their undergraduate degree, although some programs may accept a lower GPA. 

Students must also complete extensive prerequisite courses, including microbiology, human anatomy, and physiology. Some programs may require a minimum score on the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) entrance exam, a personal statement or letter of intent, and letters of recommendation as part of the application process. These requirements can differ between institutions, so prospective students should check the specific admission criteria of each program they’re interested in.


Students must ensure the program they complete is appropriately accredited, as this is required for licensing. Accreditation assures students, employers, and nursing boards that a program has met a high quality standard in curriculum, facilities, faculty, and clinical experiences. Nursing degree programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)

Online and Hybrid Direct Entry MSN Programs

Elmhurst University 

The online master’s entry in nursing practice program at Elmhurst Univeristy is a rigorous, full-time nursing program. Students are advised not to work during the 20-month duration of the program due to the demands of the curriculum. The coursework is completed online, with the exception of clinical experiences and one residency. Students can enhance their clinical knowledge and skills during this residency through hands-on learning in the state-of-the-art Simulation Center.

This program is currently available for non-nurses in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New Mexico, Vermont, and Wisconsin. It is specifically designed for professionals seeking a second career who are looking to enroll in a fast-paced and immersive program. Graduates of this program are eligible to sit for the NCLEX exam and are prepared for entry-level work as a clinical nurse leader. This program can also be a bridge to a doctor of nursing practice degree.

  • Location: Elmhurst, IL
  • Duration: 20 months
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $845.07 per credit

Curry College

Curry College’s accelerated entry MSN program is designed for graduates with a non-nursing degree. This program emphasizes hands-on experiences and offers a hybrid learning model, allowing students to learn alongside a cohort of their peers. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA or higher to be considered for admission. Tuition is fixed for the duration of the program, so students don’t have to worry about tuition increases or additional fees.   

Students in this program can take advantage of partnerships with renowned hospitals in Boston and the surrounding region to complete their clinical experiences. A capstone project is required to complete this degree and will demonstrate students’ practical skills and knowledge obtained during their studies. 

  • Location: Milton, MA
  • Duration: 20 months
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $64,152 for the entire program

Carroll University 

The direct entry MSN program at Carroll University is a comprehensive 72-credit program that can be completed in just 20 months or over five full-time semesters. This program is for bachelor’s degree holders in a non-nursing field. Students will complete courses in a convenient learning format with 8-week hybrid classes that combine online learning, labs, and clinicals. These courses are designed with a consistent schedule to provide ease and flexibility. Due to the hybrid nature of this program, students must be able to travel to campus every week. 

The nursing program is situated within two state-of-the-art nursing lab facilities, including the newly constructed Donald and Martha DeWees Nursing Simulation and Collaboration Hub and the recently renovated Henke Nursing Center. State-of-the-art facilities include simulation labs, lecture spaces, large laboratories, and observation rooms. 

  • Location: Waukesha, WI
  • Duration: 20 months
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $928 per credit

Joyce University of Nursing & Health Sciences 

Joyce University of Nursing & Health Sciences students can earn a direct path MSN degree specifically designed for individuals looking to transition into a nursing career with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field. This program offers a direct entry pathway to an advanced degree in nursing. Students will complete both an accelerated BSN and MSN degree and can obtain their RN licensure in as little as 20 months. Upon completion, graduates can sit for certifications such as the Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) or Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML).

Didactic classes are offered conveniently online so students can complete their studies at their own pace. There are options to attend live lectures as well as receive one-on-one tutoring. In addition, students will complete virtual and in-person labs to gain hands-on experience. Case studies, simulations, and clinical experiences are also included in the curriculum. 

  • Location: Draper, UT
  • Duration: 20 months
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $73,925 for the entire program

Rush University

At Rush University, students can complete their generalist entry master’s clinical nurse leader degree. This program is designed for students who have already completed a bachelor’s degree in another field. Graduates of this program can sit for the NCLEX exam and clinical nurse leader certification.  This program boasts a high NCLEX pass rate, with at least 95 percent of students passing the exam in 2022. 

Currently, more than half of the courses for this program are offered online or have an online option. However, students must complete clinical rotations at sites across the Chicago Metro area. Graduates of this program can work as registered nurses or complete additional studies such as a doctor of nursing practice degree.

  • Location: Chicago, IL 
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $1087 per credit

Herzing University 

Through the direct entry MSM program at Herzing University, students will gain the fundamental skills and knowledge necessary to excel as registered nurses. This program is offered in a flexible online format to accommodate non-traditional students. All students can access extensive virtual services, including tutoring, technical support, academic advising, and library services.

To help students prepare for the NCLEX, all students will take an RN exit exam to ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to pass their licensing exam. To ensure students have sufficient hands-on experience, they must complete 585 clinical hours throughout their degree and three two- to four-day intensives at Herzing or a partner site. 

  • Location: Milwaukee, WI
  • Duration: 20 to 24 months
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $735 per credit

Marquette University – College of Nursing 

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field to be eligible for the direct entry MSN program at Marquette University College of Nursing. This five-semester program is a blend of online and in-person classes, and as long as students maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher, graduates are eligible to sit for the NCLEX exam. 

Most nursing theory courses are taught online, while skills are taught onsite through simulation labs and mock clinical settings. Clinical rotations are also part of this degree to ensure students have real-world experience. These are held in the Milwaukee metro area, southern Wisconsin, or northern Illinois.

  • Location: Pleasant Prairie, WI
  • Duration: 19 to 21 months
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $65,000 for the entire program

Eagle Gate College 

Eagle Gate College offers a direct entry MSN program, also known as a master’s entry program in nursing (MEPN). This program is specifically designed for individuals who hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and aspire to transition into the role of an RN. Students start their clinical experiences as early as the first week of classes to gain the most hands-on experience possible. 

While classes are offered in a blended format with didactic courses online, students must be close to one of the three Eagle Gate campuses for in-person labs. In addition to typical nursing courses, this program includes leadership and management classes to prepare graduates for senior nursing roles. In total, students must complete 73 credits to earn this degree. 

  • Location: Murray, UT
  • Duration: 22 months
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $66,430 tuition for the entire program
Kimmy Gustafson

Kimmy Gustafson


Kimmy Gustafson is a freelance writer with extensive experience writing about nursing careers and education. She has worked in public health, at health-focused nonprofits, and as a Spanish interpreter for doctor’s offices and hospitals. She has a passion for learning, which drives her to stay up to date on the latest trends in healthcare. When not writing or researching, she can be found pursuing her passions of nutrition and an active outdoors lifestyle.