Accelerated BSN vs. Traditional BSN

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The differences between an accelerated BSN vs. traditional BSN include the program length, eligibility requirements, and online learning availability. While traditional BSN programs consist of four years of general and nursing-specific education, accelerated BSN programs are much shorter and focus specifically on the nursing curriculum.

ABSN student working with simulation manikin

When deciding which BSN program to opt for, there are two choices: accelerated and traditional programs. But how do you decide which type of nursing school path better suits your goals? In this blog, we will help you navigate this process. We’ll lay out the reasons to choose each type of program and explain what distinguishes the accelerated BSN vs. traditional BSN.

Concordia University Texas (CTX) offers both of these nursing school options, and students are able to choose between them based on their unique educational background and future goals. Our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track is 16 months long, consisting of an online coursework and in-person experiences through nursing labs and clinical rotations in both Austin and Dallas.

Let’s discuss the key distinguishing factors between an ABSN vs. a traditional BSN to help you decide which path is right for you.

Why Is a BSN Important for Nursing?

Before we discuss the details of ABSN vs. BSN, let’s first consider why a bachelor’s degree in nursing is so important. There are different degree paths you can choose to take in nursing when starting out, such as associate degree or bachelor’s degree. We recommend you go with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, as it will set you up for a wide range of career benefits and educational opportunities in the long term.

Three nursing students with pediatric simulation manikin

Among the many reasons why it’s a good idea to earn a BSN degree rather than an associate degree are:

  • Greater job stability
  • Higher salary
  • More competitive specialty options
  • Opportunities at more facilities, such as with the U.S. military and at Magnet hospitals
  • Better patient outcomes, including a lower mortality rate
  • Growth and leadership opportunities
  • Ability to return to school to pursue higher education in both clinical (such as nurse practitioner) or non-clinical practice (such as leadership)
CTX ABSN students looking at lab supplies

Discover more about why a BSN in nursing is important and how a bachelor’s degree will benefit your career.

ABSN vs. Traditional BSN: 3 Differences

As you can see, choosing a BSN is a good decision as you begin your nursing career. Now we’ll get into the differences between an accelerated BSN vs. traditional BSN.


The first notable difference between traditional and accelerated BSN nursing programs is the time required to complete them. With a traditional nursing program, you’ll spend four years earning an undergraduate degree, which typically includes two years of general education courses and then two years of a nursing-specific curriculum.

However, with an accelerated BSN track, students generally spend around 16–20 months in a specifically nursing-intensive program. For example, the ABSN track at CTX lasts 16 months. Because the ABSN is aimed at people who already have some college experience, you have probably already completed the two years of general education requirements needed for a traditional BSN.

How long will my nursing journey take? - Concordia University Texas ABSN student

Learn more about how long it takes to become a nurse in Texas through the ABSN track.

Eligibility Requirements

When determining whether you should attend an ABSN vs. a traditional BSN program, your educational background will have some influence. For an accelerated track like the ABSN at Concordia University Texas, you’ll need to have a prior non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 college credits plus certain prerequisite courses to qualify. This is because the accelerated BSN leverages your prior general education experiences to help you finish your nursing degree sooner.

Nursing school prerequisites - woman studying with book and laptop

See what nursing prerequisites you’ll need for accelerated nursing school at CTX.

However, with a traditional BSN program, you don’t need any prior college experience. Rather, most students transition into traditional programs with a high school diploma. Therefore, if you have don’t have close to 60 college credits, you may want to consider pursuing a traditional BSN program. This will provide you with both the general education and nursing education needed for your nursing degree.

Online Learning Availability

Another difference between accelerated BSN vs. traditional BSN program is the availability of online learning. Traditional BSN programs generally run like other college courses, so you can expect to have your nursing classes take place in an on-site lecture hall or classroom at a set time each day.

However, in an ABSN track, the accelerated nature of the program means that online learning is often used instead of on-site lectures to teach the didactic material. For example, with the ABSN track at CTX, students use an online e-learning platform, which allows them to study at the time and location that work best for them.

Online learning for nursing programs is here to stay.

What should you look for when choosing an online accelerated nursing school in Texas?

How to Choose Between ABSN and BSN

Choosing between an ABSN and BSN is simple once you understand the different applications and which one best suits your personal needs. Consider your background and the amount of prior non-nursing college experience you have. Look over the requirements for the CTX ABSN track, and see whether you’re eligible to apply. On top of this, consider your timeline and determine whether you’re looking to finish your BSN degree quickly or you’re happy to take your time.

Here is a quick reference guide to help you decide which path is right for you at CTX:

ProgramAccelerated BSNTraditional BSN
Length16 months4 years
Prior EducationNon-nursing bachelor’s degree or 60+ college creditsNo college required
Online LearningYesGenerally no
CurriculumNursing specificNursing + general education

If you have any questions about whether an accelerated BSN is right for you, reach out to our CTX admissions counselors. They will help you decide which path will be best for you.

How the ABSN Works at CTX

If you meet the admissions requirements for the accelerated BSN track, it’s worth learning more about how an accelerated nursing track works. The ABSN consists of three components:

  • Online courses: Interactive learning through the e-learning platform allows you to tailor your studying to your unique learning style while also studying at the time and place that best suit you.
  • Skills and simulation labs: These hands-on labs at the ABSN site allow students to work in small groups with an instructor to practice technical nursing skills and handle mock patient scenarios.
  • Clinical rotations: Clinical experiences with local healthcare partners provide experiential learning opportunities in which students can learn how to care for real patients alongside professional nurses.
Step into the shoes of an RN - hospital hallway

How important are clinical experiences in nursing school? Learn how these rotations will set you up for your clinical career.

The ABSN track at CTX consists of four semesters that add up to a total of 16 months. This amounts to a rigorous course load that will require hard work and commitment. Ultimately, all the hard work is worth it when you get to start your dream career of being a nurse. Indeed, after completing the ABSN at CTX, you’ll be prepared to sit for the NCLEX and become a registered nurse.

Embark on Your Nursing Journey

Are you ready to start pursuing your goal of making a difference every day through nursing? Choosing the ABSN track at CTX is a great way to earn your degree in less time so that you can embark on a meaningful career.

To get started, fill out our online form, and then our admissions counselors will reach out to you with the next steps. Now is the time to make your future happen.