10 Pros and Cons of Accelerated Nursing Programs

Written By: Raymond Aguirre, RN, BSN, PHN, CHPN

A great thing about nursing is that there are multiple ways to enter the profession. Accelerated nursing programs are one of them. And if you are considering this option, you may be wondering what are the pros and cons of accelerated nursing programs? It is good to ask this because studying to become a nurse can be a daunting endeavor. Your success depends not only on your solid commitment, but also on your careful consideration of the many factors involved in pursuing a nursing education. To help you make an informed decision, here are the top 10 pros and cons of accelerated nursing programs.



(The following are the top 10 disadvantages of Accelerated Nursing programs.)

1. It is always not the cheapest option.

Depending on your budget, accelerated nursing programs can be costlier than other options. This is the price for the speed by which you can complete your nursing degree. It is important to plan ahead how you will be paying for your degree. A nursing career can provide great financial rewards, among many others, but you need to decide whether the cost is worth your time and effort.

2. You may not qualify for certain government assistance.

Accelerated nursing programs are typically for those who have already acquired a degree in another field. This means that certain government aid, like the Pell Grant, will not be available for those students. Although there may be other grants out there, these are likely privately funded and may be more competitive than applying for federal grants.

3. You may have to give up on some of your plans, at least temporarily.

Are you planning for a major life event, like having a child or buying a new house? If so, you may want to think through how nursing school is going to fit into your personal life. One of the top disadvantages of accelerated nursing programs is the immense time investment needed to succeed. This does not mean you have to drop everything, but there are aspects of your life that may need to take a back seat in the meantime.

4. Accelerated truly means ACCELERATED.

An accelerated nursing program is a four-year degree typically crammed into 15,18, or 24 months. That means that the effort needed to get through these programs is immense. It already takes a very strong resolve to get through any nursing program, and even more so in an accelerated nursing program.

5. You may not have the time to absorb everything you learn.

One of the biggest disadvantages of accelerated nursing programs is that shorter nursing programs also mean that you have a shorter timeframe to learn things. If you are completely new to the medical field, the pace at which accelerated nursing programs move may not satisfy your needs for a full learning experience. You need time for new information to percolate, and this is not a luxury that you will usually have in an accelerated nursing program.

6. You may be getting the bare minimum nursing education.

Because of the nature of accelerated nursing programs, only the most crucial classes are included in the curriculum. There may be little room for electives, if at all, which may limit your ability to explore more specialized nursing courses.

7. Some people may not see you as a "real nursing student."

Students in accelerated nursing programs are in a very unique position. In some ways, they bypass the "normal" route to become a registered nurse. Their courses and curriculum may be modified to fit into the accelerated timeframe of the program. Some people may see this as a form of cutting corners and may look upon accelerated nursing program students in a negative light compared to those who went through a more traditional program.

8. There will likely be no vacations in between semesters.

Accelerated nursing programs tend to run year-round. Therefore, you will likely not have summer vacation or any sort of extended break in between classes. If having the ability to take an extended pause is something important to you, it may be important to consider this fact before signing up for any program.

9. Accelerated nursing programs can be personally taxing.

Learning about complicated drug names and specialized nursing procedures, studying for seemingly endless exams, and preparing for clinical rotations are physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. There may be moments that will test your resolve, no matter how strong it may be, and this is a reality you may have to deal with multiple times in the course of an accelerated nursing program. You may have to readjust your lifestyle so that you don't end up getting sick or becoming overwhelmed.

10. Not all accelerated nursing programs are made equal.

As you weigh the pros and cons of accelerated nursing programs, one thing you may wish to consider is the quality of the program you are considering. Just because you can get your degree quicker does not mean you are getting great value. You will need to conduct good research to see whether a particular program is right for you.


(The following are the top 10 advantages of Accelerated Nursing programs.)

1. It is accelerated.

Let us start with the obvious. One of the biggest advantages of accelerated nursing programs is how quickly you can start your career as a nurse. While it may be incredibly challenging, even more so than a traditional nursing program, accelerated nursing programs are doable if you put in the time and the effort it requires.

2. The shorter length of the program can offset the costs.

While accelerated nursing programs can be expensive at face value, it is important to consider opportunity costs. With a traditional nursing program, you are spending more time as a student. Therefore, you are spending more time not getting a return on your educational investment. Among the top pros of accelerated nursing programs is the opportunity to get into the workforce and recoup your costs much quicker.

3. You can be part of a diverse set of students.

You cannot truly appreciate the advantages of accelerated nursing programs until you have met your peers. Accelerated nursing programs are typically made up of individuals who have either had careers or degrees in non-nursing fields. The pool of students in these programs are motivated individuals of different ages, backgrounds, and expertise. This kind of situation presents opportunities to create a unique learning environment that perhaps more traditional nursing programs cannot provide.

4. You are less likely to lose your focus.

Having no extended breaks between semesters is both one of the pros and cons of accelerated nursing programs, depending on your own perspective. Having summer vacations is nice, but that also has the potential to dampen your motivation. The back-to-back nature of courses in accelerated nursing programs keeps you on your toes from start to finish.

5. Getting a nursing degree can make you more professionally versatile.

Whatever your professional or educational background may be, accelerated nursing programs can quickly give you an additional credential that will make you much more marketable in today’s competitive economy. A nursing degree will not just teach you to become a medical professional. A nursing education can also help you become a better manager, educator, or innovator. In other words, as a nurse, you become a more well-rounded and more respected contributor to society.

6. You can expedite your pursuit of graduate nursing degrees.

The ability to climb the nursing career ladder faster is one of the major advantages of accelerated nursing programs. Because these programs last about half as long or less than traditional nursing programs, you have an opportunity to pursue graduate nursing degrees. In fact, some accelerated nursing programs are designed to bridge you to master’s degrees in nursing. Graduate nursing degrees can lead to a variety of fulfilling nursing roles, such as being a Family Nurse Practitioner. These advanced practice roles will allow you to exercise more responsibility and provide a higher level of care to patients.

7. Accelerated nursing programs are cohort-based.

Being part of a cohort means that you will be spending the entire program with the same people. That means there is a potential to develop lifelong friendships that will help you get through a tough period in your career. With a cohort-based model, you get the opportunity to feel a sense of camaraderie that can help maintain your sense of well-being.

8. You may not need to compete for classes in accelerated nursing programs.

Because many accelerated nursing programs are cohort-based, you will most likely run into issues registering for classes. Nursing classes can fill up quickly and not being able to get into a particular course can delay your progress. With cohort-based accelerated nursing programs, you are given a set of courses that are allotted specifically for students within the cohort. All you need to do is sign up for them.

9. Professors may be a bit more understanding.

Compressing a nursing program is a daunting idea, but it may also be one of the pros of accelerated nursing programs. Your professors know the challenge of being in such programs, and they may be more apt to give you some breathing room as you navigate through the program.

10. You can develop a great sense of pride.

Completing a degree, any degree, is something anyone can be proud of. But graduating from an accelerated nursing program can give you a stronger sense of pride in knowing that you have accomplished something that some people may dismiss as too difficult or even impossible.

The Bottom Line

At this point, you may still be asking, what are the pros and cons of accelerated nursing programs? It is natural to continue having some kind of apprehension because of the level of commitment needed to make an informed decision. Hopefully, this list of the top 10 pros and cons of accelerated nursing programs has given you a bit of clarity. But at the end of the day, making the right decision is based on what you and the people you care about value the most. Pursuing a degree is a major endeavor under any circumstances, and you need to consider the uniqueness of your individual lifestyle.

Raymond Aguirre RN, BSN, PHN, CHPN
Raymond M.E. Aguirre is a registered nurse with years of experience in the medical field. He currently works as a public health nurse and has years of experience in home health, hospice, and skilled nursing facility settings.