18 Accelerated Nursing Programs in Pennsylvania (BSN & MSN) – 2024

Written By: Editorial Staff @ NursingProcess.org

If you live or work in PA, you have a baccalaureate degree in any field, and you are interested in making the switch to a high-paying, rewarding, and in-demand career, nursing is always a great choice. Fortunately, there are numerous accelerated nursing programs in Pennsylvania allowing you to become a registered nurse or a nurse practitioner. Whether you choose the accelerated BSN program or the direct-entry MSN program, you can save time and money, get credit for your previous coursework, and work to become Pennsylvania’s next outstanding professional healthcare provider.


How Many Schools are Currently Offering Pennsylvania Board of Nursing Approved and CCNE Accredited Accelerated Nursing Programs in Pennsylvania?

Accelerated BSN 18
Accelerated MSN/Entry Level Masters/Direct Entry MSN0
Total 18

Typical Accelerated BSN Programs in Pennsylvania Information

Accelerated BSN programs in Pennsylvania give you credit for your previous baccalaureate courses in any field or discipline and allow you to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree quickly and affordably. You can transfer credits for your prerequisite courses and focus solely on your nursing core courses, instead. These programs combine lecture-style classroom learning, simulations and labs, and clinical experiences to give you a well-rounded education and prepare you for a career as a registered nurse.

Admission Requirements: Admission requirements for ABSN programs will vary depending on the competitive nature of the school. You will need to have a bachelor’s degree in any field in order to apply no matter which school you choose. Aside from this, to learn more about the typical requirements, take a look at Eastern University. In order to be accepted into the accelerated BSN program here, you will need:

• A cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for your previous bachelor’s degree including a 2.75 GPA in Anatomy & Physiology I & II, Chemistry, and Microbiology.
• Proof of completion of prerequisite courses within the last seven years;
• Proof of citizenship or US resident status; and
• Completion of all fields on the application form.

Tuition Costs: Tuition costs for accelerated nursing programs in Pennsylvania will also vary somewhat, but tuition for students who live in-state is far more affordable. To compare, you will pay $48,000 at DeSales University, but if you choose to attend Duquesne University, you will pay $55,976.

College Name Tuition
DeSales University$48,000
Drexel University$50,872
Duquesne University$55,976

Length: Program lengths also vary. Some schools offer only full-time enrollment, but others, including Drexel University, provide night and weekend courses to better suit your current career. On average, depending on the school you choose, it will take 14 to 15 months to complete the program.

College Name Program Length
Edinboro University15 - Months
Gwynedd Mercy University15 - Months
Holy Family University14 - Months

Classes: The courses you will take may have different names at different schools, but for the most part, they will all focus on certain important facets of nursing. Age-based healthcare is one of these facets, and you’ll take courses that focus on pediatric, adult, and geriatric care. You will also learn about leadership and management in nursing, study the national and Pennsylvania state laws that apply to nurses and other healthcare providers, and learn more about ethics and diversity during your program.

Coursework Example - Gwynedd Mercy University
Introduction to Professional Nursing, Fundamentals of Nursing Practice, Health Assessment in Nursing, Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing, Nursing Care of Adults, Contemporary Issues in Professional Nursing, Pharmacology, Pathophysiology, Nursing Care of Clients with Alternations in Behavioral Health, Nursing Care of Women, Children, and Families, Nursing Care of Adults with Complex Health Care Problems, The Older Adult, Genomics in Nursing, Synthesis of Learning for Nursing Practice, Health and Illness in the Community, Global Health and Health Policy, Nursing Research, Morality and Contemporary Health Care, and Leadership and Management in Professional Nursing – Capstone

Clinical Training: Clinical training is an important part of any BSN program, accelerated or otherwise. This gives you the chance to put what you’ve learned to the test with real patients in a medical facility that partners with your school of choice. You may work individually or with a group under the direct supervision of a licensed Pennsylvania RN, doctor, or faculty member to practice your skills and prepare yourself for your new career.

Following is the List of 18 Accelerated BSN Programs in Pennsylvania for 2024

1. DeSales University, Center Valley

The DeSales University Department of Nursing and Health offers innovative nursing programs that are quite popular in the Lehigh Valley. Its students are known to perform consistently well with higher first -time pass rates on the NCLEX-RN, compared to both the state and national averages. Well, this is because of the extensive training the school provides, that includes students having access to the Kaplan test preparation, thereby helping them work their way towards successfully passing the licensure exam.

The 15-month Accelerated BSN, despite being a fast track program offers the same courses, lab hours and clinical rotations as the traditional program. Starting in May each year, the program is a flexible and an affordable option for those who want to make a career change to nursing. With hi-tech simulators, a clinical skills lab and an internship where students learn through a one-on-one interaction with a nursing preceptor, the school sure provides ample opportunities where nursing aspirants hone their professional skills.

2. Drexel University, Philadelphia

The Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions has been creating a workforce of compassionate and caring nurses since almost a century. Today, with more than 5000 students and a 200 full-time faculty, it stays in the reckoning for its various nursing programs. To cater to the needs of its growing student population, the school offers two accelerated nursing program options which are a great for those seeking a career change.

The first option is a Nursing Accelerated Career Entry 11-month option where classes are held on campus, weekdays and at times even on Saturdays. The second one, a blend of online and on-campus teaching is a 24-month weekday and weekend option where classes are held two days a week and every other Saturday and Sunday. Both these programs prepare students with a skill set and knowledge required to be a professional nurse. On completion a BSN is awarded, and students go on to take the NCLEX.

3. Duquesne University, Pittsburgh

The Duquesne University School of Nursing has had an experience of educating nurses for the last 81 years. The school was the first to offer a BSN degree in PA and the first online PhD in Nursing program in the nation. Students are taught by a dedicated faculty that comprises of clinicians, researchers, teachers and mentors who bring in their expertise in working towards a positive academic outcome.

One of the most flexible ABSN programs in PA, you have two options to choose from; a 12 month and a 16-month Second Degree Pathway. Both starting in August, the 12 month is a full-time intensive program, whereas the 16 month is slightly less intensive. The curriculum for both these pathways remains the same, except that the 12 month it is compressed to 3 instead of the 4 semesters for the 16-month program. In order to help students pass the NCLEX-RN successfully, the school starts with the exam preparation in the first semester itself. Moreover, in the final semester a specific nursing course is taught with a primary focus on the licensure exam.

4. Eastern University, St. Davids

The Nursing Department is part of the College of Health and Social Science at the Eastern University. It promotes nursing education that is current and innovative, preparing nurses of tomorrow who learn to incorporate Christian values and ethics in their practice. Students are provided with ample hands on learning experiences at the nursing resource and simulation lab where they sharpen their skills and develop critical thinking and decision making.

The BSN- Second Degree Nursing Program is a two-year full-time study that is offered on-campus. The small size class of 8:1 provides an environment of close interaction with mentors as well as peers. Along with clinical rotations that the school provides, students can opt for paid externships during their second summer in a variety of health care settings, where they can further gain expertise and even build on a professional network. These externships often open up to employment opportunities upon graduation.

5. Edinboro University, Edinboro

The Department of Nursing is part of the College of Science and Health Profession at Edinboro University. The department offers a number of nursing programs at the baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral levels. In keeping with the high education standards of Edinboro, the nursing faculty works towards preparing nurses of highest professional quality. What’s more the picturesque 585-acre campus of the university is located just 20 miles away from the bustling city of Erie, providing an exciting college environment to its students.

The Innovative Nursing program offered by the nursing department is one of the popular second-degree nursing programs in Pennsylvania. Spanning across three semesters, the coursework is rigorous and focuses on professional nursing courses that are complemented by summer nurse internships, simulation lab experiences and clinical rotations. Graduates mostly go on to work in acute care facilities, nonetheless some pursue advanced nursing degrees, opening up to career possibilities such as nurse practitioners, certified registered-nurse anesthetist, nurse educator, nurse manager and nursing informatics specialist.

6. Gwynedd Mercy University, Gwynedd Valley

The Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions at Gwynedd Mercy University has played a significant role in nursing education in the state as well as in the nation. For more than 50 years it has worked towards improving health outcomes with its innovative nursing programs and its accelerated nursing is just one of them, leading the way for a fast track career change to nursing in Philadelphia.

The Accelerated Nursing Program (ABSN, Second Degree) is a 16-month full-time program, offered at two convenient locations in Philadelphia and Bensalem. The accelerated track, being a second degree is beneficial in terms of employability as you will have additional marketable skills to offer. The coursework gives a robust foundation for either a career start as a Registered Nurse or specializations in advanced nursing positions. Students thrive in a learning environment facilitated by experts, scholars and regional health care leaders who bring their valuable experiences to the fore.

7. Holy Family University, Philadelphia

Holy Family University, a Roman Catholic Liberal arts university offers nursing programs through its School of Nursing and Allied Health Professions. The school caters to changing needs of the nursing profession with its dynamic programs. The school has earned a reputation for its graduates being sought after by major hospitals in Philadelphia, a clear indication of the excellent professional training it provides.

Its Second Degree BSN Fast Track, an affordable and rewarding program, is offered twice a year in Summer and Fall. The coursework mainly focuses on development of clinical skills, management and leadership skills, healthcare that is culture relevant, individual and family assessment skills and research in nursing practice. Personal as well as professional enhancement is supported by varied experiences, including exposure to various hospital systems and clinical placements in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Furthermore, the rigorous curriculum is complemented by nursing simulations in every course, thereby providing a clear understanding of concepts.

8. Misericordia University, Coraopolis

The Nursing Department is an integral part of the College of Health Sciences and Education at Misericordia University, a Catholic University founded in 1924. For more than 90 years now, the nursing department has been at the forefront of nursing education with its many nursing programs. In keeping with the tradition of the university, students are taught by a faculty that works along with its mission of ‘academic excellence, service leadership and professional preparation’.

The Full-time second degree day option does not require you to meet the core curriculum requirements of the university. The sophomore year takes you through fundamentals of nursing practice followed by advance nursing courses such as mental health, pediatric nursing, child bearing and family and nursing research for evidence-based practice in the junior and senior years.

9. Pennsylvania State University, Altoona

The College of Nursing at Penn State Altoona gives its students a unique blend of a close-knit small college and the recognition of a reputed university. Furthermore, the small student faculty ratio of 15:1 ensures each student gets individualized attention and creates an environment of comfort and bonding. Its commitment towards diversity, inclusion and equity helps in creating a generation of nurses that are culturally sensitive and well-prepared to work in diverse communities.

The Second Degree program is a 16-month course starting in Fall semester and it is offered in a cohort format. Considering the program is offered at two Penns state campuses, the college advises students to apply well within the deadline to only one second degree location. Graduates of the program have successfully found employment in a variety of settings, including trauma centers, community hospitals, home health agencies, rehab centers, long term facilities, hospice agencies, schools, industrial and organizational settings and military.

10. Pennsylvania State University- Harrisburg

The Penn State Harrisburg, that the nursing school is part of, is an undergraduate and graduate college, conveniently located, eight miles from Harrisburg. Moreover, it is just 2 hours of driving distance from Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C, making it easily accessible. In living up to standards established by Penn State University, the college has been recognized nationally as well as internationally for its impactful education.

The 16 month Accelerated Second Degree is an intensive curriculum offered in a cohort format. Beginning in August, it spans across 4 semesters. Admission into the program is highly competitive and the college accepts no more than thirty-five students in a cohort. Students get ample opportunities to practice at its state of art 2,600 square feet simulation lab, the nationally recognized lab at Penn State Hershey and various other clinical sites.

11. Robert Morris University, Moon Township

The School of Nursing and Health Sciences at the Robert Morris University, a private doctoral university, is committed towards training highly skilled nurses that keep up with the changing trends in the healthcare industry. Students are mentored by an accomplished faculty who are leaders in their respective fields of practice, most of them serving as clinicians and playing active roles in professional organizations and boards. With a state-of-art simulation center and the school’s close associations with healthcare agencies, students enjoy a variety of practice experiences where they gain professional expertise.

The second-degree BSN offers the coursework of the traditional BSN in a rigorous program of 15 months. Upon completion, students are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN and start their career as a registered nurse. The on-campus program takes you through a coursework where you will learn nursing fundamentals, nursing care of mothers, newborns and families, nursing care of the elderly and undergo NCLEX-RN preparation.

12. Thomas Jefferson University, Center City Campus in Philadelphia, PA and Abington-Dixon Campus in Willow Grove

Established in 1891, Jefferson College of Nursing has been at the forefront of nursing education since almost 125 years now. It is one of the six colleges at the Thomas Jefferson University that serves health science students. Located in downtown Philadelphia, students enjoy an easy access to various places of interests such as museums, theatre and athletic events. Moreover, nursing students enjoy an unparalleled advantage of working in real environments using the latest technologies at the top-ranking Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Jefferson offers 2 Full-time Accelerated Coursework Tracks (FACT) leading to a BSN with guaranteed admission to any of the MSN or DNP specialty for students who currently hold a bachelor’s degree in fields other than nursing but want to pursue a career in nursing.

To enroll into either of these programs you must have completed your baccalaureate degree and 22 specific prerequisite credits.

Full-time Accelerated Coursework Track (FACT)- 1 Year: You will undergo 12 months of intensive training to earn 55 BSN credits and 9 MSN credits.

Full-time Accelerated Coursework Track (FACT)- 2 Year: In 2 years you will earn 55 BSN credits and 9 MSN credits. Coursework will be a combination of classroom learning (16 hours per week) and immersion experience (16 hours per week).

Clinical Training: As part of the curriculum, to practice the knowledge and skills gained in classroom you will undergo clinical training in a simulated-patient environment and at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

- You need to maintain a GPA of at least 3.20 to enroll into the MSN or DNP specialty within 2 years of completing your BSN.

13. University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia

One of the top-ranking nursing schools in the world, Penn Nursing has been imparting path breaking nursing education since 1886. It incorporates theoretical and applied knowledge simultaneously, helping students to master its curriculum in an effortless manner. With an outstanding culture of research and discovery, small wonder that the college has been ranked #1 in NIH funding among nursing schools. Today, its 14,000 strong alumni are working towards improving health outcomes with their compassionate and impactful nursing practice.

The school offers a Second-Degree Nursing program in PA for students planning to enter the field of nursing with a degree in another field. This program, like a regular BSN program offers hands-on experience with state-of-the-art simulations, mentorship, clinical practice, and community engagement. Post completion of this program you will be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN and start working as a nurse in Pennsylvania.

Second degree Penn nursing students also have the following options:

- You can pursue both the BSN and PhD course by enrolling into the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation BSN-PhD.
- You can pursue graduate level coursework by enrolling into an MSN program post completion of the first summer clinical.

14. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh

The School of Nursing at the University of Pittsburg has been advancing patient care with its nursing practice that has kept evolving for the past seven decades. It trains its students to conduct nursing practice that is care and evidence-based. Pitt nurses, equipped with the professional knowledge and skills are in demand across the world and you will not be surprised to find a Pitt nurse, from the U.S. to hospitals in Bangkok, they are playing a significant role in health care.

Students from renowned colleges in the nation such as Carnegie Mellon, Boston University, New York University and University of California Davis seek admission into the Accelerated 2nd Degree BSN at Pitt. This full- time program can be completed in 3 consecutive terms. The program has three start dates (Fall Term - August), (Spring Term - January), Summer Term - May). For each term around 42 students are admitted and you should have a minimum 3.0. GPA in a non-nursing field and must complete 36 prerequisite credits. Apart from courses in science and nursing, curriculum also includes 960 hours of clinical training in 6 major teaching hospitals and 50 health care facilities in and around Pittsburg.

15. Villanova University, Villanova

A Roman Catholic institution, Villanova University has been providing education that stays committed to the Augustinian values of community service, unity of love and truth. The M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, an integral part of the university not only stays true to these core values but also takes strides to empower its nurses to be independent thinkers and problem solvers. Due to its consistent superlative nursing education, the school has been honored as the Center of Excellence in Nursing by the National League for Nursing.

The Second Degree Accelerated BSN ("BSNExpress") at Villanova takes 14 months to complete and usually starts on the third Monday in May and ends in August the following year. The program has an intensive training curriculum and within a very short time you will be completing the coursework and putting in similar number of clinical hours as a regular BSN. The experienced nursing faculty will be available to mentor students and work closely with them on research projects.

16. Waynesburg University, Waynesburg

The nursing department at Waynesburg University is synonymous with its high-quality nursing programs that create a generation of professional nurses, equipped with critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Early on into the program, students are provided with practice experiences at its state of art simulation laboratory where they apply the newly acquired knowledge. Additionally, to further their professional expertise, students are provided with unique experiences, where they get an opportunity to work with community health partners, join the Student Nurses Association and WU’s chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, an international nursing honor society.

The Nursing BSN for 2nd Degree is a 5-semester program that includes 2 summers and is offered to students who have a degree in a different field of study but are interested in pursuing a career in nursing. Classes are taught during the day, two to three times a week during 15 regular weeks and daily during the summer semesters. Curriculum includes training in patient simulation rooms, NCLEX-RN Review Course, clinical practice experience and courses in pediatric, maternity, and psychiatric nursing.

17. West Chester University, Exton

The WCU Department of Nursing is part of the College of Health Sciences and is committed towards preparing and inspiring health professionals by using innovative education, research and service to community. Its students come from diverse backgrounds, helping create a culturally rich environment. Graduates are given ample opportunities to network and hone their skills, such as participating in Research Society Annual Conferences and Student Nurses Association of PA.

The Advance-2-BSN program offered at West Chester provides a strong foundation into entry level nursing practice and can be completed in as little as 18 months. The program prepares you to provide evidence-based nursing care to patients in various medical settings. You will also be competent to assume leadership positions in the challenging healthcare industry. This CCNE accredited cohort program has a limited enrollment of 40 students and is taught by a faculty comprising of advanced practice nurses.

18. Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre

Wilkes University Passan School of Nursing is a part of the university that offers a beautiful learning environment, with its campus that can charm quite a few, blending the feel of the past and the present in its architecture. The nursing school lives up to the very mission of Wilkes in providing lifelong learning and exceptional educational experiences.

The one year Accelerated Bachelor's Degree in Nursing program starts in August every year and prepares students with degrees in non-nursing fields to pass the NCLEX-RN and take up jobs in hospitals, long-term care facilities and mental health centers. You will practice the knowledge gained during classroom and lab training by participating in clinical training at acute, chronic and community settings. To be eligible for admission into this program you will need to have minimum 3.0 GPA in your first degree and pass the TEAS with 70% or higher.

What Next After Completing My Accelerated Nursing Program in PA?

Get My RN License: After completing your accelerated BSN program, you will need to visit the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing to apply for your RN license. Once you have completed this step, you can move on to the Pearson Vue website where you will register and pay for your NCLEX-RN licensure examination and schedule your testing date. This examination is a requirement for licensure and you cannot work as an RN until you have passed. Employers will require proof that you are licensed in Pennsylvania before they hire you.

Where Will I Work: The vast majority of RNs across the state of PA work in hospitals, and most of these work in the more populated cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Others work in nursing homes, but in either case, hours can be long and unpredictable since these facilities are always open to provide round-the-clock care. Doctor’s offices, clinics, and specialists’ offices also employ RNs, and these hours are far more predictable and flexible.

Is the Career Change to Nursing Worth It in Pennsylvania?

Salary: Chances are good that your possible salary is one of the biggest driving factors in your possible career change. RNs in PA earn a handsome salary ranging from $61,450 to $101,450 depending on their overall experience, employer, location, and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners who have MSN degrees earn $93,230 to $158,130 based on those same factors. These salaries are driving many people to make the switch to the healthcare industry.

Occupation Hourly WageMonthly SalaryAnnual Salary
Registered Nurse
with Accelerated BSN
$29.54 - $48.77$5,120 - $8,450$61,450 - $101,450
Nurse Practitioner with
Accelerated MSN / Entry Level Masters
$44.82 - $76.02$7,770 - $13,180$93,230 - $158,130
(Source: Compiled using data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Salary Compared to All Other Occupations in Pennsylvania: Across all other jobs in Pennsylvania, the average annual salary is $39,920 – well below the average salary for an RN in the state ($80,630) and even further below a nurse practitioner’s average salary ($120,550). These averages represent middle ground between those who earn the most and those who earn the least and vary depending on location, experience, and other similar factors.

Occupation Average Annual Salary
Registered Nurse $80,630
Nurse Practitioner$120,550
All Other Occupations$39,920
(Source: Compiled using data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Job Prospects & Security: Job security is a major concern to graduates in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country. Fortunately, when it comes to healthcare, the demand is tremendous. In fact, registered nurse employment is expected to grow 8.89% with the addition of 13,100 new positions between 2020 and 2030. The employment of nurse practitioners will grow even higher – some 32.69% - with the addition of 2,030 new positions in the same timeframe. Good healthcare providers will enjoy outstanding job security across PA for years to come.

Occupation Employment10 Year New Job Growth
Projection (2020-2030)
Annual Job Openings
(New + Replacement)
2020 2030 Number %
Registered Nurse 147,280160,38013,1008.89%9,280
Nurse Practitioner 6,2108,2402,03032.69%580
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Accelerated Nursing Programs in Nearby States
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