ABSN vs. BSN: Choosing Which is Right for You

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Before choosing a nursing program, you might consider comparing an ABSN vs. BSN to see which is best for you. But what is an ABSN? An accelerated BSN track can help you utilize previous credits and become a nurse more quickly without sacrificing quality of learning.

professor showing with nursing students in class

Earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a decision that will set you up for success in your future career. Not only will it make you more desirable to employers, but it will also allow room for career growth. However, when it comes time to apply for BSN programs, more than one option exists. Utica University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, and its Transfer BSN path are excellent choices for many non-traditional nursing students. But what is an ABSN? How do you know if it is right for you? There are a few things you should know before deciding between a traditional BSN program and an accelerated BSN program.

What is a Traditional BSN?

The traditional BSN student will declare themselves as a nursing major their freshman year. They will spend their first semesters taking general education credits and degree requirements to prepare for the program-focused classes. They will then take their TEAS or HESI exam, which determines their eligibility for admittance into the nursing program. Once in the nursing program, students will begin their nursing content classes, skills and simulation labs, and clinical rotations at local hospitals. Traditionally, this is all completed in person and is designed to take around four years.

What is an Accelerated Nursing Program?

In an Accelerated BSN program, students learn the same material on a shorter timeline. The program length will depend on the school, but whether you’re enrolling in the ABSN program or the Transfer BSN program, you can earn your B.S. in Nursing in as few as 16 months. These programs also typically take a hybrid modality, blending online coursework with in-person labs and clinicals.

The hybrid format is ideal for those with busy schedules who need additional flexibility. ABSN programs, and our transfer BSN program, are designed for students who have already completed non-nursing college credits or have a college degree and want to change to nursing. This way, your hard-earned credits are put toward a degree in nursing rather than starting over.

Utica ABSN student sitting and smiling

Are you interested in nursing as a second career? Read these five steps to succeed as an ABSN student to learn more.

What Makes a BSN and ABSN Different

A BSN and an ABSN, at their core, provide the same level of education. You will walk away with the same degree regardless of your chosen program format. However, there are some notable differences to consider before committing to a program:


The most obvious difference is the accelerated timeline. While a traditional program will take four years, an accelerated program like Utica’s ABSN program or Transfer BSN program will take as few as 16 months. This can be to your advantage, but you should account for the fact that these 16 months do not include the time needed for any requirements you need to meet before enrolling in nursing courses.

Start Dates

Traditional BSN course schedules follow a typical structure with two semesters (fall and spring) when you can begin classes, while ABSN programs have three start dates. This is optimal for students who want to begin courses as soon as possible. Once you have been accepted and completed all the requirements, you can enroll for the earliest and most convenient start date.

Learning Modality

Utica student working on computer with a textbook

While some traditional BSN programs have online components, they are usually based on the school’s campus. You take in-person classes and attend simulation labs with your instructors, traveling to neighboring medical facilities for clinicals. In a hybrid ABSN program, the curriculum is a bit different. Labs and clinicals are similar, but the coursework is online-based, so you can complete it when and where is best for you. Keep in mind that your classes will still have set due dates for exams and assignments.


Because BSN and ABSN programs teach the same material on different timelines, ABSN programs tend to be more rigorous. It is likely that, as an ABSN student, you will be completing more coursework at any given time than in a traditional BSN program. If the shortened program length is a priority and you are up to the challenge, you will be successful in an accelerated program. This is not to say that a traditional BSN is not also challenging. In both, you need to prioritize your coursework, create a functional schedule, and find study methods that work for you.

two Utica nursing students working in lab

Prepare for the challenges of the ABSN program ahead of time by learning what nursing school is really like.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements are drastically different between a BSN program and an ABSN program. In a traditional BSN program, you must first be admitted to the school itself. You must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA in your degree requirements and achieve a passing score on the entry exam. For the Utica ABSN program and Transfer BSN program, you need a certain number of credits from another college or university or a previous non-nursing degree. In addition, you must satisfy the degree requirements outlined by the program, maintaining the required GPA for these classes.

How to Choose Which is the Right Fit

Now that you have a better understanding of how traditional BSN programs and accelerated BSN programs differ, you may still wonder how to know which is right for you. Choosing a nursing school may feel complicated, but it does not have to be. Here are a few questions to determine if you can commit to an ABSN program.

  • Do you have a previous non-nursing degree or college credits?
  • Are you in a place where you can financially commit to nursing school as a full-time job?
  • Can you put in the work it takes to complete an ABSN?
  • Is online learning a good fit for you?
  • Are you prepared to complete the nursing degree requirements?
utica nursing student holding syringe

If your answer to these questions is yes, then the ABSN program at Utica University might be a perfect fit for you!

Apply to the Utica University ABSN Program

If you know that when it comes to ABSN vs. BSN, an accelerated nursing education is the right choice for you, then applying to one of Utica University’s programs may be your next step. You will receive the full nursing school experience through simulation labs at our ABSN learning site and clinical rotations at medical facilities nearby, building upon what you learn in your online coursework.

Contact an admission representative today to take the first step and learn more about the ABSN program at Utica University.

The Ultimate Nursing School Admissions Checklist

Ready for nursing school but stressed about applying? We recommend downloading our free admissions checklist to learn the important ins and outs of applying to accelerated nursing school.

The ultimate nursing school admissions checklist