Accelerated BSN Vs Direct Entry MSN: What’s the Right Path for You?

Summary: The differences between accelerated BSN and MSN include the time it takes to complete each program and the career opportunities that result from earning one or the other. You can decide which one is right for you by evaluating your long-term career goals and using this blog as a guide. 

Accelerated MSN vs. BSN: What you really need to know

Nurses can practice in a wide variety of settings including the community, hospitals, and academia.  For the 19th consecutive year in the Gallup poll, nursing has ranked first as the most honest and ethical profession. There are different routes you can take to get into the profession, which include accelerated nursing programs at the master and bachelor levels.   Use the information below to choose what is the best fit for you. 

Before we explore these fast-track program options, you should ask yourself the following questions. Your responses will be key in helping you decide whether an accelerated program is the best educational path for you. 

  • Am I eligible for an accelerated nursing program?
  • How long do I want to be in nursing school?
  • Can I commit to rigorous, full-time study?
  • What are my long-term career goals?

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the BSN and MSN accelerated nursing programs?

The bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and master of science in nursing (MSN) degrees are both offered as pre-licensure, accelerated degree programs that prepare you to become a registered nurse after passing a licensing exam.  You do not need previous healthcare experience to earn these degrees.

What’s the difference between an MSN and a BSN?

The difference between a BSN and an MSN degree is similar to the differences between a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in any field. The levels of study will differ, and as such will prepare you for different career opportunities.

Why would you need a BSN or an MSN?

Both will prepare you to become a registered nurse who can practice in a wide variety of settings.  An MSN will prepare you for advanced nursing positions and provide an increased opportunity for advancement.

What will I learn in a BSN program vs an MSN program?

In a BSN program, you will learn all the skills necessary to become a registered nurse who can practice across all healthcare settings.  The focus is on the provision of safe, quality care to individuals or groups of individuals.  Patient-centered care, interprofessional teamwork, and excellent communication skills are emphasized. In an MSN program, you will learn all the BSN skills plus leadership and advanced practice.

ACCELERATED BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN NURSING (BSN)

Given the complex, ever-evolving nature of our country’s health care system, a BSN is becoming the preferred entry degree for professional nursing practice over an associate degree or nursing diploma.

Sarah - Xavier ABSN program graduate

This was the program where I could start the fastest and be done the fastest. – Sarah, a 2018 Xavier ABSN program graduate

When compared to a Direct Entry MSN program, Accelerated BSN programs take a little less time to complete. So, if your goal is to make the quickest possible transition into the nursing profession, then our 16-month ABSN program in Ohio is a great place to start.

Building on your existing BA or BS degree, this accredited nursing program makes it possible to earn a quality BSN in as few as 16 months. Furthermore, holding a BSN degree from Xavier University qualifies you to pursue an MSN in the future.

DID YOU KNOW?

Xavier University’s American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation endorsement qualifies both MIDAS and ABSN program graduates to take the Holistic Certification Exam right after passing the NCLEX. Nursing graduates of non-endorsed schools, on the other hand, must pass the NCLEX and actively practice as a nurse before they can pursue this certification.

If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, our ABSN program can fast-track your career. Download our ABSN Program 101 Guide to help you successfully navigate the accelerated path to nursing.

NURSING CAREERS FOR RNs

While hospitals are the largest employers of registered nurses, there are countless other facilities that have RNs on staff, from corporate clinics to private practices. As of May 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median annual salary for registered nurses as $75,330 and projects a 9 percent employment growth for this occupation from 2020 to 2030.

With a BSN or MSN and the right certification and/or experience, the career possibilities are virtually endless. For example, you can become a/an:

  • Flight Nurse, caring for patients being transported by aircraft to a hospital or trauma center.
  • Labor and Delivery Nurse, caring for women and babies before, during, and after childbirth.
  • International Nurse, caring for patients around the world, mainly underserved populations.
  • Travel Nurse, completing contracts at hospitals that have shortages or need specialized assistance.
  • Telehealth Nurse, attending to patients via video or phone sessions.

ACCELERATED MASTER OF SCIENCE IN NURSING (MSN)

Accelerated MSN programs, also referred to as Direct Entry MSN programs, make it possible for qualified students to earn a Master of Science in Nursing in less than two years. These full-time, fast-paced programs cater to individuals who have a BA or BS degree and no nursing experience. One example would be our 20-month MIDAS program.

Upon graduation, a student in the MIDAS program will be eligible to sit for certification as a clinical nurse leader (CNL).  A CNL is an advanced practice nurse who addresses issues of patient care complexity and is a champion for quality care and positive patient outcomes.  They are leaders at the bedside and at the organizational level.  MIDAS graduates typically enter the nursing workforce at the bedside in areas such as critical care and emergency nursing.  Since they have an MSN they have many opportunities for quick advancement within healthcare facilities and other settings. 

NURSING CAREERS FOR MSN HOLDERS WITH CERTIFICATION

Registered nurses with MSN degrees have access to some of the highest paying jobs in the profession, which include nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, and nurse practitioner. Based on the most recent data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these advanced practice nurses earn a median annual salary of $117,670.

  • Nurse Anesthetist, a nurse who provides anesthesia and anesthesia-related care to patients before, during, and after surgery. Basic requirements include an MSN degree, acute care experience, and RN Anesthetist Certification.
  • Nurse Midwife, a nurse who specializes in pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum care, and reproductive health. Basic requirements include an MSN degree as well as Nursing Midwifery Certification.
  • Nurse Practitioner, a nurse who can examine, diagnose, and treat patients as well as prescribe medication. Basic requirements include an MSN degree as well as Nurse Practitioner Certification in a particular area of practice.

MSN VS BSN

When you consider the high demand for registered nurses across the country, a quality nursing education is worth its weight in gold. So, whether you have an MSN or a BSN from an accelerated nursing program — as long as you’ve passed the National Council Licensure Exam — you’re able to enter one of the fastest growing and most diverse professions available.

Lauren - Xavier ABSN program graduate

Before I even graduated from nursing school, I was offered a job. – Lauren, a 2018 Xavier ABSN program graduate

If your long-term career goal involves an advanced nursing role in patient care, you’ll need to earn an MSN sooner or later. You’ll find it’s common for nurses to earn their BSN first, gain a few years of clinical experience, and then go back to school for their MSN and advanced nursing certification. Why do they do this?

Nursing is a vast, highly diverse occupation, with countless specialty areas, career opportunities and practice settings from which to choose. Nursing school graduates don’t always know what area of the profession they’d like to be in for the long haul, so they enter the workforce to find their niche and build their skills for the future. It also helps that many health care employers provide tuition reimbursement to those nursing staff members who want to earn an MSN and advance within the organization.

You could earn your BSN via our 16-month ABSN program and then enter the RN workforce to grow your clinical experience — all while making a good living. When you’re ready, you could apply to an MSN program and continue working as you earn your advanced degree.

Want to know more about our 16-month ABSN program? Contact our admissions team today!

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