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

Each blog post is dated and contains accurate information as of that date. Certain information may have changed since the blog post publication date. If you would like to confirm the current accuracy of blog information, please visit our ABSN program overview page or contact us at 866-890-9467.

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:


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.

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.


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 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. 


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.


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.

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!

Xavier ABSN simulation lab

ABSN 101 Guide

Download our ABSN 101 Guide to help you successfully navigate the accelerated path to nursing.