How to Become a Nurse if You Already Have a Bachelor’s Degree

Male nurse smiling at camera with text "reinvent yourself"

Based on your Google search, one might assume you’re unhappy with your job and want to be part of something bigger than yourself—and that something is nursing. Sound about right? If so, we can show you how to become a nurse if you already have a bachelor’s degree—all within a 16-month time frame.

Nursing is one of the most rewarding, high-demand occupations today. So it’s no surprise that more and more people, such as yourself, want to leave their jobs and start a new career as a nurse. However, many end up at a crossroads. The thought of going back to college and spending more money and another four years on a second bachelor’s degree seems daunting. Only, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Our ABSN program in Ohio makes it possible to earn a quality Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in as few as 16 months. In other words, you don’t have to start your college education over from scratch. Our ABSN program builds on your non-nursing bachelor’s degree, so you can begin professional nursing study on the first day of class.

Now that you know you don’t have to spend another four years in school, there’s still the matter of money. While our ABSN program—any accelerated nursing program for that matter—requires major financial planning, there are plenty of options available for financing your education. Not to mention, a BSN offers a significant return on your investment. We’ll get into more of that later.

Xavier Students Who Went From BS to BSN

If you’ve been out of the college setting for a while, the thought of going back to school as a career changer may seem a little intimidating. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Several career changers apply to our ABSN program, from realtors to sales representatives to psychologists. And no matter how far along you are in your career, there’s probably been an ABSN student like you.

Greg, who graduated from our ABSN program in December 2018, is proof that it’s never too late to go back to school. After spending 30 years in medical sales, he decided to retire and pursue a new nursing career.


Accelerated Nursing Program for Career Changers

Greg needed a nursing program for career changers, making him an ideal candidate for our ABSN program. He leveraged his biology degree to earn a BSN in 16 months. “I don’t have all the time in the world, so I needed to get into a program that would allow me to start nursing as soon as possible.”


We also get students who entered college knowing full well they wanted to become a nurse, but something happened that made them put their goal on hold. Lauren, who graduated from our ABSN program in May 2018, is a great example.

From a young age, Lauren knew she wanted to become a nurse. However, she also had a passion for swimming, with amazing athletic ability to boot. She was a three-time All-American swimmer in high school. So when it came time for college, Duke University invited her to swim for the Blue Devils as a Division I athlete—the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

“It’s practically impossible to be a Division I athlete and go to nursing school at the same time,” Lauren told us. “I loved swimming far too much to give it up.”

Lauren graduated from Duke with a degree in evolutionary anthropology and some impressive swimming stats. She was a school record holder in the 50 freestyle and set a record in the 100 freestyle at the NCAA Championship. From there, she spent some time in the workforce before applying to our ABSN program.


Student Gets Second Chance to Pursue a Career in Nursing

Our second-degree ABSN program enabled Lauren to fulfill her passion for swimming and her desire to pursue a nursing career. “I never dreamed I’d be starting a nursing program and be done in 16 months. I would definitely recommend Xavier. It worked out great for me,” she said.


Overall, our ABSN cohorts represent a unique mix of students who come from different academic backgrounds. According to Sarah, who earned her first degree in psychology and graduated from our ABSN program in December 2018, she learned a lot from her peers of varying ages. “There’s significant value in having a diverse group of people contributing to the conversation,” she said.

Whether your degree is in communications or biology, you have the same opportunity to accelerate into the nursing profession. That is, once you’ve completed the ABSN prerequisites. Next, we’ll explain what it’s like for students who enter our program with a liberal arts degree versus a biology degree.

How to Become a Nurse With a Liberal Arts Degree

As someone with a liberal arts degree, there’s a good chance you’ll have to complete all four of our ABSN prerequisites—microbiology, anatomy and physiology I and II, and statistics. Nurses need a strong understanding of math and science to be successful. Thereby, these courses are a way to gauge how well you’ll do in nursing school.

Our ABSN prerequisites are challenging, so if you’ve struggled with science in the past, you might consider taking these courses one at a time. You don’t want to stretch yourself too thin when trying to navigate the complexities of the material.

When you’re ready to take these prerequisites, we make it convenient for you to do so by offering them 100% online through our university. By choosing Xavier to complete the prerequisites, you may qualify for provisional admission into the ABSN program.

ABSN prerequisites are separate from the 16 months it takes to complete our accelerated nursing program. You must earn a minimum ‘C’ grade in each prerequisite course and maintain an overall cumulative GPA of 2.7 to enter our ABSN program.

Once you become a student in our ABSN program, you’ll complete a rigorous blend of online and on-site curriculum that prepares you to enter the nursing profession with confidence.

How to Become a Nurse With a Biology Degree

A good number of our ABSN program applicants have a biology degree. If that’s your background, you’ve probably completed most, if not all, of our ABSN prerequisites. By having already completed these prerequisites, you can enter nursing school quicker than someone with a liberal arts degree.

However, you must show successful completion of these courses within eight years of entering our ABSN program. Why? Science is consistently evolving, with researchers making new discoveries all the time. Thereby, your science knowledge needs to be up to speed so you can grasp today’s complex nursing concepts.

If you have to take one or more of these prerequisites, you can do so 100% online through Xavier University. And by taking your prerequisites through our university, you may qualify for provisional admission into the ABSN program.

Once you’re an accelerated nursing student, you can expect to complete a rigorous blend of online and on-site curriculum. It’s a full-time, fast-paced learning path that will prepare you to enter the profession as a practice-ready nurse.

How to Pay for a Second Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

No matter where you go, nursing school is a major expense. And unfortunately, second-degree ABSN students are often ineligible for university grants or scholarships, and many don’t qualify for state or federal grants. The good news, however, is there are several ways to finance your education, including the following three options:

  1. Federal Direct Loans
  2. Private Education Loans
  3. Third-Party Scholarships

More than likely, you’ll need to use a combination of federal and private loans to cover the cost of your nursing school tuition. But first, we recommend looking into the different low-interest federal direct loan options available through the U.S. Department of Education. Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to know what type of loan you’re eligible to receive.

Federal student aid typically doesn’t cover the total cost of attending an ABSN program. So be on the lookout for banks and credit unions that offer private loans with low-interest rates and good terms. Because private loans are credit-based, it’s important to know your credit score. If you have poor credit, you’re likely to pay a higher interest rate than you would with a federal loan. You may even need a co-signer on your loan.

Sarah - Xavier ABSN program graduate

I found the price of the Xavier ABSN program a lot more reasonable than other nursing schools.
-Sarah, a 2018 ABSN program graduate.

While we do not offer Xavier grants or scholarships for our ABSN program, we encourage you to pursue award-based funding through a third party. Each scholarship follows different criteria, usually reflecting the values of the donor or founder of the award.

Start your national scholarship search at FastWeb and the Nurse Corps Scholarship Program. On the local front, we recommend looking into the Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program (NEALP) created by the Ohio General Assembly in 1990 to assist in the state’s nursing shortage.

NEALP provides financial assistance to Ohio students enrolled for at least half-time study in an approved Ohio pre-licensure nurse education program. To qualify for loan cancellation, recipients must work full-time as an RN or LPN in the State of Ohio for at least five years after graduation.

Value of a BSN Degree

Going back to school for nursing requires you to do some serious financial planning. But as you run the numbers, keep in mind that a BSN degree is a smart investment in your future. Just be aware that our ABSN program is a rigorous, full-time learning path that requires dedication and hard work to succeed. Thereby, we don’t recommend working while in accelerated nursing school.

Now let’s get into some of the reasons why a BSN is worth its weight in gold. For starters, nursing is a high-demand, fast-growing profession rife with reward and opportunity―especially for those who hold a BSN degree or higher. After all, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recognizes a BSN as the minimum education requirement for professional practice. Therefore, many health-care employers now require their registered nurses with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) to go back to school and earn their BSN within a specified time frame.

By earning a BSN degree, you’ll:

  • Get noticed by health-care employers. More and more employers now realize the value of having more educated nurses on staff, so they prefer hiring nursing graduates with a BSN.
  • Provide competent, compassionate care. Research shows the more BSN-prepared registered nurses a health-care facility employs, the better the patient outcomes and the lower the mortality rates.
  • Earn a higher wage. Nurses who hold a BSN have greater earning power than those with an ADN.
  • Have more career opportunities. A BSN opens the door to work in a variety of inpatient and outpatient health-care settings. It also paves the way for earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and achieving advanced practice certification.
  • Lead the charge for change. A BSN, which includes management, leadership and public health courses, plays a pivotal role in helping nursing students develop the competencies necessary to advocate for patients and the profession.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) conducted a survey in August 2018 that asked 627 nursing schools about employer preferences regarding education levels. Of the schools that responded, 45.6% of health-care employers require their new nurses to have a BSN, while 88.4% had a strong preference for BSN program graduates.

ABSN Program Admissions

If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and a cumulative GPA of at least 2.7, you can begin the admission process for our 16-month ABSN program. But before we can admit you into the nursing program, you must complete the four ABSN prerequisites within the specified requirements.

We have three ABSN Learning Centers in Ohio—Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus—with each location offering three start dates a year—January, May, and August. Given these options, we can enroll a high number of students annually. In other words, there’s no waitlist for our ABSN program.

While getting into nursing school can be a lengthy process, our ABSN counselors are available to help you every step of the way, from your first admission call to your first day of class. As a prospective ABSN student, we’ll pair you up with a dedicated admission counselor who will champion your entry into nursing school.

We can also provide you with an admission decision within a few weeks of submitting your application. We process ABSN program applications on a rolling basis, meaning we review them as they come in instead of waiting for the submission deadline to pass. So, the earlier you submit your application, the better your chance of securing a spot in your preferred term.

Xavier ABSN graduate Ayana using stethoscope

Working with my Xavier admission counselor was great. She sealed the deal for me. I wanted to attend a university with a sense of community and where I was going to be supported.
-Ayana, a 2020 ABSN program graduate.

ABSN Program Curriculum

Our ABSN curriculum enables you to turn your non-nursing degree into a BSN in 16 months. During the full-time, four-semester ABSN program, you’ll complete a total of 63 credit hours made up of online coursework, hands-on nursing labs, and diverse clinical rotations. How we sequence these three learning components prepares you to sit for the NCLEX-RN® with confidence.

  • Online coursework lays the foundation for your education, teaching you the fundamentals and theories of professional practice. You can learn anytime, anywhere. Assignment deadlines still apply.
  • Nursing skills and simulation labs develop your applied skills and clinical judgment in a mock hospital setting. You attend these hands-on labs at your location of enrollment.
  • Clinical rotations provide real-world patient care experience in diverse areas of nursing practice. Your clinicals take place at health-care facilities near your location of enrollment.

For all intents and purposes, you learn fundamentals and theories of nursing practice online. You convert this knowledge into psychomotor skills during your nursing labs at our ABSN Learning Center. From there, you learn how to pull everything together within the scope of diverse practice during your clinical rotations in local health-care facilities.

Labs and Clinical Disclaimer

Please be aware that due to COVID-19 restrictions and limitations, our labs and in-person clinicals could change at any time without prior student notification.

ABSN student Erin Celesti

Everything with the ABSN curriculum flows really well. You learn a skill online, apply it in lab, and then go to clinical to see how that skill plays out in real life.
-Erin, a 2018 ABSN program graduate.

Clinical Partnerships in Ohio

Whether you enroll for our Cincinnati, Cleveland, or Columbus location, your clinical rotations start during semester one. We schedule your clinicals for you. However, we can’t guarantee placement in a specific hospital or facility. We partner with some of the best health-care providers in Ohio, including Mercy Health, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Ohio Health, and the Cleveland Clinic.

ABSN Program Faculty

From your first to your last day in the ABSN program, our nursing faculty make it their mission to see you through your goal of becoming a nurse. Not only do they implement effective teaching strategies, but they also provide high levels of support.

Xavier ABSN graduate Brianna standing in classroom

I love the Xavier nursing faculty. They are in your corner and want to see you succeed.
-Brianna, a 2018 ABSN program graduate.

As an ABSN student, you also have access to an academic success coach who serves as your advocate. This person can connect you with a variety of resources to enhance your overall nursing school experience. Whether it involves an academic question or time management advice, your academic success coach is a one-stop resource.

Ready to Use Your Bachelor’s Degree to Become a Nurse?

Now that you know how our 16-month ABSN program works, your next step is to contact our admission team to set your nursing education in motion. Once you’ve satisfied the admission requirements, you can enroll for a spring, summer, or fall term at our ABSN Learning Center in Cincinnati, Cleveland, or Columbus.

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