Accelerated 2nd bachelor's or direct-entry master's?

by Erin Nicholson Erin Nicholson (New) New Student Pre-Student

If I have a B.S. in biology and want to become a nurse, what is the best path for me? Accelerated BSN or direct-entry master's program? My GPA is over 3.8 and I've taken all the standard prerequisites for many programs (but not pharmacology, pathophysiology, or any theology courses). I don't know for sure what specialty/ies I'm interested in. What are some good direct-entry master's programs that don't require specialty selection near the beginning?


Ohm108, MSN, NP, CNM

Specializes in Midwife, OBGYN. Has 3 years experience. 403 Posts

If you aren't sure what specialty area you are interested in, the accelerated BSN program might be a good choice for you.  It typically allows you to become a nurse in 16-18 months and explore what specialty area you are interested in during your clinical rotations  You can spend a few years afterward working in various RN roles to see which one sparks the most interest and would like to specialize in before applying as a RN-MSN into a specific NP specialty.  Many states are also requiring an RN to have a BSN before they are willing to hire them so going this route can help you obtain a BSN before you start your nursing career.

There are programs called entry-level masters programs that confer a master's degree but do not require that you choose a specialty but you will NOT become a provider (I.e. NP or CNM).  Most of these programs will confer the title of Certified Nurse Leader (CNL) which is a relatively new certification.  But becoming a CNL with a master's degree as a new grad nurse doesn't confer any more benefit (increase in pay or benefits etc) because you will still be applying as a new graduate nurse with no previous nursing experience.

You can find more information about the certification by searching CNL Certification (

The final type of master program is the direct entry master program for the non-RN.  Typically, you will train to sit your NCLEX your first year to become an RN.  You then move into your specialty training in your second and third years to become an NP or CNM.  For these programs, you typically have to choose your specialty at the time of application but there are variations depending on the state and program.  Many nursing schools offer these types of programs.  I don't know which area you are currently located in but a Google search can help you find a few of these schools in your area that you can reach out to find out more information.

Edited by Ohm108



716 Posts

Do the ABSN.  It will get you prepared to be a bedside nurse, and from there you can figure out what you want to do.  If you don't have any RN experience under your belt, going directly to NP is terrifying. Unlike MD/DO training, NPs are just kinda let loose after they pass their boards, and expected to know what they are doing. The reason NP programs require you to choose your specialty from the start is because the role of NP is much more specialized/narrow than MD; if you are a pediatric NP, you are not a psych NP. There's no "general" NP. If you went to medical school, you'd get 4 years of general med school before you pick a direction to go in for residency (and then possibly specialize further with a fellowship).  If you go NP, you don't have that flexibility because it's a much shorter education and you are going directly to the type of practitioner you want to be. Family NP is pretty broad, but because of that, you will be expected to have a really broad range of knowledge/skill, which is hard to come by if you have no RN experience. There are ABSN programs that have some master's courses built in, which allow for an easier bridge to master's (UCONN does this), but most direct-entry MSNs are going to specialize early.