Accelerated ABSN or Comprehensive MSN: Which Degree Program Fits Your Career Plan?

By | April 24, 2023

Are you considering a career in nursing but feeling uncertain about which degree program is the right choice for you? It’s a common dilemma that many aspiring nurses face. With the demand for registered nurses projected to grow 9% from 2020 to 2030 – faster than the average for all occupations and a median annual wage of $77,600, there’s never been a better time to pursue a career in nursing. 

In this article, we’ll compare the ABSN degree vs MSN degree, two popular nursing degree options, to help you make an informed decision about which path is best suited for your career goals.

ABSN: The Fast-Track to a Career in Nursing

If you’re looking to enter the nursing field quickly, an Accelerated BSN program may be the perfect choice for you. As the name suggests, ABSN programs are designed to be completed in a shorter amount of time than traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs. 

This means you can earn your nursing degree and start working as a registered nurse in a relatively short time. 

According to Elmhurst University, ABSN programs take anywhere from 12-18 months to complete, depending on the program and the institution. This accelerated timeline is achieved by building on your previous education and experience and focusing exclusively on nursing coursework and clinical rotations. 


The Pros and Cons of an ABSN Program

One of the main advantages of an ABSN program is the accelerated timeline. This means that you’ll be able to enter the workforce as a nurse much sooner than if you pursued a traditional BSN program. 

ABSN programs are also a great option if you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, as they offer a faster path to a nursing career.

However, the accelerated nature of ABSN programs can also be a challenge. The coursework is intensive and compressed, so you must be prepared to hit the ground running. Additionally, ABSN programs can be more expensive than traditional BSN programs due to their shorter duration.


MSN: Taking Your Nursing Career to the Next Level

If you’re looking to advance your nursing career, an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing degree) is an excellent option. An MSN degree is typically required if you want to pursue advanced practice nursing roles, such as a nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist. 

In addition to advanced practice nursing roles, an MSN degree can also lead to opportunities in nursing education, research, and leadership positions.


The Pros and Cons of an MSN Program

One of the benefits of pursuing an MSN degree is the potential for higher salaries in advanced practice nursing roles. 

In fact, MSN-prepared APRNs earn a median annual salary of $117,760, which is significantly higher than the median salary of registered nurses at $75,330 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

This salary difference can be substantial and may make pursuing an MSN degree worthwhile for those looking to advance their nursing career. 

Additionally, an MSN program offers a more comprehensive education than an ABSN program, which can provide a deeper understanding of nursing theory and practice.

While an MSN degree can provide numerous benefits, potential drawbacks should also be considered. One primary disadvantage is the time commitment required, with most programs taking two years to complete or longer if specializing. 

Additionally, the cost of an MSN program is typically higher than ABSN programs and may require additional certifications and licensures for advanced practice roles. Pursuing an MSN degree also demands a high level of dedication and commitment to the nursing field. 

It’s crucial to evaluate both ABSN and MSN programs’ benefits and drawbacks carefully before making a decision. It is only recommended to invest the time and money required for an MSN degree if you are passionate about nursing or are sure about your career goals.


Which Degree is Right for You?

Ultimately, the decision of whether to pursue an ABSN or MSN degree depends on your career goals and individual circumstances. 

If you’re looking for a fast track to a nursing career or have already completed a bachelor’s degree in another field, an ABSN program may be the right choice for you. 

However, if you’re looking to advance your nursing career or pursue advanced practice nursing roles, an MSN degree is likely the better option.

Whichever path you choose, the nursing field is an exciting and rewarding career choice with ample opportunities for growth and development. By carefully considering your options and making an informed decision about which nursing degree program to pursue, you’ll be well on your way to a successful career in nursing.

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