Not a Nurse? Become a NP With a Direct Entry Program

If you aren’t a nurse but want to become a nurse practitioner, you have many options for your education.  But, one path to accomplishing your goals stands out as the most efficient way to make a career change.  Accelerated nurse practitioner programs allow students with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing, without any medical experience, to become nurse practitioners in just two to three years.

These types of accelerated nurse practitioner programs go by many different titles.  Some schools call these MEPN (Master’s Entry Program in Nursing), others Direct Entry programs or bridge programs, and other schools give these programs their own, unique names.  Regardless of title, these programs allow students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree to earn an RN (or BSN in some cases) and MSN seamlessly.  There’s no need to apply to multiple programs sequentially.  With an accelerated NP program there’s no need to take time off between degrees to get experience working as a nurse.

While direct entry programs are the most efficient way to become a nurse practitioner if you already have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, they can be quite costly.  Also, with the DNP change looming many schools are abandoning direct entry programs.  There are a few schools remaining that offer these valuable programs to prospective NPs.  If you are thinking about becoming a nurse practitioner, it’s worth looking into these programs as a quick path to the NP career.


Program Length

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Total Cost

Boston College

2 Years


California State University

3 1/2 Years

$40,015 In-State

$76,950 Out-of-State

Johns Hopkins University***

3 Years 


MGH Institute of Health Professions

3 Years


Seattle University

2 Years


The Ohio State University

3 Years

$ 68,956 In-State, $148,444 Out-of-State

University of Cincinnati

3 Years

$68,256 In-State, $123,360 Out-of-State

University of Hawaii Manoa

2 Years

$93,090 In-State, $176,764 Out-of-State

University of Southern Maine

3 Years

$42,180 In-State, $113,886 Out-of-State

University of Texas Austin

3 Years

$40,171 In-State, $73,329 Out-of-State

Vanderbilt University

2 to 2 1/2 Years


*Tuition is an estimate to give a general idea of the cost of Direct Entry programs.  Other fees and living expenses may apply. Tuition rates are subject to change.  

 **Program length is based on full-time attendance and may vary by specialty or academic path.

I completed one of these programs myself and have been pleased with my decision.  I completed a bachelor’s degree in biology with the intention of going to medical school.  When my plans changed and my sights became set on life as an NP, an accelerated nurse practitioner program facilitated the change in my career path perfectly.  I felt that I didn’t waste time in school but rather made a quick entry into my new career.  These programs are an excellent opportunity for non-nurses aspiring to become NPs.


You Might Also Like: Do You Need to Work as an RN Before Becoming a Nurse Practitioner?


24 thoughts on “Not a Nurse? Become a NP With a Direct Entry Program”

  1. Great article! Just what I need to inspire me a little more to continue my prerequistes to complete the program.

  2. Thanks so much for posting this! I didn’t know direct-entry NP programs existed! The pace must be exhausting as I’ve found LPN/RN schools difficult, but still I wish I had known about this earlier since becoming an NP is my ultimate goal. I would like to know more about how difficult the program was for you. However, I know you are happy now that you’ve made it! Kudos!

  3. Hi Erin, thanks so much for the post! I was wondering how I can make myself a competitive applicant for accelerated bsn/ms NP program. While I was in college, I was a typical premed that did everything a pre-med should do (extracurricular activities, hold leadership roles, did research, volunteer, etc.) I graduated from college two years ago, and have been working in a research lab while volunteering in an ER. I kinda changed my mind about med school, and want to become an NP now. I don’t have direct patient contact experience, would this be a big issue? And what kind of applicants these programs are looking for? Thanks so much for your time!

  4. Hi Sara,

    As far as not having direct patient experience, this isn’t an issue if you are applying to a direct entry program. Most students in these programs don’t have any patient experience because they are not yet nurses. Your volunteer time in the ER and commitment to research will be a great asset to your application.

    Check out these posts for some NP program application/ admissions advice. They are written with traditional, not direct entry NP programs in mind but may still help.

    How to be the Ideal Nurse Practitioner Program Applicant

    NP and PA Admissions Interview Recap

    How to Increase Your Chances of Admission to an NP Program

    5 Nurse Practitioner Program Application Tips

    Hope this helps!

  5. Hi Erin, Thanks for all the valuable information!
    I have a Bachelor of Science in Business and a MA in Environmental Studies but I want to make a move into the field of NP, leaning towards neonatal or pediatric. I want to do an accelerated or bridge program and live in southern california. Now that it is september 2014, is it too late to consider many of the accelerated programs you have discussed because the new DNP requirements? What do you suggest I do…I don’t have any of the pre-reqs done yet so I could prefer those online. Thanks so much for your suggestions!!!

  6. Hi Melissa,

    To address your questions:

    1. It is not too late- while a 2015 DNP requirement has been discussed, it will not be enacted by this date. Check out this post, DNP Link Pack- Clarifying the Confusion, for more detailed info. 

    2. There aren’t many accelerated programs out there, but here is a list. This list is a bit outdated, so feel free to send me an e-mail ( for an updated copy. 

    3. Most schools require many prerequisites for these programs so start working on these as soon as possible! Here is a list of commonly required prerequisite courses for accelerated NP programs

    Good luck!

  7. Hi Erin,
    I just got accepted to MGH Institute of Health Profession’s direct-entry program. I was wondering if you have heard anything about the program or know anyone who has gone there? I see that it is the most expensive one you have listed, and that worries me. Being in immense debt terrifies me. I am a new graduate from a New York school as a biology major and am 21 years old. Thank you for any insight you have to offer.

    -Ashley P.

  8. Hi Ashley,

    Congratulations on your acceptance! 

    I do not have any personal experience with MGH no do I know anyone who as attended. It has a great reputation as a reputable program overall, but I don’t have any personal connections at the program. Try posting a comment on the MyThriveAP message board (create an account here to get started) to see if any current or former MGH student shave any opinions to offer. 

    Debt is definitely not something to take lightly. Getting your RN degree then attending an RN-MSN program will be more affordable and is something you could look into as well. 

  9. Do you know of any programs out there that are bridge programs that don’t require the GRE? I’m more worried about that, then getting accepted. Or is it something that I should even worry about? I’ve taken some practice GRE tests and have not done well. 🙁

  10. Hi Sheila,

    Unfortunately I do not. Admissions standards are constantly changing so it’s worth taking a second look at direct NP program sites for the most up to date information.

    Have you taken a GRE study course? Sometimes this can help!

  11. Hi there,

    I am currently an LPN looking to further my education. I have been debating getting my bachelors degree online because I work 40+ hours a week and unfortunately do not have the time to take off to complete a RN program. Do you have any advice as to the best undergraduate degree to choose to be appealing afterwards to a non-degree to NP program? I already have a lot of patient care experience as I’m working as an LPN but I really want to be marketable since my end goal is to get my NP. Any advice? Thanks!!

  12. Hi Jen, 

    Unfortunately I do not know of any similar programs in Florida. The closest options I am aware of would be the University of Alabama Birmingham and East Carolina University. 

  13. Hello there – Thank you for all the valuable info and for answering everyone’s questions! I’m an LCSW and interested in an accelerated program to become an NP. Do you know of any options for this in CO? or online? If not, what’s the quickest path to get there (i.e. for someone with a BA and MA in unrelated fields….) Thank you!!

  14. Hi Jen, 

    Here is a link to the list of nurse practitioner accelerated programs I am aware of. Unfortunately, none of them are located in CO and accelerated programs must typically be completed at least partially on-campus. 

    Another option you have is to complete an RN degree locally. Then, you can attend an RN-MSN program online. This will be a less expensive way to get your degree. Here is a list of online RN-MSN programs with a nurse practitioner focus

  15. Hey, do you know anything about the California state university program? Is it 3 years in a half obtaining your masters as well as a bachelors of science in nursing?

  16. Hi i have a bachelors in child development, do you know if i can pursue a masters in nursing? Or if i can expand my learning into the medical field with this degree?

  17. Hi Samantha, 

    Yes! You can pursue a masters in nursing. First, you will need to enroll in an RN or BSN program. Many schools offer such degrees in an accelerated format for students with a non-nursing bachelors degree. Once you have a nursing degree (RN or BSN), you can apply to MSN programs. 

    The other option is to apply to direct entry programs which offer both an RN and MSN degree as part of the same program. 

  18. Hi Erin, some of these programs can be incredibly expensive. In addition to the prices listed above, there’s also living expenses to cover. That said, can you share ideas on how to fund some of these programs? I know that the Department of Education only allow students to take out a maximum amount of loans throughout their academic history. Unfortunately, with tuition and fees, I am pretty sure I will be maxed out on loans.

    Thank you.

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