Nurse Practitioner Bridge Programs: Where Will You Go for Your Accelerated Degree?

Prospective nurse practitioners are rightly fascinated by the ‘bridge’ or accelerated nurse practitioner programs offered by many schools.  These programs present an excellent opportunity for students seeking a career change.  Accelerated nurse practitioner programs offer students the opportunity to attend a two to three year program through which they obtain both an RN and MSN degree.  Which schools offer accelerated nurse practitioner degrees?  How long do these programs take?  Most importantly, how much do they cost?

Check out this list of nurse practitioner schools offering bridge programs; nurse practitioner programs for students without a nursing degree.  Through these programs you can become a nurse practitioner without a health care background or nursing experience in just 2 to 4 years.


As a product of a nurse practitioner bridge program myself, I can speak to the benefit of these programs.  Although I did not major in nursing or hold an RN degree, I was able to complete my nurse practitioner program in just two years.  I believe these programs are an excellent opportunity for non-nurses aspiring to enter the nurse practitioner profession.

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40 thoughts on “Nurse Practitioner Bridge Programs: Where Will You Go for Your Accelerated Degree?”

  1. Hi there! I have a non-nursing BA and MS, and I’m very interested in bridge programs in NY (where I currently work), CA, or VA. I am looking into Columbia’s program and UCSF’s program (both pretty expensive), but I’m having trouble finding any Virginia programs?

    I was wondering if you also might have some suggestions on where I might look for affordable pre-req classes in the NYC area?

    Thank you very much for your help!


  2. Hi Chantal,

    Unfortunately, there aren’t very many of these kinds of programs and I’m not aware of any in Virginia.  And yes, the accelerated programs tend to be quite expensive.  If you can’t find an option that meets your needs you can always get your RN degree then attend an RN-MSN program. This will give you more schools to choose from.  

    As far a prerequisite classes, I would look at any local community college.  This is usually the most efficient way to get them completed.

    Hope this helps!


    Hi Erin,

    I am going to graduate with my bachelor’s degree in criminology actually in 2014, I live in California and would like to apply to CSU, but I researched some NP accelerated programs and couldn’t find any, I was hoping you could send me some websites? I don’t know if Fresno State has any either.

  4. Hi,

    Check out the following schools:

    California State University Dominguez Hills- This program leads to an MSN but with a clinical nurse leader specialty, not a nurse practitioner specialty

    California State University Long Beach- This program admits only CA residents and will admit its next class in 2016

    California State University Los Angeles

    San Francisco State University

    Hope this helps!

  5. I have a BA in psychology and am wondering if there might be an online version of an NP bridge progam, where I can do clinicals from my hometown and the other portion online? I would have to relocate out of state to attend the NP bridge programs that I am seeing, and that would be very difficult for me, with my current situation.

  6. Hi Amy,

    Unfortunately, most bridge programs require students to be near campus.  At Vanderbilt University, some of their programs are delivered in a block format.  This means that students complete clinical hours in their hometown then come to campus for something like one weekend a month for classes.  The first year of the program, however is on campus.

    If you are unable to relocate, getting your RN degree online or in your hometown then finding an online RN-MSN program might be a better option.

  7. Hi, I am an RN in Missouri and Kansas. I want to got to NP school, but only have a Associates in Nursing. I have a BS in Kinesiology and a BS in Athletic Training. What programs could I look into??? I am also interested in doing everything on line. Any suggestions would be great!

  8. Hi are there any bridge NP programs in NY, Washington, DC, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia? I am coming from a non-nurse background, but with a lot of healthcare experience

  9. As far as the East Coast, there are Boston College, Johns Hopkins, University of Southern Maine, University of Vermont, and MGH Institute of Health Professions. Those are the schools I am aware of. 

  10. I have a Masters of Science in Oncology from 1994. I am interested in returning to school for my NP and was wondering if you could advise me of the most direct route.

  11. Hi Teresa,

    You have 2 options.

    1. Get your RN, then attend an RN-MSN program. The benefot of this route is that it will require less time. The drawback is that there are far fewer schools offering RN-MSN programs so you are more restricted as to where to attend your NP program. 

    2. Get your BSN, then attend an MSN program. This gives you many more options when it comes to where to get your FNP degree. You will likely be able to find a school that is less expensive and one that is located in your area or online. The drawback of this route is that it will probably set you back about a year (or less, depending on how many of your prior credits will transfer). There are ‘BSN completion’ programs for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field.

    Hope this helps!

  12. Hi,

    Do any of these programs offer DNP, or do they mostly just offer MSN? Also, do you know of any way to get a degree in public health simultaneously (say, an MPH)?


  13. Hello,
    Im currently obtaining my nursing license from an ADN program in illinois. I have a bachelor’s degree in integrative biology. I was wondering if you may know of any NP bridge programs in the midwest area. I truly appreciate your help.

  14. Hi Francisca,

    The University of Illinois Chicago would be a good option. Unfortunately, there aren’t may of these programs across the country. Another option you could consider would be to get your RN degree then go on to get your MSN with an RN-MSN program. 

  15. Hi Jessica, 

    Unfortunately, I don’t know of any programs in the Denver area. You could look into getting your RN degree then attending an RN-MSN program online. This is another expedited route to becoming a nurse practitioner. 

  16. My daughter is a high school junior with a definite ultimate goal of psych NP. She has no desire to do med/surg nursing but we thought she would have to start there. Are any of these accelerated programs geared toward incoming freshman? Or are they all for applicants with a bachelor’s degree already? Do you have any advice for the fastest and least expensive track from high school to psychiatric nurse practitioner? The psych piece is the most important part she is only interested in mental health medicine. Thank you so much for this informative post!! I’m so glad I found it:)

  17. Hi Alethea, 

    These programs are for students with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field and would not be the fastest way for your daughter to become an NP. The most time (and cost) effective approach for her to take would be to get a BSN degree, then attend a psychiatric nurse practitioner program. This blog post, The Path to Becoming an NP for High School Students, outlines the process in more detail. 

    Hope this helps!

  18. Hi,
    I did my bachelor’s in microbiology, in India. It was of 3 years program. So when I apply here in different schools for accelerated nursing they told me to first complete 4 years degree for microbiology, as mine was only for 3 years over there. Then they can allow me to enter in the accelerated program. So is there any other way for getting into this program? Or I have to do all this again? Because I want to be pediatrics nurse practitioner. Please guide me. Thank you.

  19. Hi Robin, 

    The above list includes all the programs I am aware of. Does anyone know of any other accelerated NP programs?

  20. Hi Victoria, 

    I believe Columbia University is starting a direct entry nurse practitioner program in summer 2016. 

  21. Erin-

    Do you know where I could obtain an updated list (or maybe a chart/spreadsheet) of direct entry MSN programs and info? I think I want to do FNP.

    And/or an updated list/chart/spreadsheet of accelerated BSN programs? It looks like it would be quicker to do an accelerated BSN and then get a masters from there…atleast from what I have seen thus far. Are there any disadvantages to doing it this way?

    Any help is greatly appreciated. I am willing to move wherever and trying to research schools individually is super time consuming.

    Thank you in advance for any insight that you can provide!

  22. Hi Robin, 

    This is the most up to date list of direct entry NP programs we have on hand. 

    As far as length of program, it depends on each individual school. There are a few direct entry programs that are only 2 years in length. Attending one of these options would be faster than getting an accelerated BSN followed by an MSN. Going the direct entry route also means you only need to apply to a program once, rather than separately for your BSN and MSN degrees. 

    As far as the BSN to MSN path, there are few disadvantages to this route. With a BSN, you will be able to work during your MSN program. This path is also typically less expensive than a direct entry MSN program. The only disadvantage is that it tends to take a bit longer and isn’t as streamlined as a direct entry program.

    Hope this helps!

  23. Do you know of any new exxacelerated programs in Michigan to become a NP, with a Bachelors in Physiology?

  24. Sorry, Bev. I do not. You might try getting your RN degree then attending an RN-MSN program? This will still be an accelerated path compared to the BSN-MSN route. 

  25. Hello!
    I was just wondering if you have a list of schools where you can apply to get an MSN with a non-nursing undergraduate degree. Currently I’m only seeing schools where you can apply to be a Nurse Practitioner. Thanks for the help!

  26. Hi Tatiana, 

    The list in the blog post above shows the programs we are aware of that allow students with a non-nursing undergraduate degree to get an MSN. 

  27. Kacey Garcia Poulin

    Do you know of any programs in Florida? I am a speech pathologist with BA and MA looking for career change options. Non-nursing to nurse practitioner bridge programs in Florida.

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