Accelerated Nursing Program FAQ

What is the "Accelerated Nursing Program"?
The Accelerated Nursing Program is an intensive 12-month program that prepares people who already have bachelor’s degree and required prerequisite courses to become a registered nurse (RN). The program begins each May and students graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree the following May.

What is the program like?
Students attend classes two to three days a week and are in clinical (hospitals, clinics, and other health-care settings) two to three days a week, Monday through Friday; the exact schedule varies each semester.  It is possible that some courses may meet on the weekend. Students take classes in adult, women’s, pediatric, psychiatric-mental, critical care, and community health nursing. Because of the intense nature of the program students are strongly advised not to work while in the program.

What are the students like?
Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and majors. They enter this program either because they always wanted to be a nurse but were unable to find a program they could finish in a reasonable amount of time or because they wanted a career with better advancement opportunities, salaries, and benefits. The students range in age from 21-61+; the average age is ~32. About 10% to 15% of students are men; about half the students are married and several have children. Students in the program tend to be close-knit and supportive of each other and they enjoy a close working relationship with the faculty. We also offer a post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program with tracks in Advanced Practice Nursing or Advanced Leadership

What could I do with this degree?
There is a nationwide and a local shortage of registered nurses, which has been predicted by the federal government to last for the foreseeable future. There are many opportunities for full and part-time work in nursing. While the greatest numbers of opportunities are in critical care, medical-surgical, surgery (operating room), emergency room, and long-term care settings there are also many opportunities in psychiatric-mental health, forensics, women’s health, pediatrics, community health, case management and administration. There is also a need for nurses with advanced degrees to teach in schools of nursing, work as nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists and as administrators. This program prepares students for graduate school, including the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program at Bellarmine. Bellarmine’s MSN program offers three tracks of study:  Nursing Education, Nursing Administration, and Family Nurse Practitioner.

How successful is the program?
Almost all accelerated program graduates pass the NCLEX-RN (licensure examination for registered nurse practice) the first time. The accelerated pass rate is significantly higher than Kentucky and US pass rates. Graduates have a 100% employment rate and several are in graduate school.

When should I send in my application?
The application priority deadline is November 1 of the year prior to your anticipated start date.

Do I apply even before I am finished taking prerequisite courses?
Yes, even before you are finished with prerequisites. That way you reserve a place in the class, pending completion of prerequisites, and we can start a file and mail you pertinent information.

What is the licensure exam?
Students graduate with a baccalaureate degree in nursing but in order to become a registered nurse you must pass the RN licensure exam. The national licensure exam for registered nurses is called the NCLEX-RN. The computerized exam takes a maximum of five hours. Bellarmine students complete a semester long NCLEX preparation class in the spring semester before graduation. 

What are the admission requirements?
Admission Requirements:

  • a bachelor’s degree (BS or BA) in any field
  • a minimum GPA (Grade Point Average) of 2.75
  • a minimum pre-req GPA of 2.75
  • completion of two courses in human anatomy and physiology, one course each in, statistics, ethics, nutrition, microbiology, lifespan (developmental) psychology, and (e) a grade of “B-” or better in the science prerequisites (anatomy and physiology I and II, microbiology, and nutrition)
  • a grade of C or better in all other pre-requisite courses,
  • complete the Nursing CAS application process at
  • complete a Medicaid approved Certified Nursing Assistant Program by March 15 of the program year.  Students do not need to take the state certification exam.

Where can I take prerequisites?
Before taking a pre-requisite course you should check the college or university is REGIONALLY ACCREDITED by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education or the New England, Northwest, Southern, or Western Associations of Schools and of Colleges, or the North Central Association of Colleges and of Schools. This information is usually available on web sites and catalogs. Schools that do not meet the academic standards of regionally accredited schools may advertise themselves as nationally accredited. Courses from schools that are only NATIONALLY accredited are not acceptable.

There are several flexible ways to meet prerequisite course requirements: (a) earning credit for college-level knowledge by passing the College Level Examination Program tests (CLEP; or 609.771.7865), (b) taking accredited college courses on the web, (c) taking accredited college courses through independent study, and (d) taking classes at any accredited college or university. It is important to speak to an advisor (see e-mail addresses below) before enrolling in pre-requisite course so you can be sure they will satisfy admission requirements. An advisor can also give individualized suggestions for the best way to meet prerequisites.

Is experience in health care necessary?
While work or volunteer experience is advantageous it is not required. Students will receive all the experience they need in the program. (Bellarmine students have more clinical hours than students do in any other nursing program in Kentucky). If a prospective student were interested in getting a job or volunteer experience in the healthcare field it would be a good idea to talk to an advisor for suggestions.

How much does it cost? How could I pay for the program?
The cost of the program is three semesters of full-time tuition. For the class entering in May of 2009 the tuition is 14,580 per semester. This is a three semester program.

There are additional costs for books, uniforms, and lab fees. Most students borrow money from the federal government; students can borrow up to $12,500 each academic year ($25,000 total) for tuition and related expenses. Several local hospitals are offering generous scholarships in return for an agreement to work for them after graduation. It is important to access the Bellarmine Financial Aid website for comprehensive advice about financial aid.

Where can I get more information?
Visit our Nursing homepage often for updates or contact Julie Armstrong-Binnix, Graduate Admission Officer Nursing Recruiter at, 502.272.8364 or 800.274.4723 to request an accelerated information packet and for general program information.