**Update on BSN Accelerated Option - Nov 22, 2010**
The Montana State Board of Regents (BOR) met in Missoula on November 17-19 and approved the accelerated BSN option which the College of Nursing plans to implement in May 2011. The Screening/ Admissions Committee has completed its review of all of the applications that were submitted by August 1, 2010. The 26 top ranked applicant s have been identified, are being notified, and will be interviewed during the month of December. From that group, the top 16 will be offered admission to the accelerated option. The remaining 10 applicants who were interviewed will comprise the Wait List. All other applicants will be notified that they were not selected for the first cohort and may reapply for the second cohort or may apply for the traditional BSN degree program.
Though the specific cost each semester is unknown at this time, the accelerated option will cost more than the traditional BSN program per semester since accelerated students will be enrolled in more credits each of the four semesters of the option and the option will be offered through Extended University (EU). However, given that students will complete the option in 16 instead of 29 months, they will be in the workplace earlier and earning a salary over the 13 months they would traditionally still be in school.
The College of Nursing at Montana State University is exploring offering an accelerated second degree option for students to earn a baccalaureate degree in nursing. This option would be available only to students who already have a baccalaureate degree in a discipline other than nursing. Students would be required to have completed essentially the same pre-requisite courses as the traditional students EXCEPT for WRIT 101, CLS 101, and the art, humanities, and diversity Core 2.0 requirements. Once admitted to the nursing major, they would be able to complete the nursing degree in approximately 16 months, as opposed to the 29 months it takes the traditional students.
Accelerated post-baccalaureate options are common in the discipline of nursing. Currently there are over 217 accelerated second degree options in the country. Only three states do not offer such an option – Alaska, Hawaii, and Montana. Research has shown that these students are highly motivated students, do well in school, and are rated highly by employers. Because these students already have a degree and have demonstrated success as college students, they are able to progress at a faster pace through such an intense program. These accelerated options are held to the same national accreditation standards as are traditional baccalaureate programs.
The need for this accelerated option for students who already have a baccalaureate degree in a discipline other than nursing acknowledges the shortage of nurses prepared at the baccalaureate level, especially in rural, remote underserved areas. Trends such as the large number of the baby boomer population now aging and needing care, our ability to treat more chronic and acute disorders, and the pending retirement of a large percentage of nurses in the next ten years are fueling that need for nurses. Not only is there a current and projected shortage of nurses to provide care, the projected faculty shortage is significant. Second degree students who are exceptionally strong academically have shown to have a great interest in advancing into graduate education, thus increasing the supply of master’s or doctorally prepared nurses qualified to work as nurse educators.