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

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. 


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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.

Javier Aget

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. 

Erin Tolbert

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?


Hi Jacky, 

I believe the California State University system offers an accelerated nurse practitioner program. 

Erin Tolbert

Where in California are there any of these programs?


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?


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

Erin Tolbert

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!!


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. 

Erin Tolbert

Thank you for this article! I am wondering if you know of any bridge programs ( for non nurse BS) to NP in Florida?