Nurse Practitioner Bridge Programs

Lindsay Smith
Last updated at January 4, 2021

To become a nurse practitioner (NP), students typically obtain a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing (BSN) and continue their studies to obtain a Master's Degree in Nursing (MSN). But how do you become an NP if you didn't obtain a BSN?

It is possible to become a nurse practitioner if you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. If you have a bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing and are looking for a way to become a nurse practitioner without starting from scratch, an accelerated program may be the right choice for you.

Nurse Practitioner Bridge Programs

Although some schools might label these programs differently, the concept is the same. Many colleges and universities have started to offer programs for those who have obtained a bachelor's degree in another field of study but want to become a nurse practitioner.

Since some schools use “Accelerated” and “Direct Entry” interchangeably, you'll need to do some research to make sure you are entering the correct program. An “Accelerated” nursing program could assume you already have an RN license whereas a Direct Entry program may not.

These learning institutions generally offer a pathway that allows students to obtain their BSN, typically in three semesters, then pursue an MSN, which generally takes another three semesters. This allows students who have a bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing, to become an NP in only two years when attending on a full-time basis.

What are the Requirements for Acceptance Into an NP Bridge Program?

In order to be accepted to nurse practitioner bridge programs, students must already be a licensed practicing nurse (LPN). The schooling required to become an LPN takes about 18 months.

Once certified, an LPN works under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN). It's a task-focused job that deals more with skills and attending to immediate patient necessities than long-term care or medical treatment.

Direct Entry Nurse Practitioner Admissions Requirements

While the admission requirements for a Direct Entry NP program will vary from state to state, there are some requirements and documents that all nursing applicants need to fulfill and submit along with their admission form. They include:

  • An application to your nursing school of choice
  • A 3.0 GPA or above
  • GRE scores
  • Transcripts from your undergraduate experience
  • 2-3 recommendation letters
  • An essay or personal statement on why you wish to pursue a career as a nursing practitioner

Some colleges and universities that offer the Direct Entry NP will review your transcripts to ensure you have completed all the required prerequisite courses. These prerequisite courses may include biology, statistics, and human anatomy.

Things to Consider

Oftentimes, these types of education solutions are restricted. There may be stipulations attached to them such as requiring students to be available on a full-time basis.

Some universities, community colleges, or technical schools may not allow you to study part-time or for you to earn your nursing degree online. If this is the case, you'll have to make the necessary arrangements to support yourself while you're attending classes. This might mean leaving your current job, or doubling up your schedule and taking night classes.

Your financial situation and personal commitments will have a large influence on your ability to fully participate in a bridge program. However, for those who are truly passionate about becoming a nurse practitioner, the temporary sacrifices prove worthwhile in the long term.

Nursing Practitioner Bridge Programs Online

The Internet provides millions of students the chance to study and earn their degrees or certification without having to rearrange their entire lives to attend on-site classes. Below you'll find two universities that offer 100 percent online nursing practitioner bridge programs.

Grand Canyon University

  • A private, Christian university based out of Nevada.
  • Accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
  • No GRE required.
  • Minimum time commitment of 24 months.
  • Popular Programs: M.S. in Nursing: Public Health (Bridge), M.S. in Nursing: Health Care Informatics (Bridge)

North Dakota State University

  • Being an RN not required. Alternative degree path for non-RN students.
  • Accredited by the CCNE.
  • Minimum time commitment of 122 credits.
  • Full LPN to BSN online program.


A nurse practitioner must earn a BSN and then a master's degree to prove knowledge in their field. Although these programs are rigorous, they are easily adaptable for passionate learners and can be taken by anyone, regardless of their age or prior professional experience.

Categorised in: