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How to Go from Military to BSN

To go from military to a BSN program, you’ll need to find a veteran-friendly nursing program that is in a good location and has been rated as military-friendly. You’ll also want to speak with an advisor to find out what requirements you need to meet and what prerequisites you may need. Nursing is also a great career option for military spouses that is in-demand and highly transportable.

Everything you need to know about going from the military to a BSN.

You served your country as a member of the U.S. military, but as a veteran, now you realized that you’re called to serve others in a different way: You want to become a nurse. How do you go from military to BSN-educated nurse?

The first step in transitioning from the military to earning a BSN is finding the right veteran-friendly nursing program. There are a lot of programs out there to choose from, but you’ll want to find one that doesn’t make you spend years getting your education, one that offers structure and support and a program that understands your lifestyle and schedule.

If you have a bachelor’s degree, the Marian University Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program makes it possible for you to earn a BSN in as few as 16 months. If you’re a veteran who wants to become a nurse, our program can help you get there sooner, as we offer three ABSN program starts a year per learning site, in January, May, and August.

If you’re a military spouse, our program also can equip you with the nursing skills and knowledge you’ll need to become a nurse quickly — and how to leverage your skills to create a career that caters to military life and is highly transferable through any moves or new challenges that pop up. Either way, our admissions advisors are ready to support you every step of the way.

How to Find Military-Friendly Nursing Programs

How will you know if a nursing program is military-friendly? Nearly every school offers some kind of support for veterans and their families. Here’s how Marian University stands out:


Location, location, location. No matter which Marian ABSN program site location you choose to enroll at, you’ll find something to love.

Marian ABSN Program Site in Nashville

Our Nashville site is only about 20 minutes from Nashville MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Stations), the U.S Army Department, and the U.S Army Reserve Center. It’s also about 50 miles from Fort Campbell, a “World Class Community” and is home of the Screaming Eagles, of the 101st Airborne — the Army’s only Air Assault Division.

Living close to a military base has a lot of perks — not only will there be lots of other veterans and military families close by, but you’ll also be close to resources focused toward veterans.

On top of that, the job outlook once you’re through our program is great in Nashville. The city is central to several top-tier hospital systems and more than 250 healthcare companies, easily making healthcare the region’s largest and fastest-growing industry.

It also features many up-and-coming neighborhoods, a nationally renowned arts and culture scene, and national sports teams, making it a great place to work and play.

Marian ABSN Program Site in Indianapolis

Our Indianapolis location is 30 minutes from the U.S Army Reserve, the Indiana Army Guard Reserve, and the Indiana National Guard locations.

Indianapolis has everything you’d want in a city — a thriving economy, expansive healthcare community, vibrant arts and culture scene, national sports teams, and miles of trails and greenways. Its low cost of living makes everything extremely affordable, too.

Marian ABSN Program Site Oklahoma City

Similarly, our Oklahoma City location is about 15 minutes from:

Oklahoma City is an up-and-coming metro that consistently ranks on many “best-of” lists for both living and working based on its hospitality, affordability, and growth potential, especially when it comes to the city’s burgeoning healthcare sector and demand for nurses.

Rankings and Credibility

Not only are each of our locations beneficial to veterans, U.S. News & World Report also ranks Marian University No. 20 on its Best Colleges for Veterans list.

The publication curates these rankings to provide veterans and active-duty service members with data on which top-ranked schools make pursuing a college education more affordable. As part of U.S. News’ annual statistical survey of undergraduate schools conducted in spring and summer 2020, schools reported on their enrollment of and benefits for veterans and active-duty service members.

Schools are only included in the 2021 edition of this ranking if they meet the following criteria:

  • The institution is certified for the GI Bill.
  • The institution participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program or is a public school.
  • For the fourth consecutive year, the institution must have enrolled a minimum of 20 full-time and part-time undergraduate veterans and undergraduate active service members in the 2019-2020 academic year.
  • The institution must be ranked in the top half of its 2021 Best Colleges ranking category – National Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges, Regional Colleges and Regional Universities.

Schools that qualify for the Best Colleges for Veterans lists are ranked based on their position in the 2021 edition of the Best Colleges rankings — where Marian came in at No. 28.

Accreditation and Board of Nursing Approval

Marian University also carries professional accreditations and state board of nursing approvals you can count on. This means you can rest assured our program meets standards that afford you the opportunities to receive financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education, transfer schools or advance your degree and have a competitive edge in the job market.

State’s Board of Nursing Approvals

When searching for a veteran-friendly nursing program, it’s important to find one approved by its state’s board of nursing (BON). Every state has its own unique set of eligibility requirements for taking the NCLEX exam and obtaining nurse licensure. These requirements are in place to protect the health, safety and welfare of its population.

If you were to begin your nursing degree from a school that didn’t have a state BON-approved nursing school, you likely would not be allowed to take the NCLEX, thus making you ineligible to practice as a registered nurse.

Luckily, each Marian University location we mentioned earlier holds the state approval and meets the requirements set forth by the Indiana, Tennessee and Oklahoma state boards of nursing, respectively.

CCNE Accreditation

CCNE Accreditation - logo

On a programmatic level, the baccalaureate degree program in nursing at Marian University is also accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), a branch of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. CCNE accredits bachelor’s, master’s and postgraduate-level nursing programs, and is approved by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit general nursing education programs.

Regional Accreditation

Marian University is also accredited on a regional level by the Higher Learning Commission, one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. This regional accreditation means our university has been closely evaluated and certified for meeting very specific standards of higher learning.

Our military-friendly nursing program has these high standards in place to ensure that as a nursing student, you’ll have the tools and benefits you need to become a successful and capable nurse.

Support for Veterans

Another key element of a military-friendly nursing program is having support for veterans. Our admissions advisors will be there every step of the way to help you with everything you might need. Whether it’s figuring out what kind of benefits you can apply for, which prerequisites to take or any other questions — we’ve got your six.

While the process of applying to nursing school can seem overwhelming, your assigned admissions advisor will be there for you every step of the way, championing your entry into the ABSN program. In fact, our admissions advisors are always ready and willing to:

  • Review your academic qualifications to confirm your enrollment eligibility.
  • Help you determine if our program is the right education fit for you.
  • Develop a prerequisite completion plan that targets your desired program start date.
  • Keep you on track during the admissions and application processes.

In fact, a supportive admissions advisor can make or break your experience in an ABSN program. For veteran Timothy Lund, his advisor was his biggest supporter and guided him through the whole process, not unlike his army recruiter.

Personal Experience from Military to BSN: Timothy’s Story

Timothy Lund in his army uniform

Following the tragic events of 9/11, Timothy felt the call to military service. He wanted to help people and step up, but he wasn’t totally sure how to do so. Before long, an answer came to him: the Army National Guard. He wasn’t 100 percent sure he could become a soldier, but with the support of his recruiter, he did just that.

During his service in the Eleven Bravo Infantry, Timothy’s focus was in the military medical field, working a lot with medical readiness for troops. His duties included record keeping and patient administration.

After Service

After years serving in the medical readiness and patient administration fields, he left the military and began substitute teaching before taking on a full-time contract as a classroom teacher. He quickly learned teaching wasn’t his passion, or what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, but he wasn’t sure what path was right for him. Then, one summer break, everything changed for him.

His mom had gotten very sick, and he went to take care of her. She had fallen and lost a lot of weight, and needed a level of care he was ready to step in and provide.

Call to Nursing

Through this challenging situation, Timothy realized helping someone who really needed it was definitely in his wheelhouse. The things he had been helping his mother do seemed to mirror the duties of a nurse. A friend thought so too, and told him his skills and compassion would make him a great nurse!

That led Timothy to begin searching for ABSN programs around Memphis and Nashville. Unfortunately, he says, other schools weren’t super helpful when he needed to ask questions about their programs.

Veteran-Friendly Nursing Program at Marian University

Luckily, that changed when he found the Marian ABSN program in Nashville. He was able to connect immediately with his advisor, Haley, who helped him make an enrollment plan and figure out which prerequisite courses he needed to take. 

He was also able to review financial options as well and see which military benefits he may be able to apply to his BSN degree, as well as filling out the FASFA, which ended up being the best option for him.

While other schools didn’t provide much guidance, his Marian advisor made sure Timothy was comfortable and understood each step of the process.

Prerequisite Requirements

Timothy was able to complete his prerequisites on a schedule that worked for him thanks to Marian’s Adult Programs (MAP). These accelerated courses are taught 100% online by Marian University professors and include interactive exercises that aid in the learning process and strengthen critical thinking skills.

He ended up needing to take several classes prior to starting and chose to take one five-week class at a time: two psychology courses as well as one each of physiology, anatomy and chemistry, microbiology classes at a pace that worked for him.

Did you know? MAP provides:

Accredited online classes in an accelerated format.

Five-week course options offered nine times a year.

Eight-week course options offered six times a year.

Seamless credit transfers with our Leighton School of Nursing.

Reserved seating opportunities for the ABSN program.

Timothy was able to seamlessly transition into the program after he completed the MAP program, and since he was already familiar with the online format and program he didn’t skip a beat when beginning the ABSN curriculum.

Skills that Transfer from the Military to BSN

He’s enjoying his program, but says it’s very challenging. Luckily, some of the skills he developed in the military translate to making him successful at nursing school.

For Timothy, one of the most important things is time management. Setting a schedule and being organized are vital to his success: “You need to stick with the schedule. There’s so much to it and it’s a lot of work. Make a schedule and stick to it. Don’t push anything off for a day. You have to treat it like a job.” He also says self-discipline and holding yourself accountable will make or break your time in the program.

“That first month
is almost like bootcamp.”

Especially in the first semester, Timothy says setting your own pace but holding yourself accountable to complete your assignments is key.

According to Timothy, “That first month is almost like bootcamp.” The first semester of your time in the Marian ABSN program will definitely be rigorous, but with your skills and drive it’s doable.

Similar to nursing, the military isn’t a regular 9-5 job —You start and go until the work’s done. Timothy says being used to that kind of schedule has been helpful. “If your work’s not done,” he says, “you’re not done.”

Cohort and Family Support

Timothy says he had an amazing cohort that he could count on, too. He found it easy to connect with folks in his program and support each other.

“We didn’t want to leave anybody behind in our cohort, we want everybody to move forward as a unit…something that’s also big in the military,” he says.

While Timothy is the only veteran in his group, he found a close friend in a military spouse. “I have my battle buddies; I’m the only prior service person…one of my friends is married to a soldier up at Fort Campbell. You relate to some people more than others, but you have your team and that definitely helps you out,” he says.

Timothy Lund with the American flag

“We didn’t want to leave anybody behind in our cohort, we want everybody to move forward as a unit[…]”

The most important skill he’s learned from the military that he has applied to the Marian ABSN program is determination. He says to try to realize that while nursing school is challenging, this too shall pass and that you can get through it. “Soldiers,” he says, “are used to going through more stressful situations than this.”

Timothy joined the military because he wanted to be of service and do a job that helped people. As a nurse, he feels he will also be fulfilling that goal. Marian nurses change lives, and Timothy is well on his way to a fulfilling career as an RN.

Nursing Programs for Military Spouses

Now that we’ve covered veteran-friendly nursing programs, it’s important to talk about how becoming a nurse can be an incredible opportunity for military spouses. In her article, 47 Things No One tells You About Being A Military Wife, writer and military spouse Lauren Tamm says: “You’ll spend the majority of your time as a military spouse either unemployed or underemployed.”

With the Marian ABSN program, you can start a fulfilling career as a nurse in as few as 16 months. Nursing is a nearly perfect job for a military spouse: The skills you learn are highly transferable, you can work on a temporary contract as a travel nurse, making it very transportable, and nursing has high job security.

“I do think that being a military spouse having a nursing degree will be so beneficial. There’s a huge shortage of nurses but not only that nurses are portable. Nurses can work anywhere. Even if you have a field of nursing that you love -for me it’s oncology -there’s a need for oncology nurses everywhere in the states, even overseas. It works out really well to be able to work wherever your spouse ends up.”

Heather Hay, ABSN Class of May 2020

The growing demand for nurses across the country is creating significant financial reward and upward mobility opportunities for individuals with a BSN degree or higher. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for registered nurses was $75,330 in May 2020.

Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029 per the BLS, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will occur for a number of reasons, including an increased emphasis on preventive care; increasing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for healthcare services from the baby-boom population, as this group leads longer and more active lives.

“I chose this program because it’s accelerated. In the event that we were to end up moving to another state because of my husband’s military job, I feel like completing this program in 16 months would work with our timeline.”

Ritu Jayant, Class of May 2020

Military Spouse Jobs

For the spouse supporting their military partner in their ABSN journey, there are several good employment options that also have qualities that will fit in to your schedule.

While military spouses are a diverse group of excellent candidates for employers, it can certainly be challenging to find employers that understand their needs.

This list of 9 Jobs for Military Spouses That Move With You highlights careers in graphic design, social work and education, among others.

Luckily, there are a ton of great resources to help you kick off your job search, including:

Also, be sure to check out this list for more leads that could provide your next career. 

If you’re a military spouse, you may also be eligible to apply using a non-competitive process designed to help you get a job in the federal government through USA Jobs.

Whether you’re a veteran or a military spouse, Marian University thanks you for your service and is ready to help you start your next chapter as a capable, confident, life-saving nurse.

Going from Military to BSN Is Possible Sooner Than You Think!

Now that you know transitioning from the military into a fulfilling career in nursing is possible (and why it’s such a good idea to do so), what are you waiting for?

The best time to reach out to our admissions team to learn more about how the Marian ABSN program can help you launch your new nursing career is today!

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