Students at table studying

Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program

Earn your BSN in about a year at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco Peninsula, and Fresno.


  • On Campus

Program Duration

  • One Year (Three Semesters)

Upcoming Deadlines

Fall Application - Fresno

Accelerate Your Nursing Career

If you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree in another field and wish to pursue a career in nursing, SMU’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program may be right for you. The fast-track format was designed to build upon your previous learning and professional experience, allowing you to complete your BSN in just about 12 months. 

This intensive, short-term program includes a mix of theory and clinical education, giving you both the knowledge and skills you’ll need to transition into your new career. Upon graduation, you’ll be eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.

We are delighted to announce that the SMU ABSN students in quarter 2 of 2023 achieved an exceptional milestone, with a remarkable 100% pass rate on the NCLEX exam! This outstanding accomplishment is a testament to the dedication, hard work, and rigorous training that our students undergo during their time at SMU. The NCLEX exam is a crucial step for aspiring nurses, as it determines their eligibility to practice in the nursing profession. Our students' exceptional performance reflects the high-quality education and support they receive from our esteemed faculty and staff. Through our comprehensive curriculum and hands-on clinical experiences, we ensure that our students are well-prepared to face the challenges of the NCLEX exam and excel in their nursing careers. The 100% pass rate is a testament to the academic rigor of our program and the commitment of our students to their studies. We are incredibly proud of the achievements of our ABSN students, as they have demonstrated their readiness to provide exceptional care and make a positive impact in the healthcare field. Congratulations to all the students and faculty involved for this tremendous accomplishment!

What we look for:

  • Compassion
  • Interpersonal/interprofessional communication
  • Teamwork
  • Critical thinking
  • Responsibility

Featured Events

Program Requirements & Info

Applicants are considered for admission to the ABSN program based upon the following criteria:

  • Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution AND a grade of “C” or better in all prerequisites courses

  • A recommended minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 semester/90 quarter units of coursework

  • A recommended minimum 3.0 GPA in the four science prerequisite courses

  • Two letters of reference: one from a faculty member, preferably a math or science instructor, and the other from a healthcare professional. References from family and friends will not be considered.

  • Short answer responses submitted with the application

  • A written statement detailing your reasons for transfer if you have attended a nursing program at another college/university. This statement will need to be supported by a letter from the dean of your current nursing program explaining that you are in good standing and eligible for continued enrollment in your current program

Fall Term - Fresno, July 1 Application Deadline (new campus location)
Campus location: Fresno
Application opens: May
Prerequisites completion deadline: August 15 prior to program start
Program start: August (Fresno), October (Fresno)

Fall Term - April 1 Application Deadline
Campus locations: Sacramento, San Francisco Peninsula*
Application opens: December
Prerequisites completion deadline: August 15 prior to program start
Program start: August (Sacramento), November (San Francisco Peninsula)

Spring Term - July 1 Application Deadline
Campus locations: Sacramento, San Francisco Peninsula
Application opens: April
Prerequisites completion deadline: December 31 prior to program start
Program start: January (Sacramento and San Francisco Peninsula)

Summer Term - December 1 Application Deadline
Campus locations: San Francisco Peninsula, Oakland
Application opens: September
Prerequisites completion deadline: December 31 prior to program start
Program start: May (San Francisco Peninsula), June (Oakland), June (San Francisco Peninsula)

*San Francisco Peninsula located in San Mateo, CA

Application Fees
Application fees are payable to Nursing’s Centralized Application Service (NursingCAS). Samuel Merritt University does not charge an additional admission fee.

Application Fee = $60 

Non-Refundable Deposits and Fees
Students offered admission pay a non-refundable tuition deposit of $350 to secure their seat in the class. Application fees and tuition deposits are non-refundable, whether or not the student withdraws in the first week of the term.

Tuition Calculator
For a detailed summary of annual tuition, and all fees for the program visit Student Accounts.  

Admitted Academic Year: 2024 - 2025 

            Per Unit Rate                =          $1,885/unit 

            Program Units               =          52 units 

            Total Cost Guarantee*   =          $98,000 

*The total cost estimate does not reflect potential future tuition rate increases.

All prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of “C” or better by the terms listed in the table below. Although it is acceptable to have courses planned or in progress at the time of application, it is in the students’ best interest to have as many courses completed as possible at the time of application. Without exception, prerequisite courses may not be completed concurrently with the ABSN program.

Prerequisite Requirement, Semester Units (except as otherwise specified)

  • English Composition,  3.0
  • English Literature/Critical Thinking (Courses in Philosophy are not acceptable),  3.0
  • Communication or Speech Elective (Any communication or speech course is acceptable), 3.0
  • Introduction to Sociology OR General Sociology OR Cultural Anthropology (Biological anthropology is not acceptable),  3.0
  • Social Science Elective (A course in anthropology, sociology, psychology, economics, ethnic studies, political science, history, etc.), 3.0
  • Lifespan Developmental Psychology (Content must cover birth to death. General Psychology does not meet the requirement), 3.0
  • Nutrition (General, broad-based course), 3.0
  • Statistics (Research methods courses are unacceptable), 3.0
  • Human Anatomy with Lab [A combined course in Anatomy and Physiology (A&P) can be used to meet the requirement only if two combined A&P courses are completed, e.g. A&P I and A&P II], 4.0
  • Human Physiology with Lab [A combined course in Anatomy and Physiology (A&P) can be used to meet the requirement only if two combined A&P courses are completed, e.g. A&P I and A&P II], 4.0
  • Chemistry with Lab, 4.0 semester or 6.0 quarter units
  • Microbiology with Lab, 4.0
  • Pharmacology, Varies (Must come from one of the approved lists of Pharmacology courses listed in the section below)
  • Pathophysiology, Varies (Must come from one of the approved lists of Pathophysiology courses listed in the section below)
Prerequisite Course Articulation Tool

Wondering if you took the right courses as a local CSU, UC or community college? Use our new Prerequisite Course Articulation Tool to see which courses meet the prerequisite requirements for ABSN, BSN and ELMSN programs. 

Cohorts and Prerequisite Deadlines

Anatomy, Physiology, Pharmacology and Pathophysiology Courses at SMU

Samuel Merritt University offers prerequisite coursework in Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Pharmacology and Pathophysiology. The courses are taught in the fall, spring and summer terms and are designed for prospective students. More information can be found on the Undergraduate Prerequisite Courses website.

AP and IB Exam Credits

AP exam scores of 3, 4 or 5 and IB exam scores of 5, 6 or 7 may be used to meet prerequisite requirements, but are only acceptable if the exams scores are clearly noted on official university transcript. 

Official Transcripts

Applicants must request that their official transcripts be sent directly to NursingCAS from their college or university's registrar's office. Applicants should follow instructions provided in NursingCAS, and may reference SMU's Application Process for additional details. 

Approved Pharmacology Courses

These courses are ones that have been pre-approved, by the School of Nursing, to meet the pharmacology requirements. We strongly advise you to contact each school to find out about enrollment requirements and if courses are offered online, on-campus, telecourse, etc. You may ONLY take courses listed here. If you are considering taking a course that is not listed below, you must email the course syllabus to the Office of Admission at and request that it be submitted for approval. For questions or concerns please call the Office of Admission at 510.879.9200. Below is the name of the school, the course number and the title of the course. 

Note: Double asterisks ** indicate that the 2 unit course is approved by the faculty regardless of the number of units.



Approved Pathophysiology Courses

These courses have been pre-approved by the School of Nursing to meet the pathophysiology requirements. We strongly advise you to contact each school to find out about enrollment requirements and if courses are offered online, on-campus, telecourse, etc. You may ONLY take courses listed here. If you are considering taking a course that is not listed below, you must email the course syllabus to the Office of Admission at and request that it be submitted for approval. For questions or concerns, please call the Office of Admission at 510.879.9200. Below is the name of the school, the course number and the title of the course. 


Your nursing education at Samuel Merritt University is an important and valuable investment in your future.  Not only will you have the opportunity to pursue a rewarding career in health care,  but Samuel Merritt University graduates have a loan default rate of less than one percent.  This means that students who borrowed to attend Samuel Merritt University have found employment in their chosen field that allows them to pay off their loans. 

The first step in applying for financial aid at SMU is to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). ABSN students are eligible for scholarships and student loans. Federal and state grants are not allowed for a second bachelor's degree.

Scholarships for ABSN include:

  • Sharon Clark Diaz
  • Employee Campaign
  • Alumni Scholarship
  • Highsmith Scholarship
  • Huber Scholarship
  • Steele Scholarship
  • Osher Scholarship
  • Lewis Scholarship

Your Financial Aid Package at Samuel Merritt University is personalized to you.  We develop your financial aid package using guidelines set by the Department of Education and the estimated costs of each program.

In addition to the cost of tuition, books and fees, financial aid can also cover other indirect educational costs, so the total cost of attendance includes:

  • Books and Supplies
  • Room and Board
  • Transportation
  • Personal Expenses
  • Other fees as determined by program/college

Once you receive your financial aid package, check this budget against your actual living expenses and we can make necessary adjustments to meet your needs. More about financial aid. 

We realize that the financial aid process can be difficult and overwhelming.  We are here to help.  Financial Aid staff can assist with budgeting, understanding your awards and understanding the process.  The SMU staff is committed to each and every prospective student and enrolled student.  We have an open-door policy and are available via phone or email or 510-879-9200

Sequential Course Curriculum     Course Descriptions

Samuel Merritt University, School of Nursing, offers an accelerated baccalaureate program (ABSN) for candidates with higher degrees in other fields. The program recognizes each individual's past experiences and academic achievements and builds upon these assets. It provides a mechanism for graduates with non-nursing degrees to change careers efficiently and effectively. Because of these basic premises, the curriculum is different from the traditional BSN.

The program is designed to be completed in 12 months. The curriculum includes five terms of intensive study at a rapid pace. Although the curriculum and format are different from Samuel Merritt’s traditional BSN program, the goals, learning outcome objectives, and foundational concepts are the same.

Official Transcripts for Courses in Progress

All admitted students are required to provide official, sealed transcripts for courses that were still in progress or planned at time of application and were not updated in the Academic Update Process through the CAS system.

Acceptance is contingent on meeting all course requirements. Official transcripts are needed for all colleges attended. They must be mailed directly to NursingCAS by the issuing institution’s registrar’s office:

P.O. Box 9201
Watertown, MA 02471


Criminal Background Check and Drug Screen

A criminal background check and drug screening is required to participate in clinical rotations. To initiate your background check and drug screening, visit this website and complete the process as required within 30 days. If you have questions about the process, please call customer service at (888) 666-7788.

Health Insurance

All students are required to have medical insurance coverage in effect by their program’s first day of orientation. You can either enroll in one of Samuel Merritt University’s (SMU) plans or waive SMU insurance if you have a plan of your own.  Enroll or register a waiver through the tool provided by the Student Health and Counseling Center.  If you have not received a confirmation email within five days of your submission, please contact our insurance consultant, Trish Ivey at (888) 978-8355.

CPR Certification

Certification must be from the American Heart Association and be the Basic Life Support BLS module (must include adult, infant and children). You may go to any provider for these classes but the University has a partnership with HeartStart CPR including discounted pricing.

Required Health Forms

Every student must complete the Student Health Forms, which list the health requirements for incoming students. Please visit the Student Health Portal to enter your health information, as well as upload all the required supporting documents. In order to avoid a registration hold, please submit all your health requirements as soon as possible after being accepted into the program, but no later than 30 days before your program start date. All health information must be submitted online.  Documents submitted by mail, fax, or email will not be accepted and your documents will not be returned.

If you have a disability-related reason that prevents you from fulfilling any of these requirements, please contact the Disability Resource Center at to schedule a private conversation. 

Photo for ID Badge

Every student must submit a head-shot photo for their ID badge. Instructions and specs for this photo will be provided after you receive your admitted student portal checklist/email.

Licensure Exams, Graduation, and Employment Rates

Please refer to the university's Student Success Measures webpage for licensure exam pass rates, graduation rates, employment rates, and additional success indicators. 

Underrepresented students (low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented minority students) who are interested in Samuel Merritt University's BSN, ABSN, and ELMSN programs are encouraged to attend our three-day Nursing Success! Seminar. Students learn about the admissions process; meet current students, faculty, and staff; and tour the Health Sciences Simulation Center (HSSC) during this semi-annual event.

Applications are now open for the Nursing Success! Seminar. This event will be hosted virtually. Visit our Nursing Success! webpage to apply.

Visit our Admission Events page for Nursing Success! FAQs

Samuel Merritt University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501; 510.748.9001. 

The baccalaureate degree program in nursing at Samuel Merritt University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC., 20001.

Baccalaureate Accreditation

Initial Accreditation Date: April 21, 2001
Most Recent Accreditation Date: November 2, 2020
Accreditation Term Expires: June 30, 2031
Last On-Site Evaluation: November 2020
Next On-Site Evaluation: Fall 2030

Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Technical Standards

The mission of Samuel Merritt University is to produce highly skilled and compassionate nursing professionals. Students are expected to develop a robust healthcare knowledge base and requisite clinical skills, with the ability to appropriately apply knowledge and skills, effectively interpret information, and contribute to patient-centered decisions across a broad spectrum of clinical situations in all settings. The following technical standards, in conjunction with the academic standards, are requirements for admission, promotion, and graduation. The term “candidate” refers to candidates for admission to any of the Pre-licensure Programs well as current students who are candidates for retention, progression, or graduation.

These requirements may be achieved with or without reasonable accommodations, the cost of which will be borne by the institution. These standards should not serve as a deterrent to any candidate with disabilities who desires to pursue baccalaureate-level education. Candidates with disabilities bring unique perspectives which contribute to the diversity of the student population and will create a diverse health care workforce of culturally competent practitioners who can meet the needs of their patients. Candidates with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Disability Resource Center immediately to begin a confidential conversation about possible accommodations necessary to meet these standards. Fulfillment of the technical standards for graduation from any Pre-licensure Nursing Program does not guarantee that a graduate will be able to fulfill the technical requirements of any specific clinical position.

Technical Standards

Observational Skills

A candidate must acquire information as presented through demonstrations and experiences in foundational sciences. In addition, a candidate must be able to evaluate a patient accurately and assess relevant health, behavioral and medical information.  Candidates must be able to obtain and interpret information through comprehensive bio-psycho-social assessment of patients, correctly interpret diagnostic representations of patient data, and accurately evaluate patient conditions and responses in all clinical settings. 

Communication Skills

Candidates must exhibit interpersonal skills to enable effective care and collaboration for patients, including the ability to communicate effectively in English with all members of a multidisciplinary health care team, patients, their families, faculty, and staff.  Candidates must be able to clearly and accurately communicate verbal and written information and accurately interpret verbal and non-verbal communication in a timely manner.

Patient Care Skills 

Candidates must be able to perform health assessment and physical examination skills.  A candidate should be able to perform or direct basic laboratory tests (e.g., urinalysis), diagnostic and therapeutic procedures (e.g., venipuncture, placement of urinary catheters, electrocardiogram), and interpret findings.  A candidate must be able to provide or direct general and emergency treatment for patients, and respond to emergency situations in a timely manner (e.g., cardiopulmonary resuscitation, administration of intravenous medications, application of pressure to arrest bleeding).  Candidates must meet applicable safety standards for the environment and follow universal precaution procedures.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Cognitive Skills

Candidates must be able to learn through a variety of modalities, including but not limited to: lecture; group or team and collaborative activities; simulation; individual study; and use of computer technology.  A candidate must effectively interpret, assimilate and understand the complex information required to function within the Pre-licensure Program’s curriculum. The candidate must be able to synthesize information both in person and via technology; interpret causal connections and make accurate, fact-based conclusions based on available data and information; formulate a plan of care, investigate the potential answers and outcomes; and reach appropriate and accurate practice decisions. A candidate must be able to find sources of knowledge and possess the ability to be a life-long learner.

Behavioral Attributes, Social Skills and Professional Expectations

A candidate must be able to exercise good judgment, promptly complete all responsibilities attendant to the care of patients, and develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients, faculty, and fellow students in the learning community. The skills required to do so include the ability to effectively handle and manage heavy workloads, function effectively under stress, adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in clinical practice and academia.  Candidates are expected to exhibit professionalism, personal accountability, compassion, integrity, concern for others, and interpersonal skills including the ability to accept and apply feedback and to respect boundaries and care for all individuals in a respectful and effective manner regardless of gender identity, age, race, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or any other protected status. Candidates should understand, and function within, the legal and ethical aspects of the nursing practice, including patient advocacy, and maintain and display ethical and moral behaviors commensurate with the role of a nurse and a Samuel Merritt University student in all interactions with patients, faculty, staff, students and the public. Interest and motivation throughout the educational process are expected of all candidates.

Why SMU for Nursing?

SMU has a reputation for developing highly skilled and compassionate health care professionals.


Employment Rate Within One Year of Graduation

Our ABSN nursing graduates are heavily recruited professionals in their field.


NCLEX Pass Rate

Our graduates consistently exceed the state and national averages for first-time nursing licensure exam pass rates.


Median Annual Salary for California Nurses

A career in nursing is an investment in your future.



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