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This website has been created for nursing faculty who find themselves embarking upon or in the midst of offering their community college nursing students new, innovative pathways to achieving their BSNs. So explore and investigate the resources that have worked well to date for the CCBC ATB initiative! It is hoped the sharing of these resources can help to advance other similar ADN-BSN partnerships. CCBC Nursing is the grateful recipient of two Nurse Support II Grants from the Maryland Higher Education Commission under the auspices of the State of Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission which made the ATB Option and this website possible.


New Initiatives for ATB

CCBC Nursing was awarded a second NSPII grant in spring 2016 to further its work with the ATB model. Seeking to create a culture of academic progression and connect 80% of its associate degree nursing students to a BSN program by the time of A.S. degree completion, work has begun to achieve this goal by 2020.

The approach sets goals of enrolling at least 50% of each incoming Fundamentals Nursing student cohort as ATB, at least 20% of the cohort as second year entry ATB, and at least 10% of the cohort as applying to an RN to BSN completion program by the time of CCBC graduation.

The initiative is outlined in the model below and is called:
Expanded Pathways to the BSN: ATB 1-2-3

322 New ATB BSNs and Counting!

The first cohort of CCBC-Towson University ATB students began to earn their B.S. degrees in December 2014. As of May 2020 there have been 322 B.S. degrees awarded to ATB students from all four of CCBC’s partner universities.

First Year Entry

Enrollment numbers for ATB 1.0 students have steadily increased. The first CCBC ATB students were admitted in Fall 2017 to Towson University. Three additional university partners (Frostburg State, Notre Dame of MD and Stevenson) began admitting ATB students twice yearly in fall 2015. CCBC admits about 150-160 ADN students each fall and about 110-120 students each spring. With enrollment trends as seen in the graph, CCBC has often reached its goal of 50% of incoming students as dually enrolled in ATB prior to the target date of 2020.

Enrollment Growth: Number of Students

  • Fall
  • Spring

Second Year Entry

Due to student interest, CCBC and the partner universities agreed to create and launch ATB 2.0 in fall 2016. Students not in ATB 1.0 are expressing interest in enrolling once they learn more about the benefits of earning a BSN. Increased efforts will be directed to holding ATB 2.0 Information Sessions and encouraging students to apply in greater numbers to reach the goal of 20% of each entering cohort beginning ATB in year two. The 20 students who began ATB 2.0 in spring 2019 represented nearly 19% of their entering class.

Sem/Yr of

2.0 Entry

ATB 2.0

Enrollment #















Non-ATB ADN Grads (n)/Surveyed


Grads Reporting Have Applied to RN – BSN Program Grads Reporting Acceptance to RN – BSN Program Grads Reporting Plan to Apply to RN – BSN< 6 mos Grads Reporting Plan to Apply to RN – BSN6 mos – 1 yr Grads Reporting Plan to Apply to RN – BSN1 yr – 2 yrs
May 2017    N= 61 16 10 21 11 3
Dec 2017     N= 26* 8 6 8 7 2
May 2018       N=37 5 2 17 11 2
Dec 2018        N = 47 6 5 23 16 2
May 2019      N = 37** 10 8 13 14 0
Dec 2019       N = 47 8 6 11 18 6

Connection to RN to BSN Program

Each semester, surveys of graduating CCBC non-ATB students (ATB 3.0) are conducted to gauge progress made toward creating a culture of academic progression. ATB Coordinators distribute to fourth semester non-ATB students a convenient table summarizing information about partner universities’ RN to BSN programs. They also organize on the CCBC campuses RN to BSN Application Days attended by university representatives. Numbers are encouraging showing non-ATB students are applying to RN to BSN programs or are indicating the majority have plans to apply within the first year after graduation. Work will continue to assist non-ATB students to explore and apply to RN to BSN programs prior to CCBC graduation in order to reach the target of 10% of each entering cohort completing application and receiving acceptance to an RN-BSN program.

ATB Lessons Learned

Fall 2020 marks the eight year anniversary of the launch of the CCBC Nursing ATB Option. There have been many lessons learned about creating and managing an ATB program. Perhaps the most significant lesson learned is that community college – university dual enrollment nursing education models can and do work!  There certainly have been challenges, but the successes far outweigh the challenges that have been faced. Examples of each can be seen below.


  • Time to develop ATB agreements/curricula/print materials/marketing & recruitment strategies
  • Financial aid logistics between schools
  • Credit transfer between schools
  • Year-round attendance
  • Different policies/procedures for ADN, BSN schools
  • Securing buy-in from all college departments
  • Course scheduling
  • Generating registration/grade reports for universities
  • Tracking outcome data
  • New grad residency program requirements may slow timeline to BSN course completion

  • Four partner universities (150 potential ATB seats)
  • Clear, seamless dual enrollment pathways
  • > 50% of CCBC ADN incoming students now ATB
  • Diverse population has greater access to BSN
  • More affordable pathway to a BSN
  • Early connection to university
  • University courses accepted for A.S. degree avoids course repetition (i.e., Health Assessment, Professional Practice)
  • All 4 universities will produce BSN grads by spring ‘18
  • ATB students advantaged in hiring process
  • ATB students already comfortable at their university when beginning first RN position/nurse residency
  • Students invested in BSN completion
  • Earlier career BSN completion, expanded career opportunities and earlier potential entry to advanced degree programs


Secrets to Successful Associate to Bachelor’s (ATB) Partnerships

  • Identify logical partners (which schools do your ADN grads typically seek out for their RN to BSN?)
  • Involve key personnel at ADN, BSN institutions early in the planning, MOU agreement process
  • Select ATB champions at ADN, BSN institutions to lead the ATB initiative
    • Those who can work with a spirit of cooperation, respect and problem solving
  • Provide clear academic road maps
    • Curriculum plans, admission criteria, application procedures, advising
  • Embrace a positive academic progression culture from day one in the associate degree nursing program
    • Provide multiple progression options to meet different student needs
  • Increase online/hybrid BSN course options to reduce scheduling conflicts with ADN clinical courses
  • Desire to contribute to reaching the IOM’s goal and further advance…
    • Cost and time effective BSN education opportunities for more diverse student population
    • Safe, quality care for the nation’s health care consumers
    • Professional nursing practice

Collaborating for Seamless Academic Progression

For too many decades the debate over entry into practice created a divide between associate and bachelor’s degree nursing faculty, hindering any substantive nursing education reform.  Two landmark publications by the IOM (2011) and Benner et al. (2010), together with compelling research that links a higher BSN workforce to better patient outcomes (Aiken et al., 2003), have provided the impetus to act. At last, educators recognize that by embracing the richness of both ADN and BSN education programs, they can forge effective, inclusive partnerships that can help achieve the IOM’s 80% BSN by 2020 recommendation.  Affordable ADN-BSN partnership education models also serve to improve access to the BSN credential and contribute to a more diverse nursing workforce. Read more »