RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Bob McDonnell says an agreement between Virginia's community colleges and an online university is making it faster and more affordable to get a bachelor's degree in nursing.

McDonnell said Tuesday that students who take advantage of the agreement with Western Governors University could earn their degree in three years at an estimated total cost of $17,000 in tuition and fees.

Students are required to earn an associate's degree in nursing from one of the state's 23 community colleges and obtain their license to practice as a registered nurse. They also must be working as a registered nurse to be accepted into Western Governors University. Student would then complete additional online courses.

The Virginia Community College System has more than 30 similar guaranteed admission agreements with public and private universities.