Introduction to Master’s in Nursing Degrees

BestMastersInNursing offers resources for students who are interested in pursuing a degree in nursing. As a graduate program, students pursuing a masters in nursing can expect to explore the healthcare system in-depth as well as specialize in the selected field of nursing. MSN programs help prepare students for administrative positions or work towards becoming practitioners.

The master’s in nursing program is available online and through traditional schools. Most master’s programs for nursing take two years to complete; some schools even offer RN to MSN programs, which are accelerated programs for working nurses.

American Sentinel University
RN to MSN
MSN in Case Management
MSN in Infection Prevention
MSN in Informatics
MSN in Leadership
American Sentinel University–American Sentinel University offers several online advanced Nursing degree programs including: RN to MSN, MSN: Case Management, Infection Prevention and MSN: Informatics. This program trains nurses to assume a leadership role within multidisciplinary teams, directly provide and manage competent care for individuals, families and groups and to integrate methods of research and scholarship in diagnosing patients.
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Kaplan University
RN to MSN
MSN in Nurse Administration
MSN in Nurse Education
Kaplan University–Kaplan University offers several advanced online degree programs in Nursing including: RN to MSN, MSN: Nurse Administration and MSN: Nurse Education. These programs are for different levels of experience ranging from already licensed RN's to nurse management positions. The online program offers the flexibility to help students to successfully manage their schedule, education and career.
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University of Cincinnati
MSN in Clinical Nursing
MSN in Nursing Administration
MSN in Nurse Midwifery
MSN in Psychiatric Nursing
MSN in Women's Health
University of Cincinnati–The University of Cincinnati offers several online Nursing degree programs including: MSN: Clinical Nursing, MSN: Nursing Administration, MSN: Nurse Midwifery, MSN: Psychiatric Nursing and MSN: Women's Health. This program has committed itself to empowering nurse leaders to drastically alter the course of the health care industry with each student's needs identified individually.
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Georgetown University
MSN in Midwifery & Women
MSN in Family Nursing
Georgetown University–Georgetown University offers two online advanced nursing degrees: MSN: Midwifery & Women and MSN: Family Nursing. Georgetown University enables licensed RNs to transition into careers as family nurse practitioners. This program provides its students with the technical expertise and clinical skills necessary to prevent disease, promote health, and manage and assess illness within families.
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Grand Canyon University
MSN/MBA Dual Degree
MSN in Nurse Education
MSN in Nurse Leadership
Grand Canyon University–Grand Canyon University offers several online Nursing degree programs including: MSN/MBA Dual Degree, MSN: Nurse Education and MSN: Nurse Leadership. This program prepares experienced registered nurses to provide competent and advanced practice nursing care. The program combines courses in advanced health assessment, clinical diagnosis, procedural skill acquisition and physiological impact.
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Sacred Heart University
MSN in Clinical Nurse Leader
MSN in Nurse Education
MSN in Patient Care Services
Sacred Heart University–Sacred Heart University offers several online Nursing degree programs including: MSN: Clinical Nurse Leader, MSN: Nurse Education and MSN: Patient Care Services. This program emphasizes personal attention and interaction between faculty members and students to help foster a meaningful educational experience. Also, the faculty members have extensive clinical experience and scholarly and teaching credentials.
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South University
BSN to MSN
Accelerated RN to MSN
MSN in Adult Health
MSN in Nurse Education
South University–South University offers several online Nursing degree programs including: BSN to MSN, Accelerated RN to MSN, MSN: Adult Health and MSN: Nurse Education. This program is for registered nurses seeking to advance in their careers. This program helps students to develop clinical teaching skills and to utilize research in the nursing practice.
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Capella University
MSN in Nurse Education
Capella University–Capella University offers an advanced online degree, MSN in Nurse Education. This program allows nurses to expand their knowledge of health care systems and policies, patient education, health promotion, and technology integration, with a focus on the design, delivery, assessment, and evaluation of nurse education programs.
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Maryville University
MSN in FNP
MSN in Adult/Geriatric
Maryville University–Maryville University offers MSN in Family Nurse Practitioner and MSN in Adult/Geriatric Nurse Practitioner online degrees. This program is for busy Nursing professionals who are ready to take their career to the next level. The program educates students in Nursing Administration, Management, Leadership, Finance, Quality Assurance and Health Promotion.
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Drexel University
RN to BSN to MSN
MSN in Clinical Trials
MSN in Nursing Leadership
MSN in Women's Health
Drexel University–Drexel University offers several advanced online Nursing degrees including: RN to BSN to MSN, MSN: Clinical Trials, MSN: Nurse Leadership and MSN: Nurse Management. This program is for nurses who hold a BSN and are looking to advance their career. The program ranks in the 10 and has a national reputation as a leader in nursing education.
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Saint Xavier University
MSN in Clinical Leadership
MSN in Nursing Leadership
Saint Xavier University–Saint Xavier University offers online advanced Nursing degrees, MSN: Clinical Leadership and MSN: Nursing Leadership. This program has a Clinical Leadership focus and is designed for nurses who want to hone their clinical expertise and take on the challenge of identifying and instituting more effective methods of patient care.
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Chamberlain College of Nursing
MS in Nursing
Chamberlain College of Nursing–Chamberlain College of Nursing has an MS in Nursing online degree program. This program has three specialty tracks (Executive, Educator and Informatics) with the goal of helping students to become leaders in the nursing community. There is also a Fast-Track option that allows students to complete their MSN in 6 semesters.
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Benedictine University
MS in Nursing
Benedictine University–Benedictine University offers an online MS in Nursing degree. This program's curriculum is innovative and unique relative to other online nursing programs because it combines an 8-course core with the flexibility of four additional elective courses that can be combined to develop a customized area of focus.
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Gonzaga University
MS in Nursing
MSN in Health Leadership
MSN in Nurse Education
Gonzaga University–Gonzaga University offers several online Nursing degree programs including: MS in Nursing, MSN: Health Leadership and MSN: Nurse Education. This program teaches students major research methods and the application of theories to nursing practice and advanced clinical skills, methods of improving health care and leadership skills.
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Lewis University
MSN in Nurse Administration
MSN in Nurse Education
Lewis University–Lewis University offers several advanced online nursing degrees including: MSN: Nurse Administration and MSN: Nurse Education. The 42-hour credit program allows students to study online or to combine online coursework with land based coursework. Course work includes: Strategic Directions in Healthcare, Advanced Nursing Research, Healthcare Fiscal Integrity and Program Planning.
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University of Massachusetts
MSN/MPH Dual Degree
PhD in Nursing
Clinical Nursing Certificate
University of Massachusetts–For students seeking a flexible and convenient way to earn their degree, University of Massachusetts has added several Masters in Nursing online programs to its course catalog. These programs can be completed at a pace that is comfortable to you and in an environment of your choosing. Umass has a MSN/MPH Dual degree, a PhD in Nursing, and a Clinical Nursing Certificate available through online courses.
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Liberty University
MSN in Acute Care
Liberty University–Liberty University offers an online advanced Nursing degree, MSN: Acute Care. This program prepares nurses for advanced practice as Clinical Nurse Specialists or as Nurse Educators. The MSN clinical and education-focused practicum experiences are tailored to meet the individual interests of each student.
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Norwich University
MSN in Nursing Administration
MSN in Nursing Education
Norwich University–Norwich University offers several advanced online Nursing degrees including: MSN: Nursing Administration and MSN: Nursing Education. This program allows students to earn their degree in as few as 18 months. Nurses will learn critical analysis of problems, creative problem solving and the application of theories in the decision making process.
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About a Master’s in Nursing

The Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is for nurses who are looking to take on more responsibility by working as a supervising nurse or in management for a hospital or clinic. Nurses with a master’s degree can also go on to work educating nurses on new practices and techniques. These programs focus on leadership, nursing informatics, and education.

Are Online Programs as Good as Those at Traditional Schools?

Many online programs have experienced staff that hold doctoral degrees, which can stand up to any traditional school. There are also online programs that are conducted through traditional programs, and coursework is completed remotely. As long as you’re attending an accredited program, there will not be an issue with the quality of education you receive. The medical community is very welcoming of online degrees and certificates. Licensing exams are required for nearly all positions in the medical field, whether you’re a technician or a surgeon, so there’s an additional governing body to ensure students are fit to perform their duties on the job. Online programs offer the flexibility of completing coursework on your own time. There are set due dates for work and tests, but it is far easier to manage than attending classes every day. For nurses who are currently working, online degree programs are ideal for continuing with work while obtaining a master’s degree in order to further your career.

What is an RN to MSN Program?

The RN to MSN program was developed for working nurses to obtain their MSN. Nurses continue to work while studying for an MSN. In some cases, an RN does not need a bachelor’s degree in order to apply for a bridge program. Undergraduate courses are included in some bridge programs, and students bypass their bachelor’s degree and receive a master’s degree in nursing. Not all programs offer the RN to MSN degree, but most schools with well-developed nursing programs offer some variation of this accelerated degree.

What Do I Need to Qualify for an RN to MSN Program?

This depends on the program, but most require a student to have a few years of experience as an RN and some sort of medical certification or diploma. The priority is educating and training students who have a medical background and plan on staying in the field. Because of the experience a working nurse has, degree programs are able to work with these students. Students cannot have a background in something outside of the medical field and apply for bridge programs. These programs are developed specifically for students with work experience and a knowledgeable background in nursing. The program is looking to build on this, not educate and train students on the fundamentals of nursing.

Are There Online RN to MSN Programs?

There are many bridge programs available online. The key is to find a program that is from an accredited school. There are many medical degree programs online, but they are not all accredited. Look for a school that has been accredited for a few years and has a well-developed bridge program. Having instructors with experience is a major part of the quality of education you receive with online degrees. You want to enroll in a program that has an experienced staff and has a method for helping online students succeed. Many of these programs operate online only, but are as valid as traditional schools with a long history. Let this be your guide when researching bridge programs and any master’s in nursing degrees, whether online or at traditional schools.

Should I Take the GRE?

The Graduate Records Exam (GRE) is required by many master’s programs. This is less common for online-only programs, but the majority of them do require it. Most bridge programs, whether online or through a traditional school, do not require the GRE. Check with your potential program to learn whether the GRE is part of the prerequisites. The GRE is administered several times a year, and students can retake the test if they do not score high enough. All scores are mailed to the potential school, regardless of how many times the exam is taken. The GRE measures a student’s aptitude for graduate school and is a loose measurement of how successful he or she will be in a program.

Do I Have to Work as a Nurse First?

Most master’s in nursing programs require you to have anywhere from one to three years of experience as a nurse. This means all working nurses are eligible for the RN to MSN programs. The only way you will not qualify is if you’ve been out of work or have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, but do not have a license to work. Master’s programs only accept students from accredited programs, which is why it’s essential to do your research when finding any certification, diploma, or bachelor’s degree program online.

Are There Clinicals for a Master’s in Nursing?

Clinicals are required to complete a master’s in nursing. Most require 500-600 hours of clinicals, which begin during the latter portion of the program. It is worth noting that not all online programs set up clinicals for students. In some cases, students are responsible for arranging their own clinicals. For students who already work in the medical field, this is not usually a problem, as many facilities allow them to complete clinicals on the premises. Students who have worked as nurses should reach out to former supervisors and doctors to see if they are able to arrange clinicals. Programs that are well-established often have placement programs for students who cannot set up their own clinicals. For traditional programs, the school is often affiliated with a local hospital where clinicals are conducted.

What is a Direct Entry MSN Program?

These programs are designed for students who hold a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field and do not have work experience as a nurse. The direct entry MSN program takes three years to complete as opposed to two, because there’s an additional year that focuses on the fundamentals of nursing and patient care. The objectives during this first year are entry-level and cover material that working nurses are already familiar with. The second two years are much like any other MSN program. During the last portion of the program, students sit for the RN exam to become certified and can choose to specialize in an area. There are a limited number of direct entry MSN programs available through online sources, but there are many options for students attending traditional schools or opting for online programs through a traditional college or university.

How Can I Qualify for the Licensing Exam Without a Nursing Degree?

If you do not currently work as a nurse and do not have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, the direct entry MSN program allows you to sit for the RN licensing exam. You must pass this exam in order to receive your master’s degree and begin working as a nurse. Clinicals are allowed for unlicensed students, but without the license, you will not be able to find employment. To sit for the exam, you must be enrolled in an accredited nursing program.

What Kind of Job Can I Have With a Master’s in Nursing?

In the past, many advanced nursing positions did not require a master’s degree, only several years of nursing experience. The number of states that require a master’s degree to hold these same positions is growing. If you want to work as a nurse specialist in a certain area, such as cardiology or geriatrics, you must have a master’s degree. Positions such as nurse anesthetics, midwives, and nurse practitioners often require a master’s degree. These positions are all high in demand and command the highest salaries in the medical industry, outside of working as a physician specialist.

What is the Salary of Someone With a Master’s in Nursing?

With a master’s in nursing, you’re set up for many upper-level job opportunities as a nurse. You may continue to work with patients on a daily basis or work in nursing education. You can also become a nurse practitioner or midwife. All of these positions are on the rise and are paid appropriately. These positions are experiencing growth in nearly all areas, including urban cities and small towns. The growing number of aging baby boomers will also contribute to the rise in people who need medical care. Those working in supervising nursing positions earn about $70,000 per year. The numbers go up for nurse specialists, as well as nurse practitioners and midwives.

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