Earning an online masters in nursing (MSN) is your gateway to a more advanced career, one that leads to management, specialization and entrepreneurship opportunities as well as more income.
Accredited MSN programs offer convenient ways to earn an advanced nursing degree online, such as accelerated BSN-to-MSN programs, RN-to-MSN bridge programs, entry-level master’s degrees, and RN-to-APN programs. Nearly all MSN degrees online require a set of core classes plus electives or specialty-focused courses and hands-on clinical hours.
When considering a masters in nursing online, consider the admissions requirements, curriculum, focus areas, and accreditations of the institution. Also, ask questions about the modes of learning (for instance, are there set times each week that you’re required to be online? Are computer simulations available?), length of courses, experience of the faculty, how you can interact directly with faculty and other students, and what kinds of student support are available.
Is an Online Masters in Nursing Right for me?
The Institute of Medicine’s landmark report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” states that building a culture of lifelong learning and competency-building is essential for nurses as health care becomes more complex.
With nursing and doctor shortages and the aging-out of nurses, master’s degree-prepared nurses are urgently needed to serve as primary care providers, managers and leaders, educators, researchers, clinicians, case managers, specialists (especially in geriatrics, informatics, public health, and quality and safety), and policy and public consultants.
MSNs are uniquely qualified to change, design, innovate and implement evidence-based practice. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) earn higher salaries and gain increased respect from administrators, physicians and fellow nurses alike.
An online Master’s in Nursing degree is a graduate-level academic program that typically requires a BSN degree, an unencumbered RN license, and may be completed in two to three years. However the AACN also points to the existence of RN-to-MSN bridge programs, accelerated master’s programs, and dual-degree programs do exist.
Online Masters in Nursing Education Requirements
Acceptance into an online masters in nursing program typically require:
- A bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited nursing higher-education program.
- GPA of 3.0-4.0
- Current, unrestricted U.S. or a National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) registered nurse (RN) license
- Active, unencumbered RN license for the state in which the student’s clinicals will be conducted
- Letters of recommendation, a resume, a statement of purpose, and high school or GRE transcripts may also be required
The core curriculum for a masters of science (MSN) in nursing online may include courses in advanced physical assessment, ethics, healthcare quality, safety and regulatory management, pharmacology, research and evidence-based practice, healthcare delivery systems and policy, information systems, transcultural theories, and disease prevention.
Along with the core curriculum, online MSN programs allow students to specialize in a specific area of study, such as administration, public health, or informatics. Specializing in a practice is a sure way to set the course for a career in in-demand nursing fields.
RN-to-MSN or APN programs require courses to bridge the gap between an associate and graduate degree. Bridge courses may include topics such as research and evidence-based practice, health assessment, informatics, statistics, population health/epidemiology, leadership in clinical settings, nursing theory, and scientific inquiry.