Guide to Master’s Degrees in Nursing

A master’s degree in nursing can be the first step to becoming a nurse practitioner, nurse educator, or clinical nurse leader (CNL). Several accredited online MSN programs are listed below. Fill out any school’s form to quickly receive additional information and application materials.

RN to MS in Nursing

Kaplan University – Kaplan University offers a number of top online RN to Masters In Nursing (MSN) degrees for licensed registered nurses seeking career advancement. Each program is fully online and and allows students to focus their curriculum on their particular career interest. In addition to the general program, specializations are also offered in informatics and health education.

MSN: Mgmt & Org Leadership MSN: Infection Prevention MSN: Case Management MSN: Informatics

American Sentinel University – American Sentinel University offers a wide variety of accredited online masters in nursing degrees, each with a specific focus designed to teach MSN students the exact skills they need for their particular career focus. By specializing in Management and Organizational Leadership, Infection Prevention, Case Management, or Nurse Informatics through online courses as opposed to campus programs, students can complete assignments at a time and place that is convenient.


Capella University – This masters in nursing program is designed specifically for nurses who wish to enter the teaching profession as nurse educators. With practical applications and engaging assignments, student can accomplish the assets required to be successful in leadership and educational positions with in the nursing industry. The Nurse Educator degree curriculum is centered around the industry’s best practices and standards and is constantly updated to reflect the latest developments.

MSN: Clinical Leader MSN: Nursing Education MSN: Patient Services Admin RN to MSN: Clinical Leader RN to MSN: Nursing Edu. RN to MSN: Patient Services

Sacred Heart University – Sacred Heart University offers accredited BSN to MSN and RN to MSN programs that prepare students for leadership or specialized positions, including clinical nurse leadership (RN to MSN option), nursing education (RN to MSN option), and patient care services administration (RN to MSN option).

MS in Family Nursing

Georgetown University – Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies has been educating nurses and helping improve health care since 1903. Now – through the launch of an innovative online program – Georgetown is extending its master’s program to nurses around the country. Taught by highly respected faculty, the dynamic online program is designed to help the next generation of nursing leaders. Georgetown has two Masters in Nursing degrees online available: Family Nurse Practitioner and Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner.

MSN: Nurse Midwifery MSN: Women’s Health MSN: Clinical Nurse MSN: Nurse Admin

University of Cincinnati – - University of Cincinnati has both online and onsite courses available for students interested in advancing their careers in Nursing. The accredited options empower the student to choose a course type that works best for them. UC has a wide range of degrees available for students who are interested in Nurse Midwifery, Women’s Health Practitioner, Clinical Nursing, and Nurse Administration.

Masters in Nursing Informatics

Grand Canyon University – Grand Canyon University’s online masters in nursing programs focus on becoming a leader and an educator respectively. These accredited degrees are offered via a fully online curriculum. The Masters in Nursing Leadership prepares RNs for roles as leaders in a variety healthcare settings.

MSN: Adult Health MSN: Nurse Educator MSN: Family Nursing MSN: Nurse Admin

South University – The Masters in Nursing programs from South University are designed for students who want to take leadership positions in the health community, and involves leadership training and learning the skills needed to manage other nurses. South University provides an affordable option through online courses which can cut down on many of the cost associated with on-ground programs. South offers a Masters of Science in Nurse Education.

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What exactly is a Master of Nursing?

A Master of Nursing is a graduate level degree sought by nurses who wish to go into advanced practice. Those who opt for a master’s degree in a nursing related field should already have or be in pursuit of an undergraduate degree in nursing, such as an associate’s degree or more commonly a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Once an undergraduate degree is earned, the nurse will then apply to a graduate program in nursing for their master’s. The most common degree for a Master of Nursing is the MSN, or Master of Science in Nursing.

The primary master’s degree in nursing that serves as an entry-level degree for advanced practice nurses is the Master of Science in nursing (MSN). But there are many types of MSN degrees:

Specialty Degrees

Bridge Programs

Dual Degrees

How Do These Degrees Differ?

There are similarities among these degrees and all can be found among nursing programs in the field. It is a good idea to consider the type of organization where you would like to work and investigate whether such organizations prefer one of the above degrees. MN and MSN programs have a tendency to provide training for further strengthening core nursing skills along with insight to advance roles in nursing leadership and clinical specialties. RN to MSN programs are likely to provide sophisticated nursing concepts in an accelerated curriculum for a current registered nurse holding an accredited degree (associates or diploma) to earn a MSN without first obtaining a BSN. The joint masters in nursing degrees are basic MSN degrees paired with the specific dual degree you choose. The MPA and MPH programs tend to have more of a public sector orientation. The MBA programs are normally geared towards securing top-level management or executive health care business positions. The MSIS programs lean towards developing information technology in which ethics are upheld. The MHSA programs center on health policy and economics with regard to management roles. The MA (Pastoral Ministry) and MDiv programs spotlight the practice of ministry. Nursing masters degrees may be achieved through traditional full-time study, part-time study, accelerated study, second degree study, direct entry, and RN to MSN. Many masters degrees in nursing may also be achieved through online nursing schools. The joint degrees listed above may require additional time.

Within these nursing masters degree distinctions, programs have different emphases and specializations. Typical specialties for masters degrees in nursing include, but are not limited to, the following: adult nurse practitioner, cardiovascular nursing, child and teen health nursing, clinical nurse specialist, clinical specialist, clinical research management, family nurse practitioner, forensic nursing masters, gerontological nursing, health administration, healthcare systems management, health policy, health promotion and wellness, neonatal nursing, nurse administration, nurse anesthesia, nursing education, nurse midwifery, nurse practitioner, oncology nursing, pediatric nurse practitioner, psychiatric and mental health nursing, school nurse services, and women’s health. You should investigate specific masters of nursing degree programs to determine which will best prepare you for your desired career track.

What Schools Offer These Degrees?

While master’s degrees in nursing are among the most widely-offered programs available online (over 400!), below is a list of well-known and respected names in online education. Find more information and the school’s accreditation, programs, and available financial aid by clicking on each link.

What Are the Requirements to Get Into a Master of Nursing school?

Those interested in pursuing a Master of Nursing degree should first know whether or not the master’s degree being offered is from an accredited nursing program. To see if the program you are interested in is accredited, visit a site like The American Association of Colleges of Nursing. It currently lists dozens of programs all across the country that offer accredited master’s degrees in nursing. To ensure that your school is offering a legitimate degree, check with the State Board of Nursing to ensure that completion of the Master of Nursing qualifies you to get the license in nursing you are pursuing.

Although the requirements to get into each of these differ, they often include an undergraduate degree – such as the BSN, a valid nursing license, passing grades for the GRE and/or Miller Analogies Test. Other requirements can include an average GPA of 2.5 or higher, undergoing a background check, and proving citizenship or having a valid visa.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Master of Nursing?

Length of study can vary from school to school, but generally once a student is accepted into a Master of Nursing program, the average program length is two years. Students take classes on various subjects, participate in numerous labs, and more. Students can often be assigned to faculty advisors to help guide them through the process of earning a master’s. Classes involved in getting a nursing master’s degree can include nursing informatics, nursing research, healthcare concepts, patient care management, pharmacology, and many others.

What Careers Can I Pursue with a Master of Nursing?

Because advanced practice nurses are so in demand to meet the increasing need for healthcare, many opt for a Master of Nursing to begin more involved careers. Someone with a Master of Nursing can often go into the area of Advanced Practice Registry Nurse (APRN). From this career, there are several specialties nurses can go into including acute care, pediatrics, women’s health, and many more.

  • Another common career for someone with a Master of Nursing is family nurse practitioner, or FNP. These nurse practitioners are often used in place of traditional doctors and can work in clinics, hospitals, or even their own practice. While many states require a doctorate level degree in nursing to become a nurse practitioner, others still allow those with a Master of Nursing to become a licensed nurse practitioner.
  • If a student is interested in becoming a nurse midwife, the Master of Nursing degree is a common path to get there. Nurse midwives assist and can even lead in the delivery and care of newborn children and their mothers. They work from hospitals, clinics, and even the homes of pregnant mothers.
  • Nurse anesthetist is also one of the more popular careers with a Master of Nursing. Because nurse anesthetists are so in demand, they are often paid very well and many nurses are pursuing this specialty. Nurse anesthetists work with anesthesiologists and surgeons to ensure that operations go smoothly.

If you know which state you want to live in and which career you would like to have, contact the State Board of Nursing to see what the requirements are for becoming a nurse practitioner, advanced practice registered nurse, nurse midwife, and nurse anesthetist. Each can have their own degree and licensing requirements.

Where Can I Find Master of Nursing Scholarships and Grants?

Because graduate school can be so expensive, there are many scholarships and grants out there to help pay for it. The best way to find them is to check with the financial aid office of the school(s) you are accepted into. Not only can they tell you what scholarships and grants are available, they can tell you which you may qualify for and how to apply for them.

If you are conducting a search for scholarships online, there are many ways to find ones that match up with you. Here are several nursing scholarship opportunities worth looking into.

  1. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing. They have resources just for graduate and post graduate nursing students. Each year, they award $1,500 to students in Educational Advancement Scholarships alone. They also have tons of other programs for American Indians, Men in Nursing, loan repayment, and much more. They also have loads of financial aid help for nurses at the undergraduate level.
  2. Nursing Scholarship Program from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration. The HRSA seeks to alleviate the nursing shortage by helping students pay for nursing schools. In exchange for two years of service at an approved health care facility, students get paid tuition, help with other expenses, and even a monthly stipend.
  3. There are also many grants awarded to student nurses. The HRSA also includes a comprehensive list of grant programs for nurses. They include grants for nursing diversity, development, community based, advanced education, and more. Simply click on the one that interests you to learn more. In addition to the federal government, many states also offer grants to nurses, so be sure to check with your state to see which grants are available for nurses and if you qualify. If you qualify for a nursing grant, you will earn it, unlike scholarships that can be highly competitive.

Other Financial Aid for Master of Nursing Students

In addition to scholarships and grants, there are also other forms of financial aid for nurses. Because most students who are going for a master’s degree in nursing are already nurses, employers sometimes offer financial assistance students may qualify for.

Because students enrolled in Master of Nursing programs need valuable experience, the schools that offer the degree can often offer internships, student jobs, or work for study programs that can help pay for the cost of the degree and give the student valuable on the job experience.

All forms of financial aid have requirements. Recipients of scholarships and grants are expected to maintain a passing GPA and can even be asked to maintain a higher one than normal. They are almost always expected to stay in school and can even require the students to graduate on time. Students who accept a grant or scholarship but don’t keep their GPA up or drop out can be asked to pay back some or all of the money awarded.

Because financial aid is so important when earning a Master of Nursing, it is a good idea to contact the school’s financial aid office as soon as you are accepted to find out what options may be available to you.

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