Frequently Asked Questions About MSN Programs
Careful research and planning are important when applying to a Master’s in Nursing program. Students must consider their finances, job and other personal obligations, as well as career prospects after graduation. School is an investment so make it count on all levels: professionally, personally, and financially. This comprehensive guide will provide information and answers to prospective students’ most frequently asked questions.
- How do I apply to an MSN program?
The application process is very similar to that of other graduate-degree programs. Students submit many of the same materials like an application and fee, personal statement, GRE scores (not all schools require the GRE), letters of recommendation, valid RN license, and current resume. MSN programs also have their own admissions criteria and some may require additional information to supplement the application form. These requirements may include previous nursing experience in a specific area of study and course prerequisites in the health sciences.
- Do I have to be a registered nurse to apply to an MSN program?
Yes. All students who wish to apply to an MSN program are required to have a current RN license, regardless of specialty area. Make sure your license is current prior to submitting your application.
- Are there prerequisites for MSN programs? If so, what are they?
Students are required to have a BSN degree from an accredited college or university. Some schools accept an Associate Degree in Nursing with a BS/BA in another field of study. MSN programs expect students to possess a solid academic foundation in the health sciences and extensive clinical preparation. Carefully review all prerequisites listed on the school’s website.
- Do I need to take the GRE exam?
Not all MSN programs require students to submit GRE scores. Some schools waive the GRE if a student maintained a GPA of 3.0 on 4.0 scale. If you must take the GRE, be sure to register well in advance so your results reach the schools by the appropriate deadline.
- Are financial aid or scholarships available for MSN students?
Financial aid, scholarships, and grants are available for MSN students. All applicants may apply for financial aid by filling out a FASFA form. Scholarships and grants are available for every type of nursing degree and are based on need and merit. Not all scholarships and grants are listed on a school’s website. Students should search online for additional financial resources. Note: To avoid scholarships scams please visit the links below to confirm which websites are legitimate. Applying for scholarships can be confusing and it is important to know the warning signs of a potential scam.
Program Requirements and Degree Programs
- How long does it take to complete an MSN program?
Most online MSN programs take two to three years to complete as a full-time student. Online programs offer more flexibility in terms of your schedule, but students must still fulfill all clinical components on-campus. A part-time MSN program is another option for those who must continue working or have other conflicting obligations.
- If I’m interested in two specialty tracks but not sure which one I want to pursue, do I have to decide right away?
Yes and no. At this point in your nursing career you’ve likely discovered what specialty area your passionate about. Because MSN programs are designed to prepare RNs to be leaders in a specific area, knowing what direction to go with your career will make graduate school all the more rewarding. However, if you’re still unsure, some schools will allow students to take one or two general nursing courses before declaring an area of specialty.
- Can I continue to work while I pursue my MSN degree?
Yes. Online programs afford students the opportunity to plan many of the courses around their work and home routines. With careful scheduling and planning, students may continue working while pursing their MSN degree.
- Can I transfer credits from other schools into an MSN program?
Depending on the school, students are allowed to transfer academic credits for graduate work completed at another accredited institution. However, some programs have a maximum number of credits students can transfer. Each school has a unique credit transfer policy so talk to each admissions representative for clarification.
Career and Salary Prospect with an MSN Degree
- What can I do with an MSN degree?
An MSN degree opens doors to many exciting and fulfilling careers in healthcare. Students typically choose one of the following paths:
- Nurse Practitioner
- Certified Nurse Anesthetist
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Certified Nurse Mid-Wife
- Clinical Nurse Leader
- Nurse Administrator
- Nurse Educator
- Nurse Manager
The graph below illustrates just one of the many education and career tracks for nursing students. If you’re interested in clinical research and possibly pursuing a doctorate degree, this career ladder shows just how far a student can go with an advanced nursing degree.
These questions are just the starting point for graduate school information. Future MSN students have a lot to consider before sending in their applications and committing to a program. Whether you’ve just begun your research or already have an established plan in place, check out our list of accredited schools to find the best courses, programs, and schools to match your needs.
Top Masters in Nursing Schools
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.
|MS in Family Nursing MS in Women’s Health||
Georgetown University – Georgetown University has been educating nurses and helping improve healthcare since 1903. The programs are designed to help the next generation of nursing leaders with majors available in: Family Nurse Practitioner and Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner.
|MSN: Nurse Educator||
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.
|RN to MS in Nursing MSN: Informatics MSN: Health Education||
Kaplan University – Kaplan University offers a number of RN to MSN degrees for those seeking career advancement. Each program 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: 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).
|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.
|Master’s In Nursing MSN Health Administration MSN Health Education MSN Informatics||
University of Phoenix – University of Phoenix offers a number of online master’s in nursing programs. Their general MSN degree program gives students a well-rounded master’s in nursing education, while more specific degrees are available in health administration, health education, and nursing informatics.
Drexel University – The Masters in Nursing Leadership program from Drexel is 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. Drexel University provides an affordable option through online courses which can cut down on many of the cost associated with on-ground programs. DU offers a Masters of Science in Nurse Leadership.
|Masters in Nursing Education||
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; the Masters in Nursing Education prepares RNs for teaching positions within the nursing profession.
|RN to MSN: Educator MSN: Nurse Educator MSN: Health Leadership||
Gonzaga University – Gonzaga University offers a wide range of Masters in Nursing degrees, allowing students to fulfill high level roles and leadership roles in Nursing. These MSN degrees, whose options include nursing education (MSN), nursing education (RN to MSN) and health systems leadership, can be completed at a relatively fast pace and provide more convenience to students with busy or inconsistent schedules.
|RN to MS in Nursing RN to MSN: Education RN to MSN: Informatics RN to MSN: Leadership/Mgmt||
Walden University – One of America’s leading online universities, Walden’s online Masters in Nursing (RN to MSN) program is a masters in nursing program designed for registered nurses. In addition to this general track, concentrated RN to MSN degrees are also offered in education, informatics, and leadership/management. While each program can be completed in just two years it does require a bachelor’s program for enrollment.