Yes, you can get a MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) degree without having a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing). You can also get a MSN if you have a bachelor’s degree and it is not in nursing.
First we will take a look at the MSN without a BSN but still being a nurse. Then we will take a look at getting a MSN without being a nurse but having a bachelor’s degree in something else.
If you are a current RN with an associate degree or diploma you will find MSN schools that will accept you for admission.
Who would choose to do this? It is typical a nurse who has been practicing for a number of years who does not want to spend the time and money to get a BSN but who want a MSN. Often this is a nurse who would like to be a nurse practitioner but doesn’t have the interest or the resources to go to school and get a BSN before proceeding with becoming a nurse practitioner.
While it is possible to get a MSN without first having a BSN it isn’t necessarily easy. It requires a lot of studying and these programs aren’t necessarily inexpensive. Many nurses find that if they want to finish quickly they are not able to work while going through a program such as this. However, the earning power of the nurse that chooses this route is certainly increased when leaving school after obtaining a MSN especially if they will be practicing as a nurse practitioner.
Some nurses will take this at a slower pace and take longer to finish the program. There are even online programs that are available.
The second avenue to a MSN degree is to have a bachelor’s degree in another field. These students are not nurses when they enter the program. In this program about the first 18 months focuses on the BSN portion or what would have been taught in a BSN program. After getting this education the student then takes the NCLEX exam (also referred to as nursing board exam). Following taking and passing this exam the focus of the rest of the program or about another 18 months is focused on what would be the MSN portion.
Students who didn’t really know they wanted to be in nursing when they got their bachelor’s degree find this second avenue to be of interest. After being in the work force for a number of years they find they are drawn to being a nurse but they don’t really want to go back to school and get a BSN. Some people find that the field in which they got their degree is very limited and there aren’t many employment opportunities. These people can go back to school for a MSN and have great employment opportunities and earning capacity when they graduate.
Both of these paths to a MSN degree are generally pursued by people with at least a few years of work experience. While this is not necessarily a requirement, these students often have some life experiences and work experience which lead them to seek out these programs.
In summary, there are programs for obtaining a MSN without being a nurse or for current nurses without a BSN. If you pursue one of these programs be prepared to study hard and apply yourself. These programs will challenge your skills and your critical thinking process. In the end, you will have better earning potential and greater employment opportunities in a ever changing labor market.
Search through our comprehensive list of 500+ Nursing Schools on the Home Page to find an MSN program that is right for you. Suggested searches include: “RN to MSN”, “RN to BSN to MSN”, or “BSN to MSN”.