A master of science in nursing (MSN) degree is a graduate degree that equips graduates with the skills and knowledge need to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), post-secondary nursing instructions, or a nurse administrator. MSN programs typically take between two and three years to complete.
Although earning an MSN degree may vary based on your specialty, there are some common steps all students must take to earn their master’s degree. Continue reading to learn about the admission requirements, the coursework you must complete, and clinical experience requirements, as well as the career options you can pursue with your MSN.
You must qualify for admission to the program to earn an MSN degree.
To qualify for admission to a master of science in a nursing program, you must meet the MSN program’s strict admission requirements. A bachelor of science in nursing degree is a standard requirement. MSN programs may require applicants to be a licensed registered nurse (RN) and have at least one year of clinical experience. The admission requirements ensure students have the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a master’s program. Programs will also expect applicants to have a valid RN license. This means their nursing license hasn’t been suspended. Although some nurses may be able to have their license reinstated, MSN programs expect applicants to have a valid, unobstructed license to enter the program to ensure they can complete the practicum requirements to graduate.
You must complete the coursework to earn your MSN.
MSN students can opt to complete their degree through in-person or online studies. MSN online programs may make it possible to continue working as an RN while completing your studies, making it more affordable to complete an MSN program. Once you register for online courses, you’ll need to pass all the required classes that make up your online MSN program. The courses may vary based on your specialty. For example, you could opt to pursue online studies to become a family nurse practitioner (FNP), psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP), or an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner. Typical courses for all of these specialties include advanced pathophysiology, advanced pharmacology, advanced health assessment, and diagnostic reasoning for nurse practitioners. Aspiring FNPs will take courses such as family nurse practitioners, and adult-gerontology nurse practitioners will take courses such as nurse practitioners in primary care. At the same time, FNPs will also study family nurse practitioner roles with children and families. Those specializing as PMHNPs will take second-year courses such as psychopharmacology and advanced practice in psychiatric-mental health nursing.
Your course of studies will depend on your career goals. FNPs are equipped to diagnose and treat a wide range of medical issues for patients of all ages. If a patient has a seizure, an FNP must be able to identify the seizure type. Different types of seizures include absence seizures, tonic-clonic seizures, and atonic seizures. Once the FNP identifies the type of seizure and the cause, they can develop a suitable treatment plan.
MSN programs require students to complete a practicum.
MSN students must obtain clinical experience as part of their studies. Placement teams help students find a suitable practicum and obtain the credentials they need to complete their clinical experience requirements. Completing a practicum ensures program graduates have the practical skills required to work in their field. Completing clinical experience requirements is also an excellent way of developing professional contacts and strengthening your resume to ensure you can find a job in your field when you graduate.
An MSN can prepare you for medical, administrative, and academic careers.
Becoming a nurse practitioner (NP) is one of the most common career goals for MSN program students. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will see jobs increase by 45 percent between 2019 and 2029. The high demand for qualified NPs makes this an excellent career option. NPs also earn substantial salaries. The BLS has reported NPs took home median incomes of $115,800 per year in 2019, while post-secondary nursing instructors and nurse administrators earned median salaries of $74,600 and $100,980 the same year. The BLS indicates job opportunities for post-secondary nursing instructors will increase by 18 percent from 2019 to 2029, while nurse administrators’ opportunities will grow by 32 percent during the same 10-year period.
Once you qualify for admission, you must complete all required coursework to earn your MSN. You must also complete the clinical experience requirements. After you graduate, you can pursue career opportunities as an NP, a post-secondary nursing instructor, or a nurse administrator.