Welcome to BSNtoMSN.org, a directory of accredited nursing degree programs. Our site blogger, Beth Hawkes, MSN, RN-BC, HACP, is a long-time nurse and educator. To help you find the information you seek, we’ve outlined common questions and answers to help you take the guesswork out of finding the right program for you.
- Understanding accelerated MSN nursing programs
- Do I meet the requirements for an MSN program?
- Nursing specialties at a glance
- Can I become a nurse practitioner with an MSN?
Understanding accelerated MSN nursing programs
Accelerated nursing programs are designed to help students complete their degree programs at a much quicker pace. These programs provide a way for individuals with undergraduate degrees or training in nursing to get a head start on higher-level degrees.
Online nursing programs are a viable alternative for students who are working or are unable to take classes on-site. We’ve featured a variety of these options below to help you fit schooling into your schedule:
Grand Canyon UniversityAccreditation|
Sacred Heart UniversityAccreditation|
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Do I meet the requirements for an MSN program?
MSN programs vary by the school, the program focus, and your previously completed education. Each program will have its own admissions standards, and applicants must meet the minimum academic requirements in order to be considered for admission. This simple guide will help you determine if you meet the requirements for an accelerated or a traditional MSN program:
Accelerated MSN Programs:
- Do you have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution? Accelerated programs are often open to those with a Bachelor’s degree in a different field and usually take 1 to 2 years to complete.
- Do you have a strong academic background? Admission standards for accelerated programs are high with programs typically requiring a minimum of a 3.0 GPA.
- Are you able to fulfill clinical practice requirements in your local community? Clinical hours are a required component of accelerated MSN programs.
Traditional MSN Programs:
- Do you have a BSN degree from an accredited institution? Many traditional MSN programs require applicants to hold a BSN.
- Do you have a current registered nurse license? Students are often required to have an active RN license. Additional RN licenses may be required by specific programs.
- Do you have at least one year of experience as an RN? Some programs require at a minimum of one year of experience as a professional nurse at the time of application.
- Are you able to fulfill clinical practice requirements in your local community? Clinical hours are a required component of traditional MSN programs.
Nursing specialties at a glance
Those with an MSN are trained to work in a wide range of different fields, and it’s very common for students to choose an area of specialty when completing their studies. Of the various nursing specialties, several stand out due to their demand, pay, and personal reward:
|Area of Specialty:||Overview of Specialty:||Certification Information:|
|Nursing Education||Nursing education is designed to prepare students for the nurse educator role in academic or staff development settings.||The Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) Examination; Credential Awarded: CNE|
|Nursing Informatics||Nursing informatics prepares nurses to manage health information systems critical to health care organizations.||ANCC Informatics Nursing board certification examination; Credential Awarded: RN-BC|
|Nurse Practitioner||Nurse Practitioners are RNs who assess, diagnose, and prescribe drugs limited by national and state regulations who are often trained in a specialty area such as family practice or pediatrics.||National certification is offered through various nursing organizations and NP licensure varies greatly by state.|
|Nursing Administration||Nursing administration is an area of specialty that prepares students to supervise other nurses, recommend policy and structural changes, and other managerial functions.||Nurse Executive – Board Certified (NE-BC) or the Nurse Executive Advanced – Board Certified (NEA-BC)|
|Psychiatric and Mental Health||Psychiatric and mental health area of specialty prepares nurses to treat patients’ mental health needs in hospitals, private practices, jails, and substance abuse centers. Graduates are prepared for the role of the Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP).||ANCC Psychiatric–Mental Health Nursing board certification examination; Credential Awarded: RN-BC|
|Clinical Nurse Leader||The clinical nurse leader specialty trains RNs to work as educators, team leaders, and patient advocates who have advanced knowledge of a particular group of patients or area of nursing.||CNL Certification Examination; Credential Awarded: CNL|
Can I become a nurse practitioner with an MSN?
Yes! You can become a nurse practitioner with an MSN. However, an MSN does not designate a role, such as nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist, or a license to practice. To become a nurse practitioner, you’ll need to complete the following steps:
- Earn a BSN from an accredited program: Bridge programs help RNs who hold an ASN pursue a bachelor’s degree or graduate-level study. Students who have earned a degree in a non-nursing field should look into an accelerated BSN program.
- Become a Registered Nurse: Every state requires a practicing nurse to first pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
- Complete an MSN or a DNP program: Registered nurses must earn a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing from an accredited training program.
- Obtain Advanced Practice Nursing licensure: NPs must be licensed by the state in which they practice, which often requires graduation from an accredited training program, board certification, and a passing score on the state exam.
- Specialize through certification: Upon completion of an MSN or a DNP program, graduates can sit for certification examinations specific to their careers as an NP, such as:
- Acute care
- Diabetes management
- Family care
- School nursing
- Mental health
Your role and professional license determine your ability and legal right to practice in a given area of nursing. You need to earn the proper certification to practice as an NP in your state. For more information, visit the American Nurses Credentialing Center to learn about exams, renewing your license, and continuing education requirements.
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