A nursing masters degree takes an average of 18 to 24 months to complete depending on the program. This is based on students who already have an undergraduate degree in nursing. Programs give nursing students the opportunity to specialize in particular areas for example advanced clinical training, research, pediatrics, geriatrics, anesthesia etc. Most students in an MSN program already have a BSN but there are accelerated options for non-nursing majors. In general students are required to have a BSN from an accredited nursing school, an RN license, and passing GPA and GRE scores, and some nursing work experience. There are different options for future students. Graduates with a Master of Science in Nursing degree enhance their knowledge and skills in order to serve their patients better. They gain better knowledge of the healthcare system and medical technology to assist patients more effectively. With the online MSN degree you can specialize in areas such as nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, and nursing administration.
MSN Education and Training
The RN-to-MSN program is for RNs who have an associate degree in nursing and want to earn an MSN after earning the BSN. online nursing masters degree courses are designed for advanced placement credit so that there is no overlap between BSN and MSN courses.
The Direct Entry MSN degree program is designed for non-nurses who have bachelors’ degrees in non-nursing fields. Students get credit for their general education courses and allow them to complete nursing undergraduate course work before moving directly into graduate online nursing classes, while combining preparation for RN-licensure with advanced training in a master’s specialty area in the online nursing masters degree. Direct entry MSN programs usually take three years to complete. A related program is the Accelerated MSN which takes about two years to complete.
While enrolled in an online RN-to-MSN program you could also sign up for a joint degree program such as business administration, public health or health administration as an option in some nursing programs. Specialize and also get nursing licensure. You can also enroll in an accelerated MSN degree program if you are on the fast track.
Post-Master’s Certificate Programs beyond the online BSN to MSN degree are professional certifications where specialized exams are taken to prove your expertise in a specific field, beyond the skills required for an RN license. The exams are prepared by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, under the American Nurses Association (ANCC). Specialist exams are available in about 30 areas. These programs are designed for nurses who already hold a Master of Science degree and wish to specialize in many online nursing masters degree options. Masters in nursing courses will vary by specialization but some courses that you may be required to take might include:
- Primary Health Care Nursing
- Chronic Disease Management
- Gastroenterological Nursing
- Public Health Nursing
- Nursing Research
- Current Trends and Issues in Nursing Education
- Nursing Administration
- Nursing Leadership Development
- Chronic Care Nursing Practice
- Mental Health Nursing
In the United States Post-Certificate Master’s programs are available in a few states. In these programs RNs can become Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA), Certified Nurse Practitioners or Nurse-Midwife without earning an MSN degree. However, these requirements are changing and students are now required to have an MSN. Therefore some colleges and universities in the United States are offering parallel program in online nursing masters degrees. Non-Degree Studies are also available for those students who want to take classes at the online nursing masters degree level but are not seeking to complete a degree.
Careers with an MSN
A master’s in nursing degree provides nurses with the advanced training to deliver nursing care in a specialized area like advanced clinical research and training. Nurses with a campus or online nursing masters degree are known as Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) typically focus on one of four advanced nursing practice areas:
- Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- Nurse Practitioner (NP)
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
- Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
With a masters in nursing, nurses often hold leadership and administrative positions in settings that include hospitals and clinics, private practice, long-term care facilities, insurance companies, medical equipment manufacturing and supplies, as well as state and federal government agencies and departments.
Estimated Income and Projected Career Growth
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that registered nurses across all specialties earned a median annual salary of about $62,450. The employment of nurses is expected to grow by 22% between 2008 and 2018. Experienced nurses can earn more or more per year in base salary, in addition to bonuses, shift differential, and overtime.
With an online masters degree, nurses earn anywhere from $73,000 to $87,000. The income varies by the employer and geographic location. The Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) salary is higher than other nursing areas as shown in the following estimated trends:
- Rural areas $175,000
- Metro areas $165,000
- Suburban areas $157,000
The average salary for neonatal nurse practitioners is $74,000, while with the forensic nursing salary ranges from $26.00 to $100.00 an hour depending on the location, responsibility, level of education, and experience. Legal nurse consultants earn over $150 an hour, and most have earned a masters degree.
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