dcsimg

How to Become a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Tired of working grueling twelve-hour shifts at the hospital? More interested in primary care, follow-up visits, medical diagnoses and treatment plans? Those who answer “yes” to these questions might want to consider becoming a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Earning this degree allows individuals to work as nurse practitioners and in other advanced positions in the medical setting. Here, learn the necessary steps to earn a MSN degree.

Step 1: How to Become an RN

There are several routes to become an RN:

  • After graduating high school or earning a GED some students attend a college, university, or online degree program in order to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
  • Other students may already have a bachelor's degree in something other than nursing and need to return to school in order to earn a BSN. These programs are typically accelerated, with the length depending on the pre-requisites a student may have completed.
  • Others will attend diploma RN programs through a hospital or other health care institution. These programs generally last two-years and focus on the clinical aspects of becoming an RN.

Once one of the above listed tracks is complete, one must then take and pass the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). The NCLEX is a standardized exam for licensure to become an RN.

Step 2: Work as a Registered Nurse

One essential prerequisite to become a MSN is that individuals be a registered nurse. Though not all master's programs require "working as an RN" to become a nurse practitioner, it is generally encouraged. MSN programs will likely want to know that the candidate can handle working long hours, that he/she has a good nursing skill set upon entering their program, and that he or she has a passion for a specific nursing population (such as geriatrics, pediatrics, adult, oncology, etc.) One year working as an RN is typically sufficient.

Satisfactory GPA, completing the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) with satisfactory scores, sufficient clinical work, and extracurricular activities are also highly encouraged when applying for most MSN programs.

Step 3: Pursue a Master of Science in Nursing

After discovering the population one would like to serve as a nurse practitioner, individuals would be advised to research the institutions that offer programs tailored to their interests. Whether it is pediatric oncology or adult cardiology, individuals should focus in on the schools offering their target MSN specialty.

Many schools will have a major (i.e. adult health nurse practitioner) and offer several minors (HIV/AIDS focus, community health, etc.) for the MSN. Nursing school at the master's level varies from eighteen months to two-and-a-half years, depending on the major and/or minor.

Additionally, online MSN programs are available that usually offer courses in the theory portion of the master's program. All clinical work and clinical hours must be completed at an accredited health care institution such as a hospital, private practice, or public health clinic.

Step 4: Sit for the Boards

Once one earns a Master of Science in Nursing degree, if he or she wants to become a nurse practitioner, passing a licensure exam is a must. Each state has its own requirements for the exam. Check out the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Website for more information regarding different states' licensures and scopes of practice.

Step 5: Advancement

Once working as a nurse practitioner, individuals might develop an interest in research or further education. Earning a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a PhD in nursing would be the next step. Earning either of these degrees allows individuals to act as a Principal Investigator (PI) in research studies, formulate hypotheses, run clinical trials, become an instructor or professor in nursing schools, and provide a higher level of care within the chosen specialty (cardiology, oncology, infectious disease, etc.)

Job Outlook and MSN Salary

According to the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the average total NP salary in 2008 was $92,000. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that in regard to job opportunities, “[A]ll four advanced practice specialties—clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, and nurse anesthetists—will be in high demand, particularly in medically underserved areas such as inner cities and rural areas."

Learn more about becoming a MSN:

Nursing Schools
Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            M.S. in Nursing: Health Care Informatics (Bridge)
            • Registered nurses, advance your career - earn your Master of Science in Nursing online with GCU.
            • Our MSN degree will strengthen your knowledge, values, analytical and critical thinking skills so you are prepared to advocate the highest-level of care possible.
            • GCU prepares nurses for leadership roles in today's rapidly changing healthcare delivery systems.
            • Earn an MSN degree with an emphasis in health care informatics, nursing education, public health and more.
            • The baccalaureate degree in nursing and master's degree in nursing at GCU are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            RN to MSN in Clinical Nurse Educator
            • Presents stimulating, thoughtful programs for students in every academic field
            • SACS accredited w/many accreditations per program & 14:1 teacher-student ratio
            • 7 colleges with dozens of majors & programs to choose from for undergrads & grads
            • Beautiful 248 acre campus with ¾ mile waterfront located in Jacksonville, FL
            • Named an “America’s Best College” in the south for 10+ years, US News & World Report
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            RN to MSN Bridge Program
            • Loyola gives you an edge for an exciting career & an education for a fulfilling life
            • Accredited by the SACSCOC with a 10:1 student-faculty ratio & 5 distinct colleges
            • #10 Best Regional Universities of the South U.S. News and World Report
            • Top 20 Fulbright Producer in 2015-2016 w/ a 20% application acceptance rate in 2017
            • Programs in musical theatre, digital filmmaking, chemistry, business, & more!
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            RN-BSN-MSN - Clinical Nursing Leader
            • SJU provides a rigorous, student-centered education rooted in the liberal arts
            • A Jesuit school with 8,415 students in all programs for 2016 grads &undergrads
            • Institutionally Accredited by the MSCHE and the AACSB (Haub School of Business)
            • 96% of 2016 graduates employed, pursuing graduate study or volunteering full time
            • Qualifying students can receive financial assistance with tuition costs
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            Specialization in Nursing Informatics (RN to MSN)
            • Ranked among the Best Grad Schools for Physician Assistants in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Dedicated to delivering quality education and personalized attention to students since 1899.
            • Provides a range of campus experiences and services online including advising, tutoring, student community, and career services.
            • Offers counseling services and a 24/7 crisis hotline to students at no extra charge.
            • Gives students and alumni access to career assistants who help with resumes, cover letters, job hunting, and more.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            RN to MS - Nursing Education
            • As a CCNE-accredited school of nursing, Wilkes University is fully committed to preparing our students for a career of lifelong learning and success in a constantly evolving, dynamic profession.
            • We offer online programs for nurses at any stage in their career. From our R.N. to M.S.N., to our Ph.D. in Nursing, choose the program that is right for you.
            • Learn from doctorally-prepared, highly qualified instructors. Our faculty are true "scholar-practitioners," and bring real-world experience to every subject.
            • Receive a supportive, student-focused online education. Our programs are designed so that you can complete coursework when and where it's convenient for you.
            • We offer accelerated completion options for qualified students in our R.N. to M.S.N. and M.S.N. programs – earn your master’s degree fully online and finish faster.
            • Our net tuition cost for nursing programs is among the most competitive for regionally accredited universities.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Educator
            Since the founding of Queens in 1857, students have always come first. Our personal approach to education starts with small class sizes that encourage more communication and sharing among students and faculty. As an online student at Queens, you are a welcomed member of our community.
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Master of Science in Nursing: Nursing Administration
            • Liberty University’s online programs ranked in the top 10 out of more than 2,100 colleges & universities for academic quality, affordability, and accessibility.*
            • 100% online programs at associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level.**
            • Transfer up to 90 credits into an undergraduate degree program.
            • Up to 50% of your master’s degree can be transferred in to help you get the most out of your hard work and maximize the credit you previously earned.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Master of Science in Nursing

            Founded in 1887, Benedictine University is dedicated to the education of undergraduate and graduate students. Benedictine is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

            Benedictine University provides a values-centered Liberal Arts education. Today, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students from all 50 states in the US and over 17 countries.

            Why Benedictine University Online?

            • Over 130 year legacy of academic excellence
            • Ranked among America's Top Colleges by "Forbes" Magazine
            • 91% of current students report they are satisfied or very satisfied with their learning experience
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Master of Science in Nursing - Nurse Educator

            Saint Xavier University education that is grounded in the tradition of liberal arts. SXU offers graduate and post-graduate programs that are recognized and respected by employers and delivered by professional faculty who are experts in their fields. 

            • Online Courses
             
            Featured Schools
             
            Nursing Career Profiles