Earning Your Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN)

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is typically a 18- to 24-month program that allows a nurse to specialize in a particular area, such as healthcare administration. If you need a Bachelor of Science degree in healthcare administration, California Coast University offers an online program. While most people working towards an MSN would already have a BSN, there are programs out there that allow a nurse with an ADN to earn his/her bachelor’s and master’s degree withinin a single curriculum. There are also programs available that accept graduates from non-nursing backgrounds.

Program Types

The most common master’s degree in nursing program is the standard two-year master’s program at a graduate university. Students attend these programs after having completed their bachelor’s degree in nursing programs. However, there are some alternatives to this method of obtaining an MSN. The

RN to MSN program

is a popular choice among many nursing students. This program allows an RN who possess an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing to earn a master’s degree immediately after completion of a BSN program. The programs are usually tailored in a way that would meet the specific needs of the student with no overlap between BSN and MSN coursework. Another alternative is the direct entry MSN program. Similar to the

accelerated BSN

, this option allows graduates from non-nursing fields to earn their MSN by crediting their liberal arts coursework into the program. Students in this program will have to complete one year of undergraduate nursing coursework combined with obtaining RN-licensure, followed by two years of master’s level nursing coursework. A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required by most institutes that offer this program.

Degree Specializations

A nurse working toward a Master of Science in Nursing degree has an array of specializations from which to choose. These specializations can be lumped into the following groupings.

Advanced Specialist Role
These programs prepare nurses who wish to take on leadership roles within the nursing profession. Therefore, the coursework for this focuses on administration, education, informatics or research areas. Also, this is the most common area of specialization chosen by most students.
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Programs under this category prepare the nurse for a leadership and organizational role within a highly specialized field. The focuses for these programs include adult medical and surgical nursing to psychiatric and mental health nursing.
Nurse Practitioner
These groupings of programs focus on skills necessary to identify health risks, promote wellness, diagnose and manage illnesses, prescribe medication, and mobilize resources for patients. With this, there are four areas of focus — acute care, adult, family, and pediatric and psychiatric primary care.
Nurse Anesthetist
While this is not a broad group but a singular program, this specialization deserves its own grouping because of its high demand from both employers and students. Universities that offer this program equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide anesthesia for all segments of the population. Upon completion, you will have earned your MSN and become eligible to sit for a national (U.S.) certification to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).

If you are looking to earn your master’s degree in nursing (MSN), begin your search here:

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