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Masters in Nursing (MSN) Degree Requirements

Master of Science in Nursing Requirements

The MSN degree requirements vary depending on what your status is when you enroll in a MSN program. The RN to MSN degree option is for nurses who do not hold a bachelor's degree but are licensed RNs. At most schools this program combines the BSN and MSN degrees and nurses complete both. The other RN to MSN option is for licensed nurses who have a bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing. The path for nurses who have completed a BSN is simply returning to school for the next step - a graduate degree in advanced practice nursing. The academic requirements for MSN programs vary with the area of specialization. Generally nurses who are studying to earn licensure as a nurse practitioner will have a few more credit hours to complete and a longer practicum requirement than those enrolled in other MSN options. Find Masters in Nursing Online today.

RN to MSN Requirements

This degree option essentially compresses two nursing degrees into a single course of study. Most programs require completion of the academic requirements for a BSN before a student can continue on to graduate level work. However there are some substitutions or doubling up on course credits so that completing both degrees in the RN to MSN track requires much less time than completing each degree separately. There may be some requirement for completion of general education requirements in liberal arts courses if a student comes to the RN to MSN program with a diploma instead of an associate's degree in nursing (ADN).

Online MSN programs can be part time courses of study - often a necessity for working nurses with families. In those instances completion of the program may take up to three years for nurses working to get through both degrees. Often there are more credit hours required to meet the BSN completion mark than are required for a MSN degree. The credit hour requirements for a MSN range from 36 to 44 credit hours with most programs, depending upon the area of specialization. Completion of the BSN portion of the program requires meeting the general education requirements that are standard with any undergraduate degree, and completion of the requisite credit hours associated with a bachelor's degree. Here the issue of transferrable credits comes into play; the allowance for credit transfer from an ADN or Diploma program varies with each school.

RN to MSN with a Bachelors Degree

A working RN who holds a bachelor's degree in a field unrelated to nursing has an easier set of academic obligations leading to completion of the MSN. There will be no requirements for general education courses; the only undergraduate classes that might be required are upper division nursing courses that may not have been included in the student's original nurse training program. The BSN and MSN core course requirements are compressed in a bridge program, reducing the number of required credit hours associated with undergraduate nursing studies. Some schools bypass the undergraduate nursing requirements, leaving only the graduate level nursing courses to be completed. The requirements for this program vary from school to school; the important thing to keep in mind when shopping for the right MSN option is to be sure that the school is accredited.

MSN Degree Requirements

Completion of any MSN program is going to require 36 - 45 credit hours depending upon the area of specialization that is involved. The clinical nursing options - nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, and nurse midwife - usually have more extensive academic requirements. These options also have more stringent practicum requirements in most cases, a figure that is dictated by state licensing requirements. For nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists the practicum hours will be 400 - 600 hours. A nurse with a BSN who is enrolled in a MSN program may complete it in one year of full time study if the specialization is non-clinical. For the clinical options it is difficult to complete the degree in less than eighteen months. Nurses in the RN to MSN programs may take up to three years to finish, especially if some of the studies are done on a part time basis.

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