A master of science in nursing (MSN) degree is a graduate degree. It typically takes between two and three years to earn a master’s degree in nursing. The length of time may vary if you opt to pursue your studies part-time.
Thanks to technology, it’s possible to complete an MSN program through online studies. Online programs enable RNs to have the option of working in their field while taking graduate courses so they can obtain their MSN. Let’s look at a how to go about obtaining an MSN online.
Research online MSN degree programs and apply.
The first step towards earning an MSN degree through online studies is to research online master’s degree programs. Use Google or another search engine to learn about online program options and read program reviews from students. You may also talk to advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to determine which programs they recommend. The National League for Nursing (NLN) also publishes a nursing program evaluation guide you can refer to when comparing program options.
MSN programs may offer specializations, enabling you to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner (PMHNP), family nurse practitioner (FNP), or adult-gerontology nurse practitioner. Reputable programs will have industry-relevant criteria applicants must meet to ensure accepted students can complete the graduate program courses. Applicants typically need a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), RN license, and clinical experience. If you aren’t currently working as a registered nurse (RN), you may need to obtain your RN license and gain the clinical hours required to qualify for admission to a master’s degree program. You should also evaluate the courses offered to ensure the program fits your career goals. Once you identify excellent online MSN programs, you should review the program admission requirements and prepare your application.
Consider your career goals.
If you’re thinking about pursuing studies to earn an MSN degree but haven’t decided which career path to pursue, you should research your career options carefully. Your studies can have a significant impact on your career path, and you should ensure you apply to a program that offers the training you need before you invest a lot of time and money into an MSN program.
Choosing a career goal ensures you pursue a program that will equip you with the academic knowledge and practical skills required for your chosen career. Take time to research your career options. A master of science in nursing degree can equip you with the credentials required to become a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwife, nursing home administrator, or nurse educator. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and nurse-midwives in the United States earned median annual incomes of $115,800 in 2019, while their job opportunities are expected to grow 45 percent between 2019 and 2029. The BLS reports nursing home administrators took home median incomes of $100,980 per year in 2019 and should see a 32 percent job growth rate between 2019 and 2029. Post-secondary nursing instructors enjoyed median annual salaries of $74,600 in 2019, per the BLS, and can expect to see jobs increase by 18 percent between 2019 and 2029.
Begin your studies.
Once you’re accepted into a program, you can register for courses. MSN degree courses cover advanced nursing research, diagnostic reasoning for nurse practitioners, advanced health assessment, and psychopharmacology.
Your coursework may vary based on your specialization. While psychiatric nurse practitioners may take courses that focus on psychiatric and mental health studies, FNPs (family nurse practitioners) will learn about all aspects of patient care to ensure they’re equipped to diagnose and treat patients of all ages. Their studies may include a wide range of health issues, including digestive disorders, developmental disorders, and types of seizures. An FNP treating a patient with epilepsy will need to distinguish between different types of seizures, such as atonic seizures, myoclonic seizures, tonic-clonic seizures, and absence seizures.
Complete a clinical placement.
A clinical placement offers an opportunity to acquire practical skills and clinical experience. A placement coordinator can help you find a suitable placement and obtain the credentials required for your placement.
Ideally, you’ll seek a placement suited to your long-term career goals. If you plan to work as a family nurse practitioner, you may not want to gain your clinical experience in a psychiatric hospital. Your practicum offers an opportunity to build your resume and form professional connections, which is why you must pursue a practicum suited to your personal career goals.
To earn an MSN degree, you must identify suitable programs and fulfill the application requirements. You may need to clarify your career goals before choosing a program to ensure you pick the right specialty. You’ll need to complete your courses and finish a practicum to earn your degree.