Last Updated: January 1, 2017
In today’s uncertain economic climate, one thing is for sure: jobs in the healthcare field will continue to be in demand. And few healthcare professionals have more career options than skilled, licensed nurses. While nurses with RN certification or even a bachelor’s degree have many options to choose from, those with a Master of Science in Nursing degree have even more flexibility and room for advancement. Not only does a graduate degree in nursing open the door to further specialization and promotion, it can extend a nursing career to last throughout your lifetime. As one nursing website noted, going on for your master’s degree can open the door to teaching and management positions that are more highly paid as well as less physically demanding than front-line and entry-level jobs.
Of course, that increase in pay is a significant attraction too. According to Payscale.com, nurses with a master’s degree in some specializations can earn $140,000 a year and up. You can gain the skills and advanced training you need to deliver care in several of these specialized roles, including nurse anesthetist and nurse practitioner. With an MSN and certification as an advanced practice nurse, you are able to deliver many of the same services as physicians, and can take on a leadership role in the healthcare team both in medical offices and in hospitals. Especially given the ever-changing realities of health insurance and reimbursement patterns, nurse practitioners and similar professionals will increasingly find their skills are needed to provide quality care to everyone.
If you’re a nurse who is ready to take your career to the next level, studying for an MSN may be right for you. Making the commitment to advanced study is a big step, but it’s one that can pay off in increased satisfaction and professional fulfillment as well as financial benefits.
Nurses who are pursuing an MSN typically concentrate on one of four advanced practice areas:
- Nurse Practitioner
- Certified Nurse Anesthetist
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Certified Nurse Midwife
In addition, graduate study in nursing is recommended for those interested in entering the business and management side of healthcare, and learning more about leadership, management, policies and finance. Typically, an MSN program can take up to two years to complete. While some MSN programs also require work experience for admission, most programs generally require the following:
- A bachelor of science in nursing (BSN)
- A registered nurse (RN) license
- Minimum GPA and GRE scores (varies by program)
- Clinical experience (varies by program)
If you’re ready to take the next step and begin your MSN while maintaining your current job and studying online, check out one of our 20 most affordable online MSN programs.
Most Affordable Online Master's in Nursing
Fitchburg State University
Our most affordable online master’s program in nursing is one that leads to a very special, and much-needed, career at the intersection of the medical and legal system. The MSN program in forensic nursing at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts. On successful completion of all program requirements, you’ll not only receive a degree – you’ll also be prepared to meet the requirements for certification as an Advanced Forensic Nurse Board Certified (AFN-BC). As the program website explains, this degree will enable you to apply:
- Knowledge and skills of nursing and forensic science to the investigation of trauma concurrently with emergency care and emotional support for victims of violent crime
- The nursing process to public or legal proceedings
- Aspects of health care to the scientific investigation and treatment of trauma
- Sensitivity to the health needs and concerns of diverse populations.
- Direct services such as legal documentation to individual and group clients, including insurance companies and law firms
- Consultation and education for groups, related agencies and communities
- Expert witness skills in investigations related to violence and trauma
- Skills for varied settings, including emergency health services, schools, correctional facilities, varied community health agencies, employee assistance programs in occupational health settings and law enforcement agencies
Regardless of the setting, you’ll be prepared to help the victims of violent crime recover from their trauma – and help the perpetrators of those crimes turn their lives around and reduce the risk of reoffending.
With the MSN in forensic nursing, you’ll be qualified to serve in a number of exciting career fields including:
- Death investigator
- Legal Nurse Consultant
- Medico-legal Investigator
- Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE)
- Forensic Nurse Hospital Based Expert
- Risk Management Specialist
- Forensic Mental Health Consultant
You’ll be ready to contribute to the development of nursing science and the improvement of health care, and to pursue doctoral study if you so desire. Fitchburg State University is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The MSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
University of North Dakota
Located in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines of the University of North Dakota offers a wide range of possible specializations for students seeking a master’s degree in nursing. These include:
- Adult-gerontology primary care nursing track
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) track
- Nurse educator track
- Psychiatric and mental health nursing track
- Public health
As you complete required online courses, a few brief on-campus visits, and a clinical preceptorship, you’ll learn to:
- Incorporate theory, research and experiential knowledge into advanced nursing practice
- Demonstrate competence in advanced nursing practice consistent with applicable professional standards
- Practice in the development of nursing science through evidence-based practice, research and theory
- Integrate relationships between social, cultural, political, and economic issues and health care delivery
Graduates of the distance program are well prepared to function as advanced practice nurses, teaching and coaching patients in health maintenance, managing other professionals in complex healthcare systems, and practicing with ethical integrity and cultural sensitivity.
Upon successful completion of the program, students in the FNP track will be eligible to complete the National Certification exam through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Once certified, you’ll be prepared for primary care practice in a variety of settings and may obtain prescription privileges depending on your state regulations. The University of North Dakota is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Another one of our most affordable online master’s programs in nursing can be found at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Currently, this program offers students the opportunity to specialize in two areas, either in Nursing Administration or in Nursing Education. As the program catalogue explains in more detail, the Nursing Administration track is intended to give registered nurses the advanced knowledge they need to excel in organization, management, leadership, health care policy and economics. Nursing Administration courses and related business support courses in financial accounting, economics, and marketing prepare students to succeed in the rapidly changing healthcare environment. Meanwhile, the Nursing Education track gives registered nurses the knowledge and skills necessary to become nurse educators in academic settings. Here, particular focus is placed on teaching learning strategies and theories, curriculum development, measurement and evaluation, and on further developing your confidence in your educational role.
Alongside the business courses that comprise the nursing administration track, students may also have the additional opportunity to prepare for a dual degree, receiving the MSN alongside the MBA. While Lamar University offers the combined dual MSN/MBA degree, these additional business courses aren’t currently available online. However, you can transfer equivalent courses, up to 9 credit hours, into the MSN/MBA program from other online schools. Lamar University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the nursing program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Fort Hays State University
From its campus in Hays, Kansas, Fort Hays State University offers a number of affordable online degrees to supplement its residential offerings. Among those programs, you’ll find several options for continuing your nursing education at the master’s degree level and for specializing in advanced nursing topics. While studying online at FHSU, you’ll interact with other nurses across the country and around the world, learning how to best solve today’s nursing challenges. Along the way, you’ll master the kind of interactive, technologically driven environment that’s essential for success in today’s workplace. Like a number of other programs, Fort Hays offers the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in both Nursing Administration and Nursing Education tracks.
The Nursing Administration (NA) track includes coursework in administrative management in health organizations, nursing administration in complex organizations, and experience working with expert nurse administrators. Meanwhile, the Nursing Education (NE) track courses include curriculum planning and evaluation, teaching strategies in nursing, and experience working with expert teachers in various nursing education programs. Whatever your specialty, you’ll complete your degree online with both asynchronous learning and supplemental audio conferencing. This means that you can take these online courses from the comfort of your own home, while also having the opportunity to interact live with faculty and other students. The hands-on administration and education experiences required for the NA and NE tracks can be taken near your place of residence, so you can balance your education with family and job responsibilities. As part of the graduation requirements, you’ll also be expected to pass a comprehensive examination in your field and to complete an individual Evidence-Based Practice Project. Fort Hays State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and the graduate nursing programs are accredited by the Committee on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
West Texas A&M University
Located in Canyon, Texas, West Texas A&M University offers an online comprehensive M.S.N. program in addition to its residential degree offerings in the field. The comprehensive M.S.N. program at West Texas A&M will prepare you to work at an advanced nursing practice level in complex health care environments, and it allows you to tailor your nursing education with a variety of elective courses. Required coursework includes advanced studies in pathophysiology, pharmacotherapeutics, and advanced assessment to enhance clinical practice. In addition, practical coursework is personalized to address each student’s specific learning objectives. Graduates of the program find work in many settings, including hospitals, outpatient settings, administrative positions, educator positions, and in collaborative practice with physicians and other health care providers, and schools of nursing.
As part of the comprehensive MSN program, you can choose to specialize in elective areas including:
- Holistic Nursing
- Nursing Administration/Management
- Nursing Education
- Nursing Informatics
West Texas A&M University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the graduate program in nursing is additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
If you’re interested in taking your nursing career to the next level, preparing to assume leadership roles in your specialty area, and studying for your master’s degree in a Christian college environment, the program at Tennessee’s Union University may be right for you. The master of science in nursing (MSN) degree at Union prepares students in advanced theory and practice in a specialized field of nursing, while also teaching you to care for the health and well-being of diverse people in an intercultural world. Available MSN tracks include Education, Administration, and Nurse Practitioner, with possible practitioner sub-specialties in family, adult/geriatric primary care, pediatric and family psychiatric mental health.
Union’s curriculum will prepare you to analyze nursing problems conceptually, use theories related to nursing practice, and integrate principles of spiritual care and bioethics into your professional role. You’ll have the opportunity to practice in a variety of health-care settings, integrating knowledge of healthcare economics and policy into the delivery of cost effective, ethically responsible nursing care. Union University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Spring Arbor University
Another religious college with extensive nursing programs for graduate students is Michigan’s Spring Arbor University, which is historically affiliated with the Free Methodist Church. As the program website puts it, faith is an important part of the philosophy behind the curriculum: “Spring Arbor University’s online nursing school teaches you to improve treatment quality, safety and efficiency from a perspective of integrity and grace.” Tamara Dindoffer, Dean of the School of Human Services, explains:
Our goal is to meet the educational needs of those working in the diverse sector of human services and those wishing to enter various human services fields. SHS offers the unique educational perspective of intertwining faith, social justice, and ethical reasoning throughout our subject matter. Our faculty and staff look forward to a future of service to our students and our communities around the nation as well as the global community.
If that focus on faith and learning appeals to you, Spring Arbor might be the right choice for an MSN degree specializing in nursing education, preparing to work as a nurse practitioner, or for a joint MSN/MBA degree for nurses interested in the management and administrative aspects of health care.
One of the unique online programs at Spring Arbor, intended for nurses who already hold a BSN from an accredited nursing program, is their 36-month, CCNE-accredited MSN/MBA dual-degree program that can take you from bedside to boardroom with the skills you need to be an ethical leader in our complex healthcare system. You can choose from six MSN/MBA dual-degree program concentrations:
- Health care administration
- Human resource development
- Organizational consulting
- Strategic leadership
Spring Arbor University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and the nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Western Governors University
While Western Governors’ University has only been in existence for twenty years, it has already built an extensive portfolio of online degree programs. This nonprofit institution was founded in 1995 by state governors looking to change the way education could better the lives of their citizens. WGU is an all-online, competency-based university, which means their degrees are granted for what students learn rather than how much time they spend in school.
The graduate nursing programs available at Western Governors’ University offer a number of specializations, including the following:
- MSN with a focus in Education
- MSN with a focus Leadership and Management
- MSN with a focus in Nursing Informatics
- MS in Integrated Healthcare Management (in the College of Business)
- MBA in Healthcare Management (in the College of Business)
Each degree requires a total of 36 competency units (CUs), the equivalent to the traditional credit hour. In addition to your coursework, you’ll also complete a capstone project and a practical internship. Western Governors’ University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, and the nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Gardner Webb University
The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree at North Carolina’s Gardner-Webb University is structured to give students an advanced and comprehensive nursing education, while also preparing them for specialized career opportunities in nursing administration, education or a direct patient care role as a family nurse practitioner. As the program website describes, graduate of the Gardner-Webb MSN program will be prepared to:
- Integrate scientific findings from nursing, biopsychosocial fields, genetics, public health, quality improvement, and organizational sciences for continual improvement of nursing care across diverse settings
- Demonstrate organizational and systems leadership to promote high quality and safe patient care that emphasizes ethical and critical decision making, effective working relationships, and a systems-perspective
- Apply the methods, tools, performance measures, and standards related to quality and quality principles within an organization to promote high quality and safe patient care
- Apply research outcomes within the practice setting to resolve practice problems, working as a change agent through dissemination of results
- Integrate appropriate technologies for knowledge management to improve health care
- Intervene at the system level through a policy development process that employs advocacy strategies to influence health and healthcare
- Function as a professional member and leader of inter-professional teams through communication, collaboration, and consultation with other health professionals to manage and coordinate care
- Synthesize broad, organizational, client-centered, and culturally appropriate concepts in the planning, delivery, management, and evaluation of evidence-based clinical prevention and population care and services to individuals, families and aggregates/identified populations
- Articulate the understanding that master’s level nursing practice integrates advanced level understanding and approach to nursing intervention (including both direct and indirect care components) that influences healthcare outcomes for individuals, populations, or systems.
Regardless of your area of specialization, you’ll be ready to take on a leadership role as a nurse with the skills and knowledge to make a difference in healthcare organizations and in the lives of your patients.
While the nursing administration and nursing education tracks require 31 to 36 credit hours to complete, the family nurse practitioner program requires the completion of 51 credit hours of coursework, and will prepare you to sit for the national certification examination. Gardner-Webb University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the nursing programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
St. Francis Medical Center College of Nursing
Located in Peoria, Illinois, Saint Francis Medical Center’s College of Nursing is a Catholic institution that offers a wide range of graduate programs. In each case, the program is designed for online delivery to meet the needs of the busy working nurse who wants to to advance their knowledge and professional skills. The graduate program offers a predominantly online Masters of Science in Nursing degree in a number of specialities including:
- Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Nurse Educator
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)
- Nursing Management Leadership
- Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
In addition, St. Francis Medical Center offers an accelerated degree pathway to the MSN for those RN’s who hold a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing.
Regardless of your speciality, graduates of the master’s degree program at St. Francis will be able to:
- Integrate theory, research, and practice using critical thinking, for the improvement of client care in a variety of settings and the advancement of the nursing profession
- Practice autonomously in a variety of professional roles to respond to the social, economic, ethical, political, and legal issues impacting the needs of clients and the nursing profession
- Express caring in professional interactions which supports the values and promotes the growth and self-actualization of individuals, groups, and communities
- Provide collaborative leadership within the complex healthcare system in a culturally diverse society
- Synthesize the principles of education to develop interventions that promote ,maintain, and restore health
St. Francis Medical Center College of Nursing is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and the nursing degree programs are also accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Iowa’s Graceland University offers online Master of Science in Nursing programs with specialty tracks designed to prepare you to become either a family nurse practitioner or a nurse educator. Both of Graceland’s online graduate nursing programs are designed to provide working RNs the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in nursing through the completion of a combination of online cohort courses, on-campus focus sessions, and faculty- and preceptor-guided practicum experiences in the student’s local community.
Over the course of the MSN program, students will be required to attend a two-day focus session located at Graceland University’s School of Nursing satellite campus in Independence, Missouri. This Master of Science in Nursing focus session is scheduled in conjunction with the Advanced Practice Competencies Lab. Students in the Family Nurse Practitioner program are also required to complete 720 hours of practicum work that can be done in the student’s own community, anywhere in the U.S., Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. During the practicum, the student’s hands-on experiences are directly supervised by an approved local preceptor as well as a member of Graceland’s nursing faculty. Meanwhile, for nurse educator candidates, your studies will blend theory and research with an emphasis on guided practice in the educator practicum. The required 240 hours of practicum work are also able to be completed in the your own community. Graceland University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and the nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
University of Southern Indiana
The nursing graduate programs at the University of Southern Indiana include non-clinical tracks as well as a number of specialities within the nurse practitioner certification. Your options include:
- Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
- Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
- Nursing Education
- Nursing Management and Leadership
Regardless of which track you choose, you’ll learn how to integrate critical thinking, exercise independent judgment, provide leadership, synthesize what you’ve learned, and promote the essential values of caring in your professional and personal life.
While the Nursing Education and Nursing Management and Leadership tracks require 42 credit hours each to complete the degree, each of the nurse practitioner tracks require significant clinical work as well. On average, you’ll be required to complete about 600 clinical hours for your degree in addition to the 42 credit hours of coursework. Like many of the programs we evaluated, Southern Indiana’s MSN program is limited to students in certain states due to credentialing regulations. Before you apply, check with each program for eligibility details. Moving into a state not recognized by the graduate nursing program might prevent you from continuing in MSN coursework, unless you are on active military status and are transferred for reasons having to do with your service. The University of Southern Indiana is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and the nursing degree programs are also accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Stevenson University, located in Maryland, offers a master of science in nursing degree for online students with three options for specialized concentrations in nursing education, nursing leadership and management, and a unique program in population-based care coordination. Each program is designed for registered nurses who already hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and who are ready to take the next step and earn their master’s degree. With multiple start dates available throughout the year and accessible online courses, this MSN program is a flexible option designed for busy working adults looking to expand their career horizons.
If you choose the nursing education option, you’ll learn how to implement and evaluate courses using multiple strategies. Upon completion of the program, you’ll be able to develop curriculum designs appropriate to the educational setting and use concepts of health protection, promotion, and maintenance to address the needs of diverse cultures. The nursing leadership and management track helps you to implement best business management practices in hospitals and other healthcare settings. Graduates of this program are prepared to apply leadership theories and principles of human resource management to improve and promote nursing care. Finally, the population-based care track prepares students for roles that have increased in demand since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. In this concentration, you’ll learn how to implement quality and safety measures within community healthcare systems, and how to design plans of care for specific populations that respond to community resources, health care law, and other regulations. Stevenson University is regionally accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Universities, and the nursing degree programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Concordia University at Irvine
The MSN degree at California’s Concordia University at Irvine is designed to prepare you for the next phase of your career – whether that’s working as a nursing leader in healthcare management or teaching as a clinical or academic advanced nurse educator. The Nursing Leadership track focuses on the advancement of healthcare delivery in the clinical setting, while the Nursing Education track will equip you to teach undergraduate nursing students in a variety of specialty content and clinical practice areas, and to become an advanced nurse educator in the hospital setting. In each specialty area, the goal of the program is the same: to equip you with expert knowledge and a set of skills that distinguishes you in the field of healthcare and in your workplace.
As a Christian university associated with the Lutheran tradition, Concordia’s nursing program is designed to help students become caring, compassionate, and competent in their field. Working closely with faculty role models, you’ll learn to see nursing as both a philosophical and scientific approach to caring for all those who seek health care, disease prevention and management, health promotion, and health education. Throughout your courses and interaction with faculty, you’ll be prepared to give culturally-sensitive nursing care to an ethnically diverse population, and to become an advocate for your patients. Competence is learned by becoming accountable in nursing practice, resource management, and quality improvement, and by demonstrating skills in leadership and in critical thinking. Concordia University at Irvine is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. As a new degree program, the MSN programs at Concordia are currently in the process of securing professional accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Founded on evidence-based nursing practice, Lynchburg College’s MSN program provides students with educational experiences that are grounded in current knowledge and cutting-edge research. The program at Lynchburg is focused on one area of specialization, offering nurses the education and skills needed to become clinical nurse leaders within healthcare settings. This 37-credit-hour program can be completed in 18 months, and also includes a required component of clinical experience.
Graduates of the Clinical Nurse Leader MSN program will be prepared to:
- Provide and manage care to individuals at the point of care anywhere healthcare is delivered
- Provide leadership at the bedside, in the practice setting, and as a member of the interdisciplinary team
- Improve clinical outcomes using evidence-based practice
- Affect change within the healthcare system through the use of Quality Improvement and Healthcare Informatics that enhance understanding of the economics of care, cost-effectiveness and resource utilization
If you’re ready to take on a higher level of responsibility within your current job, or looking for the qualifications to move to another position in nursing management, the MSN at Lynchburg College is an affordable option that can be completed in a relatively short time frame. Lynchburg College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and its nursing degree programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
New Hampshire’s Rivier University offers several graduate nursing programs that prepare working professionals for positions in advanced practice nursing, or to teach in schools of nursing or other healthcare settings. Students in the program will develop state-of-the art skills, preparing them to excel in today’s rapidly changing healthcare environment. Specializations available online include:
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Nursing Education
- Leadership in Health Systems Management
- Master of Public Health
As well as being affordable and convenient, Rivier’s programs prepare students for success. In fact, the American Nurses Credentialing Center reports that graduates of Rivier’s M.S. in Nursing program who sat for the certification exam for Family Nurse Practitioner in 2014 and 2015 had a 100% pass rate.
Students in the FNP program learn advanced theory and clinical skills in topics like pathophysiology, health assessment, family nursing theory, quality healthcare improvement, health policy, and research design. Through online courses and field practicums completed locally, students gain the knowledge and skills needed to work as family nurse practitioners, adult nurse practitioners, or adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioners. As with other programs, the nursing education track prepares you to teach undergraduate nursing students, and the leadership track prepares you for a nursing management position in a hospital system. Finally, the Master of Public Health track is one of the few online programs that offer this degree. Graduates of this program often pursue leadership roles in government or in private sector research. With comprehensive study in topics such as global health, health care administration, health policy, qualitative-quantitative research, ethics, and epidemiology, students are prepared to serve their communities and society as a whole. Rivier University is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and the nursing programs are also accredited by Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
The State University of New York at Delhi offers an online program in nursing leading to a Master of Science degree (MS) with a focus on nursing education. Graduates of a master’s program in nursing education are prepared to fulfill roles as nurse educators in pre-licensure (RN) and bachelor’s degree programs (BSN), serve as staff development coordinators, and work as community educators. This program not only prepares nurses at the graduate level for teaching positions, but it also serves as a foundation for doctoral studies.
The program requires 42 credits for graduation, and can be completed either on a part-time or full-time basis. Full-time students can enroll in as many as 16 credits per semester, which means that a motivated student can finish the program in less than two years. SUNY Delhi’s program is noted for its flexibility, and it’s designed to allow working nursing professionals to study around their demanding schedules by offering two 7-week sessions per semester. In addition to your coursework, you’ll also complete required practical education with clinical placements in your community. SUNY Delhi is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and as of September 2016 the nursing program was in the process of gaining accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Winona State University at Rochester
Minnesota’s Winona State University at Rochester offers a master’s degree in nursing that includes several options for specialization, such as:
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
- Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Nurse Educator
- Nursing and Organizational Leadership
Courses in these programs are offered in a variety of delivery methods, depending on your location and schedule: one day per week on campus, online, or in a hybrid format. The hybrid format requires attendance on campus or in synchronous web-based meetings up to four times per semester, with the remainder of the course delivered in a web-based platform. Students in the Nurse Educator and Nursing and Organizational Leadership programs can choose a distance option on a three-year plan, with all courses offered in hybrid format. Those in other programs are also able to access their required courses in the hybrid format.
As the program website explains, the mission of the WSU Department of Nursing is to educate caring, ethical, creative, and accountable nurse leaders who provide person- and relationship-centered care for individuals, families, groups, communities and populations in a diverse society. If you’re interested in a program that emphasizes respectful and ethical care, that values social and intellectual diversity, and that seeks to educate its students in a creative and innovative environment, WSU might be a great fit for you. Winona State University at Rochester is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and the nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
University of North Alabama
The Master of Science in Nursing program at the University of North Alabama is an all-online program that consists of two tracks: Nursing in Teaching-Learning Environments and Nursing Leadership in Organizational Environments. The teaching-learning option is intended for students who seek teaching positions in academic and clinical settings. Students will learn the theoretical basis of teaching methodologies, learning assessment, evaluation of learning, and other components of effective education, as well as how to develop curricula and create other teaching projects. As part of this program, you can also choose a clinical area of focus including adult health, women’s health, or pediatrics.
Meanwhile, the leadership option is designed for students who are currently working in management, administrative, or executive positions in health care or those who hope to enter such positions. You’ll learn sound, theoretically based economic and management principles that will give you the knowledge and skills to lead organizations in the business aspects of the health care system and to make informed, evidence-based decisions. There are two required clinical courses for each track, which can be completed in consultation with approved preceptors in your own community. Students must hold a current unencumbered license to practice nursing in the state where your clinical experience takes place. As always, state nursing regulations may limit your eligibility for this program, and prospective students should check with their state Board of Nursing and with the school for details. The University of North Alabama is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The MSN programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
University of Texas at El Paso
The Master of Science degree in Nursing (MSN) program at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) prepares professional nurses for post-graduate roles in a variety of advanced practice and specialty areas. Graduates have increased autonomy and independence in their practice and are eligible to apply for national certification. The program at UTEP offers students a choice of three majors:
- Nursing Education
- Nursing Systems Management
- Nurse Practitioner with concentrations in Adult/Gerontology with an Acute Care focus, Family, and Pediatrics
All of the nurse practitioner concentrations are 49 semester credit hours in length for students seeking the MSN degree, while the other majors require 33 credit hours of coursework. Clinical practicum time for nurse practitioner students varies from a minimum of 610-720 hours, based on concentration and the particular skills essential to practice in the field.
While courses are delivered online, there are some significant requirements for in-person attendance at UTEP that may affect your decision-making process in applying. Graduate orientation, usually held in August just prior to the start of fall semester, is mandatory for all students. Nurse Educator or Nursing Administration students may need to travel one or two additional times during the program, and Nurse Practitioner students may have to come to UTEP’s campus up to three times per semester. Students in the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner concentration are required to travel to Houston or another location for two weeks to precept at approved clinical sites. In lieu of a thesis, MSN students have the option to complete an electronic portfolio that demonstrates achievement of program outcomes and competency in specific knowledge and skills related to the major. The University of Texas at El Paso is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the nursing graduate programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.