There are many reasons why someone would choose the MSN program. Here are a few of the most common questions aspiring students have about this advanced educational pursuit.
Why does this degree matter?
For nurses seeking professional advancement, the MSN degree is very important – it’s the gold standard for moving into greater clinical or management responsibility, which can lead to higher pay, better hours and saying goodbye to holiday or overnight shifts. It can also be a ticket out of the grind, so to speak, by allowing nurses to move into the teaching profession.
How do I get into a program?
Most online MSN programs require incoming students to hold an active registered nursing license. Nurses must have at least an associate degree as well as at least one year of work experience. Some programs may not require incoming students to be licensed nurses, but in that case, they may expect the student to have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field.
How long does it take?
This depends greatly upon the program and the student – that’s because one of the beautiful things about online learning is the ability to self-pace. One student might choose to attend school on a part-time basis, another might want to go full-time, and still another might find a program that allows them to take one course at a time as their schedule allows. However, most students who are already nurses will take between one and two years to complete the 36 and 42 credits hours required to graduate. Students with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field may need up to three years to finish their program through an accelerated track. Essentially, these programs are squeezing two years of undergraduate and two years of graduate instruction into three years.
What will it cost?
No MSN program will come cheap; the cost can sometimes prevent registered nurses from pursuing the higher degree. However, transfer credit can help, as can plenty of financial aid options from federal and state governments, as well as private organizations or employers. Given all those variables, we can only provide a ballpark figure on tuition: a typical online MSN student can expect to pay roughly $20,000 to $60,000 for their degree.
How will the MSN change my career?
Students who complete an online MSN program can earn a much higher salary, often an additional $10,000 per year or more. They can take on greater patient responsibility as well. For example, an APRN may obtain the ability to legally prescribe medications. In addition, the master’s degree will allow them to take on a level of specialization and organizational responsibility not otherwise possible, such as becoming a clinical care coordinator.