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bsn to msn online fast track
What to look in programs?
bsn to msn online
Spotlight Schools
cheapest bsn to msn online
Common courses in the programs
bsn to msn online
Career Outlook
bsn to msn online programs
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Nursing Degrees In-Depth: Online BSN to MSN Programs

online bsn to msn programs

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree programs represent one of the more common graduate nursing programs available. Even though an individual can become a registered nurse (RN) with only an associate degree, a BSN remains popular because of the well-rounded education it provides.

Despite this advantage of the bachelor’s degree, you would need to have achieved an MSN degree for you to work in management, education and specialized nursing care positions. These opportunities can lead to higher pay, better hours and even more fulfilling work, depending upon your ultimate career goals. Let’s look at BSN to MSN online programs and what prospective master’s students can expect from them.

What to Look for in BSN to MSN Online Programs

BSN to MSN programs are quite popular, which means hundreds of colleges and universities offer them. That proliferation of programs can make it difficult to choose which one might be the best fit. However, there are several key program characteristics interested MSN students should look for during their research into the options.


Without accreditation, a degree is worth very little. Accreditation is important because it ensures the degree met the standards of a high-quality education, thus preparing master’s students adequately for the career that lies ahead. For MSN programs, there are two accrediting bodies: the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on the Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Grad students will find that most MSN programs are accredited by the CCNE.
Find more information about Accreditation here

Reasonable tuition rates

Certification rates

One of the biggest reasons master’s students would want to earn an MSN is the additional training in a specialized area of practice, such as midwifery or anesthesia. But simply graduating isn’t enough to start practicing. Many states and employers will expect advanced practice registered nurses, or APRNs, to obtain nationally recognized certification. One way to measure a program’s quality is by asking how successful its graduates are in becoming certified.

Flexible online options

Not all online curriculums are the same. Some programs will offer their coursework 100  online, while others will require the occasional campus visit. Then there’s synchronous versus asynchronous learning. The former requires students to be at their computer at a set time. The latter gives maximum flexibility by allowing students to attend class and complete their coursework on their own schedule.

Clinical options

Most MSN programs will require clinicals, although the exact requirements will depend on the specific specialty. To make things as easy as possible, many programs will allow students to complete their clinicals at a healthcare site of their choice, as long as it meets certain requirements and the program approves it. One thing prospective MSN students should keep in mind: look for programs that are approved near them including where they may already work as an RN.


Spotlights Schools: Cheapest BSN to MSN Online Programs

Looking for the cheapest BSN to MSN programs? These online options are good examples of what it means to find a school with affordable tuition that still fully prepares master’s students for the rigors of the job.

University of West Georgia

Capella University

University of Central Arkansas


Common Courses in the BSN to MSN Online

A BSN to MSN curriculum will be broken down into two sections. The core section will be very similar no matter what program or concentration is chosen. Common core nursing classes include:

  • Evidence-Based Practice for Patient-Centered Care and Population Health
  • Quality Improvement of Interprofessional Care
  • Professional Presence and Influence
  • Organizational Leadership and Interprofessional  Team Development

The second section of a MSN curriculum will be the specialization courses. Here are some of the more popular areas of specialization and the courses commonly found in them.

Nurse Educator

  • Teaching and Active Learning Strategies
  • Assessment and Evaluation in Nursing Education
  • Curriculum Development
  • Role of the Nurse Educator

Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Advanced Primary Nursing Care for Adults
  • Primary Care of Adolescents and Children
  • Advanced Pharmacology
  • Advanced Health Assessment

Nursing Informatics

  • Database Management
  • Clinical Information Systems
  • Leadership and Nursing Practice: Role Development
  • Information Workflow in Healthcare

Nurse Management and Leadership

  • Leadership and Management for Nurse Executives
  • Health Care Quality and Safety Management
  • Integrative Process in Nursing Administration
  • Financing Health Care

Career Outlook for BSN to MSN Graduates

Registered nurses interested in earning the MSN degree can look forward to changing their career in several ways. First, they can leave the clinical setting, if they prefer, by becoming a nurse educator and teaching nursing students. Second, there’s a partial departure from the clinical environment by taking a management and leadership role in healthcare administration.

Finally, for those who wish to stay in the clinical setting, they can take on more specialized roles or obtain greater treatment responsibility. For example, a family nurse practitioner will provide primary care to children and adults and usually have the power to diagnose and prescribe medications. Then there are nurse midwives, who provide direct care to women within the context of female reproductive health and childbirth.

The MSN degree provides the additional knowledge for these more advanced roles through coursework and clinical experience. Many BSN prepared RNs may groan at the thought of attending more nursing school and completing clinicals, but the benefits can be very attractive. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary for registered nurses was $70,000. But for MSN prepared advanced practice nurses and nurse administrators, the median pay is much higher:

  • Nurse Midwives: $100,590
  • Nurse Anesthetists: $165,120
  • Medical and Health Service Managers: $98,350
  • Nurse Practitioners: $103,880

And even for individuals who may not wish to go into healthcare administration, teaching or advanced practice, an MSN can be beneficial in that it makes it easier to gain other benefits when working as an RN, such as less overtime, being on call less often and working fewer holidays. The ability to “slow down” may be enough for some to spend the time, money and effort to earn an MSN. Now that many MSN programs are online, it’s easier than ever to get this advanced nursing degree.


Ready to Learn More about Master’s Degrees in Nursing?

The master’s degree in nursing online can fit very well into a busy schedule, allowing nurses to improve their careers, pay and job outlook. When contemplating if a master’s degree in nursing is the best path forward, prospective grad students can find additional helpful information in the following resources:

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