Nursing is a truly important field within the healthcare domain. People that are registered as nurses can provide vital services to patients in hospital and other clinical settings.

If you are currently working as a registered nurse in the field, but looking for something to help you stand apart from others in your field, RN to MSN programs may be a great option for you. There is no better time than now to pursue a degree program that can open up more opportunities in the field, without having to dedicate 4 or more years to further education.

In recent history, the educational requirements for registered nurses have changed from requiring students to have an associate's degree to now requiring a bachelor's degree.

Most students enrolling in nurses programs are starting with bachelor's programs, which makes the competition for associate's-level RNs even more complex. Nurses working with associate's level degrees may feel as if they need to advance their degree in order to compete with others seeking the same positions.

msn students going to classRN to MSN programs were designed for registered nurses that want to bypass the large numbers of BSN learners entering the field. Most of these programs contain an accelerated element, which means professionals can be out of school and pursuing better positions within around 2 years on average.

MSN programs can allow for students to choose specific concentrations for their degree programs, which can help shape your future as a master’s level nursing professional. Our team of educational experts has developed this guide to give you more information on what this degree program consists of and how you can change your future by obtaining it.

RN to MSN Degree Courses to Expect

Before choosing a RN to MSN program, you should research what is provided during the program and how this can contribute to your future career goals. Some degree programs can consist of courses that focus on the practice aspect of nursing, while others may be more dedicated to the management and business aspects of health care facilities.

Either of these paths may be what you are looking for, but the educational program you choose may cater to the wrong path. It is important to look deeper into the curriculum provided when making your choice.

Since a lot of the RNs interested in this program hold associate’s-level degrees, this degree program focuses on blending the standard aspects of nursing with more advanced topics found at the master’s level.

The hands-on experience of RNs can prove beneficial during this program, since a lot of the curriculum builds upon this experience. Our team of experts has reviewed some of the most prevalent RN to MSN programs in order to provide you with a list of courses commonly found in these programs. Review the list of courses below to become familiar with some of the topics you could experience while you are enrolled.

Population Health

This course can provide students with an outlook that encourages widespread care for the entire population. Students may learn about prevention techniques and support, health care systems and global health topics that can help guide their career in a proactive way. A look at the environment’s influence on individual health may also be a portion of study throughout this course.

Health Policy

Beginning with the reasoning and overall development of health care systems in the U.S., this course can help students becoming more familiar with relevant health policy. Students may learn about the various health care policies as well as how they relate to different agencies, the evolution of health policies in current society and the relevance of applying health policies for various causes.

Biostatistics

Biostatistics takes into consideration health care data and how it relates to health concepts and reasoning. Students enrolled in this course can learn to utilize various data tools to create frequency charts, variability and prevalence. Hypothetical testing can help spread information regarding healthcare data throughout the United States.

Advanced Pharmacology

Students enrolled in this course can learn more about common and uncommon pharmaceuticals used currently in the healthcare field. Pharmacokinetics, dynamics and therapeutics may be main topics covered throughout this course, in order to give students more knowledge regarding the effects, treatments and interactions of these drugs.

Genetics for Health Providers

Genetics can play a large role in medical research, marking the need for more educated professionals within this field of healthcare. This course can outline the genetic components of disease and illness, genetic research for preventative science and genetic advances in the current healthcare system.

Cost of an RN to MSN Degree and Length of the Program

The time it takes you to complete your degree program can be controlled by your own preferences. Some RN to MSN programs can be completed in around 2 years for most people enrolled full-time. However, people that need to continue working full-time jobs may need to spread there program out over the course of a few more years.

Most people even at the part-time rate can complete their program within a 5 year timeframe.

  • Western Governor’s University: Online RN to MSN – $3,190 per 6-month term – 1-4 years for completion
  • The University of Arizona: Online RN to MSN – $800 per credit hour – 1.5-3 years for completion
  • The University of Memphis: Online RN to MSN – $6,036 per year – 1-3 years for completion

Committing to a degree program can be a huge accomplishment on its own. While some people are more concerned with how many years it will take to complete their degree program, others wonder about the costs and how it can affect their well-being.

When you are reviewing potential schools for your RN to MSN program, you should consider both the time investment and the costs. Schools vary in the amount that they charge for tuition, so research can often lead to finding better deals.

The cost of educational programs, especially in the online setting, can range from affordable to extremely high at different colleges all over the country. Some costs that may be factored into these totals may be tuition, various fees and the costs of books.

Choosing to pursue a degree online can reduce some of the costs of these programs due to the lack of need for housing and food costs common in traditional learning environments. Also, some colleges charge tuition by term, credit hour or even by the year. You should take these factors into consideration when making your decision.

How Much Can You Make With an RN to MSN Degree?

The salary data below is for nurses that have moved forward and received certification as nurse practitioners in the field. Take a look to see what you could achieve at this degree level.

Enrolling in 1 of the above programs can set you on track for obtaining a great-quality education to help fund your future. At the master’s level, nurses can take part in specialties that can lead to careers as nurse practitioner, hospital management or even specialty nurses. Depending on what you choose to do with your degree, you may find that your ability to earn can change with it.

Questions About the RN to MSN Degree

How many years of experience do I need to quality for RN to MSN programs?

The amount of work experience you require in order to be accepted into these programs may be different depending on your school of choice. Through our research, our team determined that some schools offering this program require 2-3 years of on-the-job experience, while there are some that require upwards of 4 or 5.

What are the benefits of upgrading my degree from associate’s to master’s?

While it was common years ago, most nurses in today’s society hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Upgrading your degree can help you prove your worth as a professional nurse, possibly obtain open positions that pay more and having options in higher tier positions in the healthcare field.

Can I continue to work while in the RN to MSN program?

Most programs request that you dedicate your time and energy to completing your degree program. However, there are plenty of part-time options that would be ideal for those that needed to continue working while enrolled in the program.

Are there clinical requirements during the RN to MSN program?

Most nursing programs require that you engage in clinical experiences, regardless of your work history. In this program, you can expect to spend some time practicing your skills in the field under the supervision of a master’s level nurse. Specialties such as Nursing Education or Leadership may not require clinical hours.

MSN Specialties

Have you considered what you want to get out of your master’s degree? Your future dreams or endeavors can help you pick a specialization that can set you on track for the future you desire. Colleges may offer a certain set of concentration options that are different from another, so reviewing what your school offers in terms of specializations can help you make a better decision upfront.

One of the most interesting facts about the MSN program is that students can choose a specialization to go with their degree. This can lead to even more exciting opportunities in the field, which is exactly what some professionals are looking for.

In current society, nurses that have obtained a master’s degree can even have their own set of patients and can prescribe medication if they go through the right certification process. Read more about the different concentrations available for this degree program below.

  • Healthcare Administrator: This specialty is great for upcoming MSN learners that have an interest in obtaining leadership positions in the field. Finance, personnel management and operational effeciency are some main topics in this area.
  • Nurse Practitioner: Nurses that are interested in providing general care to the public or certain groups can choose nursing practice specialties for their MSN program. In order to become licensed, some additional certification may be needed after the MSN program.
  • Gerontology (Primary Care) MSN Specialization: The study of aging and the different problems that can rise from aging health.
  • Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM): This certification option can begin during the MSN program. Choosing this concentration can allow you to be a leading source of support before, during and after childbirth.
  • Nurse Educator: This concentration option is a great choice for nursing professionals that desire helping others learn more about the field of nursing. Topics related to curriculum development and instruction may be a part of this specialty.
  • Public Health MSN Specialization: The Public Health specialization for an MSN degree will provide a bridge between clinical health and community health.
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA): If you choose this concentration, you could be an active part of surgical processes. The course work in this area may involve learning more about the different types of pharmaceuticals used during the anesthesia process, as well as the application of anesthesia to patients in different age groups.

Clinical Hours Needed

Clinical hours can be a way for nurses to apply the skills learned throughout their degree program and ensure that they are aware of the ethical practices required of nursing professionals. While most RNs have plenty of work experience through previous working positions, certain concentrations may require clinical experience prior to becoming certified in specialty fields.

Depending on the type of specialization you choose, you may be required to engage in a clinical requirement prior to obtaining further certification. There are some options for those that are not interested in engaging in additional clinical experiences. Degree concentrations such as nursing education and nursing leadership may not require additional clinical hours, since no direct application of patient care results from this degree program.

Concentrations such as nursing practice or nursing anesthesia may require additional clinical hours that can help sharpen your skills within your specific discipline. There are many vital and complex procedures involved with providing these types of care to patients in a clinical setting.

The best way to ensure that professionals have what it takes to work with patients in the field is through clinical supervision. Different specializations can have different amount of clinical hours required. For example, one school offering specialization in Gerontological Primary Care Nursing Practice requires 625 clinical hours during or after completing the required courses.