Why get a master’s of science in nursing?
Choosing to become a nurse is a fantastic ambition that can lead to a long and fruitful career. You need to make sure that you select a good program to give you the tools you need to jumpstart your career in nursing. A master’s of science in nursing (MSN) will help you to gain the skills and clinical knowledge you will need for a successful career in this field.
Many programs will provide not just involve learning in a classroom environment but also valuable clinical opportunities. Programs such as these are designed to prepare a candidate to immediately enter their new workplace.
Undertaking an MSN can prepare a graduate for several career paths. Many choose this specialization as they already carry a bachelor degree in nursing and they wish to expand their knowledge base. Many programs prepare a registered nurse for a specialized career path, such as becoming a pediatric primary care nurse practitioner or a clinical nurse specialist. Those with a background in science may also wish to undertake a program if they hold ambitions to become a registered nurse themselves.
As these are graduate programs, students will be able to pursue academic tracks according to their interests.
Top programs for a master’s in science and nursing
What makes a good program? The institution that you choose can make a massive difference here. If you are interested in pursuing an MSN, the following universities may be excellent choices for you. They were selected for a variety of factors, including but not limited to their online course offerings, earnings post-graduation, and total investment per student.
Johns Hopkins UniversityJohns Hopkins University Baltimore, Maryland
Johns Hopkins is the first research university in the United States, being founded in 1876. The main campus is located in Baltimore, Maryland, but many of its programs are available as online courses – including its post-graduate nursing qualifications.
To gain entry to their programs, applicants must have either a bachelor of science in nursing or another discipline. A GPA of at least 3.0 is required, as are 3 letters of recommendation and a current resume. Registered nurses must be able to provide proof of their registrations and will need to obtain Maryland RN licensure for matriculation. MSN degrees take 4 semesters and equal 35 credits and 504 clinical hours if studying full-time.
Duke UniversityDuke University Durham, North Carolina
Duke University is a private research university located in Durham, North Carolina. Founded in 1892, it is one of the leading graduate schools in the USA.
Students in their MSN programs have a choice of 8 nursing majors and 3 non-clinical majors, with options for additional specialties too. Applicants must have a bachelor of science in nursing with at least a 3.0 GPA. They must also provide proof of licensure as a registered nurse in the state in which applicants will be practicing. Applicants must also submit a current resume, personal statement, and 3 letters of recommendation. Credit hours depend on a student’s major, but range between 42 and 49 credit hours, with varying clinical hours to match.
University of North CarolinaUniversity of North Carolina Chapel Hill, North Carolina
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill) is a public research facility located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It was charted in 1789 and is one of the oldest public universities in the USA.
UNC Chapel Hill currently offers 2 academic pathways to a MSN. Applicants with a bachelor of science in nursing may apply for the BSN to MSN program, which allows them to pick from one of 5 specialties. Applicants who hold an associate’s degree or a diploma in nursing will be eligible to apply for the healthcare leadership and administration MSN.
Applicants on the RN to MSN track must have completed 51 college credits in pre-nursing courses prior to enrollment, and must have a minimum GPA of 2.75. They must also have one year of clinical experience as a registered nurse. Those on the BSN to MSN track must have a BSN with a GPA of at least 2.75. They must also have an unencumbered license as a RN either in North Carolina or another state. The BSN to MSN program consists of 35-49 credits depending on your specialty, and can be completed in about 2 years.
University of MichiganUniversity of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan
The University of Michigan is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It is the oldest university in this state, and was founded in 1817. It is also a founding member of the Association of American Universities.
They currently offer several MSN courses, 3 of which are available for online students. The MSNs can be undertaken as either 2-year or 3-year courses. 3-year courses offer a higher degree of specialization but will have higher credit and clinical requirements. Applicants to the MSN program must have a BSN from an accredited institution.
Applicants must also have a valid RN license for the state where they will complete their clinical experience.
University of PittsburghUniversity of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The University of Pittsburgh is home to over 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It was founded in 1787.
Applicants to the online MSN here can choose from 2 majors – clinical nurse leader, and nursing informatics. A GPA of 3.0 or higher for a BSN is needed, as is a valid RN license from the state or territory where the student will complete their clinical experiences. Candidates must also submit 3 letters of recommendation and a personal essay of at least 500 words. Applicants shall also have to undergo an interview as the application process proceeds
University of MassachusettsUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst, Massachusets
The University of Massachusetts-Amherst is one of the 5 campuses that make up this university. It is the largest and flagship of the system and was founded as a land-grant college in 1863.
There are 2 MSN options available to choose from here. One prepares candidates for a specialism as a clinical nurse leader, while the other is in nursing education. Both of these courses carry 32 credits. Applicants must have a relevant BSN to be able to undertake the program, plus a valid RN license to be able to undertake the clinical requirements of the course.
SUNY Polytechnic InstituteSUNY Polytechnic Institute Utica, New York
The State University of New York (SUNY) Polytechnic Institute is a public university that was founded in 1966. It has over 3000 students and offers 18 graduate-level degrees, including 3 online MSN programs. Applicants can choose between nursing education, family nurse practitioner, and transformational leadership in nursing. These courses range between 39 and 45 credits.
Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree with a major in nursing from an accredited program. This must also carry a 3.0 GPA. All applicants must also have an unrestricted and unencumbered RN license for the state where they will be carrying out their clinical practices. Official transcripts from previous colleges plus 2 academic or professional references must also be submitted, along with a writing sample. Applicants for these programs must also be able to demonstrate 2000 hours of work experience as an RN.
East Carolina UniversityEast Carolina University Greenville, North Carolina
East Carolina University (ECU) is one of the largest universities in North Carolina, with nearly 30,000 students in total. The college produces more nurses than any other in the mid-Atlantic region, so those coming here for their MSN can expect a great standard of teaching.
There are 7 different courses to choose from at ECU. Applicants for all courses will need to have a BSN with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and an acceptable GRE score gained within the last 5 years. Candidates also need a non-restricted RN license for either North Carolina or the state in which they intend to complete their clinical requirements. They will need to provide a written statement and 3 references, plus attend an interview.
University of WisconsinUniversity of Wisconsin Osh Kosh, Wisconsin
The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (UW Oshkosh) was founded in 1871 and has a little over 16,000 students enrolled. The nursing school offers high pass rates and over 110 scholarships each year.
They offer 2 course tracks for MSNs, one with a specialty as a clinical nurse leader and the other as a nurse educator. All applicants must have an accredited BSN with a minimum GPA of 3.0 plus an unencumbered, valid RN license. Ideally, this should be for Wisconsin, but other states may be considered. Applicants will also need to provide at least 3 professional references.
Career outlook in the market
Those who have struggled to find adequate opportunities before might find that there are many more open to them once they have completed their MSN. While much of this depends on the individual degree path chosen, nurses with an MSN can expect to see a massive change in job outlooks in this market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this career will see a growth of 45% between 2019 and 2029.
Undertaking an MSN means that a nurse would be completing further training and specialization plus more clinical experience. Understandably, this will lead to a greater salary than those who have not got this level of specialization. The average pay for registered nurses with a bachelor’s is approximately $86,091 annually, but a nurse with an MSN could be looking at approximately $95,470 per year at entry-level, rising to an average of $106,279 annually after approximately 10-19 years in the role.
Those students who require financial aid for their studies will be able to find several loans and other aids that they could choose from. More information can be found at Federal Student Aid, including a free application for federal student financial aid.