With only an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and a license to practice, you can work as a registered nurse (RN) in direct patient care. But you may have aspirations to advance your career to a leadership or management position.
Nurses who complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program are eligible for jobs with the potential to substantially increase their income. An RN to MSN bridge program is a good way for nurses to jump ahead in the nursing profession.
What Is an RN to MSN Program?
Traditionally, ADNs needed to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) before enrolling in an MSN program. An RN to MSN allows you to earn an MSN in less time than it would take to separately complete the BSN and MSN degrees. In a bridge program, you are not skipping the BSN preparation. Instead, it is incorporated into the RN to MSN program.
What Are the Requirements?
A nurse must be an RN and hold a degree from a school that is accredited. Most RN to MSN programs have the following eligibility criteria for nurses:
- Associate degree or nursing diploma from a school with proper accreditation, typically from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
- Current unencumbered nursing license
- A grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0. Applicants with a lower GPA may have to submit a score from a graduate school admissions test such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT)
What Is Involved in the Program?
Usually, RN to MSN curricula include introductory courses such as science, English, math, history and political science along with electives. Once you complete the general courses, you will have to take BSN core courses. The next step consists of RN to MSN transition coursework. Then you can complete the MSN core classes and any courses pertaining to a nursing specialty. Some schools also require the completion of clinical experience before graduation. Common RN to MSN specialties prepare nurses for a number of specialized roles:
- Acute care practitioner
- Nursing administrator
- Adult clinical nurse specialist
- Family nurse practitioner
What Is the Advantage of an Online RN to MSN?
Online learning is a fast and convenient way for working nurses to earn an MSN degree. Most online programs offer a choice of start dates throughout the year. You can take courses at your own pace and participate online with your professors and classmates. Generally, it takes approximately three to four years to complete an RN to MSN program.
What Are the Benefits of an MSN?
When you complete an RN to MSN program, you will have more job opportunities because you qualify for a greater number of career options. Another favorable aspect of an MSN is that it increases your earning potential. Additionally, you are prepared to continue on to a doctorate program if you choose.
As an MSN-prepared nurse, you can progress from clinical care to an administrative role. This enables you to extend your nursing career if you no longer desire to provide direct patient care. Non-clinical nursing jobs tend to have flexible schedules and regular, daytime work hours, so you do not need to endure long shifts.
What Jobs Are You Prepared for With an MSN?
An MSN could make your job search easier because it will prepare you for many types of nursing jobs. Here are examples of positions for MSN-prepared nurses with the latest average median salary information from PayScale.com.
- Assistant director of nursing – $72,467 (July 2021)
- Nurse consultant – $87,521 (July 2021)
- Nurse educator – $77,451 (July 2021)
- Research nurse – $74,424 (May 2021)
If you are ready for the commitment, an MSN degree can help you achieve your career goals. When you choose an RN to MSN program, you do not need to complete a four-year BSN program. Online programs are an easier and faster way to graduate with an MSN. Otherwise, you could spend up to eight years completing on-campus programs to earn your BSN and MSN.
Lamar University offers an online RN to MSN program that prepares nurses for upper management and leadership positions in a variety of healthcare and educational settings.
Learn more about the Lamar University online RN to MSN program.