Registered nurses (RNs) with a two-year degree have more than one option for achieving their education and career goals. Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a common path. But going straight for a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) may deliver even greater benefits.
A typical MSN program requires a BSN for admission. But RN to MSN programs do not require a BSN — only an ADN or nursing diploma. For example, Lamar University accepts students who have graduated from either an associate degree or diploma nursing program for its online RN to MSN.
How Do RN to MSN Programs Work?
The best-paying nursing positions typically require at least an MSN. Lamar University offers two different RN to MSN tracks — an MSN in Administration and an MSN in Education. These are two of the highest-paying career paths for MSNs.
Traditional MSN programs take place on-campus, but they are also available in online formats. Either way, they usually require a BSN for admission. By eliminating the need to earn a BSN first, RN to MSN programs can save students time and money.
Coursework is one place students save. For instance, students in Lamar University’s online RN to MSN program earn both BSN and MSN credits for certain courses. Once students meet requirements for their BSN, they continue on to earn their MSN — without reapplying.
Compared with earning a BSN degree first, followed by a separate MSN, RN to MSN students at Lamar University take nine fewer credit hours overall. This results in a savings of nearly $3,000 in tuition.
What Are the Advantages of an RN to MSN?
In addition to saving busy nurses time and money, RN to MSN programs provide a few other benefits.
- Online RN to MSN programs such as Lamar University’s offer multiple start dates. RNs can plan their program for the best fit with work and other demands.
- Unlike on-campus programs with their set class schedules, an online format lets students choose the day and time to study that works best for them. With greater flexibility to schedule their studies, students may also be able to earn their degrees in less time.
- Online RN to MSN programs make it possible for students to continue working while they earn their degree. They can apply what they are learning along the way, building valuable experience.
- Choosing an RN to MSN path may save money on entrance exams. Graduate nursing programs such as an MSN may require the GRE. As of 2018, basic GRE fees in the U.S. were $205. At Lamar University, applicants to the RN to MSN program may qualify for an entrance exam waiver, in this case, the Miller Analogies Test (MAT).
Some nurses also benefit from employer assistance with tuition expenses, according to Nurse Journal.
An RN to MSN can be a smart choice for RNs ready to take the next step in their careers. While earning an MSN is hard work, the payoff is worthwhile. An MSN opens the door to higher-level positions and sizeable salary increases. Plus, earning an MSN can prepare RNs to advance their career to the highest level with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
Learn more about Lamar University’s online RN to MSN program.