Nursing continues to grow and expand, offering more specialties to nursing professionals than ever before. There are so many paths to pursue in the field that getting bored doesn’t have to happen. From bedside care to research of groundbreaking healthcare treatments, completing a BSN-to-MSN program opens many doors for nurses. Earning a graduate degree in nursing is an excellent option for registered nurses (RNs) who wish to branch out and do more with their acquired nursing skills and experience.
In this article, we will explore:
- Why pursue a BSN-to-MSN program
- Required courses for BSN-to-MSN programs
- Top online BSN-to-MSN programs
- How to choose the right BSN-to-MSN program
- Paying for a BSN-to-MSN
Why pursue a BSN-to-MSN degree
When it comes to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree programs, nursing students have more than 2,000 graduate programs from 500 nursing schools from which to choose. Finding a program to suit every learner and every nursing goal is possible with so many options on the table.
Pursuing an MSN may not be the right move for every nurse. Here are some things to consider before investing time and money into this advanced degree program:
MSN degrees position nurses for future advancement in their careers
Even if nurses wish to work as RNs for a few years before climbing the nursing ladder, having an MSN under their belts can open doors to more responsibilities and higher wages. MSN degrees also position nurses one step closer toward obtaining certification in several APRN specialties. There are two bridge programs that help nurses complete their MSN faster:
- BSN-to-MSN bridge program – about 2-3 years
- RN-to-MSN bridge program – about 2 years
MSN degrees deepen nursing knowledge
Healthcare employers prefer candidates with MSN degrees over BSNs because they hold a deeper knowledge of nursing best practices. MSN programs have more rigorous programs covering advanced topics like leadership and research, that most BSN curriculums omit.
MSN degrees offer a solid return on investment
Whether entering the field with an MSN or pursuing one while working as a nurse, an MSN is never a bad investment. Some Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) programs cost just as much as direct-entry MSNs yet do not offer the same level of career advancement as a master’s degree.
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Required courses for BSN-to-MSN degrees
Every MSN program is different, so it is best to check with the school of your choice about the required coursework and curriculum. Most accredited nursing programs follow The Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing framework created by the American Association of Colleges in Nursing (AACN). It outlines essential curriculum content and core competencies nursing students must acquire in preparation for their nursing careers. MSN programs focus on preparation for elevating care in every healthcare setting and leading and promoting healthcare changes that can improve patient outcomes.
Quality Master of Science in Nursing programs include nine core elements:
- Background for practice from sciences and humanities
- Organizational and systems leadership
- Quality improvement and safety
- Translating and integrating scholarship into practice
- Informatics and healthcare technologies
- Health policy and advocacy
- Interprofessional collaboration for improving patient and population health outcomes
- Clinical prevention and improving population health
- Master’s-level nursing practice
Top online BSN-to-MSN degree programs
Some nursing students prefer online BSN-to-MSN programs because of their convenience. Nurses can work as RNs or in other nursing fields while they pursue advanced degrees. Here are some of the most popular online BSN-to-MSN programs for nursing professionals:
- Capella University offers CCNE accredited BSN, MSN, and DNP programs open to nursing students nationwide. They have a FlexPath option that allows nurses to control the pace of their learning. Capella’s nursing programs have received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
- Duke University records the majority of its graduate-level courses and offers the same rigorous online curriculum that can be found in its campus classrooms.
- Rush University records and archives all graduate-level courses so students can access lecture material when it is convenient for them.
- The University of South Carolina also records and archives all graduate-level course lectures, making it another great choice for nursing professionals working while pursuing advanced degrees.
How to choose the right BSN-to-MSN program
Choosing the right BSN-to-MSN program often comes down to personal preference. For some nursing students, an online program is the best fit for their busy professional and personal schedules. MSN programs involve a significant time commitment and can be quite expensive. It is not uncommon to face waiting lists for admission to master’s level nursing programs due to the high demand and limited space. It is important to find the program that aligns with the goals for completion and also fit within a budget. These two aspects can make or break a nursing professional’s ability to further their education.
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Paying for a BSN-to-MSN
The cost of a BSN-to-MSN nursing program can vary, depending on whether nursing students choose an online school or prefer a traditional campus setting. Private schools can cost significantly more than state nursing schools. Out-of-state students can expect to pay higher tuition and fees for certain colleges and universities. The good news is scholarships, grants, and student loans can help cover the expenses.
Among some of the best scholarship opportunities for nurses pursuing MSN degrees include:
- AfterCollege/AACN $10,000 Scholarship Fund supports nursing students seeking advanced nursing degrees. Special consideration is given to students who wish to become nurse educators.
- CVS Together We Care Scholarships offer 20 MSN scholarships worth $2,500 each to nurses pursuing MSNs so they can work as nurse practitioners.
- Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) Scholarship provides multiple scholarship opportunities to its member nurses.
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