Direct Entry Nursing Programs

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Direct Entry MSN programs

If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, but are interested in the field, direct entry MSN programs may be a great option. Direct entry msn programs for non nursing majors, non-RN’s may exist – as may nursing schools that accept low undergrad GPA scores.

What Is a Direct Entry MSN Program?

A direct entry MSN program is often designed to help students enter the nursing profession without earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). These accelerated programs could build upon a student’s previous education to potentially save time and money.

Many nurses may earn a BSN before pursuing a MSN degree. However direct entry programs may provide an alternative path by combining the curriculum of both of these programs, This may be a great advantage for students with non-nursing backgrounds work towards an MSN, without first earning a second undergraduate degree.

Some direct entry nursing programs could award both degrees as you make your way through the program. These may also be referred to as BSN to MSN programs. Others may simply award an MSN upon completing the full program.

What Are Bridge Programs for Nurse Practitioners?

A bridge program may provide a different pathway for some students to earn their degree. It may be available to student who are in enhanced nursing practices to advance their career faster. There may be bridge programs for all levels of nursing students (for the most part). They may provide students with a lot of flexibility. Many times, a student could continue to work while taking these programs to enhance their nursing degree. This may allow them to earn their degree at a faster pace or overcome some of the obstacles they face.

Some schools may offer a bridge program for nurse practitioners. For example, a nurse who has completed their RN license with an associates degree program, may wish to work towards their master’s degree program. This may be done through a bridge program such as an Registered Nurse to MSN program. This may allow the student to complete their education in 24 months. They may still be pursuing all of the education they need, but they do not need to take as many courses to get to that point. They may not have to go the traditional method of earning a bachelor of science degree before their MSN.

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Nursing Practitioner bridge programs may be available to students who have an RN or a BSN who wish to complete their education in a specific concentration. For those who are looking for this type of program, it is important to look for the current degree held and the advanced education desired.

Specific bridge programs may exist for areas such as pediatric, women’s health, oncology, or neonatal health. Not all schools offer this type of bridge program. Some offer limitations.

Some students may wish to obtain their Nursing Practitioner but they have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. It may be possible to do this through some bridge programs. Most often, a students must have their RN license in order to complete master’s degree education. Most often, these programs may not take as long to complete, which means students may pursue work sooner.

7 Direct Entry MSN Programs

Below is a list of some sponsored schools that offer a direct entry MSN degree. The schools are not listed in any particular order and should not be considered a complete list of available programs.

Click on any of the links below to learn more about a school or degree and to request more information.

Johns Hopkins University was founded on the principle that they may make the world a better place by pursuing big ideas and sharing what we learn. The School of Nursing at JHU offers programs designed to fit the needs of a diverse student population. The MSN entry into nursing program aims to prepare students to discover the many rewards of nursing at the world-renowned Johns Hopkins University. It emphasizes leadership, global impact, and evidence-based inter professional education.

Located in the heart of Boston, Simmons College has offered a pioneering liberal arts education for more than a century. Their goal is to prepare you to seize moments and make the move that’s perfect for you.

The Simmons direct entry nursing program is designed for students who are already RNs, but who have not yet earned a BSN. The program focuses on helping nurses expand their clinical knowledge and gain the skills to serve as primary care providers across the life span.

Direct Entry Nursing Programs:

The Bouve College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University, located in Boston, is focused on preparing students to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex and global world. The Northeastern direct entry program allows you to use the experience you already have and leverage it into earning a BSN and Master’s degree in Nursing. After earning a BSN in the first 16 months, or four semesters, you may sit for the NCLEX-RN and pursue a career as a licensed RN. Then, continue your education to become a Masters-prepared Advanced Practice Nurse. This may take four to six semesters, depending on your pace and specialty track.

Direct Entry Nursing Programs:


Sacred Heart University

Founded in 1963, SHU is the 2nd largest Catholic University in New England and offers over 70 academic programs. The MSN program at Sacred Heart University offers concentrations in Clinical Nurse Leadership, Nursing Management & Executive Leadership, Nursing Education, and Family Nurse Practitioner.

Boston College

A leader in the liberal arts, scientific inquiry, and student formation, Boston College is grounded in the ideals that inspired their Jesuit founders. The William F. Connell School of Nursing prepares students to thrive as compassionate nurse leaders in the classroom, in communities, in practice, and through research. Graduates of the direct master’s entry MSN program at BC may change their careers and could make an immediate impact as a nurse practitioner. The Boston College nursing program was one of first to offer an accelerated master’s program, which could be completed in as little as two years.

St. Louis University

St. Louis University seeks to ignite a desire to learn and to serve, to blaze trails in thought and action. Founded in 1818, St. Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest Catholic universities. The 21-month, five semester direct entry accelerated master of science in nursing program at St. Louis University aims to prepare you to pursue a career as a clinical nurse leader (CNL). The first of its kind in Missouri, this program focuses on nurse competencies and role development, such as:
  • Outcomes measurement
  • Risk assessment
  • Quality improvement
  • Inter professional communication
Application of evidence based practice

Marquette University

Marquette University is a Catholic, Jesuit university located near downtown Milwaukee. Offering a comprehensive range of majors, Marquette prepares you for the world by asking you to think critically about it. The College of Nursing at Marquette offers an accelerated direct entry program to allow students with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline to quickly transition into a nursing career. This rigorous, accelerated program offers hands-on learning and clinical practice taught by a supportive faculty and staff to help you keep pace.

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MSN Program

What are Common Admissions Requirements for MSN Programs?

Typical admission requirements include:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal goal statement
  • Transcripts
  • Resume
  • Essay

The admissions requirements for direct entry MSN programs for non nursing majors vary from school to school. For instance, some may require you to have earned your non-nursing bachelor’s degree with a higher GPA than others.

Typical Classes

In either case, MSN direct entry programs typically focus on clinical leadership and prepare students to successfully sit for NCLEX-RN (Registered Nurse licensure) and Clinical Nurse Leader certification exams. Classes may teach great ways to deliver primary healthcare to a diverse population across the lifespan and touch on top healthcare topics, such as anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology.

They may also integrate practicums, observations, and research components to enhance classroom lessons.

Upon earning your degree, you may be prepared to continue your education by pursuing an advanced practice DNP or PhD in nursing degree. Or you could jumpstart your new nursing career!

Did You Know? Linda Richards became the first nurse to earn a nursing diploma in the United States in 1873.

Some schools could have an additional admissions requirement of earning a ‘C’ or better in specific undergraduate courses that apply to nursing, such as science, statistics, and development psychology.

As always, it’s important to check with a number of schools about their specific requirements to find a perfect option for you.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a MSN in a Direct Entry Program?

Typically, BSN to MSN programs range from three to four years, but the specific length may depend on the school. It may also take longer if you enroll as a full-time or part-time student.

Keep in mind that some programs are only available to full-time students because of the accelerated nature of the degree, at least for the first portion.

For instance, some direct entry MSN programs may confer a BSN when you complete that portion of the program, which usually takes about four semesters, or 16 months full time. This may allow you to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam to pursue a career as a licensed RN before earning your MSN.

Once licensed, you could pursue an entry-level nursing position. Some students may find this is an especially valuable benefit of direct entry programs. You could gain valuable experience in the field (not to mention a paycheck) while still working towards your graduate degree part-time.

Other students find it a better option to go through these accelerated programs as a full-time student to earn their degree in less time. Research a variety of programs and the different structures available to help make your decision.

What may I pursue after completing an MSN program?

Students completing this education without a specific concentration may work in general administrative positions. They may work in management and leadership positions in their field. A direct-entry master of science in nursing may be valuable. It may help some people work in higher leadership and management positions. Yet, those with this advanced practice nursing degree may not have a specific area of concentration, most of the time.


A number of accrediting organizations exist. This includes the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Many programs may fall under that accreditation. Others have specific focused areas such as the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME).

Top Salary Metro Areas in the United States: Nurse Practitioners
Metro AreaAnnual Mean SalaryEmployment
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA$146,050680
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA$131,4302,450
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA$129,040170
Stockton-Lodi, CA$127,330110
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA$123,5704,260

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Nurse Practitioner Program

A nurse practitioner program (NP) is often a bit different than completing an MSN. This program may provide students with insights to work in advanced clinical care practices. They typically have some type of specific focus. This may include women’s healthcare or geriatrics. These professionals may have the qualifications to interpret x-ray, treat various conditions, and complete physical examinations. Some may also have hands on training to help with prenatal care, mental health treatment, and health behavior counseling.

With this degree program, a person may elect to work as a family nurse practitioner. Some may choose to earn a degree for pediatric nurse practitioner. Geriatric, psychiatric, and forensic nurse consultant may also be positions a person may qualify for with this type of degree in place. Some may wish to work in psychiatric mental health but others may wish to take a position as a clinical nurse leader.

Common Admissions Requirements

Entering into degree program like this often has the same requirements as for an MSN. Some schools may have different requirements. Many students may need to have a bachelor’s degree in place. They also may have a license to work as a nurse. They may need to meet specific credit hours or clinical rotations which require them to work in the field. Some programs may be competitive. Students may need to meet the application deadline. Prerequisite courses may need to be completed – this is often based on the area of concentration the student plans to study. That could be in areas as far reaching as microbiology or patient care.

Typical Classes

A range of classes may be available. Since an NP degree program often has a concentration, students may take courses in those key areas. This may include research principles, advanced pharmacology, and nursing theory, pathophysiology, for example. Students who wish to work as a family nurse practitioner (FNP) may wish to take courses in areas such as human growth and health assessment. Those who wish to work in gerontology likely take courses with a focus on elder health.

A nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist, or other specific field may require specific courses completed in those areas. The NP program may give students a lot of flexibility within their chosen area of study.

Some students may complete a nurse practitioner program as a component of a master’s degree program. Other times, a student may wish to take a post-master’s certificate program. In all cases, students may be able to sit for the appropriate licensing exam. That may include a clinical nurse specialist. It may also include a nurse practitioner certification exam.

How long does it take to complete an NP Program?

Most of the time, an NP program takes about two years to complete. That assumes the student is completing the problem by attending school full time. Some students attend part time. Some people wish to work while going to school. Many NP programs may provide that flexibility. Students may be able to take courses over a much longer period of time.

Additionally, some programs and concentrations may take longer than others. It is important to learn more about the specific area of focus important to your career goals. Then, learn about the coursework required to complete the class. Many students may appreciate that some areas require more study than others. This may also differ between universities.


Accreditation for NP programs is often based on several factors. For those who are completing a degree in areas of clinical nurse specialist or nurse anesthetist, students may need to choose a college or university providing proper accreditation. For most situations, this is the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or it may be the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). There may be some organizations with a specific accreditation organization. For example, those working to become a nurse midwife may wish to seek out a school accredited by the Accreditation Commission of Midwifery Education (ACME).

What may I pursue after completing an NP Program?

Nursing care may not always be simple. There may be many times when nurses must have a very high level of experience and skill to help their patients to thrive. In an NP program, students may develop nursing skills to fit the specific nursing field they wish to work in for their career. For that reason, what they may pursue with their degree depends on what type of concentration they took and the skills they developed in it.

After obtaining a licensure exam, an NP may work in many areas. Many may work in family practice. Some may work in critical care settings, nursing homes, or in hospitals. There are many ways they may work, too. Those who wish to provide acute care may work in an emergency room setting. They often provide for the needs of patients who may be fighting for their life.

Some students may want to focus on research and developing healthcare practices. They may want to work to improve global health or create policy for health in communities. Public healthcare focus students may go on to work in health departments and in nonprofit organizations. Students may use their clinical experiences to help influence other decisions and treatment methods in this area.

The type of concentration a student obtains could have a direct impact on where he or she may work with their degree. The good news is many students may find a wide range of opportunities available to them based on their interests and skills.

Top States for Employment for Nurse Practitioners
StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
New York13,450$115,030

Bureau of Labor Statistics

What’s the Difference Between a Direct Entry MSN and MEPN programs?

A direct entry MSN (Master’s of Science in Nursing) and a MEPN (Master’s Entry to Nursing Practice) degree are often considered academically equivalent and may both be great options for non-nursing students looking to pursue a career in the field. However, there are some differences. For some, MEPN programs may be more desirable.

For instance, many entry level masters in nursing program may not award a BSN. On the other hand, while not always the case, many direct entry MSN programs may.

Additionally, some MEPN programs may be completed in 15 months, making them more even more accelerated than direct entry programs. However this accelerated format often means MEPN programs are for full-time students only.

Keep in mind that schools each often design their programs differently. Therefore, while both of these direct entry nursing degrees are academically equivalent, there may be variations in perquisite courses, program length, and structure. Contact an advisor to learn more.

Fun Fact: There are currently over 2.9 million nurses in the United States and only three of five work in hospitals.

Check out sponsored Direct Entry MSN Programs in the table below.

List of Direct Entry MSN Programs

Direct Entry MSN Graduate ProgramsSchool Location (some may be online)
1.Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimore
2.Simmons CollegesBoston
3.Northeastern UniversityBoston
4.South UniversitySavannah
5.Sacred Heart UniversityFairfield
6.Boston CollegeBoston
7.Indiana WesleyanMarion
8.Monmouth UniversityLong Branch
9.St Louis UniversitySt. Louis
10.Marquette UniversityMilwaukee

Featured Schools

Find a Perfect Direct Entry MSN Program for You!

Ready to jump straight into nursing with direct entry MSN programs? Click on any of the sponsored listing on this page, including any of the programs listed in the table above to learn about the admissions process, start dates, and specific requirements.

You may also easily contact your favorite nursing schools with the simple on page form. You may also be interested in financial aid for graduate nursing programs. Your future as a nurse awaits!

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