Direct Entry Nursing Programs

If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, but are interested in the field, a direct entry MSN program could be a great option.

What Is a Direct Entry MSN Program?

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

Most nurses earn a BSN before pursuing a MSN degree. However direct entry programs provide an alternative path by combining the curriculum of both of these programs, This can 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 award both degrees as you make your way through the program. These may also be referred to as BSN to MSN programs. Others simply award an MSN upon completing the full program.

In either case, 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 ways to deliver primary health care to a diverse population across the lifespan and touch on 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.

Common Admissions Requirements

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

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

Some schools 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.

As America continues to face a nursing shortage due to an aging population and the retirement of currently-employed nurses, direct entry MSN programs offer students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree a way to quickly enter the field.

In fact, many employers have found that graduates of accelerated programs bring many layers of skill and education. Because of the diverse education and experience of these graduates, employers report that they maybe more mature, possess strong clinical skills and are quick studies on the job i.

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 depends 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 confer a BSN when you complete that portion of the program, which usually takes about four semesters, or 16 months full time. This allows you to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam to become a licensed RN before earning your MSN.

Once licensed, you could pursue an entry-level nursing position. Some students 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’s the Difference Between a Direct Entry MSN and MEPN?

A direct entry MSN (Master’s of Science in Nursing) and a MEPN (Master’s Entry to Nursing Practice) degree are academically equivalent and are both great options for non-nursing students looking to enter the field. However, there are some differences.

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

Additionally, some MEPN programs may be completed in as little as 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 design their programs differently. Therefore, while both of these direct entry nursing degrees are academically equivalent, there may be variations in 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.

11 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.

#1: Northeastern University

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 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 become 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.

#2: University of Pennsylvania

In 2017, the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing was ranked as the #1 nursing school in the world according to a survey by QS World University. In addition, U.S. News and World Report awarded four of UPenn’s nursing programs a #1 ranking for 2018.

UPenn’s nursing programs continue to win high rankings because of their dedication to advancing the entire profession, from practice to policy. The direct entry MSN at UPenn is for students who know what specialty they’d like to pursue while earning an advanced practice degree.

#3: Simmons College

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.

While enrolled in a Simmons direct entry nursing program, you’ll complete your pre-licensure curriculum during the first four semesters. Upon passing the NCLEX-RN, you’ll move onto the graduate portion of the program, which consists of three components:

  1. Foundational courses
  2. Primary care
  3. Research

#4: Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University was founded on the principle that we can 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 prepares you to discover the many rewards of nursing at the world-renowned Johns Hopkins University. It emphasizes leadership, global impact, and evidence-based interprofessional education.

#5: San Francisco State University

Only one year after being founded in 1899, San Francisco State University had their teaching methods defined as "radical". Through a process of continuous improvement and challenging the status quo, SF State has become a university like no other. 

Designed as a full-time, two year program (including summers), the accelerated entry level MSN program at San Francisco State prepares students to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensing exam after just a year and a half. Upon completion of the program, including a nursing applied research course or a master's thesis, students are awarded both a BSN and MSN.

#6: 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 change their careers and could make an immediate impact as a nurse practitioner. The Boston College nursing school was one of first  to offer an accelerated master’s program, which could be completed in as little as two years.

#7: DePaul University

DePaul University is the nation’s largest Catholic university and is committed to an educational experience that weaves together mind, place, people, and heart. The College of Science and Health provides you with innovative, science-based curricula with a strong liberal arts foundation.

The Master’s Entry to Nursing Program (MENP) at DePaul teaches:

  • Clinical skills
  • Leadership
  • Research skills

This program also prepares you to take the NCLEX-RN licensure exam in just two years. And DePaul has an examination pass rate consistently well above the national average.

#8: MGH Institute of Health Professions

Founded by Massachusetts General Hospital, the MGH Institute of Health Professions offers unparalleled opportunities for students to learn and work alongside expert practitioners in a variety of settings.

The direct entry master of science in nursing program offers world-class resources and an intimate environment so you can apply what you learn in on-campus simulations and practice labs.

#9: 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 and most prestigious Catholic universities.

The 21-month, five semester direct entry accelerated master of science in nursing program at St. Louis University prepares 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
  • Interprofessional communication
  • Application of evidence-based practice

#10: Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University was founded in 1873 after a donation by Cornelius Vanderbilt and has become an internationally recognized research university. The School of Nursing prepares skilled, experienced advanced practice nurses who are increasing access to quality health care.

The accelerated direct entry program at Vanderbilt through the PreSpecialty year provides the equivalent to a bachelors degree in nursing in three semesters. Upon completion of that portion, you will enter an additional sequence of courses in your declared specialty.

#11: 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.

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 above to learn about the admissions process, start dates, and specific requirements.

You can also easily contact your favorite nursing schools with the simple on page form. Your future as a nurse awaits!


Source: [i] aacnnursing.org/Nursing-Education/Accelerated-Programs/Fast-Track

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