Masters of MSN Nursing Programs in Alaska
MSN degree programs are designed for experienced nurses who wish to deepen their knowledge in a specific area of nursing and pursue more advanced roles. Therefore, most programs ask students to choose a concentration. All MSN programs cover core knowledge, such as how to perform physical exams, diagnose various health problems, and give patients medication and treatment. However, courses in a focus area may dive deeper into specific topics in the field. Some of the possible concentrations include health informatics, nursing education, and nursing leadership, among others.[i]
A MSN, or masters of science in nursing degree, is an advanced degree typically focused on a specific area of nursing. Most students may expect to earn an MSN degree with two years of full time study. However, this varies by program.
While earning a MSN nursing degree, students study a number of important nursing functions through a combination of coursework and clinical and practicum hours. Clinical hours provide a chance for students to learn from experience in hands-on situations with an experienced preceptor, or mentor. The specific amount of clinical hours varies, depending on focus area and school. However, normally the number ranges from 120 to 160. Some programs though may require as little as 11 hours. Follow up with specific programs for details.
We asked Lynn Cronin about how enrolling in an MSN degree programhelps your career:
"It is crucial for nurses to earn an MSN degree because it provides them with a more global awareness of healthcare, elevates their level of practice and introduces them to evidence practice and the role of nursing. I would recommend other nurses consider receiving their MSN degree to progress in our profession and to become part of the solution."
Many MSN nursing programs offer a number of focus areas, or concentrations. By focusing your course of study, programs may be able to dive deeper into a specific area of nursing. Typically, curriculum is also tailored to prepare students for specific certification exams in that field. While not every school offers every focus area, many schools offer a variety of options. Some of these are listed below.
There may be other concentrations available. Check out a few schools to find a perfect match for your goals.
Depending on the concentration you choose while pursuing a masters of science in nursing degree, your course of study may vary. However, courses generally focus on developing student’s abilities to handle the rigors and demands of nursing. For example, MSN degree programs may prepare students to integrate health care research into practice or apply evidence-based practices to help prevent diseases and promote proper health care.
Some common courses while earning a MSN nursing degree include those listed here.
These are only a sample of courses that you may take. Each school and concentration may have different courses. To find a perfect match for your goals, check out a few schools and their unique structure.
While admissions requirements vary, many schools ask that you’ve earned a Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited university with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Other admissions requirements may include the following.
Check with preferred schools to find specific requirements.
For those without a BS in Nursing, schools may offer bridge programs in nursing. The RN to MSN bridge program is the most common. This program is designed for RNs who have an undergraduate degree in a field other than nursing. Instead of having to spend another three or four years earning a bachelors degree in nursing (BSN), the “bridge” portion of the program covers important material that would have been taught.
When choosing an RN to MSN program, it is important to note that some don’t award a BSN in addition to the MSN degree. They award a bachelors equivalency instead. However, some states may not accept that to meet licensing requirements.
Other potential bridge program options may include the LPN to BSN, LPN to RN, and BSN to DNP. Program offerings vary, so follow up with preferred schools for details.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs. They offer an accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The goal of the CCNE is to hold nursing programs accountable to the nursing profession and the public. This is done by ensuring that programs have mission statements, goals, and curriculum appropriate to prepare graduates for expected roles.
Another accrediting body is the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Their goal is to strengthen educational quality through the evaluation of programs’ functions, processes, and research. Accreditation through the ACEN is voluntary, and achieved through a self-regulatory, peer-review process. When reviewing MSN nursing programs, it may be helpful to look for these accreditations.
To accommodate a wider range of student needs, schools may offer masters of science in nursing degrees in different formats. Each may have their own unique benefits and could be better suited for one concentration or another. Consider each of these factors when deciding which is a good fit for you.
Some MSN programs offer all three different options, while others only offer one or the other. Check out a few schools to find a match for your learning style and goals.
The most common careers pursued by those who have earned a MSN degree are as advanced practice registered nurses, or APRNs. These include, but aren’t limited to, the professions listed here.
These positions typically require a masters degree in the specific concentration. Other requirements may include a state license and passing a national certification exam.[i] The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the number of APRNs to increase 31% during the ten years from 2014 to 2024.[ii] In 2015, the median annual salary for APRNs was $104,740.[iii]
In addition to an MSN degree, there are also a number of certifications in specific nursing fields that graduates may need to practice. However, specific requirements may vary from state to state. Fortunately, many MSN programs provide a course of study to prepare students for these certifications. However, you should check with each school. Some of these certifications include those listed here.
Take the next step to earn your MSN degree. Click on any of the sponsored listings on this page to learn more about each school. There, you can read program descriptions, course of study, and admissions rules. You can even contact the schools you like directly to request more information.
Source: [i] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-4 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-6[iii] | bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-5 | i] aanp.org/all-about-nps/np-fact-sheet