nursing school curriculumNurses are an imperative part of today’s healthcare system. They work with other healthcare professionals to provide on-demand care and to give tools and structures for healing and prevention to individuals, families, and communities.

Many nurses opt to earn master’s degrees to deepen their knowledge, enhance their skills, and add a concentration to their knowledge and care.  Some degree options include; a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), a Master of Nursing (MN), a Master of Science with a major in nursing (MS), or a Master of Arts with a major in nursing (MA) and pursue careers as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, or nurse psychotherapists. They also may pursue roles in leadership and management or  as researchers in various fields of nursing.   

Common Admissions Requirements for Nursing Masters Programs

While admissions requirements vary by program, there are some basic admissions criteria most individuals who are pursuing entrance into a nursing master’s program are likely to be required to meet:  first, they might be required to have earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing or a related field from a school accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education[i] or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission[ii]. They might also be required to have a state RN license. In addition, some schools require the submission of scores from the Graduate Records Examinations (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT), transcripts from previous colleges, letters of reference, and essays. Students who do not have a bachelor’s degree in nursing or a related field or do not have an RN license may have to meet additional requirements. Students of particular specialties may also have to prove that they’ve taken and passed particular advanced courses in relevant subject areas.  

While these are some common requirements for admission into nursing master’s programs, others may exist. Read the specific requirements of each school to determine what other requirements you must meet.

Common Coursework in a Nursing Master’s Program

The average nursing master’s program may require one and a half to two years of full time study to complete and emphasizes nursing science theory and application. Most programs are designed to help nurses develop deeper insight into providing effective healthcare, participating in healthcare management, and developing and evolving methodologies and techniques for administering quality care. In addition, they might offer nurses’ opportunities to expand their knowledge and capacities in leadership roles and to further develop their interpersonal skills.

Many classes in nursing master’s programs have a seminar-style set-up and provide opportunities for roundtable discussion between practicing nurses, academics in the field, and people new to the field. Through discussion, nursing students delve into the nuances of nursing as a practice, business, industry, and field.  

Nursing master’s students commonly take courses in subjects such as:

  • Research management
  • Statistics
  • Healthcare policy
  • Healthcare economics
  • Healthcare ethics
  • Health promotion and education
  • Nutrition
  • Mental health
  • Family planning
  • Prevention of family and social violence

Concentrations for Students in a Nursing Master’s Program

Within clinical nursing there are numerous concentrations. At the graduate level, clinical nurses specialize in areas such as:

  • Community heath
  • Neonatal health
  • Pediatric health 
  • Adult health
  • Gerontology and geriatric health and care
  • Women’s or men’s health  
  • Acute or critical care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Cardiovascular, surgical, oncological, pediatric, maternity, newborn, and psychiatric nursing

Nurse practitioners can also concentrate in numerous areas such as:

  • Acute care
  • Emergency care
  • Child health and care
  • Adult health and care
  • Community health
  • Occupational health
  • Primary care

Ultimately, nurses opt to earn a master’s degree in nursing to help take their careers to the next level and receive instruction on methods that might help them learn how to provide an even higher quality of care to their patients. MSNs serve as leaders in their fields and enhance their nursing careers through leadership, research, and the development and delivery of care.

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Resources:

[i] aacn.nche.edu/ccne-accreditation/about/mission-values-history | [ii] nlnac.org/Manual%20&%20IG/2003_manual_TOC.htm