Nursing Master’s Degree Program Curriculum

nursing masters degree program curriculum

Nurses 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. And just the healthcare system is constantly evolving, so are a nurse's responsiblities.

Thats why 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). These may help graduates 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 Master's Programs

While admissions requirements vary by program, there are some basic admissions criteria for nursing master’s programs. First, applicants may 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 Educationi or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commissionii. 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. They typically emphasize both nursing science theory and application 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, students may have opportunities to expand their leadership knowledge and 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 and industry.

Nursing master’s students commonly take courses in the following subjects.

  • 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

A nursing specialization may help students develop in depth knowledge of a specific type of care. This could help them focus their career or prepare for additional certifications.

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 provide an even higher quality of care to their patients. MSNs serve as leaders in their fields. Start searching for MSN programs and the next leader could be you!


[i] | [ii]


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