Registered Nurse to Masters of Nursing Programs | RN to MSN

Commonly called “RN to MSN” programs, Registered Nurse to Masters of Nursing programs enable RNs to earn their Master’s degree without earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing first. They are considered “accelerated” programs often employing online coursework that allows working RNs to earn a Master’s faster without necessarily having to leave their jobs.

RN to MSN programs are offered throughout the country through numerous colleges and universities. The programs are most commonly predominately offered online or as hybrid programs that allow students to blend online and on-campus learning.

Nursing Salary Potential and Job Outlook

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected percentage change in employment for nurses with Associate’s degrees is 19%, which is faster than average1. While nurses don’t need an MSN or other Master’s degree in the field to enter it, an advanced degree might enhance employment opportunities for nurses interested in pursuing careers in certain specializations2. For nurses interested in enhancing their skill set enrolling in an RN to MSN may be a good option.     

RN to MSN Admissions Requirements

Some RN to MSN programs require students to have previously earned a bachelor’s degree (in “blend programs, students typically have a bachelor’s degree in something other than nursing) while others require students to only have an associate’s degree in nursing.  Other programs might require students to have been working as RNs in the field for a certain amount of time. Regardless of their education backgrounds, applicants to RN to MSN programs are usually required to be Registered Nurses. 

To enter RN to MSN programs, students commonly have to submit college transcripts, proof of employment, proof of being an RN, letters of reference, an essay, and, depending on the program, GRE or MAT scores. 

RN to MSN Curriculum

RN to MSN programs offer much of the same curricula as traditional MSN, MN, MS, and MA programs for nurses, but with options that allow for greater flexibility and less time spent in each course or in the program overall. They allow practicing RNs to combine their practical experience with a quality curriculum that is designed to help them develop skills and knowledge that might enable them to pursue careers in enhanced nursing positions.  

Nurses in RN to MSN programs takes courses in subjects like:

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

They may also take advanced courses in subjects such as biology and chemistry. 

Similar to traditional master’s programs, RN to MSN programs emphasize discussion, peer interaction, and practical application of nursing science, theory, and philosophy.

Is Earning an RN to MSN Program Right for Me?

RN to MSN programs may be a good option for RNs who do not already have a bachelor’s degree in nursing or a closely related field. They enable nurses with experience to forgo a bachelor’s degree program and to earn the equivalent (when on-the-job experience and in-class learning are taken into consideration) in less time.

Ultimately, RN to MSN programs may provide a wonderful option for skilled nurses who want to enhance their careers without having to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing first. They may provide skilled and talented nurses with the opportunity to pursue potential career opportunities in leadership roles, as researchers, or in other advanced positions.


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