Salt Lake City Online MSN Programs | Online Nursing Schools

Online MSN programs are also known as Master of Science in Nursing programs. These graduate nursing programs are usually for practicing registered nurses who seek advanced practice nursing careers. Most programs offer a highly-concentrated course of study. Through them, a nurse might improve their patient skills and study evidence-based practice. Other online MSN nursing programs may groom nurses for nurse administrator, nurse educator or family nurse practitioner positions.

Online MSN Nursing Programs Information

Why Consider Online MSN Programs?

Both accredited online nursing schools and brick and mortar universities offer online MSN programs. This variety may make it possible for a nurse to pursue education and career goals while working or balancing family duties.

FACT: An APRN must have a registered nursing (RN) license before pursuing education in one of the advanced practice roles, and a strong background in science is helpful. i

Boost a Current Career

Becoming an advanced practice registered nurse may open new career opportunities with higher pay.i Per the BLS, there is a high demand for APRNs. A 31% rise in employment is predicted from 2014 to 2024. i

Get Closer to a DNP

As of 2004, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing endorsed a position to move the current level of preparation necessary for advanced nursing practice from the MSN to the DNP.ii

Convenient Courses and Clinical Practice

Online nursing schools and degree programs don’t always require any campus visits. In fact, some programs use virtual labs for anatomy, physiology and biology courses. Many MSN online programs also allow practicums and clinical work to be completed in the student’s home region. 

Live and Online

Nursing is a human centered profession. So how are schools able to provide quality online MSN programs? True that many are geared for students to log into courses when they are able. Some also make use of live (synchronous) classes to maintain the vital student-faculty bond. This could provide vital mentoring and personal attention. Other common tools include online discussion boards, wikis, live conferencing, virtual media, video presentations, reflective activities, and weekly clinical logs. Students are likely to stay busy and on-track with these tools, despite learning remotely.

How Long are Online MSN Programs?

Most online MSN programs take from two to three years to complete about 36 or 39 credits. The time frame usually relates to a nurse’s prior degree and work history. Also, whether the program is undertaken on a full or part-time basis. Programs vary.

Online MSN Curriculum

Some online MSN Nursing programs consist of theory, courses relating to a concentration, and practice (credit) hours in that concentration. Core topics may draw from the list below. 

  • Public health
  • Using research to inform practice
  • Psychology of chronic illness
  • Stress-related disorders
  • Leadership
  • Health care policy
  • Finance

Online MSN Program Specialty Tracks

One of the things to look for in an online nursing school is the availability of specialty ‘tracks’. These are the hallmark of the MSN program. They could help nurses develop expertise in a chosen area.

  • Nurse Educator (teaching and research)
  • Nurse Executive (manage and direct)
  • Nurse Informatics (IT, data, policy)
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (primary and secondary care providers)
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (Midwives)
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse (behavior)
  • Nurse Anesthetist (anesthesia, clinical care)
  • Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (care for elderly)

Which MSN Online Program is Right for Me?

One of the things to know about pursuing online colleges for nursing is that they may all offer a specific type of Master of Science in Nursing online program. When choosing both your school and your program it is helpful to keep in mind the following.

  • What prior nursing degree do you have?
  • Are you drawn to a specific area of the nursing profession?

BSN to MSN Online Programs

If you have a BSN: BSN to MSN online programs are often intended for nurses who hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. In addition, they hold current Registered Nurse (RN) licenses with at least one year (or more) of clinical experience.

Direct Entry MSN Online Programs

If you are a non-nurse: Direct Entry MSN online programs are intended for students with a non-nursing bachelors degree. Sometimes referred to as ‘accelerated’ nursing programs, some programs of this nature require 18-months to complete. The course of study typically prepares student with a solid base of theory and clinical skills. Usually, too, they prepare nurses to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. Graduates of direct entry programs who have earned their RN license often pursue post-degree nursing certificates.

RN-BSN-MSN Online Programs

If you are a registered nurse with an associates degree in nursing: RN-BSN-MSN online programs move students through a combined bachelors and masters course of study. For students who have a non-nursing bachelors degree, the pace may be accelerated.  

Online MSN to DNP Programs

If you are interested in a terminal degree in nursing: Online MSN to DNP programs help masters level nurses earn the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). The DNP is a terminal practice degree that may prepare nurses to pursue advanced clinical practice and executive nurse leader positions. As the highest level in nursing, the DNP may ready graduates to solve complex current health care issues.

Online BSN to DNP Programs

If the Masters in Nursing is not your end goal. Online BSN to DNP programs include masters level courses but are continuous. The MSN degree is not awarded for partial completion. However, students do get the chance to focus on a concentration.

Post MSN Online Certificates

Post Masters Online Certificates may help students expand or change a current nursing role. These programs require students to hold a Masters degree in Nursing. Some universities and online nursing schools may allow students to combine a certificate with a DNP program.

Find Accredited Online Nursing Schools

Many traditional universities and online colleges for nursing are regionally accredited. This is a good base, since it means the school has voluntarily put itself in front of scrutiny. And, passed the test. The regional accreditors are, after all, recognized by the Department of Education. Further, approved schools may have approved programs, which means they follow industry and professional guides as far as course of study, code of conduct and the like. Savvy nurses may look for two primary agencies.  

  • CCNE: The Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education is a national accreditor for bachelors and masters levels nursing programs.
  • ACEN: The Accreditation Commission For Education in Nursing is a national accreditor for all levels of nursing degree programs.

Take the Next Step

A web-based learning program may assist you in getting closer to your nursing goals at a pace that works with and for you. Each of the online MSN programs and online nursing schools has unique features. Browse paid listings to find the one that matches your interests. Then, submit a form to request more information. Take the next step today!


[i] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm | [ii] http://www.aacn.nche.edu/dnp/about/frequently-asked-questions

Find Schools