Seattle MSN Nursing Graduate Programs and Graduate Nursing Degrees

MSN Nursing programs are Master of Science in Nursing programs for registered nurses seeking advanced practice roles. Usually, an MSN program builds on the bachelors degree. Many nurses who enter masters of science in nursing programs have already thought about their goals. They may want to manage other nurses, teach, or provide critical care. Whatever the objectives, MSN programs may enable a student to develop the focused know-how.

MSN Nursing Curriculum

Many MSN nursing programs blend theory and clinical work. Graduate-level nursing students are likely to take upper level courses. These may include anatomy, physiology and pharmacology.i Also, current statistics and research often provide a basis for round-table discussions. Sample MSN program courses may draw from the list below.

  • Health economics
  • Health policy
  • Health-care ethics
  • Health promotion, nutrition
  • Family planning
  • Mental health


In addition, most MSN Nursing programs offer specialty tracks. As students start to focus on a specialty, they take courses that relate to it. For instance, a nurse drawn to pediatric nursing is likely to take child development courses.

MSN Programs Information

What are the Requirements for MSN Nursing Programs?

MSN nursing programs are usually open to those who hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. That said, admission requirements for Master of Science in Nursing programs vary. Non-nurses, or a nurse with a non-nursing degree, may have special requisites. Also, some nursing specialties may require future students to have taken specific courses. Case in point - future nurse anesthetists. These students may need upper-level college courses in biochemistry. Below are common requisites for many MSN Nursing Programs.

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited nursing school
  • Registered nurse (RN) license
  • Minimum GPA and GRE scores (varies)
  • Clinical experience (varies)
  • Transcripts

How Long is an MSN Program?

For students with a BSN degree, it may take about two years of full time study to complete an MSN program. This may differ for students whose bachelors degree is not in nursing. In this case, it may take a full-time student about three years to finish. These programs often include entry level nursing courses in the first year. The final years typically mix advanced masters courses and hands-on practice. These programs tend to prepare students to take the National Council Licensure Examination test (NCLEX-RN). 

What is the Difference Between a BSN and MSN Program?

There are a few key differences between BSN and MSN programs.

BSN Programs

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program is designed as one of the paths a nurse might take to work towards Registered Nurse (RN) status. Often, the BSN is regarded as the entry-level degree for hospital staff nurses. RNs may consult and administer medicine.ii

MSN Programs

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program is designed to prepare students to work towards Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) status. In some states, APRNs can prescribe medications, order medical tests and diagnose health problems. i

Why Consider MSN Nursing Graduate Programs?

MSN nursing programs provide the entry-level degree for several nursing specialties. These usually focus on one of four advanced areas.i

  1. Nurse practitioner
  2. Certified nurse anesthetist
  3. Clinical nurse specialist
  4. Certified nurse midwife

DID YOU KNOW? APRNs can perform many of the same services as physicians. ii

Choose an Upper Division Focus

Do you have a desire to work within a very specific area of nursing? Each graduate nursing school may offer unique choices. The upper division focus in MSN Nursing programs may prepare nurses with skills and knowldege that apply to a nursing niche. For instance, how to deliver primary care to infants. Some possible areas follow.

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Forensic Nursing
  • Psychiatric Nursing
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Acute Care – Adult Gerontology
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Public Health Nursing
  • Executive Nurse Leader
  • Health Care Informatics

Learn the Business Side of Nursing

Do you aspire to make an impact on policy, teach other nurses or manage a clinic? Some MSN Nursing programs may help nurses learn the business side of nursing. Courses may cover finances, human resources, ethics and leading. Look for programs with a concentration on leadership or business.

Teach What You Know

Master of Science in Nursing Education programs are intended to prepare students to pursue a career as a health educator, college faculty or clinical nursing professor.iii These programs may include lesson planning and research. They also tend to prepare nurses to pursue doctoral studies. Look for a possible focus in community outreach.

What Nursing Program is Right for Me?

Many different MSN Nursing programs may be offered. Students should factor in their career goals and present level of education to choose a perfect masters of science in nursing program.

MSN Joint Degree Programs

Some MSN programs integrate nursing with another field. Take the case of a Master of Science in Nursing and Social Work program. This joint program is designed to prepare family nurse practitioners who address some behavior issues in their practice.

Other joint pairings that may be offered are listed as follows.

  • MSN - MPH: This pairs your MSN with a Masters in Public Health
  • MSN – MBA:  Masters in Business Administration paired with an MSN
  • MSN - MHA: An MSN degree paired with a Masters in Health Administration

RN to MSN Bridge Programs

Some RNs with an Associates degree in Nursing (ADN) or a high school diploma may enroll in an RN-MSN program. These accelerated MSN programs combine bachelors and masters level courses. As such, some schools offer them as RN-BSN-MSN programs. Students typically apply for admission while in their BSN program. They usually take MSN courses in place of some of the BSN courses. This tends to provide a higher level of content. 

Online MSN Programs

Some nursing graduate schools offer online MSN programs. These offer busy working nurses the chance to take courses on a more flexible timetable. Students may also want to consider hybrid MSN programs. These mix distance learning with on campus courses.

Post MSN Programs: DNP Programs

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a terminal degree in nursing. While the MSN is a common form of entry-level education, many APRNs choose to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a PhD.

Post MSN Nursing Certificates

Would you like to expand on an advanced practice nursing role? Do you want to learn a skill set that was not the focus of your MSN program? A Post Masters Nursing Certificate Program offers extra credentials. This may be one way to explore a new area in nursing, such as nurse educator.

Find Accredited MSN Nursing Programs

Many universities with MSN Nursing programs are regionally accredited. There are six such regions. These are recognized by the Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation. On one level, students may want to know that the school they attend has that ‘stamp of approval’. On the other, as a regulated field, it may be helpful to choose nursing graduate programs with accreditation.


The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) are two of the most known national accrediting agencies. Both support quality professional standards in nursing education and nursing practice.

Potential Career Outlook for MSN Graduates

In May 2015, the median annual wage for APRNs employed in hospitals was $111,080.i Nurses who have earned a graduate nursing degree are expected to be highly in demand. Employment is expected to rise by 31 percent from 2014 to 2024.i

Take the Next Step

While there are many MSN nursing programs, each has distinct features. This may be visible in the course syllabus, a school research facility or a pairing of two programs. Browse the paid listings to find the ‘right’ Master of Science in Nursing program for your needs. Connect with schools easily using the on-page buttons. Take the next step in your nursing career today!

Sources: [i] | [ii] | [iii]

A fully online program, giving students the choice of three nurse specializations and offers optional campus-based experiences.
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