Choosing a Master's Entry to Nursing Practice Program

With a large number of direct entry MSN programs to choose from, selecting the right school can be a challenge. In order to make that decision easier, we have outlined a few factors to consider when researching schools. Keep these program elements in mind to make choosing the right school a simpler decision.

  • Program Accreditation: Your first step when considering an MENP school is finding out whether the program is properly accredited. Program accreditation by an organization such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) ensures the program has been evaluated according to strict quality standards. A program that has been properly accredited will provide you with a high quality nursing education that will prepare you for the next step in your career.
  • On Campus vs. Distance Learning: MSN-level nursing programs may be offered in fully online or traditional on campus formats, and even in hybrid formats that combine online coursework with face-to-face learning. Online, or "distance learning" programs, may be particularly attractive for students who are working or caring for family members while completing their degree because classwork can often be completed on your own schedule.
  • Curriculum: When researching a school, review the sample curriculum to make sure the course subjects cover what you are hoping to learn for the next step in your career. Typical courses for a master's entry nursing program include pharmacology, physiology, healthcare policy, advance care nursing principles, nursing leadership skills, as well as clinical practice hours.
  • Time Commitment: Most direct entry MSN degrees take around 3 years to complete. However, the exact timing can vary from school to school. For example, a program may be completed in more or less time if classes are taken on a full- or part-time basis, or if a distance learning format allows you to complete coursework at your own pace.
  • Program Cost: Tuition for a master's entry nursing program varies from school to school, based on factors such as geographic location, online versus classroom format, a student's residency status and the type of school. Before you choose a school, make sure you have calculated the full cost of the program, including tuition, mandatory fees, materials costs and housing and/or the cost of commuting.

Online Master's Entry to Nursing Practice Programs

Online master's entry nursing programs provide students with several advantages, most notably the flexibility to complete coursework whenever and wherever it is convenient. With distance learning programs, students can often continue to work or fulfill family obligations and attend classes or complete assignments on their own schedules. Online program benefits also include:

  • Affordable Education: Distance learning programs may also be more cost-effective options for students, when compared with classroom programs. While tuition rates vary from school to school, online programs eliminate the cost of commuting to campus and campus housing from the full price of the program. Additionally, many schools provide financial aid options for students who need help paying for their education.
  • Flexible Schedule & Program Length: Online direct entry nursing programs provide students with the convenience of completing their courses when it works with their schedules, and self-paced learning means that programs can often be completed a quicker pace. For example, Marquette University's Direct Entry MSN program can be completed in as little as 18-21 months.

What Are the Admissions & Certifications Requirements?

Admissions requirements for direct entry nursing programs will vary slightly from school to school and in different states, but in general will include:

  • Completion of a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Completion of college-level pre-requisite courses, which may include statistics, human anatomy, biology and chemistry
  • Personal statement or essay
  • In some cases, schools may also require scores from standardized entrance exams such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Program Curriculum

The master's entry nursing program curriculum combines coursework from BSN and MSN programs, and prepares students to take the national licensing test for registered nurses, the NCLEX-RN. While exact course titles may vary from school to school, below is an example of some of the classes offered as part of the MSN Direct Entry program at Trinity College of Nursing & Health Sciences:

  • Art & Science of Nursing Practice
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiological Basis for Nursing Practice
  • Adult Health Nursing
  • Nursing Leadership, Management & Organizations
  • Technology in Health Care
  • Maternal/Newborn Nursing
  • Nursing Theory & Research-Based Practice
  • Healthcare Policy, Trends & Issues
  • Clinical Practice in the Community

In addition to coursework completed online or in a classroom, direct entry programs also include clinical practice hours for students to gain professional nursing experience.

MENP vs. Traditional Master’s Degree Route

Students pursuing an MSN through a master's entry nursing program are able to complete their studies at an accelerated rate by building on the foundation of their previous education and work experience. Schools know that a student who has already completed a bachelor's degree in another field is able to handle the rigorous coursework and accelerated pacing of a direct entry program. In addition, students have the benefit of completing their studies and beginning a new career faster than if they were to take a BSN and MSN program separately. In addition to a shorter completion time, these programs can also be more cost-effective than two separate degree programs. Upon graduation, these nurses are ready for higher paying and more advanced nursing positions than those who have not completed their master's degree.

There are a couple of caveats to a direct entry nursing program that prospective students should be aware of. First, accelerated nursing programs are very challenging and academically rigorous. Students need to be committed to becoming a nurse and disciplined enough to complete challenging coursework and long practice hours. In addition, any master's level education is a significant cost investment in your future. While many schools offer financial assistance to those who qualify, it can be a financial hurdle to pay for a master's degree in nursing.

List of Direct Entry MSN Programs

Jump to Your State Listings


3211 Providence Dr,
Anchorage, AK 99508
(907) 786-4550


1305 N. Martin
Tucson, AZ 85721
(520) 626-6154


2105 Aggie Rd
Jonesboro, AR 72467
(870) 972-2100


901 E Alosta Ave
Azusa, CA 91702
(626) 969-3434

8432 Magnolia Ave
Riverside, CA 92504
(951) 689-5771

5241 N Maple Ave
Fresno, CA 93740
(559) 278-4240

800 N State College Blvd
Fullerton, CA 92831
(657) 278-2011

1250 Bellflower Blvd
Long Beach, CA 90840
(562) 985-4111

5151 State University Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90032
(323) 343-3000

6000 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95819
(916) 278-6011

1731 E 120th St
Los Angeles, CA 90059
(323) 563-4800

1530 Concordia
Irvine, CA 92612
(800) 229-1200

3100 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 869-6511

1600 Holloway Ave
San Francisco, CA 94132
(415) 338-1111

1801 E Cotati Ave
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
(707) 664-2880

2570 48th St.
Davis, CA 95817
(916) 734-2145

252 Berk Hall
Irvine, CA 92697
(949) 824-5011

700 Tiverton Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90095
(310) 825-4321

505 Parnassus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94143
(415) 476-9000

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 260-4600

309 E 2nd St
Pomona, CA 91766
(909) 623-6116


400 West Campus Drive
Orange, CT 06477
(203) 737-5678


1120 15th St
Augusta, GA 30912
(706) 721-0211


2500 Campus Rd
Honolulu, HI 96822
(808) 956-8111


College of Nursing
921 South 8th Avenue
Pocatello, ID 83209
(208) 282-1044


5700 College Road
Isle, IL 60532
(630) 829-6000

N 11th St
Quincy, IL 62301
(217) 228-5520

2320 N Kenmore Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 687-1000

190 S Prospect Ave
Elmhurst, IL 60126
(630) 617-3400

1184 W Main St
Decatur, IL 62522
(217) 424-6211

600 S Paulina St
Chicago, IL 60612
(312) 942-5000

1200 W Harrison St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 996-7000


School of Nursing
525 N. Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205
(410) 955-4766

655 West Lombard Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 706-3100


36 First Avenue
Boston, MA 02129
(617) 726-2947

360 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 373-2000

352 Lafayette St
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 542-6000

55 N Lake Ave
Worcester, MA 01655
(508) 856-8989


700 7th St E
St Paul, MN 55106
(651) 793-1300

5-140 Weaver-Densford Hall, 308 Harvard Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
(800) 598-8636

New Hampshire

4 Library Way
Durham, NH 03824
(603) 862-1177

New Jersey

College of Nursing
400 South Orange Ave.
South Orange, NJ 07079
(973) 761-9000

North Carolina

1007 Walker Ave
Greensboro, NC 27412
(336) 334-5000

9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28223
(704) 687-8622

601 S Martin Luther King Jr Dr
Winston-Salem, NC 27110
(336) 750-2000


1 College Ave
Columbus, OH 43209
(614) 236-6011

2120 Cornell Road
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 368-2529

College of Nursing
3110 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH 45221
(513) 558-5500

3800 Victory Pkwy
Cincinnati, OH 45207
(513) 745-3814


461 21st Ave. South
Nashville, TN 37240
(615) 322-4400


701 S Nedderman Dr.
Arlington, TX 76019
(817) 272-2011


2035 N 550 W
Provo, UT 84604
(801) 377-2900


Department of Nursing
Burlington, VT 05405
(802) 656-3131


225 Jeanette Lancaster Way
Charlottesville, VA 22903
(434) 924-2743

Are we missing your school's program or need to update information listed? Please contact us so we can make the necessary changes.

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