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

Alabama

Programs
School of Nursing
1720 Second Avenue South, NB 204
Birmingham, AL 35294-1210
(205) 934-5360

Programs
College of Nursing
HAHN 3071, 5721 USA Drive North
Mobile, AL 36688-0002
(251) 445-9400

Arizona

Programs
College of Nursing
1305 N Martin Ave
Tucson, AZ 85721
(520) 626-6152

California

Programs
School of Nursing
8432 Magnolia Avenue, Lambeth House, Room 7
Riverside, CA 92504-3297
(951) 343-4700

Programs
Mervyn M. Dymally School of Nursing
1748 East 118th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90059
(323) 568-3304

Programs
School of Nursing
1600 Holloway Avenue, Burk Hall 371 B
San Francisco, CA 94132
(415) 338-6850

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

Programs
School of Nursing
700 Tiverton Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90095
(310) 825-8690

Programs
School of Nursing
505 Parnassus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94143
(415) 476-3105

Programs
Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 260-4548

Programs
School of Nursing & Health Professions
2130 Fulton Street, Cowell 102
San Francisco, CA 94117-1080
(415) 422-2959

Programs
College of Graduate Nursing
309 East Second Street, College Plaza
Pomona, CA 91766-1854
(909) 469-5523

Connecticut

Programs
School of Nursing
Yale University West Campus P.O. Box 27399
Orange, CT 06516
(203) 785-2393

Georgia

Programs
Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing
1520 Clifton Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30322
(404) 727-7980

Hawaii

Programs
School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene
2528 McCarty Mall, Webster Hall 402
Honolulu, HI 96822
(808) 956-8522

Illinois

Programs
School of Nursing, College of Science and Health
990 West Fullerton Avenue, Suite 3000
Chicago, IL 60614-2458
(773) 325-1887

Programs
Deicke Center for Nursing Education
190 Prospect Avenue
Elmhurst, IL 60126-3296
(630) 617-3314

Programs
School of Nursing
1184 West Main Street
Decatur, IL 62522-2084
(217) 424-6366

Programs
College of Nursing
600 South Paulina Street, Suite 1080 Aca. Fac.
Chicago, IL 60612-3873
(312) 942-2308

Programs
College of Nursing
845 South Damen Avenue, Suite 118, M/C 802
Chicago, IL 60612-7350
(312) 996-7808

Kentucky

Programs
School of Nursing
555 South Floyd Street
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 852-8300

Maryland

Programs
School of Nursing
3101 Wyman Park Drive
Baltimore, MD 21218
(410) 955-4766

Programs
School of Nursing
655 West Lombard Street, Suite 505
Baltimore, MD 21201-1579
(410) 706-6741

Massachusetts

Programs
William F. Connell School of Nursing
Cushing Hall, 140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
(617) 552-1710

Programs
School of Nursing
36 First Avenue, Charlestown Navy Yard
Boston, MA 02129-4557
(617) 726-4547

Programs
School of Nursing
360 Huntington Avenue, 102 Robinson Hall
Boston, MA 02115-5096
(617) 373-3649

Programs
School of Nursing
235 Wellesley St
Weston, MA 02493
(781) 768-7091

Programs
School of Nursing
352 Lafayette Street, South Campus
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 542-7149

Programs
School of Nursing and Health Sciences
300 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 521-2139

Programs
Graduate School of Nursing
55 Lake Avenue North (F1-853)
Worcester, MA 01655-0115
(508) 856-5081

Minnesota

Programs
College of Nursing and Health Sciences
700 East Seventh Street
Saint Paul, MN 55106-5000
(651) 793-1368

Programs
Henrietta Schmoll School of Health
2004 Randolph Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105
(651) 690-6000

Missouri

Programs
School of Nursing
3525 Caroline Mall
Saint Louis, MO 63104
(314) 977-8909

New Hampshire

Programs
2500 N River Rd.
Manchester, NH 03106
(888) 387-0861

Programs
School of Nursing
105 Main St
Durham, NH 03824
(603) 862-2285

New Jersey

Programs
College of Nursing
400 South Orange Avenue
South Orange, NJ 07079-2693
(973) 761-9282

New York

Programs
School of Nursing
116th St & Broadway
New York, NY 10027
(212) 305-3582

Ohio

Programs
Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing
10900 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106-4904
(216) 368-2545

Programs
Department of Nursing
5701 Delhi Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45233
(513) 244-4325

Programs
College of Nursing
1585 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210-1289
(614) 292-8900

Programs
College of Nursing
2600 Clifton Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45220
(513) 558-5500

Programs
College of Nursing
3000 Arlington Avenue, M.S. 1026
Toledo, OH 43614-5803
(419) 383-5858

Programs
Graduate School of Nursing
3800 Victory Parkway
Cincinnati, OH 45207-7351
(513) 745-3815

Oklahoma

Programs
Kramer School of Nursing
2501 N Blackwelder Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73106
(405) 208-5904

Oregon

Programs
828 E. 11th Ave.
Eugene, OR 97401
(154) 134-3164 x1

Tennessee

Programs
School of Nursing
4881 Taylor Cir
Collegedale, TN 37315
(423) 236-2942

Programs
School of Nursing
461 21st Avenue South, 111 Godchaux Hall
Nashville, TN 37240-0008
(615) 343-8876

Texas

Programs
School of Nursing
110 Inner Campus Drive
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 471-4100

Vermont

Programs
School of Nursing
194 South Prospect Street
Burlington, VT 05401-3596
(802) 656-3131

Virginia

Programs
School of Nursing
907 Floyd Ave
Richmond, VA 23284
(804) 828-5174

Washington

Programs
School of Nursing
12180 Park Avenue South
Tacoma, WA 98447-0029
(253) 535-7672

Wisconsin

Programs
College of Nursing
530 North 16th Street, Clark Hall, PO Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53233
(414) 288-3812

Programs
College of Nursing
3253 N Downer Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53211
(414) 229-4173
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