Direct entry nursing programs, whether through classroom or online learning, are designed to create the fastest possible path to an advanced nursing position for students who have not taken the most typical career path. They primarily benefit two groups:
Practicing nurses (generally RNs who have come out of an associates nursing program) who do not have a BSN.
People who have a bachelor’s degree in something other than nursing, and who want to compress their study for a BSN and MSN into the shortest time possible and save a much money as possible in the process.
Confusion About Direct Entry MSNs
The problem, if you’re searching for colleges that offer this option, is that many schools with direct entry degrees call them by other names on their websites. You’ll find programs meant to get you quickly to your nursing masters called “MSN to BSN,” nursing “bridge” programs, “accelerated” programs, MSNs for non-nursing majors or advanced nursing degrees for career changers. Some schools call them “entry level masters” degrees. Some of the programs are in general nursing, but the most popular ones focus on preparing grads to be nurse practitioners, nurse leaders, educators or some other type of advanced practitioner.
Some key points to be aware of:
Getting a master’s if you are a practicing nurse without BSN
Working nurses who have only an ADN, ASN or AAS can find a variety of accelerated programs designed to get them through the requirements for a BSN and then complete a master’s degree. If you do the entire program, for example, at Purdue Global’s nursing school, the entire process from start to finish, generally take around three years – one year for a compressed version of a BSN and then two more years to complete you nursing. The first part of this and many other program will provide you with the core courses needed to finish your nursing bachelors such as nursing practice and pharmacology. One variation of this approach is the “accelerate into masters” type degree, which allows you to actually take some of your MSN credits at the same time you are earning your bachelors.
MSNs for those with a non-nursing bachelors who want a career change
The steps you’ll need to take will vary depending on what you earned your bachelor’s degree in. It won’t be necessary to re-take any courses. You’ll find that some direct entry MSN schools only admit students with bachelor’s in a health-related subject. Other schools are more open accepting people with non-nursing majors from all academic backgrounds. Before truly diving into your master’s program work, you will be required to take some prerequisite “core” courses in health science topics like biology, nutrition or public health. Some schools also give preference to applicants that have some kind of clinical experience either as a volunteer nursing assistant in a hospital or through training to be an EMS. In most cases it should take three years of study at a normal past to complete all aspects of this type of degree.
Similar approach with entry level nursing (ELM) programs
ELM is essentially another term that describes a direct entry program. It’s a master’s degree designed for a student who has an undergraduate degree in something other than nursing. Most programs have a requirement that if you are taking an entry level nursing masters, you must finish a certain portion of your training aimed at licensure, and then pass your NCLEX-RN exam at a specific point in the program. It’s important to be aware that, while most of these MSNs take two years to complete, there are a wide variety of course structures, meaning that the degree can be completed in different time frames at different colleges. Some accelerated graduate programs will allow you to get out and start your nursing career in less than two years. A sarch for entry level MSN’s will turn up many of the same schools you’ll find looking for direct entry programs.
Does every school require GRE tests?
The Graduate Record Examination or GRE test is accepted by many schools offering all types of masters. But in many cases today it’s not required. If can be to your advantage to take the general GRE if you feel you will be successful at demonstrating your verbal and mathematic analytical skills. Additionally, you can take a subject specific GRE in biology, chemistry or other science area, which can be of value if you got a humanities bachelor degree and would like to demonstrate that you have a strong aptitude for the sciences. But before you make this effort, look closely at the school you want to get your MSN from. If you’re not a great test-taker, he school may be willing to accept you without any GRE test score.
Reasons To Get Your MSN
The goal of virtually all direct entry MSN program students is to get their bachelors and masters degree in less time and at less cost than it would take to do the two degrees separately. The specialization areas that these masters degrees can open up include:
- Nurse Practitioner
- Nurse Educator
- Nurse Midwife
- Clinical Nurse Leader
- Executive Nursing Manager
- Nurse Case Manager
Many schools will also ask you to focus a specialty in your MSN program such as neonatal care, gerontology, pediatrics or women’s health.
Here are examples of requirements for some key online direct entry msn programs
Purdue is a public school that’s now one of the largest online learning providers in the U.S. It’s accelerated RN to BSN degree is:
For RNs who have a nursing associates’s degree or diploma.
As students complete their studies for a BSN, they also take core requirements for the school’s master’s degree in nursing.
Upon completing the BSN and masters core requirements, the student’s can take a “condensed” MSN program that can be completed more quickly than a standard program.
Purdue Global’s Accelerated BSN to MSN
See all of Purdue Global’s degree programs
Walden offers several “bridge” programs that can be RN to MSN track for practicing nurses with a hospital diploma or associate degree, or can be taken as RN to BSN “Accelerate into Master’s” (AIM) track where students earn credits toward a master’s as they complete a bachelor’s degree.
MS Bridge for Registered Nurses – Education
MS in Nursing Bridge – Nursing Informatics
MS in Nursing – Bridge for Registered Nurses – Adult & Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
See all of Walden’s programs
Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon has several bridge programs designed for RNs who have a bachelor’s degree in health sciences or some other related field. After completing prerequisites for a nursing bachelor’s, students choose a track for their MSN:
MS in Nursing Education – Bridge
MS in Nursing – Public Health – Bridge
MS in Nursing – Emphasis in Leadership in Health Care Systems – Bridge