The 3 Best RN to MSN Online Programs
The Absolute Best
If you have a registered nurse license and an associate’s degree in nursing, attending one of the three best online master of science in nursing programs can be a great way to upgrade your nursing skills and develop the leadership and administrative skills you need to advance your career. RN to MSN online programs combine the two years of undergraduate training that lead to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and the two years of graduate training that lead to a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree into a single, continuous academic program. RN to MSN programs can be completed in four years or less. In most cases, you have the option to exit a program with a BSN after completing the first two years.
As an online RN to MSN student, you study health sciences courses like pharmacology and epidemiology, clinical nursing courses like health assessment and disease prevention, and technical courses like nursing informatics and nursing research methods. Most online RN to MSN programs also require courses in communication, leadership, and administrative skills, which are essential for registered nurses who want to take on more responsibility in the workplace. Some online RN to MSN programs require a limited number of campus visits to participate in training and skills-assessment sessions.
Note that many RN to MSN online programs offer the opportunity to specialize in a professional skill area such as nursing education or healthcare administration. Other programs enable you to train as a nurse practitioner (NP) focused on an area such as family care or adult-gerontology primary care. Nurse practitioner programs qualify you for an NP certification examination in your state. Although you can wait to decide on a nursing specialty until you’ve completed nearly two years of courses, it’s best to decide on a specialty before committing to a program so you can select a school based on the specialty you want to pursue.
According to a 2013 study of online nursing programs by , Clarkson College is home to the fourth-best selection of graduate-level nursing programs in the country. The school’s online RN to MSN program is a great fit for all types of nursing students, as it offers a great selection of specialization options. You can prepare for a career in healthcare administration or nursing education, or develop advanced nursing skills by pursuing one of the program’s nurse practitioner options. Students who pursue a nurse practitioner option must travel to the Clarkson College campus in Omaha, Nebraska, several times over the course of the program. Students pursuing other study options can avoid campus visits, but must usually set up an internship or practicum experience in a local medical facility. Clarkson College nursing programs are designed for working students, with flexible course scheduling options that enable you to balance your work and family responsibilities with your studies.
If you’re interested in specializing as a nurse educator or a family nurse practitioner, the Graceland University-Independence RN to MSN online program makes a solid educational choice. You can even combine the two specialties into one program by adding about one additional semester of coursework to your schedule. As an online RN to MSN student, you must make three four-day visits to the Graceland campus in Independence, Missouri, spaced throughout the four years of the program. You must also complete clinical practicum requirements in a suitable medical facility in your community. Online courses are scheduled to meet the needs of both full-time and part-time students. Graceland University-Independence online graduate nursing programs are rated as the fifth-best in the nation by , placing the school just behind Clarkson College.
Stony Brook University-SUNY offers an online RN to MSN program designed for students who want to focus on developing a broad base of nursing skills rather than specializing in a particular area. The curriculum includes many of the same advanced nursing courses found in other programs, in addition to courses in healthcare policy and advocacy, nursing quality and safety management, and legal topics. Students must participate in training sessions on campus in Stony Brook, New York. The number of training sessions depends on your ability to fulfill clinical practice requirements in your local community. Contact an admissions adviser for more information concerning on-campus training requirements.