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BSN to MSN Master's Degree

If you have an existing bachelor's degree in nursing, there are many options for you to convert it into a master's degree. This article shows you how to quickly and efficiently earn your master's degree with the right programs.

How Can I Find a BSN-to-MSN Degree Program?

BSN-to-MSN programs can be found at colleges and universities around the nation. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) establishes standards for bachelor's and master's degree programs in nursing education. Through the AACN, you can find a direct-contact list of more than 660 member schools of nursing, organized by state. The AACN recommends that you contact the individual schools regarding undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate programs they offer.

Degree LevelMaster's
Program Length2-3 years depending on educational background
Program FormatsOnline or in-class
Specialty AreasEducation, administration, anesthesia, neonatal nursing, pediatric nursing
Salary (2018)$71,730 (for all registered nurses)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 15% (for all registered nurses)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are Some Types of Programs Available?

Depending on the school, a BSN-to-MSN program can take 2-3 years for you to complete. For example, a 3-year accelerated program requires that you hold a diploma or associate's degree in nursing and be a licensed RN. In this case, you're actually admitted to the graduate school, but complete courses that fulfill both BSN and MSN requirements. Typical courses can include health assessment, research methods, pathophysiology, pharmacology, patient management and concepts of professional nursing.

There is also a 2-year BSN-to-MSN program that requires you to hold a bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited school and be a licensed RN. This type of program can consist of 21 credits, and it may be pursued on a part-time basis.

If you hold a bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing but are interested in becoming a nurse, you may qualify for a third type of program. For two years, you complete core-nursing courses leading to a BSN. You may be required to complete this portion of the program on a full-time basis. Graduation qualifies you to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Once you become licensed, you must complete the requirements for the MSN portion of the program. Some schools give you the option of completing this portion full- or part-time. Some programs offer a number of courses online; however, clinical practicum experiences require on-site participation.

What Are Some Common Specialties?

During the master's degree portion of your program, you're generally given the chance to specialize. You establish a concentration that prepares you for positions such as nurse midwife, family nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, neonatal nurse, nurse administrator, nursing educator, gerontology nurse or pediatric nurse.

How Is the Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the need for qualified nurses in healthcare professions is one of the most quickly growing in the country. Although opportunities may vary by specialty or geographical area, the overall employment outlook for all registered nurses is excellent. The BLS projected that from 2016-2026, employment for registered nurses is expected to grow 15%.