Iowa Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs

State Nursing Board: Iowa Board of Nursing

State Nurses Association: Iowa Nurses Association

State Hospital Association: Iowa Hospital Association

Iowa hospitals and healthcare institutions have hired increasing numbers of nurses with their Master's of Science in Nursing in recent years, and are beginning to see the benefits of employing these highly educated nurses. According to a case study by the Commonwealth Fund, Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, discovered that investing in advanced practice nurses improved patient care and decreased re-admissions. There, advanced practice nurses are the core of a care management program monitoring national guidelines and working with hospital staff to implement evidence-based care.

Select those nursing schools in Iowa that offer the Master's programs you're interested in, then request program information to learn more. You can get started on improving your career, along with the health of Iowa residents, today.

As health care reform brings an influx of new patients to Iowa, the state is also stepping up efforts to address a looming nursing shortage. This campaign to train more undergraduate nurses in Iowa has put a spotlight on the need for more nurses with their master's in nursing as well. Not only must Iowa recruit more instructors to educate new nurses, the state also has a need for more nurse practitioners to increase access to medical care.

Nurses who want to become Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) or nursing instructors in Iowa must have earned a Master's degree in nursing. They also may also be required to be licensed by the state and be nationally certified in their field. After earning your Master's of Science in Nursing, you can then enter the workforce as a nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, registered nurse anesthetist, or nursing instructor, depending upon which degree route you chose.

Master's in Nursing Programs in Iowa

The number of ARNPs in Iowa has been growing steadily, from 1830 in 2009 to nearly 2700 in 2013, according to the Iowa Board of Nursing's annual report. In this most recent report, 1114 workers were family nurse practitioners. 111 were nurse midwives, and 548 were certified nurse anesthetists. Other smaller specialty areas included pediatrics, adult medicine, gerontology, psychiatric care, and women's health. Even with these increasing numbers, however, there is room in the marketplace for more nurses with an MSN. IA jobs are expected to grow at an accelerated rate in the coming years, and nursing schools in Iowa are responding by offering a variety of MSN programs in the state.

Nine Iowa colleges and universities offer state-approved Master's in Nursing degrees. The number of nursing graduates from these programs has more than tripled since 2006, rising from 130 students to 417 students in 2012. Some of these graduate nursing programs focus strictly on direct patient care specialties such as nurse practitioner programs, while others are designed to prepare graduates for roles as nursing instructors or administrators.

Typical Master's in Nursing courses include advanced health assessment, pharmacology, family nursing, primary care, and health care policy. Some nursing programs in Iowa offer online classes for graduate students, but degree candidates still are required to participate in 600 or more clinical or practicum hours to achieve certification. You may find that there are strategic partnerships between healthcare facilities in Iowa and online nursing schools, allowing you to complete clinical hours at a nearby site.

If you are preparing to be a nursing instructor, you can find multiple Master's nursing programs in Iowa, both campus based and online. Most nurse educator programs take about 18 months to two years to complete. Clinical or practicum hours are mandatory, and some programs also ask you to complete a thesis or nursing capstone project. Typical coursework may include subjects such as nursing research, evidence-based practice, health care policy, and curriculum and instruction.

Master's candidates who plan to enter management roles in the medical field also have several nursing program options in Iowa, including majors in administration, leadership, and clinical nurse leadership. On-campus or online classes can include the study of human resource management, quality management, organizational effectiveness, management of clinical outcomes, and health care financial planning.

Working with your MSN in Iowa

The Iowa Board of Nursing officially classifies many Master's prepared nurses as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). This designation includes clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), certified nurse midwives (CNMs), nurse practitioners (NPs) and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs). You must have completed an MSN degree and have obtained national specialty certification to be licensed as an APRN in Iowa.

The job forecast in clinical nursing fields is encouraging according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For example, the state's nurse practitioners earned $85,290 annually on average in 2013. Iowa's average yearly salaries for some other nursing specialties actually rank higher in 2013 than national averages, including midwives at $94,440 and nurse anesthetists at $161,770.

Job opportunities for nursing educators also appear to be promising. Some nursing programs in Iowa have been forced to limit enrollment of Bachelor's and Master's of Science in nursing students because there is a shortage of qualified nursing faculty. The Iowa State Board of Nursing reported there were 1141 full- and part-time nursing faculty in the state in 2013, but there also were 43 faculty vacancies. Iowa's post-secondary nursing educators earned an average yearly salary of $63,880 in 2013, according to the BLS.

Iowa offers several financing alternatives that may help you pay to get your MSN in Iowa. The Iowa Student Loan Nurse Educator Grant Program provides financial assistance to graduate-level nursing students who are teaching in a clinical setting or classroom in the state. The Iowa College Aid Commission has a state-funded loan forgiveness program that helps with repayment of federal student loans. In addition, the Iowa Nurses Association has information about several state nursing scholarships at its website. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing offers advice about national financing help at its online portal.

Professional organizations for MSN-prepared nurses in Iowa include the Iowa Association of Nurse Anesthetists, the Iowa Association of Nurse Practitioners, the Iowa Nurse Practitioner Society and the Iowa Nurses Association.

Take some time to look into the MSN programs in IA, then request more information about those you think might work for you.

MSN programs for Iowa nurses include:

  • Allen College. Located in Waterloo, Allen offers an online RN-to-MSN program for nurses interested in pursuing advanced nursing education. All nursing coursework is offered online; general coursework may be completed at almost any accredited institution and transferred to Allen. Clinicals can be completed close to home. MSN-students at Allen can choose from nurse practitioner, nurse education or nurse leadership tracks.
  • University of Iowa. U of Iowa offers a primarily online Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) MSN program. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, CNLs "oversee the care coordination for patients, assess risks, develop quality improvement strategies, facilitate team communication, and implement evidence-based solutions at the unit level."

Programs from Iowa Schools

Listed below are all of the nationally accredited MSN programs with campus locations in Iowa.

Online programs may not be available in all areas

Traditional On Campus Programs:

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Allen College (Waterloo, IA)
Program Name: Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Adult/Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Health Education, Leadership in Health Care Delivery
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
Briar Cliff University (Sioux City, IA)
Program Name: MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner, MSN - Nurse Educator
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
Clarke University (Dubuque, IA)
Program Name: Nurse Educator
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
Grand View University (Des Moines, IA)
Program Name: Clinical Nurse Leader
Kaplan University (Cedar Rapids, IA / Des Moines, IA)
Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing - Adult - Gerontology Practitioner - Des Moines, IA, MSN - Executive Leader
Mount Mercy College (Cedar Rapids, IA)
Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing
St. Ambrose University (Davenport, IA)
Program Name: Nursing Administration
University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)
Program Name: Adult/Gerontological NP or CNS, Clinical Nurse Leader, Community Health Nursing (CNS), Family Nurse Practitioner, Genetics Nursing, Gerontological Nursing Education/Nurse Educator, MSN/MBA, MSN/MPH, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Educator, Nursing Informatics (online), Nursing Systems Administration, Occupational Health Nursing, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing (CNS or NP), School Health Nursing (online)
Accreditation: CCNE accredited