Direct Entry MSN Programs
You’re ready to get into the rapidly growing field of nursing, but you’re not sure what the best route is if you already have a bachelor’s degree. If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you can get involved in this industry without earning a second bachelor’s degree in the field of nursing. In fact, you could move right into a graduate program with direct entry MSN programs. These programs blend theory education with plenty of hands-on practice. Keep reading to learn more about direct entry MSN programs across the country and contact schools that interest you.
As the healthcare industry continues to grow, adult learners are turning to nursing education in order to expand career options and enhance earning potential. One of the most popular options for entering nursing school is the Direct Entry MSN, or Accelerated MSN program. These programs offer a direct route into graduate nursing studies for those of you who already hold a non-nursing Bachelor’s degree. BestNursingDegree.com has compiled a list of all the schools offering Masters in Nursing (MSN) programs that accept non-nurses, to aid in your search for the right nursing school.
Who Can Benefit From Direct Entry Nurse Practitioner Programs?
Students who hold a Bachelor’s degree in an area outside of nursing can enter this field thanks to direct entry MSN programs. These programs are also referred to as Generalist Entry Master’s (GEM) degree programs, and best suited for Bachelor’s degree holders who already have a solid foundation in health and science courses from their undergraduate education. Otherwise, you may have to take additional courses in such areas as anatomy, nutrition, and behavioral science related courses before gaining acceptance into Masters entry nursing programs.
The field of nursing is growing much faster than the national average for other types of jobs, even those in healthcare. So it’s no wonder the options for direct entry nursing programs are growing for students as well.
The information below is meant to give you a quick overview of direct entry nurse practitioner programs and other accelerated MSN programs. We encourage you to review the complete list of accelerated nurse practitioner programs for non-nurses as well as the traditional 2-year MSN programs you can take.
We understand that you want to build upon the degree you have, and we commend your decision to explore the field of nursing. The knowledge and experience you bring to the profession makes you a valuable addition, and will provide you with a solid foundation upon which to build your nursing education.
If you are already an RN, and are looking to continue your education by beginning graduate studies, please visit our Master’s in Nursing page to find the program that is right for you.
Direct Entry MSN Basics
Direct Entry MSN programs reflect the call by the National League for Nursing (NLN) to build avenues within nursing education that “facilitate and inspire the seamless academic progression of nursing students and nurses. Our common goal is a well educated, diverse nursing workforce to advance the nation’s health” (NLN).
The basic format of programs that offer students with a non-nursing degree the opportunity to earn a Master’s Degree in Nursing is similar to that of an Accelerated BSN program. You get to apply the credits from the general education & science classes you have already taken, and then dive into a rigorous program of nursing theory and clinical work.
There are many important things to keep in mind while researching the schools that offer a Masters in Nursing for non-nursing majors. Most schools design their programs so that you can complete the requirements for your BSN degree first, and then enter into a more specialized track of study for your MSN degree. These may be listed as direct entry BSN nursing programs, and must be completed before you move into graduate entry nursing programs. Some programs also require that you practice as an RN after your BSN is earned, in order to gain valuable clinical experience and an understanding of the nursing profession.
Other schools allow you to start directly as an entry level MSN student. Many of these fast track MSN programs require you to choose your Master’s specialty track when you apply to the program, which can be both a blessing and a curse. If you decide that you want to stop at the BSN level, or if you change your focus, it can be difficult to obtain permission from the school to alter your program. However, if you are certain about the specialty MSN track that you want to pursue, you will be able to glean a great deal of knowledge and insight from your Bachelor’s level courses, and you will begin classes in your area of focus as soon as they are offered. For most of the programs, you will also be entering the program with graduate student status, which has implications if you plan to apply for financial aid, such as scholarships, loans and/or grants.
What Kinds Of Accelerated MSN Programs Are There?
With the growth of online learning in secondary education, even nursing programs that require hands-on training are integrating online courses for student convenience. Of course, you will always need to show up in person for most of your nursing education and training.
And of course, your clinical experiences will always cap your training before moving into the workforce. But many schools offer nursing theory courses in an online format to help students juggling busy lives.
What About Online Accelerated MSN Programs?
You may also find accelerated MSN programs online as options when weighing your decision. While it may be enticing to complete your degree quickly, don’t forget to compare the curriculum and practicum experiences of each school before making a decision. Accelerated MSN programs can typically be completed in 18-months. For full-time direct entry MSN programs, you’ll be looking at 2 years for completion.
Masters Level Nursing Specializations
In addition to researching the costs, hours, and other pragmatic aspects of the program, you should make sure to learn which MSN tracks/specializations are available to direct entry students. Researching those tracks and deciding which focus you want to pursue will have a significant impact on which school and program you choose. As you investigate, you will find that there are many different settings and areas of nursing that open up when you are Master’s level prepared. Many people are looking for accelerated nurse practitioner programs, which are a popular option. Regardless of the outcome, you should look for an entry level MSN program that matches your interests. Your graduate nursing education will prepare you for multiple avenues of practice, and will enable you to “influence healthcare outcomes for individuals, populations, or systems.” (AACN)
Below are some of the most commonly offered MSN specialty tracks.
MSN Direct Care Roles:
- Clinical Nurse Leader
- Nurse Educator
- Advanced Practice RN (APRN)
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Certified Nurse Midwife
- Certified Nurse Practitioner
MSN Indirect Care Roles:
- Public Health Nurse
- Clinical Research Coordinator
- Nurse Administrator
When you are requesting information from the schools below, be mindful of which programs offer the focus area you are interested in, and don’t be afraid to obtain information on a wide variety of specialties. You should also be aware that some specialties, such as CRNA/Nurse Anesthetist, require specific clinical and work experience, and may not always be available for direct entry MSN students.
You should expect the full direct entry MSN program to take several years. While the program may be lengthy, upon completion, you will have joined one of the most promising and important healthcare fields in the market, with pay scales, responsibilities, and intellectual challenges that rival almost any other healthcare profession out there! Most importantly, you will be one of thousands of others who are working toward improving the health and wellness of our world, one nurse and one education at a time.
Direct Entry MSN Curriculum
The curriculum for your direct entry MSN degree will change depending on the specialty you choose.
The program is typically about two years and will include courses such as:
- Health Assessment and Fundamentals
- Nursing Interventions
- Nursing Theories
- Nursing Ethics
Additional Notes About Direct Entry MSN Programs For Non-Nursing Majors
You’ll need to discuss with each school the specifics about their program. Some schools only offer start times once per year, in the Fall. Other schools may offer two start dates, which may be more typical in online options. Programs often have caps on the number of nursing students they can accept. That’s why it is important to apply as soon as you can, after finding the right program.
Many direct entry programs will discourage you from working while you earn your degree. Some may even require that you not work during your training, since it will take so much of your time and focus. You also need to look at time limits for program completion. In accelerated programs, you may be expected to finish in the 18-month timeline, for example.
What Kinds Of Nursing Careers Can You Pursue After Graduation?
Since nursing is such a wide-open field, there are many career options you can choose after completing your MSN.
Here are some jobs you may qualify for with the appropriate Master’s in Nursing Degree:
- Nurse practitioner
- Case manager
- Clinical nursing specialist
- Nurse educator
- Dialysis nurse
- And more!
These are some of the more common nursing career options.
Keep in mind, there are growing opportunities in nontraditional nursing areas as well. With an anticipated growth in outpatient care, there will be more areas for nurses to work in that address the changing needs of the aging population. Of course, the career options available to you will depend on the area you live in. While most cities have a wide variety of healthcare facilities, not every nurse has a large hospital or countless outpatient settings within commuting distance.
You can use our tools and resources to view a list of accelerated nurse practitioner programs for non-nurses, as well as other MSN options, and compare them to other nursing programs for students in your area.
Now that you have a deeper understanding of Direct Entry Master’s in Nursing programs, speaking with school advisers is your next step. Get started by checking out our featured schools!