Why Earn Online Second Degree Nursing Programs

This article has information about why you may want to earn your second degree online in a nursing program. We will explain to you what a second degree in nursing program is, so that you have the information you need to make an informed decision. Also, we will provide information about the different, exciting careers that await you in nursing. We also will offer important program accreditation information.

What Is an Online Second Degree Nursing Program?

An online second degree nursing program is often referred to as a ‘direct entry’ nursing degree. This usually refers to a professional who has a bachelor’s degree in a completely different field. He or she wants to make a career change and earn a degree in nursing.

Some professionals may decide to simply earn their online bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). However, if you want to go further into nursing, you can also attend a second degree nursing program that earns your BSN and your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in the same program.

There are two major advantages to taking this path. First, you will earn the two degrees together in approximately four to five years; if you took each program separately, it would take more than six years.

Second, earning your MSN degree opens up your career possibilities tremendously. You will have the education to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). This includes such high paying professions as nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, clinical nurse leader and nurse anesthetist. These careers are in very high demand and generally pay in excess of $90,000 per year.

After you earn your MSN degree, you need to be certified in your state by the state nursing board. You also will need to earn your national certification to practice as an advanced practice nurse from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Most online second degree nursing programs that feature both a BSN and an MSN will have the student take their basic nursing courses first. This will include anatomy and physiology, life sciences, nutrition, biology, pharmacology and other nursing basics. You may need to take some of these as background courses and achieve a satisfactory grade before you are admitted into the program.

After you have completed your bachelor’s degree courses, most programs will award you your BSN degree. At that point, you would sit for your national nursing exam and earn your RN designation. You then will likely need to gain some work experience as a nurse – at least a year. Next, you will begin your MSN courses, which includes classes in ethics, leadership, health informatics, nursing theory, etc.

Some program may intermix the bachelor’s and master’s courses so that you can complete the program faster.

Typical learning outcomes in your MSN program are:

  • Integrating advanced nursing knowledge and theories and other disciplines into a highly specialized area of advanced practice in nursing
  • Show high level of competence in advanced nursing practice roles, so as to meet current and emerging health needs in a changing society
  • Utilize scientific inquiry to pinpoint problems and to individualize patient care that is intended to improve outcomes
  • Apply advanced management and leadership knowledge to have a positive impact upon health policy

Why Earn a Second Degree in Nursing?

Many professionals are opting to change careers and get into nursing to either be a regular clinical nurse or an APRN. This is often because people want to work in a field where they are directly helping other people.

Also, job demand for nurses is growing very rapidly. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment for regular nurses will increase by a very healthy 16% by 2024. This is much faster than average. As of 2014, there were 2.75 million nurses; by 2024, there will be 3.19 million nurses.

In advanced practice nursing, the demand is even greater. Employment for nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives will increase by 31% by 2024. For nurse practitioners specifically, the demand will increase by a massive 35%.

The high demand for nurses is one of the reasons that US News and World Report have ranked the nursing field generally as the #17 best health care job, with an unemployment rate of just 1.5%.

US News also states that the nurse practitioner career is the #2 best job in the US for 2017. The current unemployment rate for NPs is just 0.7%.

Why Is Demand So High?

More nurses and advanced practice nurses are needed to take care of the aging US population. People today are living longer and healthier lives, with many Americans now living into their 80s. Technology in health care and in pharmaceuticals has improved as well, and these factors are improving the quality of life and extending life for many older Americans. These factors lead to more Americans demanding more health care services.

Another factor in increasing nursing demand is that more tasks that were once done by doctors are now being handled by APRNs. It is less expensive for a nurse practitioner to do many tasks than a doctor, and studies show that the quality of care is usually very similar.

Salaries Are High

Nurses overall earn a median salary of $68,400 as of 2016, and the top 10% earn more than $102,000 per year. The median salary for nurse practitioners with a MSN degree is $101,000 per year.

Generally, professionals who earn their BSN and MSN will be able to earn a very good living. Many advanced practice nurses work more than one job and can easily bring in $150,000 per year.

Online Degree Options

A good choice for an online direct entry MSN program is the program at Marquette University. This program is designed for experienced professionals who hold a bachelor’s degree in another field. This is a 75 credit program that builds upon your previous education, and provides you with a very intense, accelerated nursing curriculum.

You will be prepared to take the national certification examination by NCLEX so that you can work as a clinical nurse leader, which is another very highly paid APRN.

For those who lack a science background, you will be required to take these classes before starting the program:

  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Chemistry or biochemistry
  • Nutrition for health sciences
  • Behavioral sciences, such as psychology or sociology
  • Statistics

For admission, you must hold a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA; GRE is waived for 3.2 GPA or higher; three letters of recommendation; updated resume, written statement of career goals; and official transcripts.

Required MSN courses include:

  • Health Assessment and Fundamentals I
  • Health Assessment and Fundamentals II
  • Research and Evidence as Foundation for Nursing
  • Pathophysiological Concepts for Advanced Nursing Practice
  • Nursing Concepts and Intervention
  • Family Centered Nursing of Children Theory
  • Quality and Patient Safety in Health Care

This program also has an option for nurses who have an associate’s degree in the field and want to earn their MSN degree.

This direct entry second degree nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.


We recommend that your nursing program be accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or CCNE. This is a highly respected nursing education accreditation organization that tells you that your degree is of high quality.


Earning a second degree in nursing is an excellent career choice. You will be able to choose from many high paying careers and enjoy strong demand for your services for years to come.