Nurse Practitioner Degree Options without the BSN

Some professionals who want to enter the field of nursing wonder if they can earn their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) without first earning their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

The short answer is yes, you can indeed get your MSN without your BSN. These are generally referred to as accelerated nursing programs. You also may earn your MSN if you have a bachelor’s degree in another field.

Earning MSN as a Current Nurse

There are many current nurses who have either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Diploma of Nursing (RN) and want to move into a higher earning capacity with a master’s degree.

You may decide upon this nursing educational path because you have practiced as a nurse for several years, but you want to earn a master’s degree without taking the time and expense of earning a bachelor’s degree first. After all, with your current education and experience, much of what you would learn in a BSN program would be repetitive anyway.

Many nurses who pursue this path want to become a nurse practitioner, which has a high salary potential, high demand, and requires a master’s degree in nursing.

There are a number of RN or ADN to MSN programs available, and some of them are even available online. This type of program is tough and rigorous, but it can reduce your time in school by as much as one or two years, plus save you thousands in tuition costs.

Whether you have a bachelor’s degree in nursing or in another field, you can expect to take classes such as the following in your MSN program:

  • Health care policy: Covers the health care delivery system, financial/political effects.
  • Pharmacology: Guidelines for prescriptions, drug interactions and side effects.
  • Ethics: Patient-provider relationships, legal issues, moral judgement.
  • Theory and practice: Theory and practice in your nursing speciality.
  • Practicum: Several hundred hours of nursing experience in a clinical environment.

Earning an MSN From Another Field

The other option is earning an MSN degree with a bachelor’s degree in another field. Some universities will allow you to earn your MSN with another bachelor’s degree.

This type of advanced degree program is specially designed for students who do not have a nursing background or work experience. Expect to spend the first 18 months covering the material typically taught in a BSN degree program. After you learn this material and pass your NCLEX registered nurse certification examination, you will then cover the master’s degree material. This will take an additional two years or so.

Featured Online Programs

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This alternative educational path to nursing is of interest to students who did not know earlier that they wanted to go into nursing. After they worked in another field for years, they felt a calling to become a nurse but did not want to have to earn another bachelor’s degree.

Keep in mind that because you do not have nursing work experience, this type of degree program can be very difficult. Still, earning an MSN without earning a new bachelor’s degree is often a wise move in terms of conserving both time and money.

Because you do not have a nursing educational background, you will need to have some prerequisites related to nursing, such as:

  • Human anatomy
  • Microbiology
  • Chemistry
  • Statistics
  • Nutrition

Today there are many quality options available to earn your MSN without your BSN online. Some of the recommended options for this in-demand graduate nursing degree are:

Recommeded MSN Programs with No BSN

Liberty University

Students who want to look for a way to enhance their careers, affect lives in a positive way, and increase their salary potential may want to consider the MSN degree program at Liberty University.

This degree program provides you with the opportunity to advance your nursing career as a nursing educator, nurse informaticist or nursing administrator. This master’s program at Liberty has been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or CCNE, meaning that it has met the highest standards of quality in the nursing education field.

In the nursing educator program, you will provide with the knowledge and skills to promote the nursing profession through excellent teaching, clinical practice, program implementation and development and scholarship.

In nursing administration, you will be equipped with the skills to demonstrate excellent collaboration and consultation with diverse health care teams and be able to direct all types of health care systems. You also will learn how to employ the nursing process to do strategic planning, resources, and fiscal management and evaluate outcomes.

All MSN graduates from this program will have the vital nursing skills that they need to work in advanced clinical practice, research, scholarship, and teaching. If you are a nurse educator or nursing administration student, you will be able to meet the qualifications necessary to be certified for the American Nurses Credentialing Center Nurse Executive certification, or the National League of Nursing Nurse Education certification.

If you do not currently hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing and an RN license, you will be required to take the following courses before you initiate the MSN program:

  • Research in Nursing
  • Strategies for Community Health
  • Leadership and Management in Nursing
  • Population Health
  • Nursing Management

Kaplan University

Kaplan University offers a Master of Science in Nursing that has been accredited by the CCNE. This is a strong sign that this online degree program has met or exceeded high-quality standards in the nursing profession.

This program has been designed with a high degree of flexibility so that busy professionals are able to balance their life and work responsibilities. You will be able to learn the skills and knowledge required to be prepared for advanced nursing practice roles, including nurse educator, nurse practitioner, and nurse administrator.

Required courses for the nurse educator, administrator, and executive leader specialization are:

  • Advanced Nursing Roles: Explores the strategies and skills that you need to be a successful nursing leader. Covers emerging and existing roles that will provide a good foundation for working in nursing education and nursing administration.
  • Theoretical Foundations of Advanced Practice Nursing: Explores how nursing has evolved, education, social science and behavioral science theories and how they can improve health care for families, the community, and individuals.
  • Scientific and Analytic Approaches to Advanced Evidence-Based Practice: Provides the student with evidence-based approaches to promote safe, high value and effective healthcare. The focus is on assessing levels of evidence to evaluate new and emerging health problems.
  • Epidemiology and Health Promotion: Incorporates empirical and theoretical concepts that are related to health promotion, health beliefs and reduction of risks in diverse, at-risk populations.

Required courses for the nurse practitioner specialization are:

  • Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan: Integrates the knowledge in advanced physiology and pathophysiology for all ages, and clinical implications for the nurse practitioner. Function and dysfunction of all vital organ systems are covered from the level of cells to the organ level.
  • Advanced Health Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning: Theoretical principles and practical applications of physical assessment are covered throughout all ages of life. There are studies of the relationships between assessment findings and physiology and pathophysiology for both the healthy and unhealthy client.
  • Introduction to Primary Care for the Nurse Practitioner: Course looks at the chronic and acute conditions that have been experienced by various types of clients in the primary care setting, and in in the scope of practice for primary care NPs. Learn how to develop a highly consistent approach to screening, assessing, and utilizing of diagnostic procedures.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University offers a Master of Science in Nursing for Family Nurse Practitioner that will allow you to become an advanced nursing practice professional. You will become a highly skilled FNP who will be able to make all of the important, independent judgments that are needed for proper health prevention; health promotion; illness prevention and diagnosis and treatment for families, individuals, communities and populations.

This FNP program online will provide you with the skills to perform health assessments; diagnose many illnesses, and to prescribe all types of drug treatments to manage chronic or acute health problems to achieve the best health care outcomes in a variety of settings.

The comprehensive curriculum in this program will help you to provide much-needed primary care to people of all backgrounds and ages. This FNP education will ready you to work in consulting, educating and collaborating with many types of healthcare providers.

Other learning outcomes are as follows:

  • Diagnosing and documenting many types of health problems and conditions
  • Developing a good understanding of the client, health patterns at the functional level, and community resources
  • Conducting research reviews and applying research based upon evidence to the clinical practice setting
  • Understanding of advanced pathophysiology and physiology principles

This program has 675 hours of supervised clinical work and includes qualified preceptors and two on-campus intensive experiences during the two-year program.

The intensive experiences will offer you the chance to collaborate with your peers and to develop your skills in a hands-on environment. One of the intensives lasts three days and will have you doing health assessments, wound care and suturing and splinting and casting.

This MSN program has been accredited by the CCNE.

List of Nurse Practitioner Programs

The following list of nurse practitioner programs that do NOT require the BSN degree for entrance are as follows: *Indicates featured partner

School Name Location Delivery Cost/Tuition Get Enrollment Info
*Kaplan University Various Online inquire Get Enrollment Info
*Walden University Minneapolis MN Online $680 per credit hour Get Enrollment Info
*Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH Online $627 per credit hour Get Enrollment Info
Marquette University Pleasant Prairie WI Online $10,667 per semster Get Enrollment Info
University of South Alabama Mobile, AL Online $566 per credit hour Get Enrollment Info
Northeastern University Boston, MA Online $1388 per credit hour Get Enrollment Info
Simmons College Boston, MA Online $1315 per credit hour Get Enrollment Info
Xavier University Cincinnati OH Online $540 per credit hour Get Enrollment Info
Frontier University Hyden, KY Online $565 per credit hour Get Enrollment Info
*Sacred Heart University Fairfield CT Online $575-$690 per credit hour Get Enrollment Info
George Washington University Washington DC Online $1295 per credit hour Get Enrollment Info
Chamberlain University Downers Grove IL Online $25,660 total Get Enrollment Info
University of Arizona Tempe AZ Online $800 per credit hour Get Enrollment Info
Gonzaga University Spokane WA Online inquire Get Enrollment Info
American Sentinel University Aurora CO Online $26940 total Get Enrollment Info
NOVA Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale FL Online $675 per credit hour Get Enrollment Info
Graceland University Independence MO Online $775 per credit hour Get Enrollment Info
University of Memphis Memphis TN Online inquire Get Enrollment Info
Aspen University Denver CO Online $975 per course Get Enrollment Info
Drexel University Philadelphia PA Online $913 per credit hour Get Enrollment Info

After You Earn Your MSN

After you have earned your master’s degree, you are close to being able to practice as a nurse practitioner or another type of advanced practice nurse. Now you will need to sit for your national certification exam, which is called the NCLEX-RN examination.

After you have passed that exam, your next step is to be certified in your speciality, such as neonates, pediatrics or geriatrics, among others.

The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) both offer certification programs for many subspecialties. You may sit for a certification exam if you have a master’s degree or doctoral degree in nursing in adult, family and adult/gerontological nursing by taking this exam.

To sit for these tests, you have to have:

  • An MSN or DNP degree
  • RN license that is active
  • 500+ clinical clock hours supervised by faculty
  • University transcript

These certification bodies also have certification exams for these specialties:

  • Acute Care NP
  • Adult NP
  • Adult-gerontology acute care NP
  • Adult gerontology primary care NP
  • Adult Psychiatric-mental health NP
  • Family NP
  • Gerontological NP
  • Pediatric Primary Care NP
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health NP
  • School NP

DNP Degree May Be Required in the Future

If you plan to become an advanced practice nurse with your MSN degree, you should know that in 2004, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing recommended that the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree should be the new standard to become a nurse practitioner. While the DNP degree may not yet be required in all cases, you should know that in the near future, you may need to continue your education to enter some advanced practice nursing professions.