In this article, we discuss the different types of master’s degrees that are available for non-nurses who are interested in the field. We also will talk about why you should consider earning your master’s in nursing, and different universities that offer nursing programs for non-nurses.
Today there are many working professionals with years of experience in other fields that are considering a career switch into nursing. This can be a really good idea for many people because the nursing field is seeing an extraordinary amount of additional demand for at least the next decade.
It is anticipated that registered nurses will see a growth rate of 16% in the next eight years. Specifically, there were 2,751,000 RNs in the US as of 2014, and it is believed that this number will increase by 439,000 by 2024.
For professionals who decide to earn their master’s degree (Master of Science in Nursing), you have many exciting career options. These are called the advanced nursing practice professions:
- Nurse practitioner
- Certified nurse midwife
- Certified nurse anesthetist
- Clinical nurse specialist
People who want to become one of these types of nurses will see amazing demand for jobs – as high as 31% growth in the next several years. This type of job growth is rarely seen in other job fields. And there is little sign that the growth will slow any time soon.
Direct Entry MSN Programs Overview
Demand is so high for these nurses with their master’s degree that many online universities offer nursing degrees to those who do not have a nursing background. These generally are known as direct entry nursing programs.
This means that the person has a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing, but can earn a master’s degree in nursing anyway. This type of degree also can be called an accelerated MSN program.
Direct entry or accelerated master’s programs in nursing are out there because organizations such as the National League for Nursing has called for years to provide more options for nurses to enter the profession. Part of the reason for this is that current nurses can have simply too much work, and there are limits in many states on requiring nurses to work overtime. This means that they need more nurses than are in the market currently, so they are opening up the field to non-nurses.
Generally, a master’s program for non-nurses allows the student to get her general science and nursing education courses early in the program. This is effectively the equivalent of a bachelor of science in nursing. After you obtain your bachelor’s degree, you need to seek your RN licensure by taking the NCLEX-RN examination.
You then are a registered nurse, and some programs will require you to work for a year or so to gain valuable nursing experience, but others do not. Then, you can earn your MSN degree. This type of direct entry MSN program means that you can get your master’s degree and bachelor’s education in nursing in approximately four years.
As you are considering direct entry MSN programs, you should be looking for a program accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or CCNE. This organization has been recognized by the US Department of Education as a national accreditation organization. It generally has the premier reputation in the country for accrediting nursing programs.
To get started on your master’s in nursing program as a non-nurse, please consider some of the universities we highlight below:
Master of Science in Nursing – Direct Entry for Nurse Practitioner
The MSN program for non-nurses at Simmons University is designed for experienced professionals of many backgrounds. This university does not care if you come from a liberal arts or science background. Once you have completed the required prerequisite programs to enter the MSN program, you can get started after you are accepted.
Direct entry students finish the pre-licensure part of the program in the first two years. You will get a complete foundation in nursing and be prepared for the RN examination. After you pass it, you then move on to the MSN portion of the program.
Graduates of this program will be prepared to take the nurse practitioner certification exam after two years. The national pass rate for this program is 98%.
Your MSN curriculum includes:
- Advanced Pharmacology Across the Life Span
- Advanced Pharmacology Across the Life Span II
- Health Assessment Across the Lifespan Workshop
- Advanced Health Assessment Across the Lifespan
- Clinical Decision Making (1 credit)
- Primary Care Nursing of the Childbearing Family
- Primary Care Nursing
- Scholarly Inquiry I
- Scholarly Inquiry II
- Research Methods
- Health Care System: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
- Health Promotion: A Global Perspective
Master of Science in Nursing – Clinical Nurse Leader
Saint Louis University offers a 21 month, five semester program that prepares you to become a clinical nurse leader, It accepts students from many academic backgrounds who do not have a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Required courses for this online program are:
- Pharmacology in Nursing Practice
- Advanced Health Assessment for the Generalist Nurse
- Advanced Pathophysiology
- Nursing Strategies for Health Promotion
- Nursing Strategies In Physiological Health Alterations
- Nursing Strategies in Psychosocial Health Alterations
- Evidence-based Practice for the Advanced Generalist Nurse
- Ethics in Nursing and Health Care
- Clinical Studies I
- Clinical Studies II
- Health Care Systems and Policy
This program also requires you to complete 400 clinical hours either in the campus area or in your area.
Master of Science in Nursing – Direct Entry – Nursing Education
American Sentinel University offers a direct entry master’s program in nursing education that is accredited by the CCNE. This program will allow you to teach the next generation of nurses, and you do not have to have a background in nursing. You will learn how to teach, design new curriculum and use distance learning technology to improve the field of nursing and teach new students.
This is an excellent career path to consider because more nurses today are going back to school. This is leading to the US having a shortage of nursing educators. In fact, some nursing programs have had to turn away nursing school candidates because they simply lacked qualified instructors.
This program has been recognized by US News and World Report as one of the Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs.
In this three year program, you will understand the following:
- How to analyze the role of a nursing educator in many practice environments.
- How to design new nursing curriculum with emerging trends in the education of nurses.
- How to come up with plans to evaluate the effectiveness of nursing education programs in either an institutional or academic setting.
Your curriculum in this fully online program includes:
- MSN Role Development
- Theoretical Foundations
- Research Design
- Advanced Pharmacology
- Advanced Physical Assessment
- Assessment of Learning
- Distance Education
- Curriculum Design and Learning Outcomes
- Organizational Dynamics of Higher Education
- MSN Capstone
Earning a master’s degree in nursing without a background in nursing is more possible than ever before. As you are considering various direct entry nursing programs, you will need to decide which type of nurse you want to be.
The majority of non-nurses eventually decide to become a nurse practitioner. However, as we note with some of the degree options above, there are other possibilities.