The short answer to the question, "Can I get a MSN degree online?" is YES!
With the increase in demand for specially trained nurses in the U.S., continued education is key to meeting that demand. As a result, colleges and universities have created robust, online nursing degrees available online which allows nurses to continue employment as they earn an advanced degree. Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) are increasingly available to help those wishing to enter the field or those who are currently working as licensed nurses.
The online Master of Science in Nursing programs available provide a wide range of specialties from which to choose and allow nurses to advance their education while continuing to work. Specialty fields in education, administration, nursing leadership, Family Nurse Practitioner degrees may be found online. Best Medical Degrees has assembled a ranking of 30 Most Affordable Online MSN Degrees which ranks programs by tuition cost, length of program, accreditation and national rankings or recognition.
There are several things to consider in choosing an online MSN program:
Admission to Online MSN Programs
Admission requirements will vary from school to school, but in general, applicants for MSN programs should hold a BSN from an accredited institution. Some schools require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), but not all. Other typical requirements are a minimum GPA in their BSN, a current, unencumbered nursing license from the state in which they practice and a year's clinical experience working as a nurse. Several schools will offer RN to MSN bridge programs, which allows students to work on their BSN and MSN simultaneously. Such bridge programs are especially useful for LPNs, RNs or ADN prepared nurses wanting to obtain a MSN degree.
It's extremely important that the online program you choose holds accreditation from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) which establishes educational standards for nursing education. The (CCNE), an autonomous arm of the AACN, oversees institutional standards and quality for Master of Science in Nursing programs. This accreditation assures you that your education meets the standards and will prepare you to sit for board exams and certification. CCNE is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as qualified to provide effective nursing education.
Tuition Costs and Length of Program
Tuition costs are an important part of considering any online program. Many schools offer distance, or online, educational programs that do not require the fees of the typical on campus program; however, that is not always the case. Be certain you understand what additional fees may be required for online courses. Programs vary from 2-3 years for completion, depending on the specialty; and, will more often than not, require clinical hours for completion.
One question frequently asked of receiving a nursing degree online is "what about the clinical experience?" A majority of schools work with students to identify facilities within their home community in which to complete clinical hours under the supervision of a school approved preceptor. Some online programs will consider your current work experience as part of your clinical requirement.
State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements
Not all online nursing programs are available to students in all states. Make certain that the program you choose is available in your state before going through the admission process. School websites will offer information on which states, if any, the program is not applicable.