Online Master of Science in Nursing Degree (RN Option)


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An online RN to Master of Science in nursing program is designed for registered nurses who have either an associate degree in nursing, a bachelor’s degree in another field or a diploma from an approved nursing program.

Research shows a strong link between nurse education and patient outcomes. Nurses who have at least a baccalaureate-level education have lower mortality and failure-to-rescue rates among patients, according to a study published in Health Services Research. As a result of these findings, many hospitals and other health care providers are increasingly requiring RNs to have a Bachelor of Science in nursing at minimum to obtain employment, according to the New York Times.

Many RNs without a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree may choose to complete an RN to Bachelor of Science in nursing program in order to comply with new requirements. However, an online RN to Master of Science in nursing program usually only takes an additional year of full-time study and will allow for more employment options in education, administration, research and specialized clinical care.

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Course Work

Example courses
Gerontology nursing
Health assessment
Community health nursing
Systems and population in health care
Nursing issues and trends

Most Master of Science in nursing programs will award graduates with a Bachelor of Science in nursing and a Master of Science in nursing. Required courses in gerontology, pediatrics, administration, community health and health assessment will count toward both the bachelor’s and master’s requirements, shortening the length of the program.

Students must also choose a specialization and complete additional course work in the field to fulfill the requirements for the Master of Science in nursing. Potential specializations include nurse informatics, nurse midwifery and forensic nursing, although the most common specializations for online programs are nursing education and administration.

Additionally, students must complete prerequisite general education requirements prior to entry into the program. Examples of prerequisites include English, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, human growth and development, nutrition, statistics, psychology and college mathematics.

Job Outlook

Median salaries*
Registered nurse $56,000
Informatics nurse $68,000
Nurse educator $69,000
Nurse manager $81,000
Nurse practitioner $89,000


The job outlook for nursing is good, with an expected employment growth of 26 percent by 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. RNs with a Master of Science in nursing can obtain employment through a variety of different positions, depending on experience level and specialty.

Some RNs with a Master of Science in nursing may continue in their current position, while others may find employment as a nurse practitioner, nurse educator or nurse manager, among other specialties. Different positions require specific qualifications and certifications. Professional organizations such as the American Nurses Association provide detailed information on the types of qualifications needed for certification in various specialties.

Median salaries range from about $56,000 for RNs to about $81,000 for nurse managers. Nurse educators make about $69,000 per year, according to PayScale, an online salary database.

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