- Online RN-to-MSN degree programs work well for the nurse who is currently working full time. Online programs offer flexibility, allowing students to complete assignments when they aren't working.
Since RNs work 24-hour schedules, courses are accessible day or night. In addition, the RN-to-MSN program values the nursing student's time. Rather than moving her through a four-year bachelor's degree program that covers material she has already learned in the field, she can focus on specialized skills in this advanced degree.
RN-to-MSN programs combine the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing degrees curriculum to expedite graduation.
- Unlike most master's degree programs, the online RN-to-MSN program generally does not require a bachelor's degree. Instead, students have to have only an associate degree in nursing, though students with a bachelor's degree can certainly apply.
Applicants also have to have experience working as a nurse. Experience levels vary; for example, Sacred Heart University's online program prefers one year of nursing experience, while American Sentinel University's program requires two years of professional nursing experience.
Some schools, like Loyola University, reserves this program for students who have a bachelor's degree, just not in nursing -- though this standard is the exception, not the norm.
- Students enrolled in online RN-to-MSN programs work through a rigorous curriculum before earning their graduate degree. They complete both undergraduate and graduate nursing courses to obtain their degree.
Courses at Regis University's online program include Normal and Therapeutic Nutrition, Health Assessment and Pharmacology. Here, students can specialize their graduate studies in one of two areas -- education or management. Sacred Heart University offers four concentrations -- clinical nurse leader, family nurse practitioner, patient care services administration and nursing education.
- Both traditional brick-and-motor schools and online-only schools offer an online RN-to-MSN curriculum. Though generally an online university, Regis University offers its courses online or in person for the RN-to-MSN program. Enrollment opens to interested students at American Sentinel University once a month. Students hoping to earn a degree from a more recognized, traditional school can choose from online programs at Sacred Heart University or Loyola University in New Orleans.