Accredited online master’s in nursing programs are generally designed to build on the knowledge and skills of registered nurses who possess a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Online master’s degrees in nursing programs prepare nurses for management and other leadership positions in clinical and educational settings, including nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist and nurse educator. Nurses who prefer research over clinical practice typically pursue an online PhD in nursing. Most online master’s degree nursing programs do not require theses or capstone projects, but they do require clinical work as part of an internship or supervised practice program.
Check the Guide to Accreditation in Higher Education to learn more about accreditation and how to determine if the program you select meets the necessary standards.
Some of the types of master’s degrees that you can pursue in the field of nursing include:
- Nursing Education: Students will gain an understanding of how to design, deliver and evaluate nurse education programs. They will also explore advanced topics in instructional methods and nursing theory and practice.
- Family Nurse Practitioner: Students will study health promotion and disease prevention and will train in the assessment and management of common acute and chronic illnesses. They will acquire advanced knowledge in improving the quality of care and outcomes for their patients and implementing restorative care interventions.
- Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner: This specialization teaches students to assess, diagnose, treat and manage a variety of health issues common to adults. Students will take an in-depth look at current health topics to learn how to develop strategies for improving health outcomes through effective communication and collaboration.
- Clinical Nurse Specialist: Students in this specialization will develop skills in theory-based and research-based clinical nursing practices. They will be trained to educate other nurses and healthcare professionals on how to improve healthcare delivery systems while controlling costs.
- Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health: The focus of this specialization is to prepare students to manage a woman’s normal obstetrical and gynecological needs and to promote the overall well-being of women and infants. Students will take advanced courses in pharmacology, health assessment and pathophysiology, the study of how the body responds to disease.
Length of Study
Most programs take 2 years or 63 quarter-credit hours.
Expect courses that teach students fundamental skills such as critical thinking, diagnostic reasoning and active listening while improving your knowledge of healthcare systems and policies, technology integration, health promotion and patient education. You may take classes in:
- Policy and Advocacy for Improving Public Health
- Advanced Health Assessment
- Advanced Pharmacology
Typically, to apply for admission to a master’s program, you will need the following:
- Application form
- Undergraduate transcripts
- Revised Graduate Records Exam scores (Revised GRE)
- Personal statement or essay
- Letters of recommendation
Candidates should normally have either a bachelor’s degree in nursing or in a related field like one of the following:
- Healthcare Management
- Health Studies
- Public Health
- Practical Nursing
The current outlook for the nursing profession is growing above average at 26 percent. Professionals with a Master in Nursing will not only enjoy a robust job market but also the flexibility their education and credentials offer them when starting their job search. By researching how long it takes the graduates of different Master in Nursing programs to land jobs after graduation, professionals will be better equipped to choose the best program for themselves.
There is a wide spectrum of career options that nursing master’s programs online graduates may consider, such as:
- Nurse Practitioner– Nurse practitioners provide a combination of nursing and primary or specialty care services to patients. The median average annual salary for nurse practitioners is $65,950. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field is expected to grow by 26 percent between now and 2020.
- Nursing Instructor– Nursing instructors teach patient care to nursing students in classroom and clinical settings. Nursing instructors either teach full-time or engage in a combination of teaching and research. The average annual salary for nursing instructors is $62,390. Employment of nursing instructors is expected to increase by 19 percent over the coming decade.
- Nurse Anesthetist– Nurse anesthetists are registered nurses with specialized training in the administration of anesthesia. Nurse anesthetists can potentially earn an annual salary of $168,076. Expected growth in this field is 26 percent, which is nearly twice the employment growth expected for the economy as a whole.
As the American population begins to age, health care professionals are in higher demand than ever before. The options for educated nurses are nearly endless, offering career flexibility in terms of location, specialization,and more. While many nursing professionals choose to stop their education after just an associate or bachelor’s degree, a Master in Nursing is a ticket to advancement in this profession. Most people who go on to get a Master in Nursing do so after working as a nurse for a number of years.