Direct Entry MSN (Masters in Nursing) Programs

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Direct Entry MSN (Masters in Nursing) Programs

MSN Programs With Direct Entry

The healthcare industry is continuing to grow at a steady rate, leading to many adult learners seeking out an education in nursing with a hope of expanding their options for a career and increasing their earning potential. Among the options that is most popular is the Direct Entry MSN, also known as an Accelerated MSN course. These are programs that can provide a direct path towards graduate degrees in nursing for people already possessing a Bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field. has provided a listing of the many schools that offer a Masters Degree in Nursing (MSN) that will accept students with non-nursing backgrounds to make your search for the perfect school easier.

Who Can Take Advantage Of Direct Entry Programs For Nurse Practitioners?

Students already possessing a Bachelor’s degree in a field that is not nursing are able to switch to this thriving career field because of the options provided by MSN programs featuring direct entry. These types of programs are sometimes known as a Generalist Entry Masters degree program (GEM), and are perfect for those students who already have their Bachelor’s degree and a good background in science and health courses that they received during their undergraduate education. Those who did not take any science or health courses may find themselves needing a few extra courses in the fields of nutrition, anatomy, or behavioral science before they are accepted into a nursing program for their Masters.

The nursing field is growing faster than most other job types, even others that are in the healthcare field. That makes it no surprise that there are more options than ever for nursing students seeking direct entry as well.

The information provided here can give you an idea of what to expect in nurse practitioner direct entry programs as well as other types of MSN programs offered at an accelerated pace. You should take a good look at the list of available accelerated nurse practitioner options for non-nursing students in addition to the more traditional path of a 2-year program.

We know how important it is for you to build on what you have already worked towards with your current degree and encourage you to continue exploring your options within the nursing field. The experience and knowledge you will bring into nursing with you makes you a valuable asset and ensures you already have a solid foundation where you can build with your education in nursing.

If you already have your RN degree and want to further your education by getting a graduate degree, check out our page on RN to MSN and Masters in Nursing site for a listing of programs that might fit your needs.

The Basics Of Direct Entry MSN

Direct Entry MSN courses are the result of the National League of Nursing (NLN) and their effort to build paths into the nursing field that help allow a seamless transition for students to become nurses. They have a goal of creating a diverse group of nurses that work together to advance the healthcare available in the country.

The basic format for the types of programs aimed at students with a degree in a non-nursing field to allow them to pursue a Nursing Masters degree in a way that is similar to an Accelerated BSN. You will be able to apply credits obtained during your general education and science courses, then get right to the rigorous program for clinical work and nursing.

There are some important factors to remember as you research schools with a Masters degree in Nursing available for students from non-nursing majors. Many schools create a program that allows you to get all the requirements done for your BSN degree before you start in on your specialized education that works towards an MSN degree. These might listed as being direct entry programs, but you must have the requirements completed before you start the graduate nursing courses. Some of these programs also have a requirement that once you obtain your BSN you practice as an RN for a time so that you have the clinical experience necessary for a proficient education in nursing.

Other schools enable you to directly start your program as a MSN student. Many of the MSN programs listed as being “fast track” will require you to choose a specialty for your Masters as soon as you apply for entry to the program. This can be both a good and a bad thing. If you later decide that a BSN is enough for you, or you decide to change focus, you might have trouble getting permission to alter your plan from the school. However, if you already know which specialty of MSN you are interested in, you can get a great start in your Bachelor-level classes, and can start in on your specialty as soon as possible. For many of the programs, you also enter the program already possessing a status of graduate student, which can impact your financial aid plans, especially if you are applying for any grants, scholarships, or loans.

What Accelerated MSN Courses Are Available?

With the speed that online learning is growing as a way of obtaining a secondary education, even hands-on majors such as nursing are starting to incorporate online courses as an option to help make options more convenient for students. However, this still means appearing in-person for many of your clinical training and nursing classes.

You will also need to obtain extensive clinical experience while you are learning so you are prepared to enter the workforce. However, there are many nursing theory classes available online to help you fit your courses into your busy life.

The Basics Of Online MSN Programs That Are Accelerated

You might also be considering an online accelerated MSN course as one of your paths as you peruse your options for nursing. While the idea of finishing your degree quickly is appealing, you need to also remember to compare how much the loss of practicum experiences in a classroom will impact your curriculum before you decide. Some Accelerated programs for the MSN are able to be finished within 18 months. This is compared to the 2 years required for a full-time traditional direct entry program for your MSN.

Requirements For Nursing Admission And The Application Process

As previously mentioned, you will have to have at least a Bachelor’s degree if you want to enter a Masters-level nursing program. In addition, there will often be other requirements, but that can vary with each particular school.

In general, most will require you to have:

P.A., with some requiring a 3.0

Transcripts of previous schooling

GRE score, with many requiring you to take the test before being accepted.

Several letters of recommendation (2-3 usually, with at least one from an academic source)

Personal essay or statement telling them why you want to pursue the nursing field and what career goals you have.

An interview with the school where you may have to speak with the nursing program director.

Prerequisite Classes Needed For Direct Entry MSN Programs

You will need to show that you have the right coursework completed in your education if you want to enter a nursing program at the graduate level. For example, if your major was in History and you do not have much academic background in the sciences, you can expect to need a few courses to catch up.

Here are some of the classes you will need to have in your transcripts if you want to directly enter an MSN program aimed at non-nurses:



Health and Nutrition


Organic Chemistry


Other related courses

Overview Of The Curriculum Of Direct Entry MSN

Here is a sample of what you can expect from a typical 2-year Direct Entry MSN program.

Year One

Generally, the first year is used to cover the basics of nursing. Programs can vary from school to school, so yours may differ from this example.

Nursing Concepts

Health Assessment

Pharmacotherapeutics in Nursing

Community and Populations

Chronic Conditions


Outcomes Management

Patient Safety

Year Two

As previously stated, programs can vary significantly, and you may not have the exact course requirements as the list below. However, it can give you an idea of the types of classes to expect as you enter your second year.

Advanced Pharmacology

Ethics and Policy

Organizational Leadership

Clinical Nurse Practicum

Informatics and Techology

Professional and Management Skills

Health Advocacy

Students successfully competing a direct entry program for non-nursing majors and receive their MSN can expect to start their new professional roles upon graduation. Many schools also have Doctorate level courses available as well as post-masters certificates if you want to learn more advanced nursing practices.

Specializations at the Masters Level

Besides learning the potential hours and costs of an MSN program, make sure you find out what tracks or specializations are available to you as a direct entry student. Learning what tracks are available and which appeals most to you as your focus will significantly impact your choice of program and school. As you research, you will learn that there are lots of options when it comes to setting and nursing areas that open up to those possessing a Masters degree. This is why so many people seek out nurse practitioner programs that are accelerated. Regardless of how you go about it, you should find an MSN program that suits your particular interests. The education you obtain during your graduate program will allow you many options when it comes to areas of practice, enabling you to make a difference in the world of healthcare.

Here are some of the most common MSN specialties that you will see available. You can also find more detailed information about them by clicking here.

Direct Care MSN Careers

Nurse Educator

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

Clinical Nurse Leader

Clinical Nurse Specialist

Certified RN Anesthetist

Certified Nurse Practitioner

Certified Nurse Midwife

Indirect Care MSN Careers


Nurse Administrator

Public Health Nurse

Clinical Research Coordinator

When you ask for information from any schools listed below, remember to check if they offer the area of focus you are most interested in. You could also opt for information on several interesting specialties. It is important to remember that certain specialties including CRNA will require you to obtain specific work experience and clinical training, so may not always be an option for students seeking a direct entry MSN.

The path to a full MSN with direct entry can usually take a couple of years. While it may seem like a lengthy process, after it has been completed, you will be have before you a promising career in an important field of healthcare. You will be able to enjoy a thriving market, pay scale, intellectual stimulation, and responsibilities that will rival most other healthcare careers out there. More importantly, you can become a person who is working to improve the general health of the world, one person at a time.

Additional Information For Non-Nursing Students Seeking Direct Entry MSN

You will have to talk with each potential school to learn the specifics of their program and requirements. Some schools will only start new students in the Fall, once a year. Other schools might give you two options, Fall and Spring, especially if they have online options. Many programs have a cap on how many students they will take into their nursing program each year. This is why it is so important that you apply the minute you are sure you have found the program you are interested in.

Many programs offering direct entry encourage their students to refrain from work to focus fully on their degree. Some may even require that you not work, as the nursing coursework can be time consuming and demanding. You should also examine if the program has any time limits on when it will have to be completed. With an accelerated study program, you may be required to finish within their 18 month timeline.

Careers In Nursing Available After Graduation

Nursing encompasses a wide field of careers in the healthcare field, giving you many options once you have obtained your MSN. Here are just some of the jobs you will usually qualify for with a Masters Degree in Nursing.


Case Manager

Nurse Practitioner


Clinical Nursing Specialist

Nurse Educator

Dialysis Nurse


Many More!

These are just a few of the most common options for those seeking a career in nursing.

Remember, there are many new opportunities arising in nontraditional areas of nursing as well. With a major growth expected in the field of outpatient care, more jobs are opening up for nurses to help the growing population of older patients. Remember, the careers that are open to you depend on your specific field of study and the area you live. Most cities will have several healthcare facilities, however, not every nurse will be able to work in a large hospital or specialty center that is within an easy commute.

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