Online RN to MSN
Clinical Systems Leadership

What should I look for in an online MSN program?

If you’re in your final months of your undergraduate nursing education, you may be thinking about what’s next for you. Many students decide to enter the field as a registered nurse immediately, while others choose to pursue graduate school to gain more experience and explore different areas of nursing. If you’re considering picking the latter option, you have to decide whether you want to get an online degree or one on a campus. While attending classes on a campus can certainly have its perks, not all people have the option of getting their degree here. If you’re thinking about pursuing an online degree in master of science in nursing, consider these three tips on what to look for.


1. Lay out a timeline
Before you begin looking at different online MSN programs, it’s important that you lay out a plan for yourself to figure out how much time it will take to research, apply to, and be accepted to each MSN program. Once you figure out this timeline, you’ll be ready to begin looking at what different programs have to offer. It’s important for students to remember that each program will have an individual number of steps in the application process that can either shorten the timeline or prolong it. With a timeframe in mind, you can decide which programs may fit your needs.

2. Look for a flexible curriculum
If you’re considering an online MSN program, you probably also have a few other priorities you need to take care of. Whether that means factoring in a part-time job, being a parent or taking care of a loved one, it’s important that you look at an academic curriculum that can easily fit into your schedule instead of put strain on it. Ideally, you should look for a program that offers coursework and classes that can be completed in a 12-hour period or less each day.

3. Find a program that fits your budget
While most online graduate programs are considerably less costly than on-campus ones, it’s important that you find a MSN program that fits within your budget, especially if you need to cover the costs on your own. Look into different financing options each program may offer, as well as bank loans and student aid. If you’re working part time as a nurse or at some other company, you can look into employer tuition reimbursement, which may help lessen the load of bills. When looking at programs, consider the total costs so you can make an affirmative decision.

4. Get more bang for your buck
Many students might look into a program and assume they’ll only be taking nursing classes. However, this is usually far from the truth. People who pursue an MSN degree can develop a career in several fields related to nursing, such as teaching. With that in mind, it’s important for students to look into programs that offer courses outside of nursing. These courses can relate to medical education, public health, psychology and social work, and all can tie back into nursing in various ways. Broadening your scope early on will give you a more promising career down the road. Look into professors’ backgrounds to find out what other areas they might be experts in. Their knowledge could help guide the choices you make along the way.

5. Look for a well-rounded curriculum
Even though you won’t get the campus experience, it’s important you find a program that gives you the best of everything. Make sure your curriculum is comprised of theoretical knowledge and of course, clinical practicum that every student will need to complete their coursework. While your classes may be online, find out whether your program offers practicums locally to make things easier for you.



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