List of Direct Entry MSN Nurse Practitioner Programs

If you are interested in a career in nursing, but do not have a bachelor’s of science in nursing, a possible option is a Master of Science – Direct Entry. This type of master’s degree program is designed for is designed for the experienced professional who already has a bachelor’s degree, but not in nursing.

By entering a Direct Entry Nursing program, you will be able to earn your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). This graduate degree will prepare you to become an advanced practice nurse, or APRN. With this high level graduate training, you will have available many rewarding nursing professions that are both in demand and very well paid.

You may want to consider a direct entry MSN because usually after you finish three semesters, you will be qualified to take the NCLEX-RN examination. With that, you are able to become an RN, and gain experience as a regular floor nurse.

Then, you can start to work as a nurse as you finish your master’s degree. After you finish your no GRE, direct entry MSN, you then can take the advanced practice certification exam for your nursing specialty.

Some of the most common, in demand types of advanced practice nursing occupations that you can enjoy with an MSN direct entry degree include those listed below:

MSN Direct Entry Career Options

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Nurse practitioners are highly in demand primary and speciality health care providers who are trained to provide care to patients of all ages. NPs are qualified to handle the majority of the jobs that primary care physicians do. Nurse practitioners generally work in primary care, but they also may specialize in adult/geriatrics, pediatrics, women’s health or mental health.

Nurse practitioners are authorized in most states to prescribe drugs, including most controlled substances. In more than ½ of states in the US, NPs can even practice independently of doctor supervision. Jump to 30+ Online Nurse Practitioner Programs.

Some of the common duties that NPs handle in their work include:

  • Perform comprehensive physical examinations
  • Diagnose and treat most acute illnesses and injuries
  • Provide vaccinations
  • Manage chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and others
  • Order and interpret a variety of diagnostic tests, including EKGs and X-rays
  • Prescribe most medicines and therapies that doctors may
  • Perform minor medical procedures

NPs are in high demand in the US today, with at least 30% increase in jobs expected by 2024. The median salary in this dynamic field is more than $100,000 per year.

Nurse Midwife (CNM)

Certified nurse midwives are best known for providing child birth services, but that is only a small part of their daily work duties. CNMs provide nursing care services to women, including gynecological examinations, family planning, prenatal care and care after birth. They also may help doctors during cesarean births.

Nurse midwives also are trained to provide general primary care services to women and their newborns. CNMs also offer wellness care for women and educate patients on how to live more healthy lives. They may, for example, discuss important health topics with their patients including disease prevention and nutrition. These nurses also provide specialized care to the partners of their patients regarding reproductive health and sexual problems.

Job demand for CNMs also will grow quickly in the coming years, with 25% increase in jobs expected in the next decade. The median salary in the field currently is $99,700.

Nurse Anesthetist (CNM)

Nurse anesthetists offer anesthetic services during, before and after various surgical procedures. They also can provide pain management and a variety of emergency services, as anesthesiologists do, but at a lower cost.

One of the most important jobs that nurse anesthetists have is to talk to patients about any medications they are taking and if they have any allergies. These duties are very important to ensure that anesthetic is administered in a safe fashion.

These advanced nursing professionals provide patients with a variety of general anesthetics to put them to sleep before medical procedures. Or, they can provide a local anesthetic that numbs part of the body but keeps the patient awake.

CNMS are anticipated to see a 19% rise in job demand in the coming years, and their median salary is an impressive $160,000 per year.

Nurse Educator

Nurse educators also are in strong demand; the American Association of Colleges of Nursing has found that there is a substantial nurse shortage in the US. One of the reasons this is occurring there is a lack of qualified nursing school faculty that resulted in the turning away of 64,000 nursing applicants in 2016.

Therefore, nurse educators are in high demand who can provide nursing education to students in both bachelor’s and master’s in nursing programs. Nurse educators are in need in nursing schools and teaching hospitals to provide students with knowledge and skills to provide new nurses with the skills needed to practice.

Some of the common duties of nurse educators are:

  • Develop nursing program lesson plans
  • Teach nursing courses at the bachelor’s and master’s level
  • Evaluate nursing education programs to determine ways to improve teaching of nursing students
  • Oversee the clinical practice of nursing students
  • Serve as mentors to nursing students

Nurse educators can teach general nursing courses, or may focus on certain speciality areas, including pediatrics, geriatrics or nursing informatics. Nurse educators are highly experienced clinical nurses themselves, and must stay up to date with the latest nursing technologies and methods.

The median salary for nurse educators today is $72,600 per year.

Featured Online MSN Direct Entry

Additional Direct Entry Program Options

Schools and Programs

The universities and colleges listed below have online direct entry nursing programs that are have a good reputation and do not require GRE scores:

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University offers an online RN to MSN program that helps you to earn your bachelor’s and master’s in nursing in much less time than if you took the programs separately. Students can save as many as 20 weeks by taking the programs at one time.

This accredited, online RN to MSN program is made for professional RNs who may complete two graduate level courses during their BSN program. When those courses are completed successfully, the next two courses in the MSN program are waived. This will save you both time and money. Before starting the MSN program officially, the student most complete their BSN degree first.

This program has the following tracks: clinical nurse leader and nurse educator. You also may take the MSN general track, which allows you to customize your program.

Required courses include these:

  • Scholarly Inquiry
  • Ethical and Legal Considerations of Healthcare
  • Healthcare Management and Finance
  • Community and Population Health
  • Systems Leadership for Continuous Quality
  • Information Management and Patient Care Technologies
  • Pathophysiology for Nurses

More Info

  • Campus: Manchester, NH; online
  • Type: Non Profit
  • Accreditation: New England Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Per Credit Hour: Inquire; varies by program
  • GRE Required: No
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On Campus Requirements: No
  • Programs: MSN

Marquette University

This online university features a direct entry MSN program that leverages the student’s non-nursing undergraduate degree so that you can begin studying for your MSN quickly. Students who do not have a nursing background are required to complete several prerequisite nursing courses.

This is an 18-21 month course that will provide you with the academic and clinical skills that you need to succeed in advanced practice nursing. You also will be qualified to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam in your given speciality.

Required courses include:

  • Pathophysiological Concepts for Advanced Nursing Practice
  • Pharmacotherapeutics for Nursing Practice
  • Health Assessment & Fundamentals I (Lab Component)
  • Health Assessment & Fundamentals II (Clinical Component)
  • Nursing Concepts and Interventions, Adults/Older Adults I Theory
  • Concept and Interventions for the Promotion of Mental Health Theory
  • Family-Centered Nursing Care of Children Theory

This is a partially online program, with online nursing theory courses that allow students to study at any time. There also are on site clinical labs where you learn to apply advanced nursing skills in a realistic laboratory setting. Clinical rotations in the local community provide students with the experience they need to thrive in any healthcare setting in their career.

After you graduate from the direct entry MSN program and become an RN, you may then pursue your advanced nursing certificate to become a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nursing administrator or nurse midwife.

More Info

  • Campus: Pleasant Prairie, WI; online
  • Type: Non Profit
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Per Credit Hour: Inquire
  • GRE Required: Yes; waived with a 3.2 or higher GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 18 months
  • On Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Programs: MSN

University of South Alabama

The University of Southern Alabama features two direct entry nursing programs. The first is an RN to MSN program that is intended for students who have their RN and a bachelor’s in a field other than nursing. The second is an RN to MSN program for nurses with an associate’s or diploma who want to earn their MSN and BSN at the same time.

Upon completion of the online MSN program, students will be able to do the following:

  • Integrate advanced knowledge in nursing and other disciplines in their given nursing practice specialty
  • Show a high level of competence in advanced nursing practice roles to meet growing healthcare needs in a constantly changing society
  • Be able to use scientific inquiry to pinpoint problems and to provide individual patient care that can improve long term patient outcomes
  • Apply advanced leadership and management knowledge to improve health policies

More Info

  • Campus: Mobile, AL; online
  • Type: Non Profit
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Per Credit Hour: Inquire; varies by program
  • GRE Required: No
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Programs: MSN

Chamberlain College

Experienced RNs who have their associate’s degree or nursing diploma can earn their MSN and BSN degrees together at Chamberlain University. In this online degree program with no GRE requirement, students may take their BSN courses in an accelerated format, and then apply to the MSN program just before completing their undergraduate degree.

Once you have completed most of your BSN courses, you then choose from five MSN specialties: nurse practitioner, nurse educator, informatics, healthcare policy or executive.

Students may attend the program either full or part time. All post-licensure classes are offered every eight weeks.

Required courses in this online MSN degree include:

  • Transitions in Professional Nursing
  • RN Health Assessment
  • RN Information Systems in Healthcare
  • Statistics for Decision Making
  • RN Community Health Nursing
  • Collaborative Healthcare
  • Evidence Based Practice in Nursing

More Info

  • Campus: Downers Grove, IL; online
  • Type: For Profit
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Per Credit Hour: Inquire; varies by program
  • GRE Required: No
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On Campus Requirements: Nurse practitioner track requires one campus visit
  • Programs: MSN

University of Arizona

Students with an RN designation who wish to earn their BSN and MSN at the same time may consider the accredited, online program at the University of Arizona. This program results in an MSN with a specialty in Clinical Systems Leadership.

This is a streamlined and accelerated program that will improve your patient care and leadership skills so that you can attain administrative and clinical leadership roles in healthcare facilities and systems.

Students with their BSN may complete this master’s program in 15 months; students with an associate’s degree may finish it in 24 months.

Students who have graduated from this MSN program have attained positions with these job titles: nurse administrator; infection control manager; nurse manager; clinical care coordinator; patient navigator and quality and safety coordinator.

Required courses include the following:

  • Foundations of Systems Leadership
  • Evidence-Based Practice Improvement
  • Population Health
  • Healthcare Environments and Care Coordination
  • Health Information and Patient Care Technologies
  • Quality and Safety Management
  • Leadership for Patient-Centered Care
  • Healing Environments and Practices

More Info

  • Campus: Tucson, Arizona; online
  • Type: Non Profit
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Per Credit Hour: Inquire; varies by program
  • GRE Required: No
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 15 months
  • On Campus Requirements: No
  • Programs: MSN

Direct Entry Nursing Subspecialties

One of the advantages of earning a direct entry Master of Science in Nursing degree is that you have the choice of specializing in types of patients and health conditions that hold the most interest for you. With most regular RN positions, you are required to work as a general clinical nurse. But with a direct entry MSN, you can work exclusively with many different populations. It is common especially for nurse practitioners to specialize in one or more of the following subspecialties:

  • Mental health and psychiatrics: Nurses who want to work with patients on their mental health and psychiatric problems often choose this specialty.
  • Pain management: This speciality involves helping patients to manage pain after surgery, and also working with them to manage chronic pain issues that come with many serious diseases.
  • Geriatrics: Older patients have a variety of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, breathing disorders and kidney problems.
  • Pediatrics: Some nurses prefer to work with young children patients; this field also requires specific skills that are different from those needed for most adult patients.
  • Neonatal: Nurses and NPs who specialize in working with babies and newborns will find that there is a high demand for their services. This is a highly specialized subspecialty, and most nurses do not have the skills to work specifically with such small and delicate patients.
  • Critical care: Advanced practice nurses who work in ICUs and emergency rooms need to have a set of highly specialized skills to treat and care for acutely ill and/or injured patients. Critical care nurses and NPs are greatly needed because of the great increase in older patients who need critical care services in the US.

Basic Description of a MSN Direct Entry Nursing

A no GRE, direct entry nursing program allows you to use the experience that you have with your bachelor’s degree in another field and earn a Master of Science in Nursing. In some programs, you can earn your bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) at the same time that you earn your MSN. In other programs, you simply earn your MSN.

The curriculum that you take in a direct entry nursing program prepares professionals with undergraduate and graduate degrees in other fields to become registered nurses.

After you take at least a year of nursing classes, you then are able to sit for the national licensure examination (NCLEX-RN).

In whatever MSN program you take, you will have extensive clinical experiences. This will include rotations in many sites that will help you to develop the skills that you need in acute, chronic and preventative care for people with complex health needs.

Where Can a Direct Entry Nurse Find Work After They Graduate?

The nursing field is one of the best career paths today, in terms of job demand and salary. It is anticipated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that we will see a 16% increase in jobs by 2024.

It is thought that a lot of the growth in the field of nursing is being driven by baby boomers who are going into their retirement years. Many of them will live a lot longer than earlier generations, and they will be more active than the elderly years ago. This is why there is going to be a higher demand for many critical care health services in the coming years.

There is definitely strong demand being seen for many advanced nursing positions. For example, the following states have a strong and excess demand for nurse practitioners:

  • California
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Ohio

Overall, RNs with only a bachelor’s degree are seeing strong demand and good salaries. Registered nurses generally earn a median salary of $68,600, but there is no doubt that the best salaries and opportunities in nursing go to those with an MSN. With a direct entry nursing master’s degree, you will be able to easily find many excellent, high paying advanced nursing positions in most US cities.


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