How Long Does it Take to Complete a Master’s in Nursing?

How long it takes to complete a Master's in Nursing is often the first concern of aspiring RNs interested in pursuing an advanced degree. The length of time it takes is contingent on the candidate's current education level, if the program is on-campus or online, and the amount of commitment the student has towards completing the program. Here is some information on the paths a student may take toward the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) as well as the length of time each may take.

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Types of Program Can Determine Length

There are several paths a student can take towards earning a Master's in Nursing, and each one could take the student a different length of time to complete. Generally, it takes a student one-and-a-half to two years to complete the master of nursing program with the average being two years. Most programs require that the student already have a nursing license and a bachelor's degree in nursing, so the four years it took for the baccalaureate degree is already out of the way.

This is not to say that individuals with a bachelor's degree in an area other than nursing can't earn the MSN; it will just take a little longer. It will typically take this student three years to complete the course of study. The student completes nursing coursework in the first year with the next two years consisting of nursing coursework, advanced master's training, clinical education, and preparation for the NCLEX.

A registered nurse who completed a diploma or associate degree program can earn the Master in Nursing but it can take them from three to four years. The length of time can vary from one school to another. Some schools offer accelerated MSN programs that can speed up the time frame substantially.

Online Master's in Nursing

An online Master's in Nursing program is a convenient way for students to earn the degree at their own pace and in the comfort of their homes, as opposed to on campus. It also offers the advantage of allowing the student to continue to work while in school. This can be very beneficial to students already working in a medical setting because it allows them to obtain additional training which may be used as college credits.

Students in an online Master of Nursing program are generally in the program for at least two years but have the option of taking longer. The student who already has a bachelor degree in an area other than nursing can complete the program in three years if he or she studies as a full-time student.

One of the main reasons why students pursue a Master's in Nursing is for better pay and more job opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, advanced practice nurses can earn over $100,000 a year in a role with a great job outlook. With this, many nursing students want to earn this degree as quickly as possible because they are aware of the many career opportunities that will open up to them. With so many educational paths available to them, they can often determine on their own how long it will take to earn the Master's in Nursing.

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