Postgraduate Nursing Degrees

After earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Associate of Science in Nursing degree, you may wish to further your education. This is a great way to assume senior roles in the nursing profession as well as a way to specialize in one field of nursing.

Master and Doctorate degrees in nursing enable a registered nurse to become an advanced practice RN or a Specialist nurse. Postgraduate degrees in nursing also allow students who have non-nursing degrees to get an entry point to the nursing profession via what is known as direct entry MSN.

Prerequisites to Enroll for Postgraduate Nursing Degrees

To be admitted for a post graduate nursing degree program at the Masters level, you must have completed a BSN and have had a given number of years in clinical practice. This applies to RNs who wish to take a Master of Science in Nursing degree programs. However, for non-nurse students, a recognized Bachelors degree is what you require for eligibility. Some postgraduate training schools also require students to have minimum GPA scores in order to be admitted.

Available Postgraduate Nursing Degree programs

i)        RN to MSN degree programs

This nursing degree program is designed for RNs who wish to take their masters program immediately after earning a BSN. This postgraduate program enables Registered nurses to receive exemption of credits of BSN courses similar to their MSN programs. It is a great way for nurses who do not wish to have an overlap of credits which appear in both the BSN and MSN programs.

For eligibility, student nurses must enroll as soon as they finish their BSN study and given a Licensure to practice by NCLEX.

ii)      Master of Science in Nursing

A MSN route is for RNs who finished their BSN programs at an earlier time and have been in clinical practice for a while. This program has a lot of overlapping courses that were taken at the BSN level and student nurse must redo them.

However, it is the widest postgraduate nursing degree level with numerous areas of specialty and high level of student enrollment. Students opting for this program have had the experience of the real world nurse practice and are in a position to choose the best specialty areas for themselves. In contrast to RN to MSN programs, delayed MSN students make more informed choices in the areas of nursing they fill they have come to like during their nursing practice.

Nurses who earn a MSN are referred to as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and fall into any one of the four brackets below:

Nurse Practitioners

Nurse Anesthetists

Certified Nurse Midwives or

Clinical nurse Specialists

The list below consist of the different MSN Clinical Nurse Specialist programs nursing students can choose from

  • MSN in Nursing informatics
  • MSN in Pediatrics
  • MSN in Gerontology
  • MSN in Nursing Education
  • MSN in Psychiatry/mental health
  • MSN -Nurse-midwifery
  • MSN in Family Health
  • MSN in Health care systems
  • MSN- Nurse Administrator
  • MSN-public health

iii)    Direct entry MSN

Direct entry MSN refers to postgraduate nursing degree programs for non- nurse students. This nursing degree program takes three years to complete as compared to the other two MSN degree programs which last 2 years each.

The prolonged period is because the first year is utilized to introduce the non-nurse student to core concepts of the nursing profession. The other two years have similar curriculum coverage’s as the usual MSN program. In direct MSN, students are trained on similar specialties as the MSN to become advanced practice nurses and be given licensure by NCLEX.

iv)   Doctor of Nursing Practice/ Doctor of philosophy

These two postgraduate nursing degrees are the terminal professional degrees in this field. They focus on application of clinical research, advanced nurse practice and leadership roles in nursing. The American Association of College of Nursing has been active in trying to concentrate all previous doctorate degrees in nursing to either of these two; a process which has effected.

As a prerequisite for enrollment, nursing students must have completed their MSN programs and have some experience in advanced nursing practice.