Online Master's in Nursing

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How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s in Nursing?

The need for leaders in nursing is skyrocketing.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a whopping 45% growth in jobs for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) — including nurse practitioners (NPs) — between 2019 and 2029. This is much higher than the anticipated average growth for all occupations, which stands at 4%.

Staffing challenges are colliding with healthcare needs to create this increasing need for nursing leaders. A growing number of nurses are leaving the profession or retiring, some after burnout from the demands of events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, a growing emphasis on preventive care and an aging U.S. population that requires more medical assistance have left many areas, such as inner cities and rural areas, without sufficient care options.

If you’re interested in leading the way in efforts to meet the nation’s growing healthcare demands — and addressing the projected nurse staffing shortage — then you should consider pursuing an advanced nursing career. A critical step on that path is earning a master’s degree in nursing. But how long does it take to get a master’s in nursing?

A family nurse practitioner examines a young patient.

Master’s in nursing program completion timeline

The length of most master’s in nursing programs is two to three years, but completion times vary based on a student’s schedule and preferences. For example, many who pursue a master’s degree in nursing already are healthcare professionals, so they may choose to take classes part time while they work.

Learning at this pace lengthens the overall length of time required to complete the degree, but taking master’s courses while already employed in healthcare allows students to put the advanced nursing skills they’re learning to work right away.

How long is Maryville University’s online MSN program?

Students can complete Maryville University’s online Master of Science in Nursing program in about two years. The program allows students to choose from five NP concentrations that are each between 41 and 50 credit hours. The program also features practicums — two or three per NP concentration — that call for between 200 and 250 hours of clinical work that students can complete in a healthcare setting near them.

To complete the process of becoming an NP following graduation from a master’s in nursing program, individuals must pursue certification and licensing.

Online vs. on-campus MSN programs

Students typically can complete on-campus master’s in nursing programs in two to three years. However, how long it takes to get a master’s in nursing depends on whether students attend full time or part time and whether they complete the program without any pauses.

Because many who enroll in master’s in nursing programs are also full-time healthcare employees, the flexibility and convenience of online programs can make this format a better option. Online master’s in nursing programs allow for timely completion of the degree requirements on a schedule that fits with students’ personal and professional obligations.

Benefits of an online Master of Science in Nursing program

Earning a master’s in nursing degree online makes sense for a host of reasons — for individuals who hold the degree as well as the communities they serve. Earning a master’s in nursing online can be the most convenient and flexible way to pursue those career benefits.

Reasons to earn a master’s in nursing

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) not only gain the satisfaction of knowing they’re helping to address the growing need for nursing professionals, but also generally earn more money than other nursing professionals. The BLS lists the 2019 median pay for NPs as $109,820. For RNs, the pay was $73,300.

Earning a master’s in nursing and becoming an NP also offers the opportunity to provide many of the same services as physicians, including managing patient care and prescribing medication. At the same time, NPs retain a hands-on nursing approach.

Nurse practitioner is not the only career for master’s in nursing graduates. For nursing graduates with additional experience, the degree can lead to careers such as clinical research specialist and nursing supervisor.

Benefits of choosing an online master’s in nursing program

According to fall 2018 data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), nearly a third of students in post-baccalaureate degree programs were taking their classes exclusively online. That means about 933,000 students were in online programs.

The popularity of online programs for advanced degrees makes sense. Not only do they offer flexible schedules that make it easier to balance with obligations outside of school, but also they provide the convenience of not having to travel to campus. Online programs are also easily accessible from anywhere with online access.

Concentration options in Maryville’s online Master of Science in Nursing program

The five concentrations in Maryville’s online Master of Science in Nursing program focus on specialties ranging from family practice to psychiatric mental health. In addition to earning 29 credit hours in core classes that cover topics from healthcare policy to leadership, students can pursue any of the following concentrations. Each concentration features practicums with opportunities for students to work progressively more independently in a clinical setting.

Family Nurse Practitioner

Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) specialize in promoting healthy lifestyles and providing primary care for patients of all ages. Totaling 18 credit hours, the FNP concentration highlights primary care in urban and rural settings, focusing on topics such as acute (sudden) and chronic (long-term) treatments for adult-gerontology patients, as well as care for women, children, and families.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) work with children from birth through young adulthood, focusing on well-child care and illness prevention. Totaling 15 credit hours, the PNP concentration addresses how to promote well-being among children and diagnose and manage health issues.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) provide mental healthcare and support to patients and their families. Totaling 21 credit hours, the PMHNP concentration educates students about mental health disorders and how to assess those struggling with them. The concentration focuses on the use of medication and holistic treatments.

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioners (AGPCNPs) assess and treat health concerns and establish health plans for adults of all ages. Totaling 12 credit hours, the AGPCNP concentration addresses the care of acute and chronic health problems, particularly in urban and rural care settings. The concentration also highlights how to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioners (AGACNPs) provide a broad range of care but focus on managing complex acute health conditions. Totaling 18 credit hours, the AGACNP concentration teaches students about diagnosing and making decisions related to care for acute health conditions. Topics highlight a broad range of acute care concerns, from treating traumatic injury to considering end-of-life issues.

Lead the future of healthcare as an advanced nurse practitioner

Through Maryville’s online Master of Science in Nursing program, you can be ready to make a difference in healthcare in a little more than two years. You can get the education and clinical experience you’ll need in a Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education-accredited program that’s flexible enough to meet the needs of a working healthcare professional.

Discover Maryville’s online Master of Science in Nursing program, and find out how it can help you pursue your career goals.

Recommended Reading

Transformational Leadership in Nursing

What Nursing Concentration Is Right for Me?

Your Future in Nursing: RN vs. BSN vs. MSN

Sources:

American Association of Colleges of Nursing, “Nursing Shortage”

American Association of Nurse Practitioners, “Are You Considering a Career as an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner?”

American Association of Nurse Practitioners, “Are You Considering a Career as an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner?”

American Association of Nurse Practitioners, “What’s a Nurse Practitioner (NP)?”

DailyNurse.com, “Family Nurse Practitioner”

Houston Chronicle, “What Is the Advantage of Becoming a Nurse Practitioner?”

Indeed.com, “How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse Practitioner?”

Johnson & Johnson Nursing, “Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at a Glance”

National Center for Biotechnology Information, “‘Goodbye … Through a Glass Door’: Emotional Experiences of Working in COVID-19 Acute Care Hospital Environments”

National Center for Education Statistics, “Postbaccalaureate Enrollment”

Nursing Times, “How to Avoid Nurse Burnout”

Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, “The Primary Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-PC)”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Registered Nurses”