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How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters in Nursing?
At a Glance
With a master’s degree in nursing, you’ll be qualified to work as one of four types of advance practice registered nurses (APRNs): nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, or certified nurse anesthetist. In addition, you can pursue a master’s degree in nursing administration or a master’s degree in nursing education, which prepare you for careers in management and teaching, respectively. A masters in nursing means that you’ll not only have more job options, but you’ll also make more money, receive better benefits, and have more offers from which to choose when you start applying for jobs.
Time to Complete Different Nursing Degrees
You can actually get started with a career in nursing fairly easily: with just a high school diploma and approximately one year of training at a vocational school or community college, you can become a licensed practical nurse (LPN). An additional year of schooling to earn an associate degree in nursing will allow you to become licensed as a registered nurse. For RNs wishing to have more education and earn higher salaries, an additional two to three years of college education can lead to a Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) degree.
Once you have a BSN, you qualify to enter a master’s program in nursing, though many nurses choose to get some hands-on experience in a hospital or private practice first. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, a full-time master’s degree program in nursing takes between 18 and 24 months to complete, if you go through the program uninterrupted. For many nurses, however, that’s a luxury that can’t be afforded, so it is a better choice to go to school part-time while working at a healthcare facility.
|Nurse Occupation||Level of Education||Time to Complete *|
|Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)||HS + some training||1 Year|
|Registered Nurse (RN)||Associate Degree (ADN)||2-3 Years|
|RN with a BSN||Bachelor’s Degree (BSN)||4-5 Years|
|Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN)||Master’s Degree (MSN)||6 Years +|
|* Time to complete is cumulative from high school graduation, assuming full-time study.|
Prerequisites to Enrollment in an MSN Program
Before you can qualify for a master’s program, you’ll need to be a licensed RN, and most graduate programs require scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or Miller Analogies Test (MAT). If you haven’t taken these tests, you may need additional time between your BSN graduation and the start of your MSN program to study and register. Nurses who want to specialize for their master’s degree, but haven’t with their BSN may also need to take some lower-level undergraduate courses to qualify. For example, nurse anesthetists have to have upper-level biochemistry courses before they qualify to start a master’s degree program with an emphasis on nursing anesthetist.