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How Long Does It Take to Get a Masters in Nursing?

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At a Glance

Serves: USA
Accredited: Yes
Enrollment: Several Terms
Financial Aid: Yes
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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.

Featured Schools With Online Master's in Nursing Degrees


Southern New Hampshire University provides healthcare professionals with the unique opportunity to further advance their careers through Clinical Nurse Leader degree program. Southern New Hampshire is an accredited online university furthering the academic advancement of thousands of individuals nationwide.

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The Master of Science in Nursing program, which is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, is designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of registered nurses with baccalaureate-degree preparation.

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Earn your M.S. in Nursing with a specialty in nurse administration or nurse education with an online degree from Kaplan University. The Master of Science in Nursing is also a foundation for future doctoral studies. And because these programs are completed online, it is easy to continue your current job.

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The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program is designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of registered nurses with baccalaureate-degree preparation. Coursework covers advanced nursing content and process, as well as leadership skills, teaching experience and the ability to manage health care systems. Areas of specialty within their MSN program include health education, informatics, health administration, and healthcare management.

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Earn your dual master's degree in business and nursing, along with specialties in clinical care, education, family nurse practitioner, or nursing leadership at Grand Canyon University's college of nursing and health sciences. Each course can provide you with the skills and techniques you need to become the best in your field.

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At Walden, we believe that knowledge is most valuable when put to use in organizations, communities, and families. We offer over 75 online degree programs with more than 345 specializations and concentrations, all designed to help professionals gain the knowledge they need to have a real impact in their lives and the lives of others.

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