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Masters in Community Health Nursing: Program Overview

Experienced nurses who want to direct their careers toward community health may choose to pursue a master's degree in the field. Find out about program requirements, common coursework, and opportunities for graduates.

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Essential Information

Master's degree programs in community health nursing teach registered nurses (RNs) to develop, implement and promote nursing service programs in needy communities. Specifically, students are trained to identify high-risk populations, develop and evaluate health policies, and provide disease prevention services. Students gain hands-on experience in the field through clinicals and a nursing practicum.

Applicants to the master's degree program must hold a bachelor's degree in nursing and an RN license. They must also submit GMAT or GRE scores, a statement of intent, and three letters of recommendation.


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Master's Degree in Community Health Nursing

Community health nursing students take courses that cover theoretical foundations in nursing, research methods, health promotion and disease prevention. In order to graduate, they must complete 36 to 48 credit hours of coursework. Common course titles include:

  • Epidemiology principles
  • Policy and professional issues
  • Management principles and practices
  • Health assessment
  • Health promotion

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for registered nurses is expected to grow 16 percent between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than the national average, likely due to the growing elderly population and the increase in the number of people who have access to healthcare because of federal health insurance reform. As of May 2015, the BLS reported that registered nurses made a median annual salary of $67,490.

Continuing Education Information

Completion of the master's program qualifies students to sit for the certification exam offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to become advanced practice clinical specialists in community health nursing. The examination consists of ten parts and covers community health nursing foundations, assessment and application.

Community health nurses holding a master's degree can also pursue a doctoral degree in nursing. They may pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a Ph.D. in nursing. The DNP is typically designed for nurses pursuing practical medical training, whereas Ph.D. programs focus on research in the field.

Through a master's degree program in community nursing, students gain the medical training and public health expertise that they need to earn licensure and practice in the field. The degree also provides the necessary foundation for doctoral studies in nursing.

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