Master's degree programs in nursing are available fully online and offer numerous specialization options for aspiring advanced practice nurses. Blended options are also available, in which students visit campus periodically throughout the program. Clinical experiences on nights and/or weekends are required in both the fully online and blended programs.
Online master's programs in nursing teach students how to integrate theory, research and pragmatic knowledge into their advanced nursing careers. Students will need an RN license and an undergraduate degree before enrolling in a master's program. Programs with nursing courses include family nurse practitioner, women's health nurse practitioner, adult NP, nurse educator, and nurse administrator. Below is an overview for online master's programs in nursing.
Master's Degrees in Nursing
Students in online master's degree programs in nursing have a variety of specializations to choose from, including family nurse practitioner, women's health nurse practitioner, adult gerontology, leadership and management or nurse educator. They can take courses in nursing administration, education and research and the use of information technology in nursing practice. These programs also teach students about evidence-based practice, critical analysis of health disparities and assessment of learning in nursing.
Program Information and Requirements
Requirements vary by school, but generally students will need bachelor's degrees in nursing or a related field along with an RN license to enroll in an online master's program. Some schools ask that students be currently employed in the nursing field, and students might need to undergo a background check and show proof of current immunizations.
Many schools offer a holistic approach to online nursing education, requiring preliminary courses in physiology, health assessment and healthcare ethics, while others allow online students to utilize previous experience and training to earn their degrees faster. Online nursing programs are usually offered in part-time or full-time formats. These programs might require students to engage in week-long immersion sessions once per semester that include simulated nursing experiences, in-person meetings with faculty and lab time. Students can expect to complete clinical requirements at approved medical facilities within or near their communities.
List of Common Master's-Level Nursing Courses
Online master's programs in nursing generally require students to complete a nursing core in addition to courses in their selected specialization.
This course emphasizes current research in the field of nursing as well as theories associated with the nursing practice and nurse leadership. Students apply critical thinking and analysis skills to understand various theories.
Students learn about ethical issues and challenges in nursing and healthcare. The course addresses ethical theories and legal concerns as they relate to the nursing field.
Advanced Health Assessment
This course teaches students advanced techniques for assessing the health of individuals in different age groups. Students learn to interpret patient information in order to make decisions about diagnoses and care plans.
Graduates of online master's programs in nursing are prepared to take certification exams in advanced practice nursing fields. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that career growth for nurse practitioners, anesthetists and midwives is projected to be 31% from 2014 to 2024. This faster-than-average rate is largely due to changes in healthcare legislation and the increasing focus on preventative care. Nurse practitioners earned median annual salaries of $98,190 in May 2015, according to the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
Advanced practice nurses must be certified to practice in most states, according to the BLS. Aspiring nurses will need to take an exam in their selected specialty. Certification is available through the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists, American Nurses Credentialing Center and Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, among others.
Nurses interested in more advanced training will find Doctor of Nursing Practice programs available, as well as Ph.D. programs in the nursing field.
Master's degree programs in nursing are available both fully and partially online, but applicants need an RN license and a bachelor's degree in nursing. Common topics of study include nursing theory, healthcare ethics, and advanced health assessment.