Online Direct-Entry MSN Programs

Nursing is a fast-growing profession in the United States; the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for registered nurses to increase 15% by 2026. An increasing number of nursing master’s programs are accepting applicants with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees and offering direct-entry master of science in nursing online programs to train aspiring nurses. Online nursing degrees for individuals with bachelor’s degrees in other fields effectively transition more professionals into the nursing field. Graduates with an MSN degree often become nurse practitioners, administrators, clinical case managers, informatics specialists, and educators.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for registered nurses to increase 15% by 2026.

Students pursuing direct-entry MSN programs for non-nursing majors online can work at an accelerated rate to complete the degree in as few as two years. Depending on their bachelor’s degree, learners may need to take additional prerequisites, such as human anatomy, biology, and chemistry. Current registered nurses can pursue RN to MSN programs to earn their master’s in nursing online.

After earning their direct-entry MSN online, graduates qualify for a variety of careers in the medical field. Graduates may work in ontology and gerontology, providing administrative organization and personal care. Others may train nurses in gender-specific interactions or work to end opioid misuse, addiction, and overdosing. Professionals with an online MSN degree often pursue careers in which they can positively impact their local community.

Is a Direct-Entry MSN Program Online Right for Me?

Nursing positions require strong interpersonal skills, empathy, organizational abilities, and determination. Nurses work individually with patients and as liaisons between doctors, patients, and family members. After earning a direct-entry MSN degree online, graduates often pursue leadership roles in medical administration and nurse management.

MSN holders may become clinical nurse leaders, certified anesthetists, research coordinators, and advanced practice RNs. Graduates work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, primary care facilities, and specialist centers. An online nursing degree for non-nurses provides the skills necessary to succeed in a variety of nursing roles.

Getting Your Degree Online


Online programs allow students to access coursework anywhere and at any time. Learners can complete readings, watch lectures, and submit assignments at their own pace. Most learners enrolled in direct-entry MSN programs for non-nurses online complete coursework asynchronously, at their convenience.


Online coursework offers more flexibility than on-campus programs. Students can complete program requirements while fulfilling work and personal commitments. Online learners can study full or part time, which is ideal for students with professional and family obligations.

School Options

Online learners have more educational options than those constrained by geographic location. Online students can choose from direct-entry MSN programs across the country to find the school that aligns with their career goals and lifestyle.


Online learners engage with peers from diverse educational and professional backgrounds, creating networking opportunities. Online learners meet future nurse practitioners and administrators from across the country and around the world.


Online programs use technology to connect students with peers and professors. Many programs also provide online resources, including career development opportunities. Students earning a direct-entry MSN online gain technology skills that translate to the workforce.

Does an MSN Require a Nursing Degree?

Previously, MSN programs required applicants to have completed a registered nursing bachelor’s program. However, many master’s programs no longer require a BSN. Students from diverse educational backgrounds enroll in direct-entry MSN programs for non-nursing majors online. Regardless of undergraduate major, most MSN applicants have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Applicants must typically submit letters of recommendations and GRE scores. Some programs suggest applicants have clinical experience, such as volunteer work at local medical institutions or formal training as a basic EMT or nursing assistant. Depending on their educational background, accepted students may need to complete additional prerequisites, such as chemistry, biology, nutrition, and statistics.

What Can I Do with a Direct-Entry MSN Online Degree?

Can You Become a Nurse Practitioner with a Non-Nursing Bachelor's Degree?

Graduates with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree can become nurse practitioners. They can also pursue administrative and leadership roles. MSN programs for non-nursing majors create pathways for students from diverse educational backgrounds to enter the nursing field.

Career Paths

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners provide physical examinations, interpret diagnoses, and design treatment programs. These professionals work with physicians to provide individualized care, while prioritizing education and general wellness. Nurse practitioners may also perform suturing and biopsies and run diagnostic tests.

Nurse Anesthetist

The BLS projects the number of nurse anesthetists to increase R31% by 2026. Nurse anesthetists perform diagnostic tests, take medical histories, and administer and track physical responses to medicinal therapies. They also work closely with patients to ensure the safe administration of medications.

Clinical Nurse Specialist

Clinical nurse specialists must have a master’s or Ph.D. in nursing, which qualifies them to work with individual patients and large-scale initiatives. These professionals work in one of nine specialty areas, including gerontology, mental health, and pediatrics. They must renew their certification every five years.

Nurse Case Manager

Nurse case managers must have strong organizational skills. They work with individual patients and with focused test groups. These professionals may obtain resources, coordinate treatment programs, and communicate with clients engaged in challenging treatment regimens.

Common Employers for MSN Holders


Hospitals offer a variety of positions for MSN holders. Graduates may pursue roles as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, or clinical case managers. Others obtain administrative positions, which typically involve organizing nursing personnel and acting as a liaison between patients, nurses, and physicians.

Long-Term Care Clinics

Long-term clinics rely on MSN holders to care for patients. Long-term care nurses typically work in the fields of gerontology or ontology, addressing prolonged illnesses, injuries, and disabilities. They administer medications and track patient progress.


Graduates of MSN programs often work in school settings to promote wellness among students. These professionals often address physical and mental issues and prevent the spread of infection. School nurses also facilitate and organize educational opportunities to encourage healthy lifestyles.

Salaries for MSN Holders

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Salary Potential for Nurses with an MSN

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Salary Potential for Nurses with an MSN Created with Highstock 6.1.1

What to Expect from an Online Direct-Entry MSN

About the Program

The requirements for students completing direct-entry MSN programs for non-nursing majors online vary by state, institution, and specialization. Full-time students typically graduate in about two years, while part-time students often require three to four years. Required prerequisites and undergraduate major also impact degree completion time. Most programs require 68 to 72 credits and include coursework in areas such as health assessment and clinical leadership.

Curricula typically cover topics including epidemiology, pediatrics, surgery, research, and informatics. Common specializations include acute and primary care gerontology, family and pediatric specialties, women’s health, and LGBT issues. Prospective students should compare curricula to choose the program that aligns with their career goals.

Typical Curriculum for an Online Direct-Entry MSN

Although curricula vary, most learners completing direct-entry MSN programs online take similar core courses. Students explore topics including pathopsychology, pharmacology, and the historical and theoretical evolution of nursing science. Learners may also study psychiatric and mental healthcare and learn about the latest approaches to effective mental health, including screenings, analysis, and medicinal therapies. Coursework in healthcare management prepares learners for careers in management and administration. Students also gain problem-solving, interpersonal, technical, and organizational skills to prepare for nursing roles.

Available specializations for MSN students may include adult gerontology, emergency healthcare, psychiatric care, and women’s health. Depending on their specialty, students may need to conduct clinical studies or labs at a local medical institution. Some programs require independent capstone research projects involving clinical work. Students earning their direct-entry MSN for non-nurses online gain practical skills in patient evaluation and medical assistance to decrease treatment risk and improve outcomes.

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