The Top Direct-Entry Master’s in Nursing Programs in 2021

by NurseJournal Staff

If you have a non-nursing bachelor's degree and want to pursue a master's in nursing, a direct-entry MSN program could be a good fit. Find the best programs here.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

The Top Direct-Entry Master’s in Nursing Programs in 2021

Direct-entry nursing master's programs allow students without nursing backgrounds to earn a master of science in nursing (MSN). Individuals who majored in non-nursing fields for their bachelor's degrees, but who want to become nurses, can take advantage of these programs. Students start with the foundations of nursing, and they complete the program prepared to become advanced practice nurses or other nurse speciality.

If you are interested in direct-entry MSN programs, this guide answers your questions about how to choose a school and what to expect.

We use our data-driven methodology to rank the top direct-entry master's in nursing programs, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, program offerings, and online flexibility.

Featured Online Programs

What Can You Do With a Direct-Entry Master's in Nursing?

Most commonly, a direct-entry master's in nursing prepares individuals for several roles in advanced practice nursing, which allows them to take on greater responsibility than registered nurses (RNs). Students can choose from several specialities, and many concentrate on care for a particular demographic such as pediatrics or geriatric health.

Advanced practice nurses work in various locations, including hospitals, clinics, surgical centers, and residential care facilities. These professionals receive average salaries ranging from $74,000 to $175,000, depending on their specialty. Examples of careers for MSN-holders include:

msn or dnp Required
High Demand

Nurse Practitioner

NPs meet with patients independently, diagnose and treat patients, and prescribe medication (in some states independently, while in other states under a collaborative agreement with a physician).
Salary $92,790-$127,030*
Job Outlook 52% increase from 2019-2029
Learn More About Nurse Practitioners
msn Required
High Demand

Nurse Anesthetist

Certified registered nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia for invasive procedures, monitor patients and vital signs, and educate patients about anesthesia.
Salary $142,920-$178,590*
Job Outlook 45% increase from 2019-2029
Learn More About Nurse Anesthetists
msn Required
High Demand

Nurse Midwife

Certified nurse midwives care for women throughout pregnancy, perform gynecological exams, educate new parents, and deliver infants.
Salary $115,540*
Job Outlook 12% increase from 2019-2029
Learn More About Nurse Midwives
*SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What to Look For in a Direct-Entry Master's in Nursing Program

When researching potential direct-entry MSN programs, it is important to ensure that the program can properly prepare you for your career plans. Consider the key factors listed below to decide which program is best for you.

Program Curriculum

Each school sets a unique curriculum, so check with your potential schools whether the curriculum plan aligns with your career goals. Also, make sure that the program offers the specialization that you would like in your nursing career (for example, family nurse practitioner or nurse anesthesiology).

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for each program differ but general items include holding a bachelor's, completing any exams like the GRE, and meeting the GPA minimum.

Clinical Experience

All direct-entry MSN programs require clinicals. Still, the specifics vary for each school. Double check the clinical format and how much time students spend in clinical rotations.

Accreditation

Accreditation ensures that students receive a quality education, so look for accredited programs when researching schools. Choosing an unaccredited degree can limit your job prospects or licensure qualifications.

School NCLEX Pass Rate

Every RN needs to take the NCLEX to qualify for licensure. Although advanced practice nurses do not take this exam, the college's NCLEX pass rate can be a good indication of the quality of its nursing school. A high pass rate means students were well-prepared for their RN careers.

Online Learning Format and Requirements

An online learning format offers flexibility for students with other responsibilities, like full-time jobs or caring for their families. Other students prefer more traditional, in-person learning. Think about which you prefer and find a program that works with your schedule.


Applying to a Direct-Entry Master's in Nursing Program

Since direct-entry MSN programs are designed specifically for people with non-nursing bachelor's degrees, applicants do not need to worry about having completed clinical rotations or other nursing-related prerequisites.

However, admissions boards like to see that students can take on challenging material, no matter what they studied for their undergraduate degree. Therefore, the admission process can become competitive, especially when it comes to GPA and GRE scores. Find an overview of general admissions requirements below.

Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited university, recommendation letters, personal essay or statement of purpose, resume Program Length: 18-32 months Clinical Requirements: N/A GPA Requirement: Minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA; some set an even higher GPA for preferred admission Other Data: Some schools require GRE scores for direct-entry MSN programs

Why Is Accreditation Important for a Direct-Entry Master's in Nursing?

Accreditation is the process of evaluating colleges and universities to make sure that they offer students a quality education. Independent agencies assess higher education programs and grant — or deny — accreditation status.

Schools or programs that do not possess accreditation should register as a red flag. Graduate schools accept students with accredited undergraduate degrees, and unaccredited credits usually do not transfer to other schools.

Plus, aspiring nurses and NPs need accredited degrees to qualify for licensure. That means accredited degrees can lead to greater job prospects as well.

Who Accredits Direct-Entry Master's in Nursing Programs?

How Do I Know a Direct-Entry Master's in Nursing Program Is Accredited?

Most schools with accredited programs post their accreditations on their websites. Accreditation involves the same process for traditional, on-campus programs and online degrees.

If you cannot easily find a program's accreditation status online, you can find out by reaching out to the school directly. In addition, the accreditation bodies listed above publish a list of each program it accredits.

Keep in mind: All schools featured by NurseJournal.org, including those on this page, hold accreditation.

Paying for a Direct-Entry Master's in Nursing Program

Many students consider higher education to be a huge investment in their careers, and graduate school is no different. When it comes to direct-entry MSN programs, finances remain a big part of choosing the best program for you.

First, consider how much tuition would cost out of pocket. That includes full tuition costs, along with any technology, lab, or clinical expenses. Then consider your own budget, and whether you can work while studying.

If these programs still add up to be too expensive, then you may want to research financial aid options. Many schools offer both merit-based and need-based scholarships. Master's candidates can sometimes apply for grants or graduate assistantships to help cover costs. Finally, many learners turn to federal student loans, which come with a low interest rate compared to private loan providers.

Learn More About the Top Direct-Entry Master's in Nursing Programs

University of California-Los Angeles true View School Profile $$$ Los Angeles, CA 91% 32% 6% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

A leading public research institute located in west Los Angeles, UCLA ranks as the most applied-to school in the nation, receiving more than 100,000 freshman applications in 2020.

The School of Nursing offers five programs, including one of the best direct-entry master of science in nursing (MSN) programs.

This program qualifies graduates to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and apply for certifications as a clinical nurse leader and public health nurse.

Students gain practical experience through clinicals at partnership sites and UCLA-run facilities, including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA, and Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA.

The UCLA School of Nursing admits 70 students every fall.

  • Program: Direct-entry MSN
  • Campus: Los Angeles, California
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $17,486 per year for California residents; $32,588 for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited college; a minimum 3.0 GPA; three letters of recommendation
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 97.1%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
The University of Texas at Austin true View School Profile $$ Austin, TX 83% 36% 24% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Founded in 1883, UT Austin features 18 schools and colleges that offer a combined 139 graduate programs.

UT Austin's School of Nursing boasts one of the top ranked alternate/direct-entry master of science in nursing (MSN) programs. Students without a background in nursing can complete the requirements in 2.5-3 years, graduating with the qualifications to become a registered nurse in Texas.

The program's first year begins in the summer and requires students to study full time to complete 38 credits in theory and practical experiences. Students take courses such as child health nursing theory and maternity nursing theory, along with practicums.

Degree-seekers can go to school part time in their second year. At that time, students may take concentrations in such options as leadership in diverse settings or clinical adult gerontology.

  • Program: Alternate/direct-entry MSN
  • Campus: Austin, Texas
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $1,418 per semester for Texas residents; $9,670 for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree; minimum 3.0 GPA; GRE taken within the last five years; three letters of recommendation; reference from a healthcare professional; resume; statement of purpose
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 30 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.83%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of California-Davis true View School Profile $$$ Davis, CA 86% 34% 4% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Since UC Davis opened in 1908, it has expanded to offer 101 graduate programs, most of which feature interdisciplinary curricula.

Opened in 2009, the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis offers nine graduate programs. The direct-entry master of science in nursing (MSN) degree takes 18 months to complete and trains students to secure leadership and clinical nursing positions.

Intended as an intensive program, degree-seekers commit to six quarters of full-time study at the UC Davis Sacramento campus, beginning in June. Students complete 1,080 clinical hours in acute and ambulatory care and home and community support services.

  • Program: MSN
  • Campus: Davis, California
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $11,442 per academic year for California residents; $28,700 for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree; minimum 3.0 GPA; three letters of recommendation; minimum 2.7 GPA for science prerequisites; statement of purpose
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 18 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 84.09%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Vanderbilt University true View School Profile Nashville, TN 94% 12% 6% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Since opening in 1873, Vanderbilt has grown to educate some 6,480 graduate and professional students in Nashville, Tennessee.

Students enrolled in the direct-entry master of science in nursing (MSN) degree complete six semesters of studies, broken into two phases: pre-specialty and specialty. During three semesters of intensive generalist nursing courses, students complete 43 credits. Learners spend about 30-40 hours per week in the classroom and in clinical settings.

Students then take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and complete three more semesters. During that time, they work in mental health centers, children's hospitals, and hospital inpatient units to gain clinical experience in their specialty.

Optional specialities include adult gerontology, pediatrics, and women's health.

  • Program: Prespecialty MSN
  • Campus: Nashville, Tennessee
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $1,716 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree; minimum 3.0 GPA; statement of purpose; three letters of recommendation or a professional reference
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 97%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Johns Hopkins University true View School Profile Baltimore, MD 93% 32% 43% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Founded in 1876, Johns Hopkins offers one of the best direct-entry MSN programs and boasts an emphasis on community-based learning experiences.

The direct-entry MSN degree requires 72 credits, which students complete over five semesters at an accelerated pace. Students must enroll full time.

Courses include pharmacology, health assessment, integrated clinical management, and community outreach to underserved communities in Baltimore.

Degree-seekers take lectures with about 60 students and clinicals with about seven students. Graduates earn 12-14 credits eligible toward a Johns Hopkins doctor of philosophy in nursing and 17 credits that can go toward a doctor of nursing practice.

Baltimore public high school graduates qualify for full tuition scholarships. Johns Hopkins also provides stipends for students who complete community service projects.

  • Program: MSN with entry into nursing
  • Campus: Baltimore, Maryland
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $41,724 per academic year
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing; minimum 3.0 GPA; two academic letters of recommendation and one professional reference; transcript(s); optional GRE scores; resume; two application essays
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 21 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 97.49%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities View School Profile $$$ Minneapolis, MN 80% 39% 29% Higher Learning Commission

Founded in 1851 before Minnesota statehood, UMN hosts more than 500 graduate and professional degrees.

As the state's only land grant institution, UMN offers one of the fastest direct-entry master of science (MSN) programs, providing a 16-month pathway to a career as a registered nurse. Nursing students must enroll in the four-semester program full time. Scheduled during the daytime, classes operate weekly on the Twin Cities campus.

Degree-seekers must complete 500 practicum hours. Learners can choose from 250 partner health and community organizations.

The direct-entry MSN prepares graduates to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) or to use 18 credits toward a doctorate in nursing.

  • Program: MSN
  • Campus: Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $719 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field; minimum 3.0 GPA; official transcript(s); essay; resume; professional references
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 16 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95.31%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Stony Brook University View School Profile $$ Stony Brook, NY 74% 38% 17% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Stony Brook, spanning 1,039 acres in Long Island and founded in 1957, offers more than 100 graduate programs.

Offered in a convenient hybrid format, Stony Brook provides a direct-entry nurse practitioner (NP) program that serves students who do not hold a bachelor's degree in nursing.

The program requires students to complete 45 credits in core nursing, research, pharmacology, health assessment, pathophysiology, and clinical experiences in a specialized area.

Degree-seekers can earn a specialty in adult-gerontology primary care, family health, neonatal health, pediatric primary care, and psychiatric mental health.

Stony Brook's master's in nursing leadership and master's in nursing education programs also conditionally accept students who did not study nursing as undergraduates.

  • Program: Master of science in nursing-NP
  • Campus: Stony Brook, New York
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $13,748 per semester for New York residents; $17,268 per semester for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: One year of work experience; minimum 3.0 GPA; clinical practice portfolio; unofficial transcript(s); current registered nurse license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93.1%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of Virginia View School Profile $$$ Charlottesville, VA 94% 26% 10% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

UVA, founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, educates 7,862 graduate students.

The UVA School of Nursing trains people with backgrounds outside of nursing to become certified clinical nurse leaders (CNL) through the direct-entry master of science in nursing (MSN) program.

This full-time program requires students to complete 36 credits. Classes include the research and biostatistical process for healthcare, advanced pathophysiology, and health leadership seminars.

Degree-seekers gain experience in rotations at the UVA Medical Center in Charlottesville and in nearby regions.

Virginia residents receive tuition assistance and eligibility to receive a stipend through the Conway Community Scholars program.

Candidates with prior healthcare experience and at least a 3.3 GPA receive priority admission.

  • Program: MSN-CNL
  • Campus: Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $27,334 per academic year for Virginia residents; $44,532 for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: A bachelor's or master's degree from an accredited college; minimum 3.0 GPA; a resume; three recommendations letters, including one from a healthcare professional
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93.33%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Yale University View School Profile New Haven, CT 97% 8% New England Commission on Higher Education

Boasting a distinguished 300-year history in New Haven, Yale educates 7,517 graduate and professional students.

Yale's direct-entry master of science in nursing (MSN) degree prepares students in three years for a career as a nurse with a clinical specialty. This full-time, accelerated program requires students to adhere to an intense schedule of classroom studies, labs, and clinical practices in hospital units and community health centers.

Degree-seekers complete a pre-specialty year to earn a certificate in nursing. Learners spend the second year studying a clinical specialty.

Nursing students at Yale also encounter interdisciplinary opportunities with the School of Medicine and the physician associate program, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Yale School of Music.

  • Program: MSN with prespecialty entry option
  • Campus: New Haven, Connecticut
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $64,510 total tuition (across three semesters)
  • Admission Requirements: Resume; three references; transcript(s); GRE scores; a 400-600 word essay; two 150-300 word essays
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of California-Irvine View School Profile $$$ Irvine, CA 83% 35% 14% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Established in 1965, UCI offers 82 majors and 75 minors for its more than 36,000 students.

In two years, students can complete UCI's master's degree in nursing, one of the top ranked direct-entry master of science in nursing (MSN) programs.

The 87-credit program trains students to work in vulnerable communities with a concentration in community and population health nursing.

Students must attend on-campus, daytime lectures twice weekly. New students start classes during the 10-week summer session. In the spring of their first year, students begin their clinicals, working two days a week.

Through clinical partnerships, students gain nursing experience across UCI Health locations, acute care facilities, ambulatory and outpatient settings, and surgical settings.

  • Program: Direct-entry MSN
  • Campus: Irvine, California
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $11,442 per academic year; additional $15,102 supplemental tuition for nonresidents
  • Admission Requirements: A non-nursing bachelor's degree from an accredited college; transcript(s); minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.74%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of Rochester View School Profile Rochester, NY 86% 43% 4% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Founded in 1850, Rochester educates more than 12,000 students.

The School of Nursing offers a direct-entry master of science in nursing (MSN) degree that allows students to complete coursework alongside learners enrolled in the accelerated bachelor's program. Degree-seekers graduate in 6-9 semesters.

Students devote their first year to completing bachelor of science in nursing coursework and preparing for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam. First-year learners spend three semesters completing 700 clinical hours and 90 lab hours.

In the second and third years, students take courses in their chosen clinical specialty: adult-gerontology acute care, adult-gerontology primary care, psychiatric mental health, pediatrics, or pediatrics/neonatal.

  • Program: Accelerated master's for non-nurses
  • Campus: Rochester, New York
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $1,610 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in a non-nursing major from an accredited college; minimum 3.0 GPA; work experience in healthcare concentration
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95.1%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Emory University View School Profile Atlanta, GA 90% 31% 9% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Established in 1836, Emory offers a number of nursing programs, including a direct-entry master of nursing (MN)-master of science in nursing (MSN) degree designed to allow non-nursing students to prepare for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam with an MN before moving on to their MSN. Students typically graduate within four semesters.

Coursework in pathophysiology, pharmacology, acute and chronic care, pediatric nursing, and mental health nursing prepares students for the NCLEX-RN. Clinical practicums expose students to community and public health nursing, health assessments, and ambulatory care. Learners must complete 675 clinical hours.

Degree-seekers also earn specializations in adult-gerontology primary care, pediatric primary care, women's health, or as family nurse practitioners or certified nurse midwives. Emory offers a pathway to allow graduates to pursue a doctorate in nursing to become a licensed nurse practitioner or a certified nurse midwife.

Offered as a cohort-based program, students begin their studies in the summer.

  • Program: MSN
  • Campus: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $1,928 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited college; minimum 3.0 GPA; resume; official transcripts
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 15 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.26%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of Pennsylvania View School Profile Philadelphia, PA 95% 14% 2% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Philadelphia's Penn traces its history to 1740, when Benjamin Franklin organized the purchase of the school.

The direct-entry master of science in nursing (MSN) degree allows students who received a bachelor's degree in another field to become a nurse practitioner or nurse midwife by completing a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and MSN in the same program.

The flexible program caters to working students with part-time and full-time options that take 12-18 months or 2-3 years to complete. However, students must complete their master's in nursing within five years.

Learners have the option to earn one of nine minors, including health informatics, integrated nursing care of autism spectrum disorder, global health, and palliative care.

  • Program: Accelerated BSN-to-MSN
  • Campus: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $131,300 total program cost (across five semesters)
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree; preferred minimum 3.0 GPA; personal statement; two letters of recommendation; transcript(s); GRE scores for students with an undergraduate GPA lower than 3.2
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 18 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.83%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of South Carolina View School Profile $$$$ Columbia, SC 77% 46% 28% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

With more than 200 years of history in South Carolina, UofSC educates some 8,198 graduate and professional students.

Students enrolled in the direct-entry master of science in nursing (MSN) program begin the program in the spring and commit to full-time study, completing 76 credits over five semesters. The program requires in-person classwork at the Columbia campus and 784 clinical hours in the Midlands region.

Clinical requirements provide a well-rounded learning experience in maternal and newborn nursing, pediatrics, medical surgical nursing, and psychiatric nursing.

Instructional courses may be available online, but students need to complete clinical requirements in person.

  • Program: Master's entry to practice nursing
  • Campus: Columbia, South Carolina
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $770 per credit hour for residents; $870 per credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited school; minimum 3.0 GPA; three letters of reference; personal statement; resume
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 19 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of Vermont View School Profile $$$ Burlington, VT 76% 43% 13% New England Commission on Higher Education

UVM boasts 61 master's programs, including 35 accelerated degrees.

To pursue a career as a clinical nurse leader (CNL), students enrolled in UVM's direct-entry master of science in nursing (MSN) degree can graduate in three and a half years.

Beginning in August, the program's pre-licensure year includes courses in pharmacology, pathophysiology, and practicums working with children and older adults. This hybrid program offers in-person classes at the Burlington campus and online courses delivered asynchronously and synchronously.

After the first year, students obtain part-time nursing work to fulfill CNL requirements. In their later semesters, degree-seekers gain advanced knowledge in healthcare informatics, health assessments, and professional role development.

  • Program: Direct-entry MSN-CNL
  • Campus: Burlington, Vermont
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $683 per credit for Vermont residents; $1,720 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in a non-nursing major; minimum 3.0 GPA; three letters of recommendation; optional GRE scores
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 42 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95%
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Direct-Entry Master's in Nursing Program FAQs


Is a direct-entry MSN worth it?

A direct-entry MSN can be worth it to individuals who want to become nurses, but who already have a bachelor's degree and do not want to earn an additional bachelor's degree in nursing. These programs also streamline the process for individuals who want to begin with advanced practice nursing instead of beginning with RN work experience. Each program comes with different tuition prices and financial support. Weigh each option to find which one is worth it for your financial circumstances.

Can you get an MSN without being an RN?

Yes. Direct-entry MSN programs allow individuals from non-nursing backgrounds — and without RN licensure — to obtain a master's degree in nursing.

How long does it take to complete a direct-entry MSN?

Direct-entry MSN programs vary considerably in length. The fastest programs usually take about 1.5 years to complete for full-time students. Other programs can take three years or even longer for students. The timeline for direct-entry MSNs depends on the college's offerings, but it also depends on whether you enroll part or full time.

Is it hard to get into an MSN program?

MSN programs can be challenging, so graduate school admissions committees look for prospective students who can rise to those challenges. However, each school sets different application requirements and varying degrees of admission competitiveness.

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