Registered nurse to master’s of science in nursing or RN to MSN degree programs generally refer to programs for RNs who have completed a diploma, associate degree in nursing, or bachelor’s of science in nursing and wish to obtain a master’s. Some RN to MSN programs advance students through a bachelor’s degree and upon completion award both a BSN and MSN. Other programs only award an MSN. Most schools will offer RNs who do not hold a BSN or hold a bachelor’s in a non-nursing subject a different track of study than an RN who already has a BSN.
RN to MSN programs go by a variety of different names, including Accelerated ADN to MSN, RN to MSN Fast-Track, or BSN/MSN Gateway to name just a few, depending on the coursework and the school. There may be little difference between one school’s MSN program and another’s RN to MSN program since an RN license, along with one to two years of work experience as an RN, is one of the most common requirements for admission into a master’s program.
Nurse researchers, researchers who compose articles and reports for professional publications about nursing and other healthcare related subjects and often teach in academia, typically hold a master’s. Many nurses complete an MSN before beginning a Ph.D. program in nursing. MSN programs have traditionally educated advance practice registered nurses (APRNs), but member schools affiliated with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) will have transitioned their master’s programs for APRNs to the doctorate level by 2015.