Direct Entry Master’s in Nursing (MSN) Programs: 5 Things to Consider
If you’re ready to pursue a career in nursing and already have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field, a Direct Entry MSN program is an excellent path to securing your dream job. This type of accelerated Master’s in Nursing program combines theory and practice to prepare you for delivering holistic, high-quality, and highly-paid in-demand patient care.
The future for nurses with MSN degrees is bright, making this educational path even more appealing to those looking to change careers. In fact, according to PayScale, MSN graduates earn an average salary of $92,000 a year and those who pursue additional certifications like nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners average well into the six figures, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS). Job growth for nurses is also on an upward trajectory, with the BLS projecting that overall employment for nurses will grow by 12% percent between 2018-2028, compared to a growth rate of just 5% across all other industries.
However, before you can tap into that impressive salary and job growth potential, you’ll need to start by selecting the right Direct Entry MSN program for you. From program length and prerequisites to teaching format and tuition costs, we’ve compiled a list of the top five things you should consider when selecting a Direct Entry MSN program. If you weigh these five key factors carefully when making your choice, you’ll be able to pick the best MSN program for your own unique needs, while setting yourself up for success in your new healthcare career. Good luck and happy hunting!
1) Prerequisites and Program Length
How soon will you be able to start your Direct Entry MSN program? And how soon will you be able to graduate with your degree? Direct Entry MSN programs usually take around 2-3 years to complete, but in order to get a real idea of how long you’ll be in school, you should start by researching a program’s prerequisites.
Some Direct Entry MSN programs have between 5-10 prerequisite courses, meaning classes you are required to take before enrolling in the program. While you’ll need to review your school’s specific requirements, they often include courses like Microbiology, Psychology, Psychology, Statistics, Human Anatomy & Physiology, and more. Depending on what classes you took while earning your bachelor’s degree, you may need to complete these classes prior to starting your MSN program. Unfortunately, that can also mean applying to a separate school to complete these courses, resulting in additional time and costs before you even begin your MSN education.
However, if you are looking to jump right into your MSN studies, Ameritech College of Healthcare offers the only Direct Entry MSN program in Utah with no prerequisite courses required for enrollment. As long as you have earned a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field with a minimum 3.0 GPA from an accredited institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, you can start earning your MSN degree right away.
Our accelerated Direct Entry MSN program takes a total of 32 months (or 8 semesters) to complete, with no additional coursework outside of the program needed. Plus, after you’ve completed the first five semesters (at around 20 months), you’ll be eligible to take the NCLEX exam and upon passing, get licensed and start working as a registered nurse. That means you’ll be able to earn an income while you complete the remainder of your program.
2) Program Format
Some Direct Entry MSN programs offer a portion of their curriculum online, which can help your career transition go more smoothly and fit in more easily with your existing lifestyle and time commitments. Studies have also shown online learning has many other benefits that can positively impact student outcomes.
However, as most Direct Entry MSN students will enter the program without any nursing experience, hands-on learning will also be an essential component for ensuring your success once you enter the healthcare field. Ameritech’s Direct Entry MSN program blends in-classroom study in state-of-the-art, simulated clinical environments with online instruction to maximize flexibility. The first and final three semesters of our program are taken completely online, with the remaining semesters blending online and in-classroom instruction. Our curriculum was carefully designed to build on your studies incrementally while providing you with the flexibility you need to balance your studies with the rest of your life. The program condenses immersive in-classroom and clinical experiences together to maximize efficiency for students who don’t live in close proximity to our Draper campus.
We believe this hybrid program format is the best option for prospective MSN students looking to change careers and enter the nursing field prepared and confident—setting you up for greater success in your future nursing career.
3) NCLEX Eligibility & Pass Rate
The NCLEX-RN is the licensing examination all nurses must pass in order to get their registered nurse (RN) certification. It’s important to note students at some Direct Entry MSN programs are qualified and eligible to take the NCLEX earlier than others, while some programs require you to wait until the very end of your coursework before sitting for the exam.
One advantage to taking the NCLEX earlier is that as soon as you pass, you’ll be able to enter the workforce as a registered nurse, including while you’re still in school. That means you can gain invaluable on-the-job experience and earn an income, while you complete your degree.
At Ameritech, our Direct Entry MSN program curriculum prioritizes RN licensure, which is why our students are eligible to sit for the NCLEX after just 5 semesters (about 20 months). We are currently the only Direct Entry MSN program in Utah to provide students with this option. In addition, Ameritech has one of the highest NCLEX pass rates in the state—with scores consistently above state and national levels. In fact, 91.14% of Ameritech nursing students pass their exam the first time compared to the national average of 85.11%.*
*Note: Blended NCLEX Pass Rate for all Ameritech nursing students.
Related Resource: How the NCLEX Works
4) Tuition Costs
Tuition is bound to be a heavily-weighted factor when exploring which Direct Entry MSN program is right for you, as it should be. Keep in mind that tuition per credit hour is just one part of the total cost of your MSN program. There may also be textbook costs and fees, as well as commuting costs, costs of prerequisite courses, financial aid and scholarships, and whether or not students can work in the field while still in school.
At Ameritech, we believe in simple and transparent tuition. Ameritech’s Direct Entry MSN program comes in at a total cost of $64,600 with all books and fees included—and with financial aid available to those who qualify. Additionally, admission to our MSN program requires only a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field, meaning you won’t need to spend additional money, time, or hassle taking prerequisite courses at a separate institution prior to starting your program. Read more about our admissions requirements here.
5) Student Experience, Facilities & Academic Reputation
Everything from class size and facilities to faculty can influence a student’s experience at school. When researching potential programs, it helps to try and get a feel for how a school empowers their students to succeed—both in their studies and in their future career. A school’s facilities, qualifications of faculty members, student graduation and retention data, and student satisfaction ratings are all indicators of a stellar student experience. It’s also a great idea to visit a prospective school when possible, so you can experience the campus culture for yourself and see firsthand if it seems like a good fit for you.
At Ameritech, we’re proud to have an exceptional reputation within Utah’s healthcare community and one of the highest student graduation rates in the state. At 83%, we’re second only to BYU’s 85%. In addition, our faculty members are highly experienced, working professionals with years of experience behind them and impressive credentials to match, including fellowships with the American Academy of Nursing and articles published in American Nurse Today to name just a few.
Our state-of-the-art nursing simulation center provides opportunities for our MSN students to interact hands-on with the latest medical technology in realistic, simulated clinical environments. Featuring high-fidelity robotic patient simulators, life-like synthetic cadavers, and much more, our students can apply their nursing skills and training in a safe, controlled, and realistic clinical atmosphere—ensuring our MSN graduates are field-tested and ready to work before they set foot in an actual medical facility with real patients.
We’re also proud to provide our Direct Entry MSN students with extensive learning support resources, including Cohort Coordinators to assist our MSN students with administrative needs such as: helping with travel arrangements, organizing and scheduling study sessions, planning cohort offsites and team building, and helping connect students with all of the resources available to them during their time at Ameritech and beyond.
Learn More about Ameritech’s Direct Entry MSN Program
As a leader in nursing education in Utah, it’s no coincidence Ameritech was the first school in the state to offer a Direct Entry MSN program and we’re confident in our program’s ability to maximize our students’ success—both academically and in their future careers. From our state-of-the-art technology and hands-on training to our well-respected faculty and academic reputation, Ameritech’s Direct Entry MSN program is designed to equip career changers with the skills and confidence needed to launch thriving healthcare careers. And with our curriculum’s unique emphasis on population health and case management, our program provides our Direct Entry MSN graduates with additional nursing skillsets and perspectives, so you can gain access to even greater specialization and career opportunities than competing MSN programs.