With healthcare a hot topic in the news today, registered nurses with a master’s degree are very much in demand. Many colleges and universities offer RNs the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in nursing online while continuing to work and gain the necessary work experience. Below is the information you need on online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs and how they can benefit nursing students.

Requirements to Earn a Master’s Degree in Nursing Online

Many nursing students are surprised how similar online MSN programs are to on-campus programs. In most cases, online students are taught by the same instructors as students in traditional brick and mortar colleges. Before students can enroll in an MSN program, they must already have a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited college and must hold a valid nursing license. There are not as many clinical education requirements in the online MSN program because students have already completed the clinical rotations while earning the BSN. Additionally, online MSN students are often already working as RNs, so they have the opportunity to complete any required internships.

Areas of Specialization Option

According to Nurse Journal, students in an MSN program can choose to become a nurse practitioner (NP) and study areas of specialization, psychiatric mental health NP, adult gerontology NP, pediatric NP and emergency NP. Depending on the program, nursing students may also be able to focus on specific areas, such as orthopedics, oncology, cardiology or emergency medicine.

Advantages of an Online Nursing Program

Advantages of online nursing programs include:

  • Flexibility – Online MSN students can complete their courses at their own pace as well as decide if they want to study full or part-time.
  • Accessibility – One of the main advantages of an online MSN program is that students have access to learning materials through various delivery methods, including lectures, message boards, virtual classrooms and streaming videos.
  • College Options – Students often have to give up dreams of attending a certain college because of its location. Online nursing students can choose the program they want at the school they want as long as it’s offered online.
  • Technology – Nursing students who choose to earn a master’s degree in nursing online are learning through the latest technology, which will prepare them for the type of technology they will experience throughout their careers.
  • Diversity – Earning a nursing master’s degree through distance learning allows the student to interact and communicate with fellow students and nursing professionals from all over the world. This can open up some useful networking opportunities for nursing students.

Related Resource: Top 50 Most Affordable Part-Time MSN Programs Online

Career Outlook for Master’s Prepared Nurses

Registered nurses are very much in demand today and are expected to see job growth of 15 percent during the 2016-2026 decade as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As the demand for healthcare increases, so will the demand for qualified RNs. Students who earn a Master’s in Nursing typically have the best career opportunities available to them, especially if they have specialized certifications. If they’re working as an RN while they’re earning the degree, it’s even more of a benefit and one that should help them in the workforce.

Whether an individual is already an RN or is contemplating becoming an RN, there are nursing programs out there to help them take their education to the highest level. The decision to earn a master’s degree in nursing online can be the start of a rewarding and exciting career.