How Long Does It Take To Get a Master’s in Nursing? (Plus Specializations)

two to three years

Attaining a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is an important milestone for any nurse. It is a valuable degree which can open doors to higher-level positions, better pay, and more career satisfaction. But for those who are considering pursuing their MSN, one of the most important questions is “how long does it take to get masters in nursing?” This blog post will provide an overview of the timeline for completing an MSN degree, as well as the factors which can influence the timeline. In addition, it will discuss the process of earning an MSN, the benefits of doing so, and how nurses can prepare themselves to achieve the best results. By the end of this post, readers should have a comprehensive understanding of how long they can expect to spend earning their MSN and the steps they can take to make the process as efficient and successful as possible.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Masters Degree In Nursing?

Types of MSN nursing specializations available

You can frequently select a specialization when pursuing your MSN in nursing, including:

Nursing midwife

A nursing midwife specializes in the care of pregnant women. In addition to being present during labor and delivery, they help with prenatal and postnatal appointments. You might also require certification from the American College of Nurse Midwives in order to practice in this specialty.

Nurse anesthetist

During surgeries, a nurse anesthetist is present to help the anesthesiologist administer and monitor the patient’s anesthesia levels. You might need a certified registered nurse anesthetist certification (CRNA) from the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists in order to work in this field.

Geriatric nurse

A geriatric nurse is an expert in providing care for the elderly, controlling their pain, and raising their standard of living. They also offer elderly patients with potential diseases preventative care. They can work in hospitals, clinics or nursing homes.

Cardiac nurse

A cardiac nurse provides assistance during heart procedures like bypass surgery, angioplasty, or pacemaker implantation. Cardiac nurses can also help with pre- and post-surgery care.

ER nurse

An ER nurse cares for patients with minor injuries and illnesses in an emergency room while also giving medication. They also assist with chart organization, patient assessment, and stabilization.

OR nurse

An operating nurse assists surgeons during operations. This specialty may also be referred to as perioperative nursing or surgical nursing. These nurses concentrate on the patient’s pre- and post-operative care. They prepare the operating rooms as well, ensuring that the necessary tools and equipment are available.

Mental health nurse

A mental health nurse is qualified to give medication and focuses on diagnosing and treating patients with psychological disorders. They often work in hospitals, rehab centers or psychiatric facilities. They might also be licensed counselors who offer patient counseling services. Even though additional certifications may be advantageous, they are not always required, so it is best to be aware of the state requirements if you are thinking about this specialization.

Oncology nurse

Oncology nurses specialize in working with patients who have cancer. They can also recommend medications and assist in educating patients about available treatments. Frequently, they continue to assist patients who have displayed signs of remission.

Orthopedic nurse

Orthopedic nurses focus on conditions affecting the skeleton and bones. This can include fractures, breaks, arthritis, joint replacements and osteoporosis. They help with preventative care and disease and pain management. You might need to pass the Orthopedic Nurse Certification Exam (ONC) in order to work as an orthopedic nurse.

Pediatric nurse

Children under the age of 18 are the focus of pediatric nurses’ specialization. They are capable of conducting exams, making diagnoses, and treating kids.

How long does it take to get a master’s in nursing?

How long it will take you to earn your nursing master’s degree will depend on the program you’re interested in and whether you already have a bachelor’s degree. You can still obtain an MSN even if your bachelor’s degree was in a field unrelated to nursing. However, you may need to complete some prerequisite coursework that will extend your studies and change the program’s end date.

Here are two common masters programs to consider:


The typical length of time to complete an RN to MSN program is three years. Part-time students might need more time to complete the program. Many of the program’s nurses finish their degrees online while working.

You typically need to have at least an associate’s degree and an active RN license to be eligible for an RN to MSN program. Students with bachelor’s degrees in fields other than nursing who need to complete some prerequisite courses to earn master’s degrees can also enroll in this program.


Nurses who already hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing and are interested in pursuing a master’s in order to choose a specialization can enroll in a BSN to MSN program. Due to the fact that nurses with bachelor’s degrees have already completed some necessary coursework, these programs typically take two years to complete.

How to choose an MSN program

You can use the following steps to decide which program is best for you:

1. Determine your level of education

Consider your level of education when pursuing a master’s in nursing to determine program eligibility. For instance, if you only completed general science courses for your non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you might need to take advanced biology and anatomy classes to be eligible for some master’s programs. However, prior to beginning masters-level coursework, many RN to MSN programs start with prerequisite classes.

2. Look for accredited programs

The courses and instruction in accredited programs are up to snuff. Look for schools that have regional or other types of accreditation in the specialization you are considering when you are looking for a program. It may be helpful to research the licenses and certifications you want and confirm your intended school has the correct accreditation since the majority of nursing licenses and certifications require you to have graduated from an accredited nursing program.

3. Decide if you want to be full time or part time

How quickly you finish your studies depends on whether you decide to pursue your MSN full-time or part-time. Most full-time MSN programs take two years. However, part-time program lengths can vary. You can look into the various options that each school provides to determine which duration is most suitable for your professional time frame.

4. Pick a specialization

It’s crucial to locate a college that offers the specialty you want to study. To assess whether the specialty program at the school is a good fit, look at its ratings, class sizes, scheduling options, and type of instruction. You should also take into account how much clinical training you will receive in that field, as this will help you gain experience.

Please be aware that Indeed is not connected to any of the organizations mentioned in this article.


Is a master’s degree worth it in nursing?

A Master’s in Nursing degree is worthwhile, to put it succinctly. A nurse with a bachelor’s degree who wants to advance their career, possibly concentrate on a more specialized area of nursing, and increase their income should take this logical next step.

Is MSN harder than BSN?

The reason is straightforward: by providing a more demanding curriculum and frequently covering advanced topics that BSN programs only briefly touch on, MSN programs better prepare students to become RNs.

How hard is masters in nursing education?

Although the answer to that question depends on the institution you attend, you should anticipate that the coursework for a master’s degree will be harder than any undergraduate coursework you have previously taken. Many institutions demand advanced science and anatomy coursework from MSN candidates.

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