What is a Direct Entry MSN Program?

April 03, 2021

A Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing (DEMSN) program is a graduate nursing degree for non-nurses who want to start a new career as a registered nurse (RN). Accelerated direct entry MSN programs are offered for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in another discipline.

A direct entry MSN degree will teach students graduate-level nursing and science knowledge. Students will then complete clinical hours (hour requirements vary by program) and apply what they learn through their coursework at local health care facilities. Graduates will be ready to take the NCLEX-RN licensure exam and become an RN after they have completed their DEMSN degree.

Entry-level master’s in nursing degrees can be completed at a fast-tracked rate, which gives you the chance to get started sooner on your new career as a registered nurse. As Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees become more common for RNs[1], a graduate degree can help future nurses stand out to prospective employers with an advanced practice master’s degree. Direct entry nursing programs also offer graduates the chance to develop into other areas of health care and leadership.

How Long are Direct Entry MSN Programs?

Direct entry MSN programs can range from 16 months to two years, depending on the modality, curriculum, and if concentration options are offered for the program. Some direct admit nursing programs have been able to offer accelerated, online coursework for full-time students to complete their program in as few as 16 months. Many direct entry MSN programs focus their curriculum to prepare students to be an RN with graduate-level expertise and to pass the NCLEX-RN licensure exam to become an RN. These programs are typically shorter to complete than other MSN programs that include specialty concentrations into their curriculum.

What are the Direct Entry MSN Program Requirements & Prerequisites?

The admission requirements for most direct entry MSN programs geared toward non-nursing students have similar requirements across the country. However, the requirements may differ by school based on specific curriculum focus, state rules, and more. Common admission requirements include earning a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, resume, a minimum GPA requirement, completion of prerequisite courses, letters of recommendation, professional references, and an interview with an admissions representative. The average GPA minimum requirement for direct entry graduate nursing programs is a score of 3.0 earned from an undergraduate degree.

A direct entry nursing program can be completed in fewer than two years because students have already completed their undergraduate coursework and specific prerequisite courses. Prerequisites are required to ensure that the students have a strong science foundation to be successful in their direct entry MSN. Some of the required prerequisite courses you might come across include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Chemistry
  • Nutrition
  • Statistics
  • Psychology

Learn more about DEMSN prerequisites and requirements here.

How Competitive are Direct Entry MSN Programs?

Once an application is submitted, an enrollment representative can help students through the admissions process as they collect all required admissions paperwork for a final decision. The likelihood of acceptance into a direct entry MSN is strong if you meet all admission requirements stated for the program. The requirements ensure that accepted students are very likely to successfully complete their degree. Completing a DEMSN degree will give also graduates a competitive edge in the job market, with only about 18 percent of current nurses holding a graduate degree.[2]

How Hard are Direct Entry MSN Programs?

Direct entry MSN programs often require full-time study, which can be challenging for adult learners who have already entered the workforce. Because of this, most DEMSN programs offer online coursework to add flexibility throughout the accelerated schedule. Another challenge that incoming students might face when starting a direct entry master’s in nursing is the lack of nursing experience that a typical BSN graduate would have moving into an MSN program. Lack of hands-on experience could impact the success of an incoming student. To ensure students can be successful in an entry-level master’s in nursing program, schools require specific prerequisites be completed before they start the direct entry nursing program. These courses help build a strong foundation for the advanced nursing curriculum ahead.

Alternate Names for Direct Entry MSN Programs

As you begin your research on direct entry nursing programs, you will learn that direct entry MSN programs are  referred to by several different names. While this may cause misunderstandings, these programs are synonymous:

  • Entry-Level Master of Science in Nursing (ELMSN)
  • Accelerated Entry-Level Master of Science in Nursing
  • MSN for Non-Nurses
  • MSN without BSN
  • Bachelor’s to Master’s in Nursing
  • Alternate Entry Master of Science in Nursing (AEMSN)
  • Fast Track Master’s in Nursing
  • MSN Direct Entry Second Degree

Explore Our DEMSN Programs

Finding a school with the right direct entry program can be challenging. Directenrtymsn.com has started the search for you featuring a few high-quality direct entry nursing programs. Begin your new career in nursing with an MSN degree and the opportunity for future advancement into leadership, education, or continuing on to advanced specialties. Read more about reputable DEMSN programs here.

Want to Become an RN with a Master’s?

Our Direct Entry MSN programs make it possible. Learn more.