There are two main types of online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs with a specialization in family nurse practitioner (FNP) that require registered nurses (RNs) to have completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. The difference between these two types of programs is the type of bachelor’s degree that is required for admission. On OnlineFNPPrograms.com, we have researched the different types of online MSN FNP programs in order to provide students with the most comprehensive list of schools for which they are eligible for admission.
- Online Bachelor’s to MSN-FNP programs, which are sometimes referred to as RN to MSN Bridge programs, accept RNs who have earned any type of bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. These programs still require candidates to hold an active, unrestricted RN license in their state of residence, and thus require students to have completed an associate degree in nursing (some schools may accept a diploma in nursing as well). However, they do not require a BSN for admission. (Note: almost every school that offers a “Bridge” track also accepts students with a BSN, they just do not require a BSN for admission.)
- Online BSN to MSN FNP programs only accept RNs who have completed a BSN program. RNs with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing are not eligible for admission into these programs. For students who have completed a BSN program, we have a comprehensive list of schools for which they are eligible on our Online BSN to MSN FNP programs page.
This page is dedicated to online MSN-FNP programs that accept RNs who have completed a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing. This page does not contain programs that require a BSN for admission.
For individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field and wish to earn an MSN without earning a second baccalaureate degree in nursing first, Bachelor’s to MSN programs may save time and units. Some nursing schools also refer to Bachelor’s to MSN programs as online RN to MSN programs. However, online Bachelor’s to MSN-FNP programs differ from conventional RN to MSN programs (which require either an ADN or diploma in nursing for admission) in that they usually require fewer units to graduate and typically culminate in an MSN only, instead of a BSN and MSN earned together.
On OnlineFNPPrograms.com, we classify online FNP programs based on the number of campus visits they require per year. Programs that require three or fewer visits to the campus per year are classified as online programs and are included on the site. We classify programs that require more than three visits to the campus per year as hybrid or campus-based programs. At this time, hybrid and campus-based programs are not included on the site. (Please note: All online MSN-FNP programs require students to complete clinical hours at a local health facility.)
Note: A third type of MSN program, typically known as direct entry MSN programs, does not require applicants to be licensed RNs. These programs, which require completion of a bachelor’s degree program, are designed for students who are looking to change careers and enter the field of nursing. From our research, at this time, there are no direct entry online MSN programs.
Admission Requirements for Online Bachelor’s to MSN-FNP Programs
As with other types of nursing programs, accredited online Bachelor’s to MSN FNP programs have rigorous admission requirements. Though they do not require a BSN, these programs require all applicants to have an active license as an RN in their state of residence. Licensure as an RN in any state typically requires the completion of either an ADN or a diploma in nursing program from an accredited institution. Applicants should also demonstrate a commitment to nursing through professional work as an RN prior to applying.
While specific admission requirements vary from program to program, in general applicants to online Bachelor’s to MSN-FNP programs should fulfill the following:
- Earn and maintain an active, unrestricted RN license
- Complete an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a diploma in nursing from a program that has been accredited by either the CCNE or ACEN
- Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution (most programs also have minimum GPA requirements)
- Complete certain pre-requisite courses (see below) with a grade of C or better
- Fulfill one or more years of professional work as an RN
- Submit 2 or 3 letters of recommendation
- Submit a personal statement that explains one’s professional goals and qualifications
Pre-Requisite Courses for Online Bachelor’s to MSN-FNP Programs
Bachelor’s to MSN-FNP programs typically expect applicants to have completed certain core nursing courses prior to applying. Candidates typically fulfill this coursework through their ADN or nursing diploma program. Such courses may include but are not limited to:
- Human Anatomy and Physiology: The structure and function of the different organ systems, tissues, and cells within the human body. The skeletal, muscular, digestive, nervous, and endocrine systems, the different tissues and cells that comprise these systems, and how each system contributes to the overall health of a human being. Common diseases and conditions that afflict the human body, and how they operate on the cellular, tissue, organ, and organ systems levels.
- Medical Microbiology: Microorganisms and the disease risk they pose to humans. Different types of microorganisms and the mechanisms through which they cause disease in the human body. How the human immune system reacts to microorganisms, and how vaccines and other medications can be used to counter harmful diseases and conditions. How diseases can spread in a medical setting, and the essential sanitation practices medical personnel must follow.
- Human Development Across the Lifespan: An overview of the physical, psychological, and social changes that humans undergo across the lifespan, from infancy to adulthood. How humans interact differently with other people and their environment at different stages in their life, and how these interactions affect their physical, mental, and emotional health.
- Ethics in Medicine: Common ethical issues that nurses and other medical personnel face. How to identify and address ethical challenges when working with patients.
- Statistics: Statistical principles and their application in a medical setting. Topics covered include finding and describing patterns in statistical data, how to conduct a statistical study and analyze its results, and using the principles of probability to anticipate and analyze trends.
Some online Bachelor’s to MSN-FNP programs may allow applicants to apply without fulfilling all of the pre-requisite courses, as long as these applicants complete the pre-requisite classes prior to their enrollment in the program. Prospective applicants to Bachelor’s to MSN-FNP programs should check with the admissions offices of the schools they are interested in to confirm any required pre-requisites before applying.
Curriculum Details for Online Bachelor’s to MSN FNP Programs
Bachelor’s to MSN-FNP programs generally require the completion of 45 to 70 academic credits, and can take between 15 and 36 months to complete, depending on whether a student enrolls in a full-time or part-time program. While Bachelor’s to MSN-FNP programs do present an accelerated option for individuals without a BSN who wish to earn their MSN, such programs may require students to take several undergraduate-level courses in preparation for the rigorous graduate-level classes that comprise the main portion of the curriculum. The number of pre-requisite and/or baccalaureate-level courses that a student must complete also impacts the time it takes to complete one of these programs.
Bridge (Baccalaureate-Level) Courses
Some Bachelor’s to MSN programs require students to complete a few baccalaureate-level courses (sometimes known as bridge courses) before launching into their graduate-level MSN classes. While the number and type of bridge courses for online Bachelor’s to MSN-FNP programs vary across schools, they may include but are not limited to:
- Leadership and Management in Nursing: The role that nurses play in a larger health care team, and in the health care system as a whole. How nurses can bring together knowledge of health care, medical ethics, and clinical decision making to provide competent and effective care to patients. The principles of collaborating with other medical professionals to provide and promote quality patient care.
- Evidence-Based Nursing Practice: How to integrate clinical knowledge, medical evidence, and patient input and preferences into a sound health care plan. How to evaluate the outcomes of medical treatments and implement effective changes to treatment as necessary. How to identify and address gaps in medical knowledge and the need for health care innovations, both when working with individual patients and when leading a larger team of nurses.
- Health Assessment with a Focus on At-Risk Populations: The essential principles and methods of taking an accurate and effective health assessment, including conducting physical examinations, using diagnostic reasoning to identify potential conditions, and maintaining accurate medical histories. Particular focus on the common conditions and health concerns of vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, patients with genetic conditions, and overweight and/or diabetic patients.
Graduate-Level Courses for MSN-FNP Programs
After completing any relevant undergraduate coursework, students of online Bachelor’s to MSN-FNP programs must take graduate-level courses in such areas as advanced health assessment, pharmacology, and advanced physiology. As family nurse practitioners care for patients across the lifespan and within the context of the family, students enrolled in MSN FNP programs should expect to take classes on the primary care of different patient populations, such as children, women, and the elderly.
While course content and titles vary across programs, typical MSN-FNP coursework may include the following:
- Advanced Health Assessment: This class builds off of previous health assessment coursework and students’ knowledge of human physiology and pathophysiology, and teaches them how to take advanced physical assessments and medical histories. Students learn how to integrate knowledge of medical principles and human biology with medical evidence to make sound diagnoses and clinical decisions.
- Primary Care of Women and the Childrearing Family: How to evaluate, care for, and monitor the health of women and the childbearing/childrearing family. Topics discussed include women’s general and reproductive health from adolescence to menopause, family health education, and the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions that occur in childbearing and childrearing families. Other course content may include the physical, psychological, pathophysiological, cultural, and social considerations nurses should take into account when caring for the childrearing family unit.
- Primary Care of the Aged and Maturing Family: How to assess and care for the health of middle aged and older adults within the context of the family unit. The chronic and acute conditions that commonly affect older individuals, and how to treat them. How to integrate health education and preventative care into a sound health care plan for aging members of the family.
- Advanced Human Physiology and Pathophysiology: How the human body functions at the organ systems, organ, tissue, and molecular levels, and how the human body reacts to different types of diseases and conditions. How nurses and nurse practitioners should apply their knowledge of human anatomy and pathophysiology to diagnosis, treatment, and patient counseling.
- Advanced Pharmacology: The different classes of medicines and their use in patient treatment. How different medical treatments interact with human tissues and organ systems, and how nurses can determine the appropriate medication type and dosage for patients, based on their physiology (metabolism, age, gender, allergies, etc.).