Time for a Career Change? Earn a Second Degree MSN for Non-Nurses

switch careers to nursing using your non-nursing bachelors degree

If you’re thinking about going back to school to pursue a career in nursing, you owe it to yourself to learn about Marquette University’s Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing program. Created with career changers in mind, this second degree MSN for non-nurses program leverages your existing bachelor’s degree, allowing you to transition into a career in nursing in just 18–21 months.

Whether you’re just out of college or have spent years working in another field, you’re never too old to become a nurse. In fact, the American Association of College of Nurses (AACN) has found that the average second-degree nursing student tends to be older and more driven than traditional entry-level nursing students are.

Confirming these findings, Rob Haworth, admissions adviser for the Marquette University Direct Entry MSN program in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, reports that a number of recent applicants have been out of college for 10 to 15 years, proving that just because you’ve been out of school for a while does not mean you are too old to become a nurse.

He mentions a current student who had worked in medical malpractice law for 14 years. Over time, she began to realize that while she was helping people, she wasn’t helping them the way she wished she could… the way a nurse can.

Marquette direct entry msn students in simulation lab

Stories like these are not uncommon. Many of our Direct Entry MSN students decided to pursue our second degree MSN for non-nurses out of a feeling of dissatisfaction with their current careers and a shared desire to make a difference.

So why pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) instead a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) on your pathway to becoming a registered nurse?

Why Get an MSN?

There are many great reasons to seek an MSN degree — more opportunities, greater pay, and better patient outcomes, just to name a few — however, it’s not for everyone. To help you decide whether an MSN or BSN degree is right for you, here are a few questions to consider:

  • Are you interested in pursuing an advanced nursing specialty?
  • Can you see yourself in a leadership or management role?
  • Would you ever consider teaching?
  • How long do you want to be in school?
  • What are you looking for pay wise?
  • What is your current education level? Do you already have (non-nursing) bachelor’s degree?
  • Do you plan to work while studying nursing?

Today, we’ll explore the answers to these questions to help you make the right choice.

A Master of Science in Nursing Degree Is Your Ticket to a World of Opportunity

Perhaps the most obvious difference between pursuing an MSN degree and a BSN degree is the knowledge and experience you’ll graduate with. While you will still graduate an entry-level nurse, a master’s in nursing means higher earning potential compared to a BSN-holding registered nurse of similar experience, as well as greater career opportunities down the road. In many cases, a master’s is required for nursing leadership and management positions. An MSN also puts you a certificate or advanced degree away from a number of high-paying, in-demand nursing careers, like nurse practitioner, clinical specialist nurse, nurse midwife and even nurse educator.

Our Direct Entry MSN program is unique in that you don’t need a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to enter the program, making it perfect for career changers of all ages. Rather, Marquette lets you leverage your existing non-nursing degree to pursue an MSN at an accelerated pace. In 18–21 months, you’ll learn everything from the basics of nursing to advanced concepts, participate in hands-on skills and simulation labs several times a week at our Pleasant Prairie learning site, and complete 1,020 clinical practice hours at top healthcare facilities in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Unlike many programs, you’ll begin your clinicals the first semester, meaning you won’t have to wait to get real-life experience.

george, a marquette university direct entry msn student

“I feel the way that this program is going so far,” says George V., a Direct MSN student, “I’m going to be more prepared than a nurse from another university.

As you can imagine, this is an intense program and not for everyone. It takes drive, determination and a lot of hard work. But for those who are up for the challenge, the rewards are great. In less than two years, you’ll graduate prepared to sit for the NCLEX-RN, and ready for a fulfilling career in nursing.

You Can Earn an MSN Degree in Less Than 21 Months

You might be surprised to learn that with hard work and only a few more months of school, you can bypass earning a BSN degree in favor of an MSN degree — so long as you have a college degree and satisfy the additional eligibility requirements. With our Direct Entry MSN program in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, you can graduate with a Master of Science in Nursing in 18–21 months. By comparison, many accelerated BSN programs take 16–18 months, meaning that in just a few months more, you can graduate with a major career advantage — a master’s degree from an accredited, nonprofit university with a reputation for excellence.

Who Is the Direct Entry MSN Program For?

To be considered for our Direct Entry MSN program, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. Hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree from an accredited university with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  2. Complete the GRE® General Test (waived with a 3.2 GPA or higher) with an overall score greater than 150 and a 4.0 on the writing component
  3. Complete any prerequisite courses with a grade of “C” or higher

Keep in mind that this is a highly competitive program, and our #1 goal is the success of our students. The Marquette Direct Entry MSN program is not like most nursing programs, which set goals for how many students graduate. We want all of our students to succeed.

“It’s so competitive, I don’t want to short them,” says Rob. “I’d rather say it’s worth it to take that physiology course just to pull the grade up and apply later on in the cycle.”

Additionally, because of the time commitment required, we urge students to reconsider working during the program, and recommend that students relocate — at least temporarily — to the Pleasant Prairie area, something Rob takes particular interest in. Having had a bad experience moving for college, he understands how hard it can be finding a place to live in an unfamiliar area and is quick to offer his assistance and knowledge of the area to help students find the right living space.

As for working during the program, Rob says, “I always ask during the initial call if someone is going to be working while in the program and I reiterate if you have to work, to keep it to a maximum of 10 hours a week.”

Unlock Your True Nursing Potential with Marquette’s Direct Entry MSN Degree Program

A career in nursing is closer than you think with our second degree MSN for non-nurses program. Give us a call, or fill out the form to the right, to talk to an admissions advisor about how you can earn a Master of Science in Nursing degree in less than 21 months.

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