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

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Marquette MSN student working with sim manikin

If you’re thinking about going back to school to pursue a career in nursing, you can improve your educational and future career prospects by learning more about Marquette University’s Master of Science in Nursing Second Degree Direct Entry for Non-Nurses. Created with career changers in mind, this second degree direct entry MSN program leverages your existing bachelor’s degree, allowing you to transition into a career in nursing in 19–21 months.

Whether you’re just out of college or have spent years working in another field, it’s never too late to become a nurse. So, how is nursing accessible as a second degree and new career path? Why pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree instead of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) on your path toward becoming a registered nurse? In this post, we will answer these questions while giving advice and exploring how Marquette can best equip you for a successful career change to nursing.

Why Choose Nursing for Your Second Career?

If you are considering changing careers, nursing can be an ideal second career. Filled with diverse roles and with plenty of opportunities for advancement, this growing industry is in high demand as nurses fulfill patient needs as valued members of cross-disciplinary healthcare teams. A role in nursing is associated with the ability to critically think and perform challenging nursing skills in high-pressure situations, as well as a commitment to patient advocacy and social justice. Nursing is consistently ranked as the most trusted profession in the U.S. for decades.

Marquette MSN students working in lab

Nursing is a growing profession, with 276,800 new nurses projected to enter the field between 2020 and 2030 in response to the ever-present need for quality care. Advanced practice nurses including nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners are expected to grow by 121,400 over the same period, a 45% growth rate. A second degree MSN from Marquette University creates a foundation from which you will have the knowledge and skills to enter into a number of specializations and in-demand roles after graduation.

Nursing as a Second Degree

As a second degree path, nursing can be the perfect opportunity to complete your education in a new field and enter a new career on an accelerated timeline. For Marquette University’s Direct Entry MSN program, students who want to follow their calling into nursing must first meet all admissions requirements, including:

  • Hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Successfully complete prerequisite courses

Students admitted into the program will leverage their previous bachelor’s degree toward earning an MSN degree in 19–21 months. The curriculum is based on nursing theory coursework, in-person skills and simulation labs and clinical rotations at top area healthcare facilities located near your chosen program site location. Nursing didactic coursework is offered in-person through our main Milwaukee campus and is delivered through a dynamic hybrid-online platform at our Pleasant Prairie program site.

Because of the time commitment required, we urge students to find alternatives to working while enrolled in the program. Students should relocate to within commuting distance of our main campus in Milwaukee or our program site in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, as they work toward their MSN degree. With a top-quality nursing education from skilled clinicians and professors, you will graduate prepared to take on a career change to nursing with an MSN degree.

Earning Your MSN vs a BSN: Advice for Your Nursing Education

There are many great reasons to seek an MSN degree — more career opportunities, chances for advancement and potentially improved 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 is your current education level? Do you already have a (non-nursing) bachelor’s degree?
  • Do you plan to work while studying nursing?

As you can imagine, this is an intense program which requires drive, determination and 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. Below, we’ll share some of the aspects that differentiate MSN programs from BSN programs and share advice of how to navigate this choice.

An MSN Degree Opens New Opportunities

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 more opportunities compared to a BSN-holding registered nurse of similar experience. An MSN also provides more career opportunities down the road. In many cases, a master’s degree is required for nursing leadership and management positions.

An MSN also puts you an advanced degree away from a number in-demand nursing careers, like nurse practitioner, clinical specialist nurse, nurse midwife and even nurse educator. When deciding between a BSN and an MSN, you should consider the trajectory you are looking to take in your nursing career. If advancement is a priority for you, you may be better served by an MSN.

Two Marquette students examining a simulation manikin

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 19–21 months, you’ll learn everything from the basics of nursing to advanced concepts, participate in hands-on skills labs and on-campus simulation labs several times a week and complete clinical practice hours at top healthcare facilities in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. In this program you’ll begin on-campus clinical simulations in your first semester, and begin gaining real-life experience in clinicals from your second semester onward.

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 — as long as you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and satisfy additional eligibility requirements. With our Direct Entry MSN program, offered through our main Milwaukee campus as well as in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, you can graduate with a Master of Science in Nursing in 19–21 months. By comparison, many accelerated BSN programs take 16–18 months, meaning that in a few months more, you can graduate with a major career advantage — a master’s degree from an accredited university with a reputation for excellence.

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

A career in nursing is closer than you think with our second degree MSN program for non-nurses. Contact an admissions adviser, and learn more about how you can begin the process of earning an MSN degree in less than 21 months. With a rewarding, exciting career in nursing on the other side of your degree, you owe it to yourself to explore this opportunity.