Can You Get a Nursing Degree Online?

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If you’ve been considering a nursing degree, you might be wondering “Can you get a nursing degree online?” The reality of how online nursing programs work is slightly more complicated than what first meets the eye, but a nursing program that contains an online component could be the best way to proceed. Marquette University’s Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program could be your path to a new future, allowing you to earn a master’s in nursing in five semesters, or less than 21 months. That’s not much more time than it would take you to get a second bachelor’s degree, and it puts you one degree closer to an advanced practice nursing certification — something you may end up wanting later in your career.

Whatever your preferred learning style, Marquette University has a Direct Entry MSN program for you. The Milwaukee program offers:

  • Traditional, in-person didactic courses
  • In-person skills labs, simulations and in-hospital clinicals
  • One start date per year, each May
  • An urban setting on Marquette’s main campus

Our Pleasant Prairie program offers:

  • Asynchronous online didactic courses
  • In-person skills labs, simulations and in-hospital clinicals
  • Two start dates per year, in January and August
  • A suburban-based learning site (with clinicals taking place at facilities across multiple major metro areas)
  • Access to resources and facilities on our main campus

Today we will explore the role of online learning offered through the program at our Pleasant Prairie location — what it’s like and whether it’s right for you.

How Marquette’s Pleasant Prairie Direct Entry MSN Program Works

Before anything else, for those wondering how online nursing courses work, it should be noted that no accelerated nursing program is completely online. Nurses must be able to think on their feet, applying clinical knowledge while at the same time quickly responding to what could be a life-or-death situation. This makes experience essential to any quality nursing education, which is why a significant portion of our nursing curriculum is, in fact, hands-on.

A marquette student studying at a computer

You’ll engage with peers and instructors through asynchronous online coursework, which provides crucial nursing theory instruction through our learning management system. On this platform, you’ll find instructor-recorded videos, interactive activities, discussion forums, quizzes, and even virtual “office hours” where professors will review key concepts and case studies, and allow opportunities for student questions. Next, skills labs and simulations offer a safe place to learn fundamental and advanced nursing skills (such as inserting an intravenous catheter or performing a physical assessment) and apply those skills in simulated care scenarios, such as a patient having a heart attack. Lastly, in-hospital clinical rotations allow you to care for acutely ill patients directly under the watchful eye of Marquette’s excellent practicing clinicians. These expert clinical instructors are specialists in a variety of practice areas including:

  • Adult Nursing
  • Pediatrics
  • Intensive care
  • Mental health
  • Neurology
  • Gerontological
  • Emergency department
  • Oncology
  • Neonatal
  • Obstetrics (labor and delivery)
  • Orthopedics

How Online Learning Works

Now that you have a better understanding of the three components that make up our program, let’s take a more in-depth look at how completing nursing courses online works.

Online Coursework Offers Convenience and Accessibility

Perhaps the most frequently touted benefit of nursing online learning is the convenience factor, and it’s easy to see why. Not everyone has the time to spend several hours a day on campus, and while there’s no way of getting around labs and clinicals, having the ability to access your coursework at any time of the day and from any location is conducive to your success. Also great? The ability to go through the coursework at your own pace.

two marquette students studying on their computers

Just keep in mind that this doesn’t discount the importance of punctually completing coursework and assignments. Meeting your deadlines is critical, as is staying current on your coursework. Online learning requires a certain level of self-discipline, and you need to apply your time management skills on a consistent basis. If you prefer the external motivation of attending lectures and handing in assignments in person, the convenience of online learning might be a hindrance to your success. Before making a choice, carefully consider whether your personal learning style fits with self-directed study.

Our Canvas LMS Has Something for Learners of All Preferences

Some students learn best from watching or listening; others learn best when they take a more active role in their learning. Our online coursework accommodates different learning styles by presenting material in a variety of formats.

For example, in one week you might:

  • Watch a series of videos on a given topic.
  • Learn the process of auscultating lung sounds in an interactive course.
  • Work through an animated case study.
  • Complete textbook readings and write posts about the content in online discussion forums.
  • Participate in exam review sessions with your cohort through the use of web conferencing.

Not only that, online coursework allows you to go back and review content as many times as you’d like, which further helps you to remember the information. Additionally, to really drive home lessons, labs and clinicals will reflect the content being taught online, creating an immersive learning experience.

The Benefits of Online Nursing Coursework

With a better understanding of how online nursing coursework works within the framework of Marquette’s Direct Entry MSN program at Pleasant Prairie, now let’s cover some of the biggest benefits that online nursing coursework can offer.

Online Learning Can Help You Keep Pace with Your Studies

If you enroll to earn your master’s in nursing, make no mistake that the process will be a challenge regardless of program format. For a direct entry program like Marquette’s that can take 19–21 months, however, the commitment level is high, and your studies will be equivalent to the load of a full-time job. One of the largest benefits of online coursework is the ability to schedule out when you will read and complete assignments on course material.

With increased flexibility (while still meeting deadlines), students will be able to better take on this challenge, learning in whatever time and place works best for them. When you also add in the support each student can access, online-based coursework could be the best option for some.

Online Learning Lets You Connect with Your Professors Virtually

There’s a misconception that students enrolled in online learning programs won’t have contact with their professors. While this might be the case with some programs, this is far from the case with our Direct Entry MSN program. We all want to see our students succeed, and it shows. Students will meet their faculty in person at the beginning of the program, at orientation, and at the beginning of each semester. Marquette instructors also make themselves available to students through a variety of means.

Marquette University - Debriefing Room

Most instructors (if not all) host weekly synchronous sessions where they review PowerPoints, discuss case studies, and practice NCLEX questions. Students can reach out to their instructors through email, phone, text, and even virtual “office hours” and question-and-answer sessions accessible through our learning management system. Free individual tutoring is also available to all DE-MSN students, helping to ensure that each student feels supported and has the tools for success.

“I feel so supported by the faculty here,” says Marquette DE-MSN alumna Allysa. “Coming into an online program, I was nervous about whether or not I would be able to get the help that I needed, if I needed it, and they are so prompt when replying to emails. They’ve set up phone calls with me, conference calls with me, and I just can’t believe how engaged they are in an online environment. You can tell they want us to succeed by how engaged they are.”

Ready to Earn Your MSN?

Having learned more about whether you can get a nursing degree online, if Marquette’s Direct Entry MSN program in Pleasant Prairie seems like a good fit for you, fill out our online form, and one of our admissions advisers will reach out about whether you could earn your MSN in 19–21 months.