The U.S. faces a shortage of nurses, but not all states are affected similarly. The national average sits at 1.55 active RN per 100 people, and Georgia ranks near the bottom for all states at 1.32 nurses for every 100 residents. This need for nurses in Georgia includes not just licensed practical and registered nurses but advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) as well.
To become an APRN in Georgia, you need a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Many nurses interested in MSN degrees only have associate degrees, so many nursing programs have established RN to MSN bridge programs to accommodate these students and offer the greatest level of learning flexibility. This guide looks at how these programs work, including online options available, and how to afford them.
Nursing School Spotlights: Best RN to MSN Programs in Georgia
The best RN to MSN programs in Georgia help you get closer to your professional goals but do so in a way that’s as convenient and as affordable as possible. With these considerations in mind, we identified three standout MSN nursing programs below are for current registered nurses wanting to get their master’s degrees in nursing. These spotlighted schools are notable for both their quality of education as well as for their flexible learning options and affordability.
The MSN programs at Thomas University are accredited by the Accreditation Commission on Education in Nursing (ACEN) and include a traditional MSN program, an RN to MSN/MBA joint degree program, and the RN to MSN bridge program. The RN to MSN bridge program offers both education and nursing administration tracks, and all classwork is available online. Although there are no practicums, students still have some in-person requirements, including an internship. Part of the curriculum includes BSN-level bridge classes to get ADN-prepared nurses ready for graduate-level coursework in nursing. Completing this RN to MSN program at Thomas University does not result in a BSN degree in addition to the MSN degree. To further enhance professional prospects after graduation, there’s also the option to become a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society.
South University’s Savannah location offers an RN to MSN program with a family nurse practitioner specialization. Graduates of the program address a growing need for primary care providers. Students will learn how to treat all developmental stages within a family. Students will take fewer classes as some graduate courses will be substituted for undergraduate ones. The university also will take transfer credits to satisfy some undergraduate degree requirements
Georgia State University
Georgia State University’s online RN to MS bridge program develops students’ leadership skills in healthcare teams and facilitates their coordination of patient care. It offers four nurse practitioner specializations, including psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. Applicants need at least one year of RN experience and to complete additional undergraduate courses in addition to their master’s level classes. Most classes are offered online, but there are also in-person clinical requirements. Full-time students can finish the program in two to three years, while part-time enrollment will push the timeline to three to four years.
FAQs: RN to MSN Programs in Georgia
What Can You Do with an MSN in Georgia?
The MSN degree is an important nursing degree for careers involving nursing administration, management, and advanced practice. For advanced practice nursing, the MSN degree is the minimum you’ll need to practice as a clinical nurse specialist, certified nurse midwife, certified nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist/psych-mental health, and certified registered nurse anesthetist.
Many RN to MSN programs in Georgia have concentrations to prepare you for one or more of these advanced nurse practitioners. For instance, South University’s RN to MSN program offers the family nurse practitioner specialization. Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing is for those with current RN licenses seeking an APRN in one of the following areas: adult/gerontology nurse practitioner in primary or acute care, emergency NP, family NP, neonatal NP, nurse-midwifery, pediatric acute care NP, pediatric primary care NP, women’s health NP, MSN-MA in bioethics, MSN-MPH dual degree, and psychiatric/mental health NP. An MSN degree is also a stepping stone to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
Will I Earn My Bachelor’s Degree During My RN to MSN Program?
Some Georgia RN to MSN programs offer ADN nurses BSN-level coursework as a part of their programs but do not result in a BSN degree in addition to the MSN degree. Most Georgia RN to MSN nursing programs, however, are for students who already have BSN degrees. Some schools, like South University, make special arrangements for students interested in a BSN in addition to an MSN. However, this usually adds considerable time and expense to the MSN degree process.
What Will I Learn in an RN to MSN Program in Georgia?
What you’ll learn in a Georgia RN to MSN program depends on which specialization you choose. If you decide to focus on a family nurse practitioner track like that at Mercer University, you’ll gain advanced skills in patient assessment, diagnosis, pediatrics, women’s health, and adult primary care, in addition to the core MSN classes found in other accredited MSN programs. Core classes in most programs are much like those at Thomas University, covering leadership, financial management, ethics, law, and information technology in nursing. MSN nursing students usually receive hands-on training through internships for education or management-related specialization or practicums to obtain clinical-based skills.
How Long is an RN to MSN Program in Georgia?
The length of an RN to MSN program in Georgia depends on several variables, including incoming transfer credits, whether you’re enrolled in an accelerated or traditional program, and your chosen specialization. Another important factor is whether you already have a BSN. Most programs take at least two years, which is the case with Georgia Southern University’s MSN in Nursing Education program. Some, like Brenau University’s standard RN to MSN FNP program, can take up to four years.
How Much Do RN to MSN Programs in Georgia Cost?
The cost of your hybrid or online Georgia RN to MSN degree is difficult to figure out because of the different concentrations, school types (i.e., public versus private), and learning formats available. In addition, the more time you spend in school results in more money spent, so those enrolling with an ADN instead of a BSN can expect to spend more. Some specializations also have more clinical and on-campus learning requirements than others, which could necessitate extra travel costs. Below are a few examples of tuition rates to give you a rough idea of what to expect.
University of West Georgia
Total Credits: 35
Georgia Southern University
Total Credits: 36
MSN – Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
Total Credits: 46
Can I Get Financial Aid in Georgia to Help Pay For My RN to MSN Program?
Online RN to MSN students in Georgia do have scholarships, grants, student loans, and other forms of financial aid available to them. Scholarships and grants are well-known types of gift-based aid and can come from the nursing program itself or private entities like corporations and nonprofit organizations. Another option comes from special government programs like the Nurse Corps Scholarship through the Health Resources and Service Administration. In return for a scholarship that helps pay for tuition, fees, and related educational costs and that provides a stipend, nursing graduates agree to work at a healthcare facility in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). Because of its extensive nursing shortage, Georgia has hundreds of HPSAs.
What Requirements Do I Need to Apply for Admission to RN to MSN Programs in Georgia?
Admission requirements depend primarily on whether you need a BSN degree. For RN to BSN bridge programs, you won’t need a BSN but do need a valid RN license in addition to other admissions requirements. For more traditional MSN programs, you’ll need a BSN from an accredited institution in addition to your RN license. Other admission requirements you’ll most likely need regardless of which Georgia RN to MSN program you apply to include:
- Official transcripts
- Resume or curriculum vitae
- Statement of purpose or personal statement
- Two or more letters of recommendation
Some nursing programs, like Georgia State University’s RN to MSN program, also require that applicants take the GRE or MAT entrance exam and have at least one year of clinical nursing experience.
What Should I Look For in a Quality RN to MSN Program in Georgia?
When choosing the right RN to MSN program for you, look at what which schools offer the specialization you’re interested in. Also, consider the availability of financial aid, as some schools may have more scholarship or grant money than others. Regardless of your personal preferences and professional needs, make sure the program is accredited by the ACEN or CCNE and approved by the Georgia Board of Nursing. Other factors to help tilt your decision to one school over the other include availability of online classes, the ability to choose your practicum or internship locations, the existence of accelerated learning options, and certificate exam passage rates for a particular program’s graduates.
Inside Look at RN to MSN Online Programs in Georgia
Online learning at the post-secondary level used to be a novelty, but now it’s expected at the graduate level to make it easier for RNs to continue working while in school. That’s why it’s common for RN to MSN programs in Georgia to offer online learning options. Online classes are popular for RN to MSN programs because they make it easier for students to continue working as RNs in school. But keep in mind, however, that even in an online RN to MSN program, you’ll probably still have face-to-face requirements for internships or practicums. This is especially true when enrolled in an MSN program with a clinical specialization like a nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetist. Despite these in-person requirements, online RN to MSN nursing programs try to accommodate students by letting them choose where to get their practicum or internship experience.
Can I Earn my MSN in Georgia Completely Online?
In the vast majority of cases, online RN to MSN programs in Georgia follow a hybrid model. This means programs include online classes, either synchronously or asynchronously, plus clinical or hands-on requirements for practicums or internships. Some programs also require on-campus visits to complete certain class or clinical requirements.
Do Employers in Georgia Accept Graduates from Online RN to MSN Programs?
If you graduate from an accredited RN to an MSN program approved by the Georgia Board of Nursing, you should have no problem getting hired, regardless of whether the program is online, in-person, or a combination of the two. This is especially true now that online learning components are pretty much commonplace in most of Georgia’s graduate nursing programs.
In Georgia, How Do I Go from Being an RN to an MSN Nurse?
Most RN to MSN programs in Georgia will only accept students with RN licenses, so you don’t need to do anything different to continue practicing as an RN simply because you now have a master’s degree in nursing. However, if you want to practice at a more advanced level with your MSN degree, such as an APRN, you need to earn your MSN degree, complete an application, and pay a fee. Part of this application process confirms that your MSN is in the same specialty as the APRN credential you’re applying for, but it also shows that you passed the applicable national board certification for your APRN specialty.
RN to MSN Salary and Employment Trends in Georgia
Besides greater responsibility and authorization to provide higher-level treatment to patients, one of the advantages of completing an RN to MSN program in Georgia is the potential for higher earnings. The questions below help you consider what kind of salary boost you might expect by getting your MSN degree.
How Much More Does an MSN Nurse Make in Georgia?
Getting an MSN degree usually results in a salary jump not simply because you now have a graduate degree but because your degree lets you practice at a higher level in positions like a nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, or nurse practitioner. An RN in Georgia, for example, has an annual average salary of $54,173. After getting an MSN degree, though, the average yearly salary for a nurse in Georgia jumps to $88,440.
Where you work can also make a big difference in how much you earn. For example, nurse practitioners in Georgia working in a north Georgia nonmetropolitan area make about $94,560. Atlanta-Sandy Spring-Roswell Metropolitan area MSN nurses, though, have an annual average salary of $113,410.
What is the Job Market Like for Registered Nurses with an MSN in Georgia?
The job market for MSN-trained nurses in Georgia is extremely strong, with expected growth through 2030 of 78.6% for nurse practitioners, 18.6% for nurse midwives, and 28.1% for nurse anesthetists. These projections are well above the national average of 46% for nurse practitioners, 7% for nurse midwives, and 12% for nurse anesthetists.