Can You Get a Master in Nursing Degree Online?

Online Nursing DegreeNurses are some of the hardest workers in the medical field, with long shifts and changing hours that make it necessary to pursue a Master’s of Nursing degree online if at all possible. The good news for today’s nurses is that there has never been a better time to pursue this graduate-level degree online instead of in a traditional classroom. Thanks to advances in online learning software, and an increasingly long list of respected schools that offer the online master’s degree program, nurses can get the best combination of an advanced education, a flexible schedule, and a prestigious degree, all on their own time.

Things to Consider: Tuition Reimbursement, Accreditation, and More

Getting an online degree might be a change of venue compared to more traditional, on-campus programs, but it still requires a nearly identical set of considerations. Before enrolling in an online Master’s of Nursing, be sure to consider three important factors.

Reimbursement of Tuition Expenses

Many employers will pay at least a part of the tuition expenses charged by an accredited nursing school. Though most hospitals offer to pay slightly less for graduate degrees than they do for undergraduate credits, these reimbursement programs are an essential way to lower the amount of student loans that students must receive in order to fully pay for their annual tuition expenses. This allows nurses to more quickly enjoy the benefits of the higher salary they’ll earn with a more advanced degree in the field.

Accreditation of the Program

There are two types of accreditation to look for when pursuing an online master’s degree in nursing. The first of these, and easily the most essential, is a regional or national accreditation that has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Many online programs do offer this accreditation, which certifies the quality of the degree and allows the student to receive financial aid. A small handful of online schools, however, do not feature a recognized accreditation and therefore their degrees are often not recognized by hospitals and family clinics.

The second accreditation to look for is the one issued by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, or CCNE. This seal of approval certifies that a nursing program has been fully reviewed and approved by the commission, and that it offers a rigorous curriculum that will help students offer a superior level of patient care to any future patients.

On-Campus Laboratory Requirements and Practicum

While many online nursing programs are “pure online” options without any campus attendance required, some schools do ask their graduate nursing students to attend the occasional on-campus lab. Other schools require students to visit campus for a final nursing capstone course, which usually takes place over the weekend in a dedicated lab. These two requirements aren’t usually a problem for students who enroll in an online program offered by a local campus, but they can present real headaches if cross-country travel is required. It’s also a good idea to look into any practicum requirements and arrange for placement as early in the program as possible.

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Engaging Online Experiences Await Graduate Nursing Students

Nurses who wish to benefit their career by earning a graduate degree have never had more options online. According to US News and World Report, with that said, it’s important to consider a school’s cost, reputation, accreditation, and attendance requirements, as well as an employer’s reimbursement policies, before committing to a Master’s of Nursing degree online.