Program Summary

Credits Required


Tuition per Credit

This program is CCNE Accredited

CCNE Accredited

The health care landscape is constantly changing. As a nurse, you need to stay on top of the latest health practices, delivery systems, regulations, and administrative procedures. And now, with research indicating a clear link between higher levels of nursing education and better patient outcomes, it's no longer a luxury to update your knowledge; it's a necessity.

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) can prepare you for leadership and educational positions by helping you stay at the forefront of this dynamic industry.

One Degree, Two Options

The core curriculum of the online MSN covers the principles of health care policy and the leadership skills needed to influence positive changes in health care in organizations and on a national, state, or local level. While studying the relationships between practice and research in the development of nursing science, you can also learn about the health care system from global, health policy, and economic perspectives. You will cover complex issues and trends specific to nursing, as well as in the broader context of the health care industry, in order to promote the health of individuals, families, and communities throughout society.

You will then refine your studies even further by choosing one of two options in the MSN degree program.

Nurse Administrator
The courses in the Nurse Administrator option can help you gain advanced knowledge of organizational leadership, health policy, and evidence-based health care delivery to prepare you for leadership and administrative roles in a variety of health care situations. The curriculum is designed to assist you in preparing for national certification as a nurse leader or executive.

Nurse Educator
The Nurse Educator option can provide you with advanced knowledge of evidence-based teaching and learning principles, curriculum development, and evaluative techniques. After successful completion of the program, you could be prepared for educator roles in various academic and health care settings. In addition, the curriculum can help to prepare you for national certification as a nurse educator.

Why an Online MSN from Penn State?

Comprehensive Curriculum — The MSN program, offered through Penn State World Campus in collaboration with the highly respected Penn State College of Nursing, focuses on advanced nursing knowledge that you can put into practice immediately. The curriculum provides you with in-depth study of human health and development throughout the life span. You can also learn about providing health services in diverse care settings to individuals, families, and communities of varied cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds throughout the world.

Flexibility — The online learning format offered by Penn State World Campus meets the unique needs of working professionals so you can fit a degree program into your life. The flexibility of studying when and where you want can give you the opportunity to gain new skills and knowledge while maintaining your current responsibilities. As a student in the online MSN program, you can expect to take at least two courses per semester in fall and spring, with additional courses offered during the summer semester.

You have the option of starting the MSN program immediately, or you can choose to enhance your professional credentials by achieving important milestones along the way. You could earn the Nurse Administrator Graduate Certificate or the Nurse Educator Graduate Certificate first. All of the required credits in these graduate certificates may be applied toward the corresponding option of the MSN program, if you apply for and are accepted into the highly competitive degree program. Or, for nurse administrators, you could enter the online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) directly from the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and complete your MSN core courses and Nurse Administrator option course through the doctoral program.

Recognition — The College of Nursing is approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing. The baccalaureate degree program in nursing, master’s degree program in nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice program, and post-graduate APRN certificate programs at The Pennsylvania State University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791. Further information can be found at

Who Should Apply?

The online MSN program was designed for you if you:

  • are a registered nurse with a valid United States RN license
  • have a bachelor's degree in nursing
  • want to advance in your career, either through an administrator or educator position

Career Opportunities for Graduates

Steady job growth is expected in health care for the next several years. As a graduate of the MSN degree program, you could be qualified for many career opportunities in hospitals, outpatient clinics, community care facilities, mental health and substance abuse hospitals, home health agencies, colleges/universities, and even business. Depending on the program option you choose, positions could include:

  • nurse administrator
  • nurse manager
  • nurse executive
  • chief nursing officer
  • vice president of patient care
  • director of quality improvement
  • health care consultant
  • director of nurse education/learning
  • nursing instructor/faculty
  • patient educator
  • staff developer