Credits and costs
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 program 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.
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.
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. The curriculum can also 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 Ross and Carol Nese 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.
Nurse administrators may want to enter the online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) directly from the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and complete their MSN core courses and Nurse Administrator option courses through the doctoral program.
Recognition — The Ross and Carol Nese 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 www.ccneaccreditation.org.
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
Penn State's 36-credit online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program can help you build on your existing nursing experience with the additional knowledge and skills you need to lead change in the dynamic health care environment.
Your curriculum will include:
- Core courses — All students enrolled in the MSN program will take the same three core courses to build a foundation of learning.
- Option-specific courses — You will choose either the Nurse Administrator option or the Nurse Educator option and take the courses related to those options. Students in the Nurse Administrator option will select elective courses that suit their professional interests and background, in addition to the courses required for the option.
- Clinical practicum — You will be required to complete 180 hours of a clinical practicum after finishing your option-specific courses. This can be completed in a convenient location based on your current work schedule. (Criminal background checks and other compliances will be required, with the cost being incurred by the individual student.)
The curriculum is offered in both part-time and full-time academic plans. The part-time schedule consists of two courses per semester in fall and spring, with additional courses offered during the summer semester. With the full-time schedule, you would take three courses per semester in each fall and spring, with additional courses available during the summer semester
MSN Core Courses (9 credits)
Nurse Administrator Option (21 credits)
Nurse Administrator Required Courses (15 credits)
Nurse Administrator Elective Courses (select 6 credits)
Nurse Educator Option (21 credits)
Nurse Educator Required Courses (21 credits)
Clinical Practicum (6 credits)
If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.
Costs and Financial Aid
Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.
|How many credits do you plan to take per semester?||Cost|
|11 or fewer||$1,007 per credit|
|12 or more||$12,082 per semester|
Financial Aid and Military Benefits
Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.
How to Apply
Deadlines and Important Dates
Your degree application, including receipt of all transcripts, must be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete.
- Fall Deadline: Apply by June 30 to start August 21
- Spring Deadline: Apply by October 1 to start January 8
- Summer Deadline: Apply by March 1, 2024, to start May 13, 2024
If you have any questions throughout the admissions process, please contact an admissions counselor.
For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.
Specifically, as an applicant to Penn State's online MSN program, you must have a bachelor's degree in nursing from a program accredited by a national accrediting agency for nursing and hold a current license to practice professional nursing in the United States.
- GPA of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale
- Grades of B or better in all sciences and nursing courses
- College chemistry and statistics (NOTE: Chemistry is not required for those applying to the Nurse Administrator option.)
What You Need
Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:
Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. — Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.
GPA and Test Scores — postsecondary (undergraduate), junior/senior (last two years) GPA is required. The program prefers an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.3. Official GRE or GMAT test scores will be considered if submitted, but are NOT required.
English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.
Please note that for entrance into a Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing graduate-level program, the minimum acceptable score for the TOEFL is 580 for the paper-based test, or a total score of 80 with a 25 on the speaking section for the Internet-based test (iBT). The minimum composite score for the IELTS is 7.0.
References (2) — you will need to initiate the process through the online application by entering names, email addresses, and mailing addresses of two references. Upon submission of your application, an email will be sent to each reference requesting they complete a brief online recommendation regarding your commitment for success in an online program. Please inform all recommenders they must submit the form in order for your application to be complete.
If you completed college-level courses over the last five years, an academic reference is required. Other references should be from a nursing supervisor, preferably holding a degree higher than yours.
Personal Statement — In order for the admissions committee to evaluate your potential, please write a narrative addressing these bulleted items (single-spaced and no more than 300 words):
- your relevant work experience
- your goals for graduate study and for future career development
- clearly articulated reasons for applying to the selected option at Penn State
- any other information you would consider pertinent to your application
The Graduate Admissions Committee considers the Goal Statement very seriously. Your Goal Statement reflects your ability to express yourself clearly and concisely in writing and indicates the fit of your goals with the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing graduate program.
Start Your Application
You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.
Begin the graduate school application
- Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus
- Choose "Nursing" as the major
- Choose "Master of Science Nursing (MSN)" as the degree
- Then, be sure to choose either "Nurse Administrator" or "Nurse Educator" as the option
Checking Your Status
You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form.
Review the technical requirements for this degree program.
Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.
Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State master's degree?
Start or Advance Your Career
Start or Advance Your Career
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.
Earn a Valuable Credential along the Way
Earn a Valuable Credential along the Way
Show mastery of specific subjects before your degree is complete. Thanks to shared courses across programs, students can often earn a certificate along with their degree in less time than if they earned them separately.
Student are required to take a 6-credit practicum course based on previous experiences and learning needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
You can learn more about the application process, clinical and practicum locations, and what our courses are like right now.
World Campus Admissions Counselors
Email: [email protected]
Student Enrollment Recruiter
Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing
Email: [email protected]
To learn more about additional, highly respected nursing programs, visit The Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing website.
Rachel Allen, RN, PMHNP-BCDegreePh.D., University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Dr. Rachel Allen is an assistant research professor of nursing, family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, Jonas Nurse Leader Scholar, and Fellow at the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on psychiatric nursing, nursing history, mental health policy, and the broad social history of deinstitutionalization. Dr. Allen's research contains both a chronic illness and community focus, centering on individuals living with serious and persistent mental illness.
Cara Exten, PH.D., MPH, B.S.
DegreePh.D., The Ohio State University
DegreeMPH, Emory University
DegreeB.S., East Tennessee State University
Dr. Cara Exten is an assistant teaching professor for the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing. She is an infectious disease epidemiologist, focusing on health disparities affecting sexual and gender minority populations, with an emphasis on sexual health (specifically HIV and other sexually transmitted infections) and substance use. She has extensive experience in survey data collection, data analysis, and working with high-risk populations, and she is passionate about the examination of diseases in their entirety, including biological, sociological, and epidemiological factors.
Donna M. Fick, RN, FGSA, FAAN
DegreePh.D., Nursing Science/Geriatrics, University of California-San Francisco
DegreeMSN, Gerontological Nursing, University of Cincinnati
DegreeBSN, Nursing Science, Berea College
Dr. Donna M. Fick is the director of the Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence at Penn State. She is an instructor for a variety of graduate nursing courses. Dr. Fick's research interests include inappropriate medication use in older adults, recognition and management of delirium superimposed on dementia, and implementation of ultra-brief delirium screening in hospital settings.
Sandra Halbruner, DNP, CRNP, FNP-BC
DegreeDNP, Wilkes University
DegreeM.S., Penn State
DegreeBSN, Johns Hopkins University
DegreeB.S., Franklin & Marshall College
Dr. Sandra Halbruner is an assistant teaching professor for the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing. She has more than 21 years of experience in the field of medicine. Her research interests include active learning techniques in the multi-site or online classroom.
Sharilee Hrabovsky, D. ED., MSN, FNP-BC
DegreeD.Ed., Adult Education, Penn State
DegreePost-Master's Certification, Family Practice Nurse Practitioner, Widener University
DegreeMSN, Nursing Case Management, Villanova University
DegreeBSN, Nursing, Thomas Jefferson University
Dr. Sharilee Hrabovsky is an assistant research professor for the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing and a tobacco treatment specialist for College of Medicine. A practicing nurse for the more than three decades, many of them as a nurse practitioner, she has presented on tobacco use, treatment, and regulation research for the last several years. As a Nationally Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist, she has worked with hundreds of tobacco users through clinical trials or direct patient care in their quest to reduce or quit tobacco use. Her research interest includes tobacco use, treatment, and regulation; behavior change; and qualitative and mixed methods research.
Susan Loeb, PH.D., RN, FGSA, FAAN
DegreeDNP, Penn State
DegreeMSN, Penn State
DegreeBSN, Penn State
Dr. Susan J. Loeb is a professor for the College of Nursing and the College of Medicine. She is a faculty affiliate at the Center for Health Care Policy and Research and Center for Healthy Aging. Her program of research focuses on the health needs and issues of older inmates with chronic health conditions, including those with advanced chronic illnesses who are approaching the end of life. Her research has been funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Nursing Research. Over the past two decades, Dr. Loeb has taught a wide array of courses across the nursing curriculum, from undergraduate through doctoral education. Most recently, her teaching has been in writing-focused courses, helping students develop their scholarly papers or dissertations. She also regularly teaches NURS 501: Issues in Nursing and Health Care.
Paul Logan, PH.D., CRNP, ACNP-BC
DegreePh.D., Penn State
DegreeMSN, University of Pennsylvania
DegreeBSN, Messiah College
Dr. Paul Logan is an assistant research professor for the College of Nursing. His research interests include outcomes, quality, and value in health care, particularly the quality of care provided by nurse practitioners. His clinical interests include acute care, critical care, and cardiovascular disease.
Sheri Matter, Ph.D.
DegreePh.D., Leadership and Administration, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
DegreeMSN, Wilmington University
DegreeMBA, University of St. Francis
DegreeBSN, Wilkes University
Dr. Sheri Matter is the director of online MSN programs and is an assistant teaching professor for Penn State's Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing. She has more than 30 years of nursing leadership experience, including serving as chief nursing executive of a multiple-hospital system. Her dissertation focused on the nurse characteristics of a highly reliable organization. Her research interests include leadership, nurse characteristics and their effects on quality, and qualitative methods.
Nicole Peterson, DNP, A/GPCNP-BC, CRNP, RN
DegreeDNP, University of Iowa
DegreeMSN, University of Iowa
DegreeBSN, University of Iowa
Dr. Nicole Peterson is an assistant teaching professor for the Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing and an Emeritus associate professor of instruction at the University of Iowa College of Nursing. She is a Respecting Choices® first steps and advanced steps facilitator. She has experience teaching in undergraduate and graduate nursing, including master's and doctorate level, as well as serving as geriatric nurse practitioner preceptor to numerous students, including family medicine residents. Her teaching experience includes lecture, online, clinical/practicum, and simulation with emphasis on utilizing active learning strategies in the classroom. As an enrolled member of the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin and a first-generation college student, she strives to be a supportive resource for underrepresented students in higher education. Her clinical research interest includes advance care planning. Her DNP project involved advance care planning conversations and completion of an Iowa Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (IPOST) when applicable with nursing home residents in a mid-size town when the medical orders were first available statewide in Iowa.
Andrea Yevchak Sillner, PH.D., GCNS-BC, RN
DegreeDNP, Penn State
DegreeMSN, Penn State
DegreeBSN, Penn State
Dr. Andrea Sillner is an assistant professor for the Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing and a board-certified gerontological clinical nurse specialist. Her 2017 Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Early-Career Investigator Award in Patient and Family Engagement supports her work to develop a new subscale of the Preferences for Everyday Living Inventory, to be known as the P-TAC. This new subscale is being designed to strengthen technology-assisted communication among older adults receiving community-based home health services and their formal and informal caregivers, and will also address current gaps in support needed to improve transitions in care for older adults with multiple chronic conditions. Her research interests include person-centered, preference-based interventions focused on improving communication among health care providers, patients, and family members; technology-based communication strategies; and communication and care transitions for persons with delirium and delirium superimposed on dementia.
Kimberly Van Haitsma, PH.D.
DegreePh.D., Clinical Psychology, Bowling Green State University
DegreeM.A., Clinical Psychology, Bowling Green State University
DegreeB.A., Psychology, Calvin College
Dr. Kimberly Van Haitsma's research interests include developing observational methodologies to assess behavior and emotion in dementia, developing evidence-based education programs to enhance the skills of formal caregivers, advancing the understanding of person-centered care — "knowing preferences for everyday living" — and developing measurement tools for research, clinical practice, and evidence-based interventions for formal caregivers.
Kelly Wolgast, RN, FACHE, FAAN
DegreeDNP, University of Alabama at Birmingham
DegreeM.S., Strategic Studies, U.S. Army War College
DegreeMSN, Vanderbilt University
DegreeBSN, Penn State
Dr. Kelly Wolgast teaches both nurse administrator/management courses and nurse educator courses in Penn State's MSN and DNP Programs. Her research interests includes nurse leadership, health care delivery models, distance learning, and military/veterans' health.