Almost all Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs in North America share similar admissions requirements. Below explains the experience, education, licensure, application and additional requirements for most of these programs.

Resource: 30 Most Affordable Online Nursing Administration Degrees (MSN)

Employment History

Almost all Master of Science in Nursing programs requires a minimum of one year of work experience as a registered nurse (RN) or similar professional. Nursing students who are attempting to study specialty areas will most likely be required to demonstrate additional employment history. For instance, advanced practice nurses (APNs) have the academic options of becoming a general nurse practitioner (NP), who provides basic care and services, or a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) who provides specialist care in areas like OB/GYN, pediatrics, cardiology and mental health. Because most NPs become family nurse practitioners, they would need at least one year of employment history in a family care clinic or facility. On the other hand, those who want to become a certified nurse midwife (CNM) will need work history in a neonatal or prenatal care unit.

Academic History

While a current resume is typically required to show work history and other relevant information, an official transcript will be required that shows the candidate has graduated from an accredited undergraduate nursing program. Some higher learning organizations only accept specific Bachelor's degrees, such as the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). It is highly likely that a Master of Science in Nursing program will expect candidates to have graduated from a program that is accredited by either the National League for Nursing (NLN) or the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (CCNE). The NLN is a national agency devoted to nursing education, advocacy, testing and faculty development. The CCNE is recognized by the Department of Education as the premier accrediting agency for quality nursing degree programs.

Required Coursework

All Master of Science in Nursing programs will require candidates to have already completed certain prerequisites. Regardless of whether the candidate has earned an ASN, Nursing diploma or BSN, almost all must submit proof of completing 2 to 3 semester hour courses in both statistics and nursing research. During the statistics course, the student should have studied descriptive and inferential methods. Courses in natural science, such as nutrition, microbiology and human anatomy and physiology will most likely be required. There are additional prerequisites for the humanities, psychology and social sciences. Proficiency in English is mandatory, so students must submit their Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score. Master of Science in Nursing students will need a writing score of at least 4.5 and verbal and quantitative scores above the 50th percentile.

Additional Admissions Requirements

Master of Science in Nursing candidates will need to hold a current, unrestricted Registered Nurse (RN) license. Certain states may require that out of state applicants seek endorsement through the local Board of Nursing. Many programs also require letters of intent and reference. Letters of intent, or goal essays, describe the applicant's goals, academic aspirations and long-term career plans. Letters of recommendations are professional references who highlight the candidates' competencies and achievements. Reference letters should be from work supervisors, faculty members or professional colleagues.

Finally, during the MSN committee interview, students should emphasize their nursing experience, academic performance, leadership potential and any honors and awards of distinction that they have received.

Additional Resource: 30 Most Affordable Masters in Healthcare Administration Degree Programs 2015