Nursing

Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN): with Nurse Leader and Nurse Educator Concentrations

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$0 Application Fee
$0 Transfer Credit Evaluation

0 Entrance Exams
No GRE/GMAT Required

About This Online Master's in Nursing Program

Prepare to be an agent of change in today’s dynamic healthcare industry through the online Master of Science in Nursing at American Public University.

APU’s CCNE-accredited master’s degree in nursing is for registered nurses who have earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing and have a current, active, and unencumbered license. Our online MSN program helps you cultivate and lead collaborative healthcare teams through coursework on population-based healthcare, research and evidence-based practice, health policy, and grant writing. You will choose from three concentrations: Nurse Educator, Nurse Leader or Community and Public Health Nursing.

The mission of the online program is to provide quality, affordable, and accessible higher education to professional registered nurses by fostering lifelong learning through a spirit of inquiry in order to prepare students for service and leadership roles in a diverse and global society.

Your program concludes with a practicum in your community focusing on your professional interest area.

This master's degree program at American Public University System is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

NOTE: This program has specific admission requirements and is currently not open for admission to residents of Washington state. This program may include an in-person activity or practicum.

What You Will Do in This Program

  1. Apply ethical principles to advanced professional nursing practice
  2. Demonstrate leadership skills that support safe nursing practices and patient-centered care
  3. Advocate for healthcare policy improvement
  4. Apply your knowledge and evidence-based practice to deliver high-quality, safe care to diverse populations in a variety of settings
  5. Apply data management principles to provide cost-effective care and improve health outcomes

View Program Outcome Assessment Results

Degree at a Glance

Accredited
CCNE Accredited
Number of Credits
36
Cost Per Credit
$455 | $290*
$386.75** | $409.50***
Nursing Courses Start Every Other Month
Online
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Program Requirements Printable Catalog Version

Students must choose a concentration for this degree program:

Offers a focus in leadership, human resource management, and operational quality. Healthcare business and finance are also covered.

Objectives:

Upon completion of this concentration, you will be able to:

  • Apply programmatic objectives to the role of the nurse leader.
  • Advocate for business practices that promote healthcare quality and patient safety
  • Synthesize knowledge of key business and human resources practices to lead healthcare teams.

Must take all courses for this section.

Course ID: 4995

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This course explores legal and ethical dimensions of health care in the context of patients’ rights and responsibilities, employee rights and responsibilities, and business practices. The course examines ethical values and principles in healthcare, the Patient Bill of Rights, legal regulations in healthcare, malpractice and risk management, and basics of employment law and labor relations. Students will apply ethical and legal principles to analyze the health administrator’s role in case examples involving ethical and legal dilemmas.
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
02/26/24 - 08/02/24 08/05/24 - 09/29/24 Summer 2024 Session I 8 Week session
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 10/27/24 Summer 2024 Session D 8 Week session
04/29/24 - 10/04/24 10/07/24 - 12/01/24 Fall 2024 Session B 8 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 12/29/24 Fall 2024 Session I 8 Week session
06/24/24 - 11/29/24 12/02/24 - 01/26/25 Fall 2024 Session D 8 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 03/02/25 Winter 2025 Session B 8 Week session

Course ID: 5230

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This course serves as an advanced course in human resource management with an emphasis on the health care workforce. Students will explore the intricacies associated with recruiting, hiring, and managing healthcare workers. Organizational culture as it pertains to human resources will be examined, and strategic planning will be highlighted. (Prerequisite: HCAD500)
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 10/27/24 Summer 2024 Session D 8 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 12/29/24 Fall 2024 Session I 8 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 03/02/25 Winter 2025 Session B 8 Week session

Course ID: 5184

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This course is designed to introduce students to the business side of healthcare. Topics include the regulatory environment, employment law, managing and marketing healthcare services. The course also looks at organized delivery systems including the labs, pharmacies, materials maintenance, and physician practice administration.
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
02/26/24 - 08/02/24 08/05/24 - 09/29/24 Summer 2024 Session I 8 Week session
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 10/27/24 Summer 2024 Session D 8 Week session
04/29/24 - 10/04/24 10/07/24 - 12/01/24 Fall 2024 Session B 8 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 12/29/24 Fall 2024 Session I 8 Week session
06/24/24 - 11/29/24 12/02/24 - 01/26/25 Fall 2024 Session D 8 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 03/02/25 Winter 2025 Session B 8 Week session

Course ID: 5185

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This course is designed to give healthcare administration students a foundation in economic principles of health insurance. Topics will include managed care, employer-sponsored health insurance, the functioning of Medicare and Medicaid, the history of health insurance in the United States, and special topics in health insurance. (Prerequisite: HCAD650)
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
02/26/24 - 08/02/24 08/05/24 - 09/29/24 Summer 2024 Session I 8 Week session
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 10/27/24 Summer 2024 Session D 8 Week session
04/29/24 - 10/04/24 10/07/24 - 12/01/24 Fall 2024 Session B 8 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 12/29/24 Fall 2024 Session I 8 Week session
06/24/24 - 11/29/24 12/02/24 - 01/26/25 Fall 2024 Session D 8 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 03/02/25 Winter 2025 Session B 8 Week session

Course ID: 5186

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This course is designed to develop the skills that will allow students to create safe and efficient quality healthcare systems through an understanding of the quality management cycle, goal-setting, and goal obtainment metrics. Topics include creating satisfied patients, high quality service, efficient processes, and examining tools used within the field. (Prerequisite: HCAD650 and HCAD651)
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
02/26/24 - 08/02/24 08/05/24 - 09/29/24 Summer 2024 Session I 8 Week session
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 10/27/24 Summer 2024 Session D 8 Week session
04/29/24 - 10/04/24 10/07/24 - 12/01/24 Fall 2024 Session B 8 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 12/29/24 Fall 2024 Session I 8 Week session
06/24/24 - 11/29/24 12/02/24 - 01/26/25 Fall 2024 Session D 8 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 03/02/25 Winter 2025 Session B 8 Week session

Course ID: 5013

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This practicum is completed with a nurse leader in a selected setting and will apply the leadership theories and concepts essential to the nurse leader role. The practicum provides the student the opportunity to apply their learning to their area of interest. Students engage in leadership activities such as committees, staff education, or quality improvement projects. Students work with their faculty member to select the practicum site. 160 clinical hours are required for completion of this practicum. All core and specialty courses must be completed before taking this course. This course requires an additional cost for the use of Typhon student practicum tracking software, to be purchased by the student prior to the start of the practicum.
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 12/22/24 Summer 2024 Session C 16 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 02/23/25 Fall 2024 Session K 16 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 04/27/25 Winter 2025 Session A 16 Week session

Looks at curriculum, instruction, and assessment in nursing education with a focus on teaching and evaluations for nurse educators.

Objectives:

Upon completion of this concentration, you will be able to:

  • Apply programmatic objectives to the nurse educator role in clinical or academic settings.
  • Create educational and curricular materials for a variety of audiences.
  • Evaluate effectiveness of teaching strategies and modalities.

Must take all courses for this section.

Course ID: 4794

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This course builds on the undergraduate foundation in health assessment and provides the foundation for the advanced assessment skills required by the Nurse Educator. Teaching methodologies will facilitate the development of skills in conducting comprehensive and systematic assessments of patients throughout the lifespan. This will include physical and psychosocial assessment, risk assessment and functional assessments in diverse populations.
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 10/27/24 Summer 2024 Session D 8 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 12/29/24 Fall 2024 Session I 8 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 03/02/25 Winter 2025 Session B 8 Week session

Course ID: 5011

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This course builds on the undergraduate knowledge of pharmacology and the relationship of pharmacological therapies to patient health and outcomes, as well as pathophysiological conditions. Students study the actions and effects of medications as well as complementary and alternative therapies on the human system across the life span. Using a variety of theories and frameworks, students use clinical reasoning to evaluate ambiguous and complex clinical presentations. Students discuss the role of the advanced practice nurse educator in ensuring safe medication practice in a variety of settings.
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 10/27/24 Summer 2024 Session D 8 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 12/29/24 Fall 2024 Session I 8 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 03/02/25 Winter 2025 Session B 8 Week session

Course ID: 4843

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This course will provide the student with the theoretical basis of curriculum development, assessment and evaluation. Students will focus on the process of curriculum design and development; integrating these concepts into the economic, social, regulatory, technological, and ethical influences and trends which impact current nursing practice. (Prerequisite: ALL CORE COURSES IN THE PROGRAM and NURS601 and NURS604)
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 10/27/24 Summer 2024 Session D 8 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 12/29/24 Fall 2024 Session I 8 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 03/02/25 Winter 2025 Session B 8 Week session

Course ID: 4797

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The nurse educator must be proficient in developing and designing curriculum supportive of diverse learners in a variety of settings. This course introduces students to theoretical models and teaching methodologies to create stimulating learner-centered environments in both clinical and academic settings. This course explores the pedagogy of delivering effective nursing curricular content in learning environments that combine face-to-face and distance formats (blended learning) and those that deliver instruction completely online.
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 10/27/24 Summer 2024 Session D 8 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 12/29/24 Fall 2024 Session I 8 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 03/02/25 Winter 2025 Session B 8 Week session

Course ID: 4798

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The evaluation of learning is a critical component of advanced practice nursing education. This course explores the strategies and models that nurse educators use to evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching. Students use evaluation data to improve and revise curriculum. Content in this course is applicable to audiences in both academic and clinical education environments.
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 10/27/24 Summer 2024 Session D 8 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 12/29/24 Fall 2024 Session I 8 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 03/02/25 Winter 2025 Session B 8 Week session

Course ID: 5012

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This practicum provides nurse educator students the opportunity to apply specialized learning essential to strengthen and advance their own nursing practice in a particular area or focus in a direct care role. Students work with the practicum coordinator and faculty to identify a qualified preceptor and to select the practicum site for a wide variety of clinical practice settings consistent with AACN®’s Master’s Essentials (2011). 160 hours of clinical practice are required for completion of this practicum. All core and specialty courses must be completed before taking this course. This course requires an additional cost for the use of Typhon student practicum tracking software, to be purchased by the student prior to the start of the practicum.
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 12/22/24 Summer 2024 Session C 16 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 02/23/25 Fall 2024 Session K 16 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 04/27/25 Winter 2025 Session A 16 Week session

Must take all courses for this section.

Course ID: 4788

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Advanced degree nurses must integrate evidence-based principles into their daily practice, and promote research-based decision-making in themselves and others. This course focuses on the critical analysis of research and its application to current nursing practice. Ethical issues in the design and conduct of research are addressed. (Prerequisite: NURS502)
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 10/27/24 Summer 2024 Session D 8 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 12/29/24 Fall 2024 Session I 8 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 03/02/25 Winter 2025 Session B 8 Week session

Course ID: 4789

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This course examines how population-based theories and practice inform community/public nursing practice. An emphasis is placed on the ecology of health and the interconnectedness of the biological, behavioral, physical, and socio environmental domains. Students will analyze root causes of health disparities including cultural, political, social, racial, class, gender and economic factors and examine the role of social justice to improving population health. Strategies for collaboration and advocacy with diverse population and groups will be explored.
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 10/27/24 Summer 2024 Session D 8 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 12/29/24 Fall 2024 Session I 8 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 03/02/25 Winter 2025 Session B 8 Week session

Course ID: 4791

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Rapidly changing healthcare systems demand that advanced degree nurses possess knowledge of the effective use of informatics and technology to enhance patient care in a variety of settings. This course provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to improve patient outcomes through effective use of these technological resources. Topics include electronic medical records, data analysis, safe management of patient care technology, health literacy, and related ethical issues. (Prerequisite: NURS502)
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 10/27/24 Summer 2024 Session D 8 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 12/29/24 Fall 2024 Session I 8 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 03/02/25 Winter 2025 Session B 8 Week session

Course ID: 4792

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Today’s healthcare providers must promote health, influence the health delivery system, and participate in policy advocacy to improve the healthcare outcomes of populations. In this course, students will examine the effects of legal and regulatory processes on healthcare delivery at institutional, local, state, and federal levels. Topics covered in this course will include healthcare policy development, accrediting agencies, quality improvement, and patient quality and safety. (Prerequisite: NURS502)
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 10/27/24 Summer 2024 Session D 8 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 12/29/24 Fall 2024 Session I 8 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 03/02/25 Winter 2025 Session B 8 Week session

Course ID: 5052

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Today’s nurse leaders must possess the essential communication, critical-thinking and decision-making skills required to effectively manage teams providing high quality healthcare to diverse populations. This course addresses issues related to inter-professional collaboration, quality improvement initiatives, data-driven decision making, leadership and communication styles and their effect on interaction with members of healthcare teams.
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 10/27/24 Summer 2024 Session D 8 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 12/29/24 Fall 2024 Session I 8 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 03/02/25 Winter 2025 Session B 8 Week session
Select any courses that have not been used to fulfill major requirements. Credits applied toward a minor or certificate in an unrelated field may be used to fulfill elective credit for the major.

Must take all courses for this section.

Course ID: 4800

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In this capstone course, students will apply the knowledge acquired throughout their graduate study. They will develop an evidence-based project proposal relevant to a problem or issue in current professional nursing practice. Components include problem identification, thorough literature review, proposal of a solution, an implementation plan, a process of evaluation, and dissemination of findings. Proposals and research are appropriate to the student’s area of specialty study: education or leadership.
Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
03/25/24 - 08/30/24 09/02/24 - 10/27/24 Summer 2024 Session D 8 Week session
05/27/24 - 11/01/24 11/04/24 - 12/29/24 Fall 2024 Session I 8 Week session
07/29/24 - 01/03/25 01/06/25 - 03/02/25 Winter 2025 Session B 8 Week session

Why Accreditation for Online MSN Programs Is Important

Choosing a nursing program is an important decision, and it is essential to find one that meets the highest standards of quality and care. American Public University is part of American Public University System. The master's degree program in nursing at American Public University System is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (www.ccneaccreditation.org). CCNE sets national standards for quality in nursing education. But why is it important for nursing programs to be accredited?

Accreditation ensures that education programs meet certain standards of quality and care. Through rigorous evaluation processes, accrediting bodies such as CCNE ensure that students are receiving a high-quality education that meets their needs. This helps to ensure that graduates are well-prepared for their future roles in the healthcare industry. Moreover, accreditation also promotes greater confidence among employers when hiring new nurses who have graduated from an accredited program.

APU’s accredited MSN program gives you access to faculty members who are experienced in their field. Additionally, graduating from an accredited program may make you more competitive in the job market and may factor into your confidence levels when applying for positions after graduation.

MSN Degree Concentrations

Registered nurses who enroll in our Master of Science in Nursing will need to first choose a concentration. American Public University offers three tracks for aspiring MSN degree nurses–nurse educator, nurse leader, and community and public health nursing.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (AACN) is expecting record retirement numbers over the next decade, with as many as one-third of nursing faculty members leaving the profession by 2025. Fewer faculty means fewer available programs for nursing students who will then need to be turned away, further worsening the nursing shortage. As an MSN with a concentration in nurse education, you can help fill the gap for this vital role.

Similarly, burnout and retirement have contributed to a shortage in other more administrative positions, such as Clinical Nurse Leaders (CNL) and Health Policy Experts (HPE). These roles, which are emerging positions of importance in healthcare settings, require a certain level of clinical competence and a more specialized approach to patient care.

Each concentration presents its own unique set of roles and responsibilities. For RNs ready for a next step, a master's degree in nursing can open the door toward building specialized knowledge and experience.

Benefits to Earning a Master's in Nursing

  1. Potential Access to More Job Opportunities
  2. According to Nurse.org, graduating from an MSN program may help open the door to many more job opportunities. MSN graduates may enjoy a variety of exciting options, including leadership positions and corporate-level positions.

  3. The Ability to Specialize
  4. Many MSN programs have specialized tracks that prepare students for a particular field or specialty in nursing. 

  5. The Opportunity to Influence Future Policies;
  6. An MSN is designed to help prepare for senior-level positions, which may provide an opportunity to play a more significant role in shaping patient care and policies. 

  7. The Option to Teach
  8. Nurse educators work in a variety of settings, including universities, schools, and hospitals. As a nurse educator, you could influence and share your knowledge with nurses on every level.

     

What Comes After Completing an Online Master’s in Nursing?

Depending on your specialization, a Master of Science in Nursing degree is designed to advance knowledge related to higher levels of professional responsibility in specialty areas like:

  • Psychiatric nurse practitioner
  • Nurse manager
  • Director of nursing
  • Family nurse practitioner
  • Nursing instructor
  • Mental health nurse
  • Nurse educator
  • Pediatric nurse practitioner

Another possible option once you complete your MSN degree is to move on to earning your doctorate or a nursing graduate certificate. American Public University offers two graduate certificate programs for registered nurses who have already obtained their master’s in nursing or hold a nursing license and a master’s degree in another closely related field: the post-master’s certificate in Nursing Education and post-master’s in Nursing Leadership. If you undertook one track in APU’s MSN degree and wanted to pursue the other, you have the opportunity to do so by earning the post-master’s certificate.

 

 

clinical instructor sitting on couch smiling
As long as I had a Wi-Fi signal, I could complete my assignments anywhere, and I pretty much did.
Rebecca Gabriel
MSN Graduate

What to Expect from American Public University's Online MSN Program

American Public University's Online MSN programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). This ensures that you will receive a quality education backed by professional standards.

The faculty members at American Public University have real-world experience in their respective fields and bring this expertise to their online classes. You'll be able to benefit from the faculty's years of experience and knowledge.

As an MSN nurse student, you'll have access to online libraries, databases, and research materials through American Public University's Online Trefry Library. This wealth of information will help you stay on top of current trends in the nursing field.

Even as an MSN online student, you'll be able to connect with other students and faculty members through discussion boards and forums. Share insights and experiences with your peers while gaining valuable feedback from experienced faculty members.

Courses for American Public University's online MSN program are offered every other month. This enables students who already have a bachelor's degree in nursing to pursue their MSN degree on their own schedule with the potential to graduate in as little as two years, depending on their course load and the amount of credits they transfer in from previous programs.

MSN in nursing education or leadership courses cover a variety of career-relevant subject areas, including nurse management, healthcare finance, nursing research methods, and quality improvement.

Nurse Waving

Paying for This MSN Degree

Even as an online program, American Public University's master’s in nursing gives students access to many of the same options for paying as any traditional brick-and-mortar university would. The first step for students looking to pursue advanced nursing education through an online master’s degree in nursing is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®1). The information you provide on this form will help you determine how much you may be eligible to receive in federal student loans or financial aid.

If you are a working RN, you can check with your company’s human resources department to see if they have partnered with American Public University for educational benefits. The process is different for each employer, but you can see all the necessary steps on our Employer Benefits page

American Public University does not offer any scholarships. If you are seeking a scholarship, organizations such as AACN offer an updated list of scholarships for nurses to be able to continue their education.

How to pay for an advanced degree such as the Master of Science in Nursing is an important decision. If you need help evaluating your options, please email us at [email protected] or call 877-755-2787.

1 FAFSA is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Education

Nurse Looking at Phone

How to Transfer Graduate Credits

There are a variety of ways to earn transfer credits at American Public University and make the most out of your knowledge. Accredited institutions with regional or national accreditation may be eligible, and for graduate degrees, the credit earned should be within the last 10 years, with a B or higher grade, and also not used for an undergrad degree.

Depending on the program you’ve chosen, as well as the unit of measure and course level from your previous learning institution, American Public University can award up to 15 credits toward transfer for master's degree students. Transferring credits is a great way to save time in furthering your education and makes it easier to reach student goals in a timely manner.

If you think you may have prior knowledge worth transferring into credit courses at American Public University, we encourage you to apply for transfer credit evaluation so that you can make the most out of prior learning experiences.

Explore American Public University's Transfer Credit Evaluation (TCE) Process

A preliminary transfer credit evaluation can be completed in 2 to 3 days. Our team will review your evaluation request and communicate the results. We recommend not enrolling in any classes that may be covered by anything under review for credit transfer.

Please note that the University reserves the right to accept to deny credits according to policies outlined on the University website and actual time to completion will be based upon transfer credit evaluation and eligibility. Please see the University’s transfer credit policy webpage for complete information. 

Frequently Asked Questions

You might be wondering if an MSN is the same as becoming a Nurse Practitioner (NP). While there are similarities between these two nursing degrees, they are not the same. Here’s how they differ:

  • An online master’s in nursing (MSN) is a post-baccalaureate degree. Through this online master's in Nursing program, you will gain advanced knowledge and skills related to the nursing profession. Upon completion of the program, you may designate yourself as a nurse specialist or educator. In addition, some programs have a specialty track that is designed to prepare students to become Nurse Practitioners or earn a related doctorate.
  • NP, a specialty within an MSN program, is designed to train nurses in advanced clinical practice and medical management.  A Nurse Practitioner is a registered nurse who has earned a master’s degree and completed additional educational requirements, including certification as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). APRNs typically have prescriptive authority and a broad scope of practice that allows them to assess, diagnose, treat, and manage health problems independently.
  • So while both the MSN nurse and the Nurse Practitioner specialty involve advanced training in the nursing field, our MSN online degree focuses on improving knowledge and skills related to a specific area of nursing such as patient care management and leadership or teaching. An NP program focuses on clinical practice and medical management, allowing graduates to become independent health care providers.

If you are exploring the nursing profession, take the time to research the difference between an MSN degree and the NP specialty to see which one is right for you. With an online program at American Public University, you can earn your MSN without having to disrupt your schedule as you prepare for the rigor and rewards of the nursing profession. 

The pros and cons of any degree often revolve around an assessment of your learning goals.

  • Education offers an opportunity to establish new professional connections, which may help broaden your knowledge of and exposure to diverse areas within the profession. You may specialize in pediatrics, but you could have a chance to network with faculty who share experience as a nurse practitioner, nurse educator, clinical nurse specialist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, or nurse anesthetist. Fellow students may also share experience from diverse settings, like small rural hospitals, large urban healthcare settings, or inner-city clinics. Some consider this a great value of higher learning.
  • There are many program options: With the variety of options now available, ranging from part-time or full-time programs, accelerated programs, and online MSN degrees, aspiring students have abundant choices for continuing their education. Furthermore, many schools are creating courses that are tailored to fit the schedules of adult students while still providing a top-notch educational experience.
  • Technology has made completing coursework remotely much easier than ever before and has removed geographical barriers for distance learning.
  • You can advance your knowledge by specializing in niche areas of nursing: RNs who obtain master’s-level education can gain advanced knowledge for specialized roles, such as nursing education, informatics, and community health.

An RN who has obtained their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is not necessarily “higher” than an RN who has not earned their MSN. One is an educational degree, and one is a professional designation. However, it’s worth noting that an MSN program can include important credentials that may lead to different career paths. For example, MSN-prepared nurses build the knowledge and skill for non-clinical responsibilities, such as nursing administration or healthcare policy, and these would not be accessible for RNs without a Master of Science in Nursing.

Courses Start Monthly

Next Courses Start Aug 5
Register by Aug 2

Admission Requirements

This program has specific admission requirements and is currently not open for admission to residents of Washington state.

All APU master's degree and graduate certificate programs require you to have earned a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an institution whose accreditation is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

In addition, the following is required for admission into this program.  All documentation must be provided prior to course registration:

  • Official transcripts showing a conferred Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from a program accredited by: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN®), Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA®), or 
    Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN). 
  • Current and active unencumbered registered nurse (RN) in state or province where practicums will be conducted
  • Minimum cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for the baccalaureate nursing degree
  • Successful completion of an undergraduate level statistics course with a “C” or higher
  • Current resume/CV
  • Signed statement of understanding (SOU)
  • 500-600 word statement of purpose and goals for graduate education is required for admission. Writing style should be scholarly and coherent with no grammatical errors. Your statement should include a description of relevant work experience, and clearly articulated reasons for applying to the master’s program. Long-term goals or professional career aspirations should be included.

Please read all graduate admission requirements before applying to this program and be prepared to submit the required documentation including a legible copy of your valid government-issued photo ID (civilian students) or government-issued JST or CCAF transcript (military students).

An APU admissions coach will contact you via email or phone to assist you with the enrollment process, review your documentation, and notify you when you have been admitted into the program and may register for courses.

Note: You must complete this program within 5 years of starting your first nursing (NURS) course.

ACEN® is a registered trademark of the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc.

CNEA® is a registered trademark of the National League for Nursing, Inc. 

MSN Program Goals

The goals of the MSN degree program are to prepare students to:

  1. Assume service and leadership roles and effectively employ leadership skills to affect practice changes across systems
  2. Foster a culture of personal lifelong learning and professional development to align the nursing profession with the future of health and healthcare systems
  3. Cultivate and lead collaborative inter-professional healthcare teams
  4. Provide a seamless transition for the BSN prepared Registered Nurse to earn an MSN and provide a foundation for doctoral programs in nursing
  5. Encourage licensed nurses to attain and apply specialized knowledge at the graduate level in the Nurse Educator or Nurse Leader concentration

Materials Cost

Most courses in this program use Open Educational Resources (OER). These teaching, learning, and research materials are made available to you at no cost, meaning there are minimal book costs associated with earning this degree.

There is a one-time fee for Typhon student practicum tracking software. This fee will be paid directly to the Typhon group. Technology fee: $85 per course 

Need Help?

Selecting the right program to meet your educational goals is a key step in ensuring a successful outcome. If you are unsure of which program to choose, or need more information, please contact an APU admissions coach at 877-755-2787 or [email protected].

Quality Education Should Be Affordable

So you can focus on the opportunities ahead, without the financial burden of more expensive schools who are not as invested in your success. Learn more about paying for school.

Consumer Information

Disclosures

Maryland Residents learn more about costs, completion rates, median debt, and more.

 

1The University reserves the right to accept or deny credits according to policies outlined on our University website. Please see the University's transfer credit policy webpage for complete information.

*Cost Per Credit Hour

The Preferred Military Rate is $250 per credit hour for all undergraduate and $290 per credit hour for master's-level courses. This rate is available to all U.S. active-duty servicemembers, National Guard members, Reservists, and military families, including parents, spouses, legal partners, siblings, and dependents.
See all military student benefits.

Cost of Attendance

Learn more about American Public University's cost components and full cost of attendance