RN to MSN Programs in Arizona

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, there were 9,978 students enrolled in MSN programs in Arizona in 2013. During the same year, about 8,900 students graduated from both baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs. Of the students enrolled in MSN programs in Arizona in 2013, about 1,689 were studying to become Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs).

The Arizona State Board of Nursing is committed to seeing more master-prepared nurses enter the field as it works towards creating a nursing workforce that is at least 80 percent comprised of nurses educated with a BSN or higher by 2020.

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Specialized RN to MSN programs provide RNs in Arizona the quickest path to APRN licensure. Programs are also available for nurses interested in vital nonclinical roles in nursing education, as well as leadership roles that involve making high-level decisions related to care, administration, and policy.

RN to MSN Programs in Arizona

There is currently just one RN to MSN program in Arizona; however, thanks to a growing demand for this specialty program, RNs in Arizona have their choice of a plethora of online institutions and traditional, campus-based institutions that offer dedicated online RN to MSN programs.

In fact, according to the American Association of Community Colleges, there are now more than 166 RN to MSN programs nationwide, with many of them offering a primary online course delivery.

Admission Requirements, Delivery Methods

An RN to MSN program is designed specifically for the practicing RN, as admission into this type of program requires a current and unencumbered RN license and at least a year of clinical experience. Most RNs who enter an RN to MSN program can transfer about 30 credits from their undergraduate pre-licensing program (diploma, associate degree, or bachelor degree). Further, many institutions grant students additional credits based on previous work experience.

As such, RN to MSN programs take just 2 to 3 years to complete.

  • Diploma – approximately 8-9 semesters and can also result in a BSN
  • ADN – approximately 7-8 semesters and can also result in a BSN
  • BSN – approximately 3-4 semesters

Most of these programs, in addition to offering online coursework, have part-time, evening, and weekend programs to accommodate even the busiest working nurses.

RN to MSN Program Structure/Specializations

RN to MSN programs allow students to focus their graduate study in a number of areas, both clinical and non-clinical:

  • Clinical nurse leader/specialist
  • Nurse educator
  • Leadership and management (health services administration)
  • Community
  • Ambulatory care
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Nurse midwife
  • Nurse anesthetist

Some institutions offer a number of RN to MSN specialization/tracks, while other institutions offer general RN to MSN programs.

Most RN to MSN programs consist of about 60 graduate-level credit hours. BSN coursework is generally completed first, although a number of programs allow students to combine both graduate and undergraduate coursework.

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Core graduate coursework in an RN to MSN program includes study in the following areas:

  • Healthcare policy
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Management and advanced practice nursing
  • Healthcare ethics
  • Theory and practice (in the MSN specialty)
  • Advanced biochemistry


APRN Certification Requirements in Arizona

Graduates of RN to MSN programs who want to become certified and recognized as APRNs in Arizona must first take and pass a national certification examination recognized by the Arizona Board of Nursing. The Board maintains a list of approved specialty certification areas and examinations for nurses in advanced practice:

Nurse Practitioner (NP):


    • American Nurses Credentialing Center
      • Acute care nurse practitioner (adult/gerontologic)
      • Adult nurse practitioner
      • Family nurse practitioner
      • Gerontological nurse practitioner
      • Pediatric nurse practitioner
      • Adult psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner
      • Family psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner
      • Adult health – Gerontological nurse practitioner





Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS):


Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA):

Once national certification is achieved, individuals must then complete, sign, and submit an online application for one of the following:

Candidates for APRN certification must:

  • Possess a current Arizona RN license in good standing (or an RN license with multi-state privileges in another compact state)
  • Provide the Board with an official transcript from the institution where the MSN was earned
  • Provide the Board with an official letter sent directly from the program that states the role and population focus of the program

APRN certifications in Arizona run concurrent with RN licenses; therefore, RNs must renew their APRN certification at the same time they renew their RN license. Nursing licenses in Arizona must be renewed every 4 years. APRNs must ensure that the Board receives verification of their current national certification for renewal purposes.

Leadership and Nonclinical Roles for MSN-Educated Nurses in Arizona

In addition to earning an MSN in Arizona as to become an APRN, many RNs choose to focus their graduate education on leadership, administrative, and advocacy roles, which are typically organized under an MSN’s health care systems track.

RN to MSN programs in Arizona that focus on health care systems teach students to effectively design, coordinate, and evaluate patient care systems and achieve strong clinical leadership skills.

A sampling of jobs typically reserved for MSN nurses in Arizona include:

  • Case manager
  • Patient advocate
  • Employee health manager
  • Clinical care systems manager
  • Unit manager
  • Clinical practice leader
  • Nurse educator
  • Nursing administrator
  • Informatics nurse

Just a few of Arizona’s largest healthcare systems that likely offer abundant employment opportunities for MSN nurses include:

  • Arizona State Hospital, Phoenix
  • Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, Phoenix
  • Banner Mesa Medical Center, Mesa
  • Boswell Medical Center, Sun City
  • Maricopa Medical Center, Phoenix
  • Scottsdale Healthcare Shea, Scottsdale
  • Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix

Recent job listings for masters-prepared RNs in Arizona speak to the opportunities for these nursing professionals:

  • Nurse practitioner, Cardiology of heart institute: Phoenix
  • ICU Nurse: Prescott
  • Medical management RN: Tempe
  • Nurse practitioner: Santa Cruz
  • Women’s health nurse practitioner: Phoenix
  • Nurse practitioner, pain management: Glendale

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