RN to MSN Programs in Arkansas

The Arkansas State Board of Nursing issues more than 52,000 nursing licenses, 17,393 of which are registered nurses (RNs). In 2013 alone, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reported that there were 730 master’s students of nursing, many of which were pursued by licensed RNs.

This is no doubt attributed to RNs seeking to advance their careers and earn eligibility to purse a number of nursing positions that demand a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree or higher, such as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). The AACN reports that there were 1,856 APRNs practicing in Arkansas, as of 2013.

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The Arkansas Board of Nursing recognizes the following APRN specialties:

  • Nurse practitioner
  • Nurse midwife
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist
  • Clinical nurse specialist

MSN-prepared RNs may also choose to pursue roles as nurse educators or nurse administrators. MSN RNs as clinical nurse leaders, educators, and administrators lend their expertise to the nursing profession in any number of healthcare settings, as they are educated and trained in everything from planning and organizing to directing and evaluating.

RN to MSN Program Requirements, Design, and Structure in Arkansas

There are currently just two RN to MSN programs in Arkansas, one of which is offered entirely online. The lack of RN to MSN programs in Arkansas, however, does not affect practicing RNs who want to pursue an MSN, as online institutions are offering this unique program more than ever before.

Online RN to MSN programs (which may be an ADN to MSN or BSN or MSN) allow students to complete their coursework entirely through distance learning opportunities, thereby appealing to many of today’s busy nursing professionals.

An RN to MSN program is designed specifically for the RN who is a graduate of an accredited diploma program or associate degree in nursing (ADN). Some programs also admit RNs with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Students of an RN to MSN program may receive up to 30-40 hours of BSN nursing credit based on their previous educational program, thereby reducing the amount of time necessary to complete the program.

Admission Requirements

Admission into an RN to MSN program is often quite selective and competitive. Eligible candidates must:

  • Possess a minimum cumulative GPA
  • Complete all required non-nursing courses with a minimum GPA
  • Provide proof of their current and unencumbered RN license
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Articulation Standards in Arkansas

Based on the Arkansas Nursing Articulation Model, RNs in Arkansas who meet specific criteria are eligible to receive credit for up to 41 core nursing courses by validation (without testing).

Students are eligible for this nursing credit up to 12 months following their initial RN license education. If the RN student is completing the program more than 12 months after their initial graduation, they must show proof of at least 1,000 hours of nursing employment in the past 12 months.

Candidates must have graduated from a National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) accredited program to be eligible under the articulation agreement.

RN to MSN Prerequisite Courses

Typical RN to MSN prerequisite courses in Arkansas include:

  • College algebra
  • Oral communications
  • Basic statistics
  • General psychology
  • Academic/college writing
  • Nutrition
  • Microbiology
  • Physiological/college chemistry

General Education Requirements

Students must complete the following general education requirements in an RN to MSN program if they haven’t already been met through an associate or bachelor degree:

  • Social sciences elective
  • Fine arts elective
  • Humanities elective
  • S. history or government

BSN Course Requirements

BSN course requirements in an RN to MSN program include:

  • Professional nursing
  • Community health nursing
  • Leadership and management
  • Health policy and professional issues in nursing
  • Research for evidence-based practice
  • Educational concepts for advanced nursing practice
  • Advanced pathophysiology

Upon the completion of all BSN requirements, students are awarded the BSN.

Choosing a Specialization or Track in an RN to MSN Program

RN to MSN programs may offer one or more specializations, or tracks, or they may offer a general MSN degree in nursing. To earn licensure in one of the APRN specializations recognized by the Board of Nursing, students must complete a course of study that relates directly to the APRN role in which they want to be licensed. Students may also pursue RN to MSN programs that are aimed at education, nursing administration, nursing informatics, or emergency management, just to name a few.

Not all RN to MSN programs offer the same specializations or tracks, so students must ensure that the program they choose correlates directly to their chosen specialty.

In addition to the completion of a core nursing curriculum, students must complete specific graduate-level courses that relate to their chosen track.

Typical tracks offered through RN to MSN programs include:

  • Nurse practitioner
  • Clinical nurse leader
  • Nurse anesthetist
  • Nurse midwife
  • Nurse educator
  • Nurse educator with a clinical specialty
  • Nurse administrator

The graduate core of an RN to MSN program includes study in:

  • Research for evidence-based practice
  • Advanced health assessment
  • Epidemiology for advanced nursing practice
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Health policy and economics
  • Theoretical foundations of nursing practice


How to Become an APRN in Arkansas

Students who have graduated from an RN to MSN program and have focused their education on an APRN specialty may apply for an APRN license in Arkansas. All eligible candidates for APRN licensure in Arkansas, however, must first take and pass a Board-recognized national certification examination in the APRN specialty in which they are seeking licensure.

National Certification Examination Requirements

The Arkansas Board of Nursing recognizes the following national certification examinations for initial APRN licensure:



    • American Nurses Credentialing Center
      • Acute care nurse practitioner
      • Adult nurse practitioner
      • Adult psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner
      • Clinical nurse specialist in adult health nursing
      • Clinical specialist in adult psychiatric and mental health nursing
      • Clinical specialist in child and adolescent psychiatric and mental health nursing
      • Clinical specialist in gerontological nursing
      • Clinical specialist in pediatric nursing
      • Family nurse practitioner
      • Family psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner
      • Gerontological nurse practitioner
      • Pediatric nurse practitioner





Application Requirements

Once candidates have achieved certification from a nationally recognized certifying body approved by the Board, they may apply for an APRN in one of the following four categories:

  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
  • Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP)

To qualify for APRN licensure in Arkansas, candidates must possess a current and unencumbered Arkansas RN license and show proof that they have completed a graduate level advanced practice nursing education program and have achieved national certification. The application for APRN licensure in Arkansas is completed through the Arkansas State Board of Nursing online application system.

Career Opportunities for MSN-Prepared RNs in Arkansas

Whether in administration, clinical leadership, education, or advanced practice settings, MSN-prepared RNs in Arkansas likely have an abundance of professional opportunities. Recent job postings show the many jobs available to MSN RNs in Arkansas:

  • Director of Nursing, neurological program: Benton
  • Medical team administrator: Fayetteville
  • Educator/nurse informatics/safety officer: Forrest City
  • RN Director of Healthcare Management
  • Nursing director: Benton
  • Advance health nurse practitioner, Jonesboro
  • Family/pediatric APRN: Mountain Home

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