RN to MSN Programs in Delaware

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reported that as of 2013, there were 697 students enrolled in graduate nursing programs in Delaware. The total number of students enrolled in baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral programs during this time was 2,189, although the AACN reported that more than 400 qualified candidates were turned away from these programs due to a lack of faculty or clinical training sites.

A lack of programs in Delaware for practicing RNs seeking to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing is of particular concern to a state that is already facing a looming nursing shortage that is expected to be particularly acute for advanced practice nurses.

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Currently there are just two RN to MSN programs in Delaware, according to the Delaware Board of Nursing. These programs are of importance to Delaware’s RNs, as they provide an accelerated path to an MSN. Fortunately, RNs in the state need not always rely on Delaware’s nursing programs to earn their MSN, as a great number of online institutions are now offering RN to MSN programs. Online RN to MSN programs are often of particular interest to practicing RNs, who are seeking flexible scheduling and class times.

RN to MSN Programs in Delaware

RN to MSN programs, whether campus-based, online-based, or a hybrid of the two, are designed specifically for the licensed RN who has already earned a pre-licensure nursing diploma or Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN).

RN to MSN programs, depending on the specializations or tracks offered, allow RNs to work toward a career as a:

  • Nurse administrator
  • Public health nurse
  • Nurse educator
  • Clinical leader
  • Advanced practice nurse
    • Nurse midwife
    • Nurse practitioner
    • Clinical nurse specialist
    • Nurse anesthetist

Students who choose to pursue an MSN as a nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist must also choose a population focus. The Delaware Board of Nursing recognizes the following population focuses for nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists:

    • Nurse practitioner
      • Adult/gerontological
      • Family
      • Neonatal
      • Pediatric
      • Psychiatric/mental health
      • Women’s health/gender-related


  • Clinical nurse specialist
    • Adult/gerontological
    • Family
    • Neonatal
    • Pediatric
    • Psychiatric/mental health
    • Women’s health/gender-related

The American Association of Community Colleges reports that most RN to MSN programs offer about 2 different tracks or specializations, while some programs allow RNs to earn a general MSN.

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Currently practicing RNs often choose an RN to MSN program because it combines the coursework of both a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and an MSN, while also taking into consideration their pre-licensure education and RN experience. Therefore, most RN to MSN programs can be completed in just 2 to 3 years.

Most RNs transfer are able to transfer about 30 credits of their pre-licensure education to an RN to MSN program, and many of these programs also grant RNs additional credit, depending on their experience.

Admission Requirements

In addition to holding a current and unencumbered RN license, most RN to MSN programs require students to possess as least one year of RN experience. Allowable credit transfer is often limited to those courses in which the student has achieved a minimum GPA.

All prerequisites, general education courses, and undergraduate (BSN) courses must also be successfully completed with a minimum GPA before admission into the MSN program can be granted.

Curriculum Requirements

Students must successfully meet the RN to MSN program’s requirements to achieve an MSN. These requirements can best be broken down by:

University Core Requirements

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • College reading/writing
  • Oral communication strategies
  • Economics
  • General psychology
  • Healthcare information systems
  • Humanities (art and music) elective
  • History/political science elective

Undergraduate Core Requirements

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Human growth and development
  • Educational strategies
  • Curriculum design and assessment
  • Theories of learning and instruction
  • Healthcare financial administration

BSN Major Requirements

  • Health promotion/assessment
  • Genetics/genomics
  • Community health promotion and assessment
  • Leadership for advanced practice

MSN Core Requirements

  • Legal and ethical issues
  • Research for advanced practice nursing
  • Clinical focus and practicum

Addition coursework in the MSN program depends on the chosen specialization or track.

How to Become an APN in Delaware

Graduates of RN to MSN programs in Delaware who focused their graduate program on an APN specialty must apply for state certification through the Delaware Board of Nursing before they can begin practicing in an APN role.

Candidates for APN certification in Delaware must either possess a graduate degree or a post-basic program certificate in a clinical nursing specialty. Before applying for state certification as an APN, individuals must earn national certification through a national certification body recognized by the Board of Nursing.

Currently, the Board of Nursing defers to the national certifying bodies to determine national certification program approval. Therefore, APN candidates may pursue national certification in their APN specialty and population focus through one of the following national certifying bodies:

  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
  • Pediatric Nurse Certification Board
  • American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • National Certification Corporation
  • National Board of Certification & Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists
  • American Midwifery Certification Board
  • American Association of Critical Care Nurses

Candidates must either apply for an APN certification within two years of graduating or, if it has been more than two years since graduation, must show proof of the completion of at least 600 practice hours in the APN specialty within the past two years (or 1,500 hours in the past 5 years).

Upon earning national certification in their APN specialty and population focus, candidates must complete, sign, and submit an Application for Licensure as an Advanced Practice Nurse.

Other Careers for MSN Educated RNs in Delaware

Career opportunities for MSN-prepared RNs in Delaware are abundant, if recent postings serve as an indicator (March 2015):

  • Nursing supervisor: New Castle
  • Advance practice nurse, public health/community health: Wilmington
  • Advanced practice nurse, Department of Public Health: Newark
  • Nurse consultant: Dover
  • Psychiatric nurse practitioner/psychiatric nurse consultant: Wilmington

Some of Delaware’s top hospitals supply jobs to MSN educated nurses in both clinical nursing and administrative roles:

  • Christiana Hospital, Newark
  • Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, Dover
  • Saint Francis Hospital, Wilmington
  • Bayhealth Medical Center/Milford Memorial Hospital, Milford
  • Wilmington Hospital, Wilmington

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