Strategies For Getting Accepted Into An Online MSN Program

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Pursuing a master’s degree is a significant commitment — which can lead to a big reward. For example, a nurse with an MSN can earn as much as $110,000 per year more than a colleague with a BSN because MSNs can specialize and assume more advanced responsibilities.

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However, the road to such reward can be a bumpy one. Just applying to graduate school can be a stressful and confusing process. To help prospective students, enrollment advisors at Duquesne University offer these details about the application process and the qualities they look for in MSN program applicants.

The Graduate Application

The first step toward earning an online MSN degree at Duquesne University is creating an account and completing a graduate application, which should include a copy of the student’s current RN license, resume or curriculum vitae, official transcripts from all schools attended, recommendation letters, and a personal goal statement.

Recommendation Letters

Duquesne prefers two types of recommendations: academic and professional. Academic recommendations can come from a professor, clinical instructor, nurse educator, or anyone who has an educational relationship with the student. Professional recommendations should come from someone in a supervisory role who can provide a review, such as a boss or manager.

Duquesne makes the task of getting recommendation letters as easy as possible by providing a link to a writeable form that prospective students can share with their academic and professional sources. The form includes questions about the student’s communication skills, professionalism, judgment, and decision-making.

“Encourage your contacts to give some narrative in support of the ratings they give you,” advises Devon George, Director of Marketing and Recruitment for the Duquesne University School of Nursing graduate programs. “That’s what we’re looking for in recommendation letters.”

Your Personal Goal Statement

In addition to recommendation letters, a personal goal statement is another crucial part of the application process. Duquesne uses this statement to determine whether students can follow instructions to submit an assignment and to evaluate their writing ability, among many other criteria.

“The most important thing that we use that goal statement for is to be sure that our program is a good match for you to be able to reach your personal nursing goals,” George explains. “We ask to learn about what you want to accomplish with your advanced degree, and we want to be sure that our program provides a good fit for that and will get you to where you want to go.”

Questions that may be asked as part of the goal statement include:

  • Why do you want an advanced degree?
  • What do you plan to accomplish by taking this next step in your nursing education?
  • Why are you choosing this degree in particular?
  • Why are you choosing Duquesne University to earn that degree?

The personal goal statement should also detail what a student has accomplished as a nurse so far, which could include awards or nominations received, scholarships earned, certifications completed, or any committee or project work done on the applicant’s unit or in a healthcare facility. Plus, students should share academic accolades, such as publications written or presentations given, as well as other nursing achievements.

“As you put all those pieces together, we’re getting a really great picture of who you are and what kind of applicant you are for the program,” George explains.

“However, because you’re applying to a graduate program, I do want to caution applicants. We all have wonderful reasons and typically very moving stories that drove us toward nursing. That’s not the story that we need to hear because you’re already a nurse. We really want to hear about the next step that you’re taking as you grow as a nurse, and as you continue your education and continue to have a greater impact for you and your patients.”

MSN Program FAQs

Students have asked a number of questions about Duquesne’s MSN programs. Here are the answers to some of the most common:

What can I do while earning my BSN to make me more competitive for an MSN program?

The most important thing students can do is concentrate on their GPA. Another important standout is extracurricular work, which may include being active in a student nursing association, involvement in campus life, and similar activities. Other important factors could be a particular work experience, or a committee or capstone project.

Are there other prerequisites for the MSN program, or do I need clinical experience before I apply to the MSN program?

Regarding coursework, students must have taken an undergraduate statistics course. For students who have not completed the course, Duquesne has some partnerships that will allow them to meet that prerequisite through an online statistics course. Students should speak with an enrollment advisor for more information about this option. In addition, while Duquesne does not require that applicants and first-year students have clinical experience, it does require students to complete one year of bedside care before beginning their courses.

How long does the application review process take?

Faculty members review completed graduate applications and typically render an admission decision within five business days. Note: Duquesne does not review incomplete applications.

Additional Tips

Enrollment advisors at Duquesne have a few more suggestions to help you get through the graduate application process successfully. First, start the process early so that you’re not stressed and trying to rush to complete all of the application requirements right before the deadline. Second, if you’re an alumnus or alumna of Duquesne, use the university’s alumni express application option. Finally, be sure to stay in contact with your enrollment advisor throughout the application process.

“Our ultimate goal is to ensure that it’s a smooth transition for you and that we help you get all your application materials in on time and correctly,” says Sonia DePina, enrollment advisor for Duquesne University.

Duquesne University’s Online MSN Programs

At Duquesne University, prospective students can choose from three online MSN degrees in the following specialties: Family (Individual Across the Lifespan) Nurse, Forensic Nursing, or Nursing Education and Faculty Role program. For more information about all of the university’s fully online nursing programs, visit Duquesne’s website.