Checklist: Things you’ll need to be an advanced degree nurse


AdvertisementStocksy | Marija Savic Stocksy | Marija Savic There are all sorts of master’s and doctoral degree programs for nurses across the country, and each has its own set of requirements. But no matter where you end up, you’ll need some key, general things to enroll (and graduate!) as an advanced degree nurse. Checklist: Things you’ll need to be an advanced degree nurse

1. A computer and internet connection

Let’s face it: Computers are now essential to academic pursuits. You will need a computer and internet connection to submit applications, participate in class chat boards, communicate with your instructors and turn in assignments at 11:59 pm the day they are due. (Uh-huh…we all know about that!)

2. A bachelor’s degree in nursing AND a state nursing license.

While a few programs (usually types of “bridge” programs)Advertisement may admit students without these, the overwhelming majority of advanced nursing degree programs require both, along with some nursing experience under your belt.

3. Academic and peer references

Many programs require that you submit three or more personal references. These references may need to be from academic sources (your undergraduate instructors) or from peers (recent coworkers). When submitting references, it is a best practice to ask them if they are willing to serve as references before submitting their names. A professional resume may also be required at time of application.

4. A financial plan

Plan ahead by applying for federal grants, scholarshipsAdvertisement and loans independently, or in conjunction with your desired university. Also check with your employer about tuition reimbursement opportunities.

5. Two years (or more)

Plan on your graduate degreeAdvertisement taking at least two years of full-time study to complete. If you opt to be a part-time student, increase the time frame accordingly. Plan to minimize your family and social obligations during your course of study.

6. A passion for learning

Advanced nursing courses are not walks in the park. You must have a dedication to learning and a view of your long-term goals to complete them successfully. In most courses, you must maintain a minimum of a B average in order to continue your program without being put on academic probation.

7. A clean background check and drug screening

Not all programs require these, but some do. If you’re already employed as a nurse, you likely had to have these to qualify for hiring. Some employers also conduct random drug screenings. If so, you may be able submit recent results of an employer drug screen as part of your application and avoid forking out more money to pay for your own.

8. Transcripts from your previous schools

Admissions personnel look for an assessment course, a statistics/research course and certain clinical courses (such as public health) on your transcripts. Naturally, superb grades in these and other undergraduate courses will facilitate your acceptance into an advanced nursing program, so start planning for your admission by studying hard in undergraduate nursing school! Generally, a 3.0 or higher GPA is ideal for admission.

9. Vaccination records and a physical examination

Taking care of other people is serious business, and programs want to make sure you are healthy and protected against vaccine-preventable illnesses. A tuberculin skin test may also be required.

10. A vision and support

Have a goal in mind to keep you motivated when things get tough. Also, have a support system of family, friends or colleagues that can help you stay motivated to succeed. You can do it!

Have you applied for or completed a graduate nursing degree? What other items would you suggest for prospective students? Tell us in the comments!

Jessica Ellis
With experience in multiple specialties such as ER, ICU, CVICU, PACU, NICU and case management, Jessica has also been a key contributor for several of the world’s leading healthcare publishers. Jessica has been certified in CPR, BLS Instructor, PHTLS, ACLS, TNCC, CFRN, NRP, PALS and CPS. She previously functioned as an editor and contributor for, and an author/editor of numerous online nursing CEU courses for Coursepark. Jessica accepts ongoing professional nursing writing contracts for both authoring and editing from major textbook and online education publishers internationally.

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