Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Program Mission Statement

The mission of the Masters in Science in Nursing (MSN) program is based on the mission and goals of Allen College.  In order to fulfill its mission, the College provides an MSN program that prepares individuals from diverse communities for advanced roles in nursing in a variety of settings.  The MSN faculty members are dedicated to preparing individuals who have the skills to synthesize knowledge that is essential to scholarly practice and inquiry. Practicum opportunities incorporate theoretical and clinical components.

Program Goals

  1. Prepare leaders in nursing who are proficient in advanced roles.
  2. Promote critical thinking, scholarship, and citizenship to improve quality of life for individuals, families and populations.
  3. Provide graduate education programs of excellence through the use of information, communication, diagnostics, therapeutics and technologies.
  4. Provide graduates with the foundation of doctoral study.

Graduate Outcomes

In concert with the Philosophy of Allen College, the graduate will:

  1. Synthesize knowledge from nursing science and related disciplines in order to develop a foundation to guide practice.
  2. Provide organizational and systems leadership in practice, service and scholarship.
  3. Apply quality principles to promote patient safety and positive individual and systems outcomes.
  4. Use scholarly inquiry and evidence to advance the practice of nursing.
  5. Use informatics and healthcare technologies to enhance patient care and to improve healthcare systems.
  6. Employ advocacy strategies to influence health policy and to improve outcomes of care.
  7. Collaborate within inter-professional teams to manage and improve health care services for individuals, families and populations.
  8. Integrate patient-centered and culturally responsive strategies into the delivery of clinical prevention, health promotion and population-focused services.

Program Description/Purpose

The purpose of the Master of Science in Nursing program is to prepare leaders in nursing that can function in an advanced nursing role. The program leads to a Master of Science in Nursing degree, which may serve as a terminal degree or as the basis for doctoral study.

The following MSN tracks are available:

Post-master's certificate programs of study are available in all tracks of the MSN program for nurses who already hold a master's degree with a major in nursing.

Early Entry Doctor of Nursing Practice

The Early Entry DNP option provides a means for post-baccalaureate students to enter the graduate nursing program, obtain an MSN degree, and then seamlessly progress into the DNP program.  These students must meet DNP program admission criteria #1-10 for initial admission into the DNP program.  Final admission to the DNP program and progression into DNP level coursework is contingent upon meeting all DNP admission requirements (See criteria #1-14).

Request a degree audit to find out how your previous graduate college credits may transfer to any of the tracks to earn a Master of Science in Nursing degree or Post-master's certificate. 

Allen College considers admitting applicants living out of state or country. 

Applicants and current students must be aware select states require approval prior to Allen College offering online courses and clinical study in those states.  Additionally, a state certification or governing licensing board may also require prior approval for an Allen College student to engage in clinical study within the state.  Therefore, Allen College cannot guarantee out-of- state clinical or practicum placement.  Allen College also cannot guarantee students maintaining residency in a state other than Iowa will be allowed to enroll in online courses.

Applicants planning to maintain residency in any state other than Iowa, and planning to enroll in an online course or engage in clinical study in any state other than Iowa, should consult an admission counselor prior to applying to Allen College.


How often do you admit students?

Students can be admitted to fall, spring, or summer semester.

Is a bachelor's degree in nursing required for admission?

No.  Students who do not hold a bachelor's degree in nursing, but hold a bachelor's degree in another field must also have an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). Undergraduate courses in statistics, nursing research and community health are required prior to enrollment in certain master's level courses at Allen College.

Is an admission examination (e.g. GRE) required?


Is clinical experience required prior to admission?

No.  While clinical experience is not required prior to admission, at least one year of clinical experience is required prior to enrollment in clinical courses at the master's level.

Do you require an interview as part of the admission process?


How many students are admitted?

The number of students admitted is dependent on the space available in each program.  Most programs have a capacity of 25 students in the program specific courses.

What is the deadline for applying?

While applications are accepted throughout the year, Allen College begins reviewing applications as follows:
September 1 - applications are reviewed for admission for the spring semester.
February 1 - applications are reviewed for admission for the summer and fall semesters.

If the master's programs can be filled by the dates above, they will be.  Applications coming in after those dates will be reviewed in date order until the program is filled.

How long will it take for me to know if I am accepted?

Students who have applied prior to the review dates listed above will be notified of an admission decision within one month.  Students who have applied after the review dates listed above will be notified as space is available.

Can I take some graduate courses before being admitted?

Because of the high demand of Allen College graduates, we may be unable to accommodate students wishing to take courses prior to admission.  However, our recruiters can help students find graduate courses that will transfer to Allen College.

How long will it take me to complete the degree?

A master's degree from Allen College can be completed in two years, dependent on course availability. Most Allen College students complete their degree in three to four years at a part-time pace while working.

Over how many weeks is each class offered?

Fall and spring courses are offered over 16-week semesters.  Summer course terms vary, and may be taught in 8 or 12-week terms.

Is a thesis required?

No.  Students completing a master of science in nursing degree complete a graduate project.

Will I have to come to campus to complete the degree requirements?

Yes.  All tracks in the master of science in nursing degree or post-graduate certificate require some face-to-face meetings.  The core master of science in nursing courses are taught in an online format.  Each track in the master of science in nursing degree is taught differently.  Please refer to the FAQs listed in your desired track.

Is there a residency requirement?

Students enrolled in a nurse practitioner track will be required to attend one, three-day residency.

I have never taken an online course.  What should I do to prepare to take an online course?

Take our online learning readiness quiz at (coming soon).

What is the format that masters courses are offered?

Allen College uses Blackboard as the platform for online learning.

What hardware/software will I need?

Please review the hardware/software requirements.

Do I have to carry malpractice insurance?

No, students do not need to carry malpractice insurance.

Do I have to be licensed as an RN to start the program?

Students who have recently graduated from an undergraduate program may be admitted conditionally for one semester while becoming licensed as an RN.

Does Allen College accept transfer credit?

Yes, Request a degree audit to find out how your previous graduate college credits may transfer to any of the tracks to earn a Master of Science in Nursing degree or Post-graduate certificate. 

What financial assistance is available for me?

Yes.  Many Allen College students receive financial assistance to help cover educational expenses.  Please visit our financial aid webpage.

How many credits do I need in order to be considered full-time?

Students enrolled in 8 or more credit hours are considered full-time students in the graduate programs.  Students enrolled in 4 - 7 credit hours are considered part-time students.