Master of Nursing Program

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the benefit to earning an MN as my first nursing degree instead of a BSN?

Research has shown that a higher level of education for nurses is associated with better patient outcomes. Preparation of registered nurses can be achieved with associate, baccalaureate, or master level educational programs. Each type of program prepares registered nurses with the key foundational competencies required of a registered nurse. The baccalaureate and master level programs provide additional education and experience that expand on the foundational competencies and contribute to improved patient safety and quality of care. As a graduate of the MN program, you will have achieved all the expected competencies of a baccalaureate-prepared nurse plus advanced competency in clinical judgment for nursing practice, health justice, nursing and interprofessional leadership, and nursing informatics, as well as introductory clinical teaching competencies. The depth of knowledge and experience within these focus areas will contribute to positive patient outcomes while helping fulfill the well-documented need for registered nurses. The MN may foster swift upward mobility into leadership or educator roles essential for continued reduction of the shortage of both generalist registered nurses and nursing faculty.


How will my role as a registered nurse be different if I have an MN instead of a BSN?

Your initial role as a registered nurse will likely look very similar to that of a nurse with a BSN. As a master’s-prepared nurse, however, the depth of additional knowledge and experience will set you apart as a leader in many ways that will increase the likelihood for rapid advancement into leadership or educator roles. The focus on health justice, leadership, informatics, and clinical judgment will give you additional insight into patients’ needs and solutions.


Can the MN be completed in a distance format?

Engagement with peers in a community of learning is an important component of learning a practice profession. The MN curriculum is designed as a face-to-face curriculum in which students will learn together in a variety of settings. Students will need to live within daily commuting distance of the Vanderbilt campus.


Can I work while completing the MN program?

Our recommendation is that students do not work while completing this curriculum. MN students are scheduled 30-40 hours per week in classroom and clinical experiences, and will need ample study time outside these scheduled hours. If you must work, you will need to determine how you will successfully balance the rigorous curriculum requirements with work.


How can Vanderbilt offer a master’s degree in nursing in only 4 semesters?

The MN program is comprised of fundamental nursing coursework as well as advanced level nursing coursework. That advanced coursework is in core professional role concepts and frameworks for delivery of holistic, comprehensive care. All admitted students have previously completed at least a baccalaureate degree in another field and prerequisite courses in human anatomy, human physiology, microbiology, lifespan development, nutrition and statistics before beginning the MN program. The nursing coursework is accelerated such that our four semesters of coursework and clinical experiences provide ample opportunity for students to achieve all entry-level nursing competencies and advanced-level competencies required for a master’s degree.


What can I do to ensure my success in this accelerated curriculum?

  • Be prepared for the rapid pace of the curriculum. Self-motivation, organization and commitment to excellence will improve your ability to be successful.
  • Schedule time for self-care activities. Taking care of yourself in mind, body, spirit and emotions is essential to ensure you are able to fully engage in learning and caring for patients.
  • Be prepared to be a novice. This may be difficult for those who are expert in another field. Although you will be a novice in nursing, your prior knowledge and experience will enrich your learning, as well as the learning of your peers.
  • Fully engage with every learning opportunity. Each class and clinical session provide an opportunity to gain knowledge and experience that will enrich your future practice and promote positive patient outcomes.
  • Embrace reflective practice. Willingness and ability to critically reflect on your own thinking and actions promotes continued improvement and propels you toward expertise in a practice profession.


What types of clinical experiences are part of the MN curriculum?

  • Clinical experiences provide students with an understanding of the registered nurse’s role across all spheres of care, including in the home and community, primary care, hospital and long-term care. You will be prepared with a solid foundation and exceptional experiences to begin your entry-level registered nurse role.
  • These experiences provide opportunities for students to learn and practice the registered nurse role as a part of the health care team. All students engage in a year-long interprofessional chronic illness management curriculum and community-engaged quality improvement to improve the health of individuals living in the Nashville community.
  • All students will engage in adult medical/surgical, pediatric, obstetric and psychiatric specialty area experiences over the course of the year.
  • Clinical experiences may consist of 4-hour, 8-hour, and/or 12-hour experiences, depending on the course, clinical site and patient population. Clinical sessions may begin as early as 6:00 a.m. or as late as 3 p.m. for evening sessions. Weekend sessions may also be required. Clinical experience assignments are not made until students arrive for orientation to the program.
  • The MN program contains 1,200 hours of direct care clinical experiences and additional hours of simulated clinical experiences.


What schedule should I expect in the MN program?

  • The schedule will consist of 30-40 hours per week of classroom and clinical experiences during the hours of 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. for class days and 6 a.m.-8 p.m. for clinical days. These hours will vary by course and by semester.
  • Study time outside of classroom and clinical experiences will vary by course and students’ individual study needs.


Will I have any input into my clinical sites during the MN program?

For the community engagement experience, students will have the opportunity to provide their top three preferences. For all other clinical experiences, all students will have clinical rotations at a variety of facilities to learn the role of the registered nurse.


How does the MN curriculum prepare me for the NCLEX-RN?

  • The MN curriculum is designed to prepare students for NCLEX-RN as a part of the goal of preparing registered nurses to provide exceptional nursing care. The curriculum will include specific preparation for the scope of the NCLEX-RN examination as identified in the NCLEX-RN detailed test plan here:
  • The classroom and clinical experiences are specifically designed as a scaffold for building the knowledge and clinical judgment needed to pass the NCLEX-RN and become a skilled registered nurse.


What is the pass rate on the NCLEX-RN for the MN program?

Vanderbilt’s first-time pass rate for prelicensure students is well above the national average. The pass rate for the last three years is posted at