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Tips for Choosing the Right Graduate Nursing Program

Reviewed by Abbie Jacobs, RN, BSN

As one of the country’s preeminent nursing organizations, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is in an excellent position to guide nurses who want to obtain a graduate degree.

In a brochure on graduate nursing programs, the AACN provides a number of tips on how to go about choosing the program that is right for you.

Your first step should be to examine the program’s entry and undergrad requirements. For instance, what is the minimum GPA required? The GRE scores? What prerequisites does the program expect you to have taken?

You will also need to understand the structure of the program. How long is it? What is the credit load? Do you have the option of full- and part-time? Shorter programs are frequently more rigorous and might not be the best choice for you.

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Are the programs face-to-face? Online? Or in a hybrid format? You may have a strong preference for one type of learning style, and you should make sure that you choose a program that offers what you prefer.

Financial aid may be an important issue for you. Be sure and examine what options are available. These could range from scholarships and grants to loans. A number of funding options are available to pursue graduate study in nursing.

Do the faculty members have the expertise that matches your interests? It is important to have a good match, so you will have strong research and/or clinical experiences in your primary areas of interest.

If you want to become an APRN, are the faculty actively practicing? Faculty members who are may be better able to understand what is expected in current nursing practice.

These insider tips should help you hone in on finding the graduate program that will best suit your goals in the long run.