Welcome to our Master of Science in Nursing Program
Frontier Nursing University offers a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program that allows you to complete your MSN – to become a nurse-midwife, family nurse practitioner, women’s health care nurse practitioner or psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner – with the added option to seamlessly progress to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.
Our MSN + Companion DNP program lets you move easily from the master’s program into a thoughtfully designed Companion DNP curriculum.
In the MSN + Companion DNP program, you can choose to complete only your MSN degree or you can seamlessly finish both your MSN and DNP degrees. Once you complete the core competencies for your specialty, the MSN is conferred and you’ll be fully prepared to take the national certification exam to start your career as a nurse-midwife or nurse practitioner. At this juncture, you can leave the program with your master’s or you can continue seamlessly into the 19-hour Companion DNP curriculum – without having to apply again – to earn your Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. The design and many benefits of this program are outlined in the bullet points below.
- Complete your coursework online.
- Full or part-time options available.
- Earn your MSN to become a nurse-midwife, family nurse practitioner, women’s health care nurse practitioner or psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner. You’ll then have the option to exit the program with your MSN or to take an additional 19 credit hours to complete the Companion DNP.
- Two brief on-campus stays (three for ADN Bridge Entry students).
- Complete your clinical practicum in your home community.
- 675 clinical hours for the MSN plus additional 360 hours for the Companion DNP.
Which program is right for me?
The ADN Bridge Entry Option allows RNs holding an associate degree in nursing, without a bachelor’s degree in any field, to enter the MSN program by first completing a “bridge year.” As a Bridge student at FNU, you will complete a series of Bridge courses over a twelve-month period and then continue on to complete the MSN curriculum in your designated specialty track (no BSN is awarded). At this time, you may exit with your MSN or opt to seamlessly enter the Companion DNP program if you choose. Read more about the Bridge option here.
If you are an RN with a bachelor’s degree or higher in nursing applying to FNU, you will be considered for admission to the MSN + Companion DNP program. Diploma nurses with a bachelor’s degree in an outside discipline can submit an academic and employment portfolio to be considered for admission to the MSN + Companion DNP program. RNs with an associate degree will be considered for enrollment through the Bridge entry option, unless holding a bachelor’s in another field, which could lead to direct entry into the MSN + Companion DNP after a portfolio review.
How will the MSN + Companion DNP benefit me?
After completing the master’s curriculum, you can remain enrolled at FNU to complete the Companion DNP in nine months rather than the traditional 15 months required for our Post-Master’s DNP program. The new MSN curriculum has incorporated many of the DNP core competencies. This allows you to complete the Companion DNP in nine months, with only 19 additional credits, making it a time and cost-effective option. Once you’ve applied and been accepted to the master’s program, you are enrolled in the MSN + Companion DNP and do not have to apply to FNU a second time for your doctoral studies. We encourage students to complete the DNP without taking a break, but an academic hiatus of up to three months (one term) between programs is allowable. Any longer than that, and a student is no longer eligible to complete the Companion DNP but may return for the Post-Master’s DNP.
FNU has an excellent reputation for preparing leaders who are firmly rooted in evidence-based practice. Our MSN and Companion DNP curriculums are designed to prepare you to be a leader and change agent in the healthcare system. FNU graduates are driving innovations in healthcare and impacting their communities in incredible ways. Read more about our dynamic graduates here.
Nursing schools continue to face a shortage of available faculty. With qualified nursing educators desperately needed in academia, completing your DNP degree can open doors to pursuing a career as faculty.
Because of the increasing complexity of health care, a strong movement is afoot across the United States to require a DNP for entry into advanced practice roles. Although the DNP is not required at this time, you will want to be ready with the best credentials to meet this change. Earning a DNP degree has a number of career benefits, including increased salary potential. Learn how earning a DNP degree can boost your career.
How does this program fit into my life?
As a Frontier student, you’ll begin your journey with a three-day orientation program on our historic campus in Hyden, Ky. During this time, you will review courses; learn skills for distance learning; and meet your fellow students, faculty, staff and advisor. You will then return home to begin your studies online. After completing the majority of your coursework, you will return to campus for an eight-day session called Clinical Bound to strengthen hands-on and clinical management skills necessary in your clinical experience. You will then return to a clinical site in your community to complete a minimum of 675 hours of clinical experience. Students who continue on to finish the Companion DNP will complete an additional 360 hours of clinical experience.
At Frontier, we are a community. This institutional culture drives students’ success and creates successful practitioners. During on-campus sessions, you will build lifelong friendships with fellow students and faculty and establish a support system. Creating a “community of learners” is central to a Frontier education and forming relationships with other students and faculty is integral to the experience. These bonds continue into professional practice. Frontier nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives continue to collaborate and support one another throughout their careers.
Balancing work, family, school and other life commitments is challenging. Our distance-learning model is designed to fit into your life while allowing you to remain in your community. FNU offers both full-time and part-time options to accommodate our students’ needs. Full-time study is estimated to require a commitment of 40 hours per week, while part-time study is estimated at 30.
FNU makes it a priority to maintain an affordable tuition for our students. Financial Aid Services are available to help you meet the expenses associated with pursuing graduate education. Returning students may also apply for several scholarship opportunities offered through FNU. Read frequently asked questions about our financial aid offerings here.
What makes Frontier unique?
For more than seven decades, FNU has educated nursing leaders who have touched the lives of children and families across the nation and around the globe. Founded in 1939, FNU offers the oldest, continuously operating nurse-midwifery program in the United States. FNU also has the distinction of starting the nation’s first family nurse practitioner program in 1970. As an FNU student, you’ll visit our historic campus in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, where you’ll be steeped in the rich history and tradition of Frontier Nursing. It’s in these mountains that the vision of our founder, Mary Breckinridge, and the altruistic spirit of Frontier Nursing is solidified within each student. You can learn more about our story here.
Graduates working in Leslie County, KY, home of Frontier Nursing University
FNU was founded in 1939 by the visionary Mary Breckinridge, a pioneering nurse-midwife who started the Frontier Nursing Service in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky in 1925. Riding through the mountains as nurses on horseback, Mrs. Breckinridge and her staff delivered healthcare and attended births in one of country’s most remote regions. Today, FNU remains dedicated to the mission of educating advanced practice nurses and nurse-midwives to provide care to women, children and families in rural and underserved communities. More than ever, advanced practice nurses with DNP degrees are desperately needed to fill the shortage of primary care providers in medically underserved areas. Learn how Frontier graduates are answering the call.
FNU offers nationally rated doctoral and master's degree programs. In US News and World Report's most recent ranking of nursing schools, our university received four high-profile rankings among all accredited schools in the country:
- #13 in nurse-midwifery programs
- #14 in family nurse practitioner programs
- Top 50 in Graduate Schools of Nursing
- Top 50 Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs
In 2013, FNU was also recognized as a "Great College to Work For" by The Chronicle of Higher Education.
FNU has a highly qualified and experienced faculty to guide you and help you attain your goals. Most faculty members maintain a clinical practice while teaching at FNU, allowing them to bring years of experience as nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners to the classroom.