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Is Your GPA Keeping You From an MSN Degree?

You are a dedicated nurse and good at your job. You want to advance your career with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), but you are concerned your grades from undergraduate school may prevent you from getting into a quality MSN program.

There are more than 330 master’s degree programs accredited by either The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) in the United States. There are also many MSN programs to choose from: nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist, nurse educator and nurse administrator.

All these options have varying MSN degree requirements, making it likely that you can find a program that fits your situation. Check out all the available opportunities, including online MSN programs.

The All-Important Application Essay or Letter

Look for programs that have a “whole person” approach to admissions. “A low grade point average is not an automatic knockout—admissions officers are after a composite package,” according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

If extenuating circumstances, such as caring for a sick loved one, affected your undergraduate grades, you can explain this in your admissions essay or application letter. However, be straightforward and avoid sounding like you are making excuses. Also explain the ways in which you plan to improve your performance in graduate school.

Speaking of your essay or letter, put a lot of thought and time into it, and make sure your personality and qualifications come through. In addition to shining a spotlight on your accomplishments, address any weaknesses and what you have done to overcome them. Be sure to carefully proofread your essay as well. Grammar or spelling mistakes can significantly harm the quality of your essay and your chances of being accepted into your preferred program.

If you are applying for an online MSN program, address how you are prepared for the discipline required in an independent learning environment. Make sure the application committee understands that you see yourself as capable of handling online education.

Other Application Considerations

Some MSN degree requirements include taking the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT). Other programs do not require either of these tests, or do not require one if you have a high enough GPA. Some programs will let good GRE scores make up for a less-than-stellar GPA. If you are taking the GRE or MAT, spend plenty of time preparing, using all the available study tools. If needed, take the test more than once to improve your scores.

You may need letters of reference with your application. Get them from the most top-level supervisors and former instructors you can. Letters from peers are looked down on, according to an article at U.S. News & World Report.

Another way to strengthen your application is to take a few graduate-level courses before applying to an MSN program and ace them. This approach shows the admission committee you can handle the academics.

When looking at MSN degree requirements, consider all the variables. Do whatever is necessary to improve your chances of admission. Be persistent and do not let a few rejections keep you from success.

Learn about the UT Arlington online MSN in Nursing Administration program.

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