The Cost, Length, and Requirements of a Master’s in Forensic Nursing (MSN)
A particularly important and rewarding area of nursing, the forensic nurse has become an increasingly sought-after member of both healthcare and law enforcement teams. This type of nurse acts as a liaison between crime/trauma victims and the criminal justice system, helping to collect evidence, photograph injuries, assist with autopsies, and much more. They are often a trusted confidante to these victimized patients, who may be severely traumatized by their experiences and injuries. For nurses interested in a master’s degree in forensic nursing, specialized programs have cropped up across the nation. These graduate programs train students in this highly complex field, which intersects medicine and law enforcement.
Choosing a Master’s in Forensic Nursing Program
Prospective students interested in the forensic nursing pathway have many things to consider when deciding on a program. Paying attention to the following aspects will help to ensure that the right school and program are chosen:
Students should take care to choose a master’s in forensic nursing program that is properly accredited. Agencies that approve these types of programs include the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Accredited programs must maintain high academic standards, and are regularly re-evaluated, making them trustworthy programs that carry weight on a resume.
Graduate programs in forensic nursing can vary dramatically when it comes to cost. Aside from the main expense of tuition, students will be responsible for school fees, textbooks, and other course materials. It’s important to remember that costs may differ between full master’s degree programs in forensic nursing and shorter certificate programs.
Masters-level forensic nursing programs can require anywhere from 36 to 51 credit hours. Generally, students can finish the program in two years of full-time study or three years of part-time study. Some schools also offer forensic nursing certificate programs, which are shorter in length and designed for BSN or MSN educated nurses to specialize in the field. These typically require around 20 credits to complete.
As hands-on residencies are required as part of the forensic nursing curriculum, students should research which hospitals and facilities their school of choice is affiliated with. Many schools help students find and fulfill any internship/externship requirements, and may be able to assist students who are employed with working them around their schedules.
Students generally have the choice of completing their forensic nursing programs online or in a traditional on-site classroom format. There are often also “hybrid” programs that combine online courses with limited campus visits. Students should inquire with their school of choice to find out all the program delivery options before they enroll.
Admissions and Certification Requirements
While admissions requirements for graduate forensic nursing programs vary by school, most will include the following:
- Must have completed a BSN degree
- Active RN license
- Minimum cumulative undergrad GPA of 3.0
- Submit official transcripts from all colleges attended
- Submit an essay/personal statement outlining interest and goals in the field
- Professional letters of recommendation