MSN Programs Arkansas

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses have a pivotal role in the future of health care. The state of Arkansas recognizes four specific advanced practice roles, nurse practitioners (NP), clinical nurse specialists (CNS), certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA), and certified nurse midwives (CNM). APRNs, especially NPs and CNMs, play a critical role in the area of primary care, serving at the forefront of preventative care to the public.

The Master of Science degree in Nursing (MSN) supplies the advanced education registered nurses need to provide initial and continuous comprehensive care. They collect comprehensive health histories, perform physical exams, order and interpret lab tests, refer patients when needed, and prescribe medication. Nurse practitioners, in particular, also place emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention, diagnose and treat diseases, and work collaboratively with health care professionals for positive patient outcomes.

Low physician supply in rural areas, compared to non-rural ones, reduces the accessibility to effective primary care. The 11 percent of physicians who choose to work in rural areas are forced to travel long distances to meet the needs of a wide and expansive population. Growth in the elderly population increases the demand for primary care services in rural areas, which raises demands for more primary care providers. One approach to delivering primary care that the population needs is to utilize the training and competencies of APRNs.

Almost 66 percent of nurse practitioners practice in primary care settings and 20 percent practice in rural or frontier settings. Arkansas State regulations place constraints on a nurse practitioner’s ability to practice independently. The reduced practice standard requires nurse practitioners to work under a collaborative agreement with a physician practice and under a limited prescribing schedule. This limits the ability to APRNs to function as primary care providers and relieve the burden of health care in rural areas.

Specialized Learning

The Master of Nursing Science program is designed for registered nurses (or other professionals) who desire to practice at an advanced level. The area of concentration will depend on the university/college offerings, and intended area of study will influence your choice of university. The program is still further defined by the population foci, which can be anything from adult-gerontology or women’s health to psychiatric mental health.

The MSN curriculum is comprehensive, including both foundational courses and concentration-focused courses to prepare graduates for practice. They are prepared to be providers and managers of care, participate in the implementation of health care systems that are accessible to consumers, collaborate in research efforts and utilize findings in evidenced-based practice, and provide leadership in the profession.

The curriculum can be completed through a part-time or full-time plan of study. The approximate time to complete the program will also depend on the point of entry. Students enrolled in the BSN to MSN pathway can complete the requirements in 3 to 4 years. Those enrolling in the program through an associate’s degree or non-nursing bachelor’s degree will need to enter through the RN to MSN pathway, which requires completion of 60 to 70 credits.

MSN graduates are eligible to apply for a national certification exam that corresponds to their area of study. The computer-based exam comprises of 200 or more questions and validates a candidate’s competency and readiness to practice in a specific area. Proof of certification must be presented to the Arkansas Board of Nursing for a license to practice as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse.

Here are three options to pursue an MSN degree:

RN to MSN: The RN to MSN enrolls registered nurses who want to assume a position as an advanced practice nurse. A part of the curriculum may be offered in a convenient online format giving the student some flexibility to balance work-life commitments. The school may issue a bachelor’s degree in nursing once the student completes the undergraduate requirements and the master’s degree at the conclusion of the final requirements. Applicants must have a diploma or associate’s degree in nursing and a license to practice as a registered nurse. In some situations, the school may admit persons who hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree.

Direct Entry MSN: This traditional route for entering the MSN is the most common pathway that allows individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing to prepare for advanced practice. Students must determine their area of concentration before, as it will determine the college/university for enrollment. Example areas of studies include nurse educator, nursing leadership and management, family nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist and others. The core courses remain the same, but specialty courses will be introduced to achieve a distinct objective.

Post-Master’s Certificate: The post-msn certificate simplifies the continuous learning for advanced practice professionals. It lets those who already hold a master’s degree to specialize further in the field or prepare for another area of practice – related to or unrelated to the existing specialty. The entire program is delivered in an online learning format. However, it may require clinical experiences related to the chosen area of concentration. The time to complete a post-msn certificate is three to six semesters depending on specialty requirements and part-time or full-time attendance.

The MSN’s versatile online learning format lets nurses embrace continuous learning while they practice. Although the curriculum is extremely flexible and accommodating of most schedules, it will include a rigorous sequence of courses and an expansive clinical experience, which may cover 700 or more hours of practical work at an off-site facility.


  • A bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited a program.
  • An associate’s degree or diploma or non-nursing bachelor’s degree for students entering the RN-to-MSN program.
  • Official transcripts of all college-level work.
  • A grade C or above in basic-level statistics.
  • An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Complete a basic health assessment.
  • A current and unencumbered RN license in a state where the clinical experience will occur.

The availability of space will determine your acceptance – admission is not usually competitive at this level. Review the school’s specific requirements for admission closely and match with your credentials before submitting an application.

Requirements For Advanced Practice Registered Nurses Arkansas

The Arkansas State Board of Nursing will grant a license for advanced practice to registered nurses who meet the qualifications. Licenses are issued in four categories: Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Certified Nurse Midwife, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. Applicants must hold a current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse in Arkansas or from a compact state of permanent residence.

Applicants must submit to a state and federal background check – candidates who submitted an application with CBC to the ASBN within the last 12 months may be exempt from this requirement. The ASBN will provide a fingerprint card for the federal criminal background check, which must be completed and submitted to the Arkansas State Police Department. All fingerprinting and costs associated with the background check are the applicant’s responsibility.

The INA Search Number provided on the Payment Summary must be included on the fingerprint card. A positive criminal background check or a “yes” response to any of the five questions on the application will disqualify an applicant from a temporary permit or full license until the ASBN provides clearance. An explanation of the offense and a certified copy of all pertinent court records must be provided to the ASBN.

Guidelines for Initial APRN Licensure

For initial application for APRN licensure:

Applying for a Temporary Permit

  • Select the option for a temporary permit during the application process if you’ll like to begin practicing while the application is in process.
  • Pay the additional fee of $30 to secure the permit.

The ASBN must receive an official transcript of your education from the APRN program, clear criminal background check results, and verification of your eligibility to sit the respective certification exam before issuing a temporary permit. Once issued, the permit will be valid for six months and is not renewable. The temporary permit does not include prescriptive authority. It will become invalid of you fail your certification exam. If you pass the exam and receive certification, the temporary permit will be voided, and full APRN licensure will be issued.

The temporary license will be accessible using the Verification tab on the ASBN website.

Prescriptive Authority

You may apply for Prescriptive Authority after receiving an Arkansas APRN license:

  • Submit an Application for Prescriptive Authority online.
  • Submit the payment of $160 using a credit card or e-check.
  • Submit a Collaborative Practice Agreement and a Quality Assurance Plan. These documents may be submitted via mail to the ASBN or fax.

APRNs must maintain prescriptive protocols on file. It should not be submitted to the Board unless requested.

Guidelines for APRN Endorsement

If you already hold an APRN license in another state, you may apply for licensure by endorsement in Arkansas using the guidelines below:

  • Complete and submit the online application for licensure.
  • Pay the initial fee of $125 using a valid credit card or e-check. A nominal fee for online payment processing will be included in the total.
  • Make a note of the INA Search Number on the Payment Summary to include on the ASBN provided fingerprint card for the criminal background check.
  • Submit a letter of explanation and a certified copy of pertinent court records if you answer “yes” to any of the criminal history questions.
  • Request an official transcript of your graduate nursing education from the university/college where you completed the APRN program. The transcript must be sent directly to the ASBN.
  • Provide details of your national certification. Contact the certifying agency and request that verification of your certification be sent directly to the ASBN via mail or emailed to Ellen Harwell, Licensing Coordinator ([email protected]).
  • Provide verification of RN licensure. If you hold current RN licensure in Arkansas, you may skip this step. If you hold an RN license in a non-compact state, you must apply for an Arkansas RN license via endorsement. If you hold an RN license from the compact state, you must verify your license through NURSYS.
  • Provide verification of APRN licensure. Print the Advanced Practice Verification Form and send to the licensing agency in the state where you hold APRN licensure. Provide all the relevant information on the form so your records can be located. The licensing agency should complete the form and return directly to the ASBN. There may be a fee for the service.
  • Provide documentation of practicing as an APRN for at least 200 hours in the last two years. A form to verify hours is located on the ASBN’s website. Complete and mail or fax the form to the Board.
  • Submit documents indicating that you prescribed in a clinical setting for more the 500 hours in the past year if you want to apply for prescriptive authority. The employer must provide the year, date, and contact information and sign the form to Verify Hours of APRN Prescribing.

International Applicants

An international applicant must provide proof of RN education from an accredited program or one approved by the Board of Nursing in the country where the program is administered. The academic credentials must be submitted to the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) or International Education Research Foundation (IERF) for review. The CGFNS/IERF report must be sent directly to the ASBN.

APRN Renewal Requirements Arkansas

APRN can renew their license within the 60-day period preceding the license expiration date. The license expires biennially on the last day of licensee’s birth month. The RN license must be renewed at the same time as the APRN license. If you were born in an odd-numbered year, your license would expire in odd-numbered years. If you were born in an even-numbered year, you would expire in an even-numbered year.

License renewal must be completed online and the renewal fee of $65 paid via credit card or e-check. The fee for the RN renewal is $100. Have you license number, social security number, and date of birth on hand to complete the renewal. You’ll also need information on your continuing education – copies of certificates, transcripts, etc. If you have been convicted of a crime during the licensure period, you should not initiate online renewal but contact the Board to provide additional information.

Continuing Education Requirements

APRNs must complete the continuing education requirements prior to license renewal. The ASBN requires license holders to complete 15 contact hours of accredited practice-focused activities, or hold a current national certification, or complete one college credit in nursing with a grade C or above, APRNs who hold prescriptive authority must complete an additional five contact hours of pharmacotherapeutics related to their area of specialty.

Contact the Board of Nursing

Arkansas State Board of Nursing
University Tower Bldg.
1123 South University
Suite 800
Little Rock, AR 72204-1619

Phone: 501-686-2700
Fax: 501-686-2714

MSN Programs Arkansas

Conway, AR MSN programs:
University of Central Arkansas
201 Donaghey Avenue, Conway, AR 72035

Fayetteville, AR MSN programs:
University of Arkansas
3189 Bell, 1 University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701

Jonesboro, AR MSN programs:
Arkansas State University
2105 Aggie Rd, Jonesboro, AR 72467

Little Rock, AR MSN programs:
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
4301 West Markham Street, Little Rock, AR 72205

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