6 Online MSN Programs Without Clinicals

Whether you’ve just begun your nursing journey or have years of bedside experience, higher education can help advance your career. If you want to get out of a direct patient care role, you may pursue an online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program without clinicals.

Online MSN programs without practicums open you to non-clinical nursing roles in business, education, informatics, administration, and public health. This article reviews online MSN programs without clinicals, their coursework, job responsibilities, and where you can work with these degrees.

Yes, there are many types of online MSN programs available that do not require clinicals!

These programs cater to nurses interested in advancing their careers with non-direct patient care roles. As a bonus, earning an online MSN with no clinicals may take less time than clinical programs. Full-time students can complete most of these programs in less than two years, with some lasting just 14 months.

There are 6 types of online MSN programs that don’t require clinicals:

  1. Nursing informatics programs
  2. Nurse educator programs
  3. Nurse leadership programs
  4. Public health programs
  5. Health policy programs
  6. Nursing research programs

1. Nursing Informatics MSN Programs

An MSN in Nursing Informatics program equips nurses with the skills needed to bridge the gap between healthcare and technology. As a specialized online MSN without a practicum, informatics combines nursing science with information technology.


MSN in Nursing Informatics coursework typically includes:

  • Healthcare informatics
  • Clinical information systems
  • Data management and analysis
  • Healthcare information security and privacy
  • Healthcare project management
  • Nursing informatics leadership
  • Healthcare ethics and legal issues
  • Healthcare data analytics
  • Telehealth and remote patient monitoring
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Clinical workflow analysis and redesign

What You Can Do With This Program

Informatics nurses help improve patient care outcomes and improve clinical processes through technology. Some specific tasks that masters-trained informatics nurses engage with include:

Electronic Medical Records (EMRs)

Nurses work with EMRs to accurately record and store patient information. They ensure the information is accessible and secure. Informatics nurses may also help design and implement EMR systems.

Clinical Workflow Analysis

Informatics nurses analyze clinical workflows to identify areas where technology can streamline processes, improve patient care, and reduce errors.

Data Analysis and Reporting

Informatics nurses collect, analyze, and interpret medical data to identify trends, outcomes, and areas for improvement.

Telehealth and Remote Patient Monitoring

Informatics nurses may also set up and manage virtual care and remote monitoring devices.

2. Nursing Education MSN Programs

An MSN in Nursing Education prepares experienced nurses to become educators in academic, clinical, and healthcare settings. 

These MSN programs equip nurses with the knowledge and teaching methodologies needed to train the next generation of nurses. 


Some of the coursework you may take while earning an MSN in Education includes:

  • Curriculum development
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Organizational leadership
  • Advanced health assessment and health promotion 
  • Academic program evaluation
  • Evidence-based teaching, and
  • Cultural competence and diversity
  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacotherapeutics

What You Can Do With This Program

Nurses with an MSN in education can take on various roles within the realm of nursing education. 

Classroom Instruction

MSN-prepared nurses often teach nursing courses in academic settings. They cover medical-surgical nursing, pediatric nursing, mental health nursing, and more.

Curriculum Design and Development

MSN-educated nurses develop relevant and evidence-based nursing education curricula.

Continuing Education

Nurse educators may also develop and deliver continuing education programs for practicing nurses.

Leadership in Education Programs

Some educators take on leadership roles within nursing education departments, overseeing curriculum planning, faculty development, and program management.

MSN in Nursing Education graduates can work as faculty members in:

  • Colleges and universities
  • In-person and online nursing programs
  • Clinics and outpatient centers
  • Professional nursing organizations
  • Healthcare consulting and training
  • Government and public health agencies

3. Nursing Leadership MSN Programs

An MSN in Nursing Leadership develops leadership skills for nurses who aspire to work in managerial and administrative positions. 


The coursework in these programs covers topics such as:

  • Healthcare policy
  • Organizational management
  • Financial management
  • Quality improvement
  • Nursing leadership
  • Population-based health
  • Healthcare system organization
  • Professional communication 
  • Evidence-based approaches to healthcare

What You Can Do With This Program

Graduates are equipped to lead teams, manage healthcare facilities, and make strategic decisions to improve healthcare delivery.

Strategic Planning and Decision-Making

MSN nursing leadership roles often require developing and executing healthcare improvement plans. These plans include implementing strategies to enhance patient care or operational efficiency.

Staff Management

Nursing leaders are often in charge of hiring, managing, and supervising nursing staff.

Quality Improvement and Patient Safety

MSN nurse leaders monitor and improve clinical outcomes, implement evidence-based practices, and respond to quality indicators. They may also investigate incidents, identify trends, and develop strategies to prevent errors.

MSN Nurse Leaders often work for:

  • Hospitals
  • Healthcare systems
  • Clinics, and
  • Long-term care facilities

4. Public Health MSN Programs

An MSN in Public Health program prepares nurses to address community health issues. These programs teach students about epidemiology, health promotion, disease prevention, and healthcare disparities. 

Graduates often work as public health nurses, community health coordinators, or health educators.


MSN in Public Health coursework covers subjects such as:

  • Health promotion and disease prevention
  • Program management
  • Population assessment and epidemiology
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Policy development
  • Public health sciences
  • Quality improvement
  • Systems leadership

What You Can Do With This Program

Community Needs Assessments

Public health nurses conduct assessments to identify the health needs of specific populations. These assessments involve gathering data, analyzing health trends, and determining priority areas for intervention.

Health Education and Promotion

Public health nurses develop educational materials and initiatives to raise awareness about healthy behaviors, disease prevention, and overall wellness.

Epidemiological Investigations

Public health nurses investigate disease outbreaks and patterns within communities. They collaborate with epidemiologists to track and control the spread of infectious diseases.

Health Screening and Assessments

This specialty conducts health screenings and assessments to identify individuals at risk for health conditions. They guide with preventive measures and help provide appropriate resources.

Nurses with an MSN in Public Health often work in the following settings:

  • City, county, and state health departments
  • Federal health agencies
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Community service agencies
  • Community outreach programs 
  • Nonprofit organizations 

5. Healthcare Policy MSN Programs

Nurses interested in influencing policy and advocating for healthcare system change should pursue an MSN in Healthcare Policy. This degree covers healthcare policy analysis, health law, policy development, and ethics.


Coursework covers topics such as:

  • Epidemiology
  • Health policy process
  • Advanced public health nurses
  • Human genomics
  • Research and data analysis
  • Policy leadership
  • Global health

What You Can Do With This Program

Here are some of the tasks that professionals with an MSN in Healthcare Policy might perform:

  • Analyze healthcare policies
  • Research to support policy proposals
  • Monitor healthcare trends and policy issues
  • Engaging in public health campaigns and education
  • Contributing to legislative discussions and reforms

Graduates often pursue roles as healthcare policy analysts, lobbyists, and consultants. They may also work in government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Other places where healthcare policy nurses work include the following:

  • Health departments
  • Healthcare policy research organizations
  • Nonprofit healthcare advocacy groups
  • Hospitals and healthcare systems
  • Legislative offices
  • International health organizations

6. Nursing Research MSN Programs

An MSN in Nursing Research focuses on research methodologies, data analysis, and evidence-based practice. This specialization prepares nurses to help advance nursing science and improve patient care through research.


MSN in Nursing Research coursework covers topics such as:

  • Informatics and data management
  • Nursing research
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Advanced health assessment
  • Research ethics
  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Genetic/ genomics
  • Clinical research coordination

What You Can Do With This Program

Here are some tasks and responsibilities that individuals with an MSN in Nursing Research might engage in:

Designing Research Studies

MSN graduates specializing in nursing research may design research studies focused on various nursing topics.

Conducting Literature Reviews

Thorough literature reviews are one of the first and most crucial steps to initiating research. A literature review helps researchers understand the current state of knowledge on a particular nursing topic. This process allows researchers to identify gaps in existing literature and formulate questions.

Applying Evidence-Based Practice

Nursing researchers contribute to evidence-based practice by generating new knowledge that informs healthcare decisions and interventions. They help bridge the gap between research and clinical practice.

Grant Writing

Research nurses write grant proposals to obtain financial support for their projects.

Nurses with an MSN in nursing research often work in:

  • Academia
  • Research institutions
  • Healthcare organizations
  • Pharmaceutical and medical device companies
  • Consulting firms
  • Nonprofit organizations

Nurses pursuing an online MSN degree have many options without clinical requirements. The online MSN programs without clinicals in this article offer a wide range of non-patient care roles that can lead to fulfilling and impactful careers.

The flexibility of online learning enables you to pursue your education while managing other responsibilities. Non-clinical online MSN programs are often shorter than an in-person MSN with a practicum. You can complete many of the programs on this list in as little as 14 months.

Learn more about advancing your nursing career with a master’s education using Nurse.org’s MSN resources. Good luck on your educational journey toward an exciting and fulfilling advanced nursing role!

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