Yale is launching specialized nursing online master’s—and grads could land six-figure salaries

BY Sydney LakeDecember 05, 2022, 2:54 PM
Students walk through the campus of Yale University, as seen in September 2018 in New Haven, Connecticut. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

All signs point to a significant nurse shortage during the next decade. If the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t enough of an indication of the need for more nurses and other health care professionals, there was also a 100,000-person drop in the number of nurses between 2020 and 2021, according to a nursing workforce analysis. That’s the largest decline in this profession in the past four decades. 

As the shortage continues, nursing schools are starting to offer more options for new professionals entering the field—or to level-up into higher-paying and higher-level positions. The latest example is Yale University, which is launching an online master’s degree program in nursing. The psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) program will start enrolling students in May 2023.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the need for access to psychiatric and mental health care, [Yale School of Nursing] faculty and leadership recognized the need for more practitioners,” Ann Kurth, dean of the Yale School of Nursing, tells Fortune. “We want to extend a ‘Yale Nursing everywhere’ approach, and an online model was the ideal way to do this.”

The PMHNP program, which is offered through a partnership with online education provider Noodle, will be taught solely by Yale Nursing faculty and has the “same pedagogical standards” and the “same rigor,” as the school’s in-person nursing program, Carmen Portillo, Yale Nursing executive deputy dean and professor, tells Fortune

The online master’s in nursing program will include both synchronous (live) classes and asynchronous teaching and activities. The program also includes a short, on-campus immersion each year. Yale also announced this summer it will launch a family nurse practitioner (FNP) program that is projected to start in fall 2024, but further details have yet to be announced.

What can you do with an online master’s degree in nursing

Yale’s online master’s in nursing programs are designed for “clinicians who want to take their career to the next level,” Portillo says, meaning that candidates must already have a bachelor’s degree in nursing and have an active registered nurse (RN) license to apply. 

Graduates of this program will become nurse practitioners, a role that bears more responsibility and earns higher paychecks. The median salary for nurse practitioners was $120,680 in 2021, compared with $77,600 for registered nurses, U.S. Department of Labor Statistics data shows. 

Graduates from the PMHNP program can go on to hold mental health-focused positions that can earn median base salaries of more than $140,000, according to data from Indeed. Family nurse practitioners, which are products of Yale’s other online nursing program, make average salaries of $114,000.

“Leadership can take different forms, whether that be opening private practices in communities that need it most, or managing a unit in a clinic or hospital, or running whole health care systems,” Portillo adds. “YSN students and graduates want to improve the state of health care, and this degree is one way in which they can advance their careers and improve the health impact of communities.”

How to apply to Yale’s online master’s in nursing program

Since Yale’s new offering is a master’s degree program in nursing, applicants must already hold a bachelor’s in nursing and must have an active RN license. Applicants must submit a resume, three references, transcripts, and essays. GRE scores aren’t required from candidates with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0.

“It’s obviously important that candidates have a track record of academic success, as we don’t want to set anyone up for failure,” Zachary Maggio, Yale Nursing’s associate dean for enrollment management, tells Fortune. “But our review process is holistic—it looks at the whole of an applicant’s history in the context of the opportunities they’ve had and doesn’t reduce their experiences down to a single factor like GPA, test scores or years of work experience.”

Prospective students who apply by Jan. 17, 2023 don’t incur the $100 application fee, and the final deadline for the summer 2023 application is Feb. 28, 2023. The 52.5-credit-hour PMHNP program is designed to be completed over three years, and the cost-per-credit hour is $1,962. This brings the total cost to roughly $107,000. The school hasn’t yet released further details about the FNP program.

Since the program is also focused on mental health, the strongest applicants will be those who have had exposure to the field, Maggio notes. “But more than anything else we want to enroll talented, dedicated, and passionate nurses who can articulate why the Yale program aligns with their academic and professional goals.”

Check out all of Fortune’rankings of degree programs, and learn more about specific career paths.