WGU vs University of Utah for MSN

  1. I have an ASN and a bachelors degree in biology. I would like to get my Masters in Nursing Education. I have narrowed it down to two schools in my area that combine the BSN and MSN programs to give me a Masters starting with my ASN. One is the University of Utah. This has a great reputation and I was excited to see that, at least on paper, I could be admitted. The other is WGU which is talked about a lot on these boards. I was initially very excited to just pursue the degree and a traditional and well known University. But in cost comparison (UofU about 45K and WGU 18K) WGU looks so much more tempting. Utah hospitals pay next to nothing as far as tuition stipends to their employees. (Please do tell me if someone knows different as I am not living or working there just yet!) Also, and this is the kicker, in investigating the U's program, I found out that it is an online program as well. You only come to the campus about once a semester. So if I am going to do online school, is it worth it to spend all the extra cash money for name recognition? It is really tempting to just got the WGU route. But what about hireability....? Any thoughts/ input? Thanks
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    About Myprettykitty

    Joined: Jul '12; Posts: 25; Likes: 7
    Specialty: 6 year(s) of experience

    11 Comments

  3. by   AJJKRN
    WGU all the way! If I had known about WGU before I did my RN to BSN at a well respected but expensive school I would have chosen WGU and never looked back.

    WGU is competency and self paced without those silly discussion posts that really don't add to learning but are more of busy work. Maybe the other university you're looking at doesn't have them but most do to fill the fluff for the RN to BSN component.

    I'm doing my BSN to MSN in leadership at WGU and it looks like I'll be done in 13 months. My goal was a year but I wasn't as focused during the holidays so it's taking me a bit longer. I think I could have done my RN to BSN in about six months. Not that WGU is easy but once you get through a course you can start another or be working on two courses at once depending on your progress and your student mentor.

    I honestly can't imagine having to go back to structured classes/education again where I can't move ahead if I want to!

    If you're wanting to pay for a brand...just think about your university being well known in your area but WGU is well known and respected nationally...and potentially much much cheaper
  4. by   beekee
    I did WGU's MSN in one term. So, it was less than $4k. No one cares about "name recognition" in nursing. However, there are some exceptions to that general statement. What is your end goal for this MSN?
  5. by   Myprettykitty
    Wow thank you for the insight. And that is an interesting thought that at least WGU is well known nationally. I am getting pretty excited about the program.
  6. by   Myprettykitty
    Quote from AJJKRN
    WGU all the way! If I had known about WGU before I did my RN to BSN at a well respected but expensive school I would have chosen WGU and never looked back.

    WGU is competency and self paced without those silly discussion posts that really don't add to learning but are more of busy work. Maybe the other university you're looking at doesn't have them but most do to fill the fluff for the RN to BSN component.

    I'm doing my BSN to MSN in leadership at WGU and it looks like I'll be done in 13 months. My goal was a year but I wasn't as focused during the holidays so it's taking me a bit longer. I think I could have done my RN to BSN in about six months. Not that WGU is easy but once you get through a course you can start another or be working on two courses at once depending on your progress and your student mentor.

    I honestly can't imagine having to go back to structured classes/education again where I can't move ahead if I want to!

    If you're wanting to pay for a brand...just think about your university being well known in your area but WGU is well known and respected nationally...and potentially much much cheaper
    THis comment was to you.... I now know how this thing works... "Wow thank you for the insight. And that is an interesting thought that at least WGU is well known nationally. I am getting pretty excited about the program."
  7. by   Myprettykitty
    Quote from beekee
    I did WGU's MSN in one term. So, it was less than $4k. No one cares about "name recognition" in nursing. However, there are some exceptions to that general statement. What is your end goal for this MSN?
    1 year! That is completely amazing! Did you have to take all of the classes in the program or were some repeats for you so they let you skip them? I am completely impressed.

    My goal is to eventually teach didactic at a community college and teach clinicals. But I don't want to limit myself from going for a PhD and teaching at a University. But for the affordability of the program, I might just have to risk it. What are you doing with your degree?
  8. by   Myprettykitty
    Quote from AJJKRN
    WGU all the way! If I had known about WGU before I did my RN to BSN at a well respected but expensive school I would have chosen WGU and never looked back.

    WGU is competency and self paced without those silly discussion posts that really don't add to learning but are more of busy work. Maybe the other university you're looking at doesn't have them but most do to fill the fluff for the RN to BSN component.

    I'm doing my BSN to MSN in leadership at WGU and it looks like I'll be done in 13 months. My goal was a year but I wasn't as focused during the holidays so it's taking me a bit longer. I think I could have done my RN to BSN in about six months. Not that WGU is easy but once you get through a course you can start another or be working on two courses at once depending on your progress and your student mentor.

    I honestly can't imagine having to go back to structured classes/education again where I can't move ahead if I want to!

    If you're wanting to pay for a brand...just think about your university being well known in your area but WGU is well known and respected nationally...and potentially much much cheaper
    Thank you for your insight! This is really great to hear. I have already started coorespondence with WGU. Although I am keeping other options on the table, I think WGU is becoming my first choice. I have some time to think about it before I am ready to apply anywhere though.

    So what is your plan with your MSN?
  9. by   ssrn13
    Hey! I have friends that have done their masters in nursing ed at both those schools. Most of them chose WGU to be honest because of the flexibility in schedule and cheap tuition. I'm not sure who they're accredited by but accreditation would be my main concern. My friends that went to WGU had a very positive experience, though some complained the program was not as rigorous as they had hoped in terms of the new knowledge they gained (i.e. they felt it was a lot of self-guided busy work...but then again they were very busy plowing through assignments to get done sooner and decrease tuition cost). On the other hand, the friend that went to the U said her program was fairly rigorous, and even though it was mostly online, she was local and had access to the university library, professors and advisors in person, etc. She felt she had a lot of support. It is definitely more pricey though :/. I feel your pain, I worked in Utah once and the tuition stipend from the hospital was pitiful. One other thing you also might want to keep in mind is that WGU is pass/fail only, so if you plan on any other schooling after that degree, the pass/fail system might be frowned upon by other universities. But if this is your end goal it might be a great choice! Good luck in whatever you decide to do!
  10. by   Myprettykitty
    Quote from ssrn13
    Hey! I have friends that have done their masters in nursing ed at both those schools. Most of them chose WGU to be honest because of the flexibility in schedule and cheap tuition. I'm not sure who they're accredited by but accreditation would be my main concern. My friends that went to WGU had a very positive experience, though some complained the program was not as rigorous as they had hoped in terms of the new knowledge they gained (i.e. they felt it was a lot of self-guided busy work...but then again they were very busy plowing through assignments to get done sooner and decrease tuition cost). On the other hand, the friend that went to the U said her program was fairly rigorous, and even though it was mostly online, she was local and had access to the university library, professors and advisors in person, etc. She felt she had a lot of support. It is definitely more pricey though :/. I feel your pain, I worked in Utah once and the tuition stipend from the hospital was pitiful. One other thing you also might want to keep in mind is that WGU is pass/fail only, so if you plan on any other schooling after that degree, the pass/fail system might be frowned upon by other universities. But if this is your end goal it might be a great choice! Good luck in whatever you decide to do!
    Thank you for your response! You know a lot that is useful to me. I had forgotten about the 3.0 GPA coming out of WGU situation. That is something to think about. I think my end goal is this degree, but that could change and I would hate to not keep further education options open. But it is soooo much cheaper.... and, if you worked in Utah, you know I will not rolling deep! So much to think about.

    One follow up question, what are your friends doing with their degrees? Were they able to get the jobs they wanted?

    And what can you tell me about working in Utah? My experience is in Arizona and then California. I have been not working for the past 1.5 years and will be hoping to work again by the end of this year after moving to Utah. I am dreading it. The low pay, yes, but the horror stories I have heard about schedules. Is it true that your schedule is likely to flip flop from days to nights and back all within a week or so? This is insanity! Is it true? What else can you tell me?

    Thanks much
  11. by   ssrn13
    Hey! To be honest, my friends who obtained their degrees from WGU are still working the floor at the hospital, it seems they got their degree for the sake of having a degree. I kind of suspected the attitude of "it's cheap and flexible, why not." On the other hand, my friend who went to University of Utah is actually teaching as an adjunct faculty for BSN students while she still works the floor prn. She seems to really like teaching.

    You are right, Utah is one of the lowest paying states for nurses, it's terrible :/. Cost of living is rather high compared to what they pay nurses, but it depends on where you live. Salt Lake County is probably the priciest, I'm sure nothing compared to California though! . Your schedule depends on where you work. I knew a few nurses who worked at University of Utah Hospital and they were on variable schedules, switching back and forth from days to nights. However they are the largest hospital in Utah and one of the only trauma 1 centers in the state, so if you like that kind of environment it might be a good fit.

    I worked for Intermountain Healthcare and actually had a really good experience. I felt like they valued their employees and I liked their approach to providing healthcare and being involved in the community. Intermountain has a bunch of hospitals along the Wasatch Front and in southern Utah, so you'd probably be able to find something no matter where you are. There are also several HCA hospitals if you have experience working with HCA.
  12. by   Myprettykitty
    Quote from ssrn13
    Hey! To be honest, my friends who obtained their degrees from WGU are still working the floor at the hospital, it seems they got their degree for the sake of having a degree. I kind of suspected the attitude of "it's cheap and flexible, why not." On the other hand, my friend who went to University of Utah is actually teaching as an adjunct faculty for BSN students while she still works the floor prn. She seems to really like teaching.

    You are right, Utah is one of the lowest paying states for nurses, it's terrible :/. Cost of living is rather high compared to what they pay nurses, but it depends on where you live. Salt Lake County is probably the priciest, I'm sure nothing compared to California though! . Your schedule depends on where you work. I knew a few nurses who worked at University of Utah Hospital and they were on variable schedules, switching back and forth from days to nights. However they are the largest hospital in Utah and one of the only trauma 1 centers in the state, so if you like that kind of environment it might be a good fit.

    I worked for Intermountain Healthcare and actually had a really good experience. I felt like they valued their employees and I liked their approach to providing healthcare and being involved in the community. Intermountain has a bunch of hospitals along the Wasatch Front and in southern Utah, so you'd probably be able to find something no matter where you are. There are also several HCA hospitals if you have experience working with HCA.


    Thank you for the helpful feedback again! THat is interesting if your friends got the degree just to get it. Seems like a lot of work but maybe they'll use it later. If they had trouble finding work, that would be the bigger indicator to me that I should go to the state school. I am concerned because trauma 1 is my thing and I think the only PICU in Utah is at Primary Childrens which I think is University of Utah's? Not entirely sure, but what you are telling me about the schedule makes that very unappealing. And that sort of schedule is complete torture and completely unnecessary! I don't know why they would do that to people. It also might be quite a drive from me so I may want to commute less, have a better schedule and work in another area of Peds. So I will start looking at IHC. Anyhow thanks for the info. luckily I have time to figure it out. Thank you
  13. by   ssrn13
    Quote from Myprettykitty
    Thank you for the helpful feedback again! THat is interesting if your friends got the degree just to get it. Seems like a lot of work but maybe they'll use it later. If they had trouble finding work, that would be the bigger indicator to me that I should go to the state school. I am concerned because trauma 1 is my thing and I think the only PICU in Utah is at Primary Childrens which I think is University of Utah's? Not entirely sure, but what you are telling me about the schedule makes that very unappealing. And that sort of schedule is complete torture and completely unnecessary! I don't know why they would do that to people. It also might be quite a drive from me so I may want to commute less, have a better schedule and work in another area of Peds. So I will start looking at IHC. Anyhow thanks for the info. luckily I have time to figure it out. Thank you
    No problem!! Hopefully you find something that works for you! And by the way, Primary Children's is IHC it's just attached to the U's campus. It makes it convenient for all the high risk deliveries they do at University of Utah. Also Utah Valley Hospital (also IHC) in Utah County has a smaller PICU they opened last year on their peds unit that is an extension of Primary's. If you're going to be south of Salt Lake that might be an option. Best of luck though!! I'm sure it will all come together

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