Introduction To MSN Programs

Welcome to Our site serves as an information portal for registered nurses, and anyone else, who may be looking for guidance on advanced degrees in nursing.

In order to advance your nursing career, you’ll likely need a master’s degree. To learn more about your options, you can click on each section below for a detailed overview. These options provide a path for RNs looking to advance within their current role or add additional certification in another patient population focus or specialty.

Bridge Programs: BSN-to-MSN vs. Traditional MSN

Bridge programs are specifically designed for working nurses who wish to pursue a higher degree to gain more opportunities in their careers. These programs are usually accelerated, taking less time than traditional BSN and MSN programs, sometimes in as little as 12 to 18 months. Bridge programs are also at times referred to as accelerated programs.

The programs listed below are the most common nursing bridge programs:

Types of Program: Program Overview:
BSN to MSN The BSN to MSN bridge program is a graduate-level nursing degree for those who have already completed a four-year bachelor’s in nursing. It is typically suited for registered nurses (RNs) who currently hold a BSN and are looking to become advanced practice nurses.
RN to MSN The RN to MSN bridge program is designed for the registered nurse who has not completed his/her bachelor’s degree.

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Dual Degrees: MSN & MPH, MSN & MHA and MSN & MBA

Dual degree programs are designed to allow students to obtain two degrees in significantly less time (4-5 years depending upon the degree) than if the degrees were obtained separately. Below are the most common bridge and dual-degree programs in nursing:

Types of Program: Program Overview:
MSN & MPH The Master of Science in nursing (MSN) and Master of Public Health (MPH) dual degree gives the RN the entry-level degree to become an advance practice nurse, nurse educator, or nurse administrator, while at the same time learning about public health practice.
MSN & MHA The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Master of Health Administration (MHA) dual degree enables an RN to become an advanced practice nurse, nurse educator, or nurse administrator, while also receiving graduate-level education in healthcare administration.
MSN & MBA The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) dual degree program allows a registered nurse to become an advanced practice nurse, nurse educator, or nurse administrator with advanced business education.

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What’s The Difference Between An MSN vs. A DNP

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program prepares clinical experts and leaders to assume challenging roles in a healthcare environment. A DNP is a terminal degree for those who wish to pursue a career in advanced nurse practitioner practice, clinical nurse faculty, and leadership positions in health care organizations. Nurses with a DNP can also work with policymakers in public health departments.
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What Are The Different Types Of Nursing Specialties?

A master’s degree in nursing can be the first step to becoming a nurse practitioner, nurse educator, clinical nurse leader, or a number of other roles. The areas of specialization are sets of related courses that can help students tailor their graduate programs to their personal goals.

Below you’ll find the most popular areas of specialization for nursing students:

Area of Specialization: Overview:
Acute Care Nursing Acute care is short-term medical care to treat severe but brief illness. Acute care nurses may work in a hospital and be responsible for providing immediate treatment to restore health to individuals who have become medically unstable.
Clinical Nurse Specialist A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is an advanced practice nurse who holds a master’s degree or doctorate in nursing. A CNS is an expert in a specialized area of nursing, providing direct patient care and expert consultations within his/her specialty.
Family Nurse Practitioner A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) with a master’s degree or doctorate in nursing.
Infection Prevention & Control Infection prevention and control is concerned with preventing healthcare-associated infection and nurses in this area have the expertise necessary to develop programs to monitor critical infection prevention and control indicators in healthcare delivery systems.
Innovation & Entrepreneurship For registered nurses who wish to become innovators in advanced practice nursing, this area focuses trains nurses to develop new innovations and inventions for the nursing profession in a variety of roles.
Nurse Administration MSN degrees that concentrate in nursing administration prepare nurses to serve in a variety of executive, management and leadership positions within the healthcare industry.
Nurse Leadership This area of specialization helps nurses advance their careers into an administrative or managerial position. While a nurse leader may not necessarily have a formal management role, he/she is looked upon as someone who has good interpersonal and risk management skills.
Nurse Education Nurse educators plan, develop, implement, and evaluate nursing educational programs, preparing the next generation of student nurses and RNs. They train licensed practical nurses (LPNs), licensed vocational nurses, and registered nurse sfor entry into advanced practice nursing careers.
Nurse Midwifery & Women’s Health Midwifery is the healthcare profession that provides care to childbearing women during pregnancy, labor, and breastfeeding. Nurse midwives provide additional primary health care to women, including family planning advice, gynecological examinations, prenatal care, and neonatal care.
Nurse Practitioner A nurse practitioner is one of four types of advanced practice registered nurses, the others being clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives. An MSN along with status as a registered nurse are required before becoming a nurse practitioner.
Nursing Informatics Nursing informaticists are typically advanced practice registered nurses with a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing, who have expertise in both nursing and information science/data management.
Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing Psychiatric-mental health nurses treat patients of all ages with mood and personality disorders, which can include bipolar disorder, dementia, depression, and schizophrenia.

Many of these nursing specialties, like nurse midwifery and family nurse practitioner, fall under the larger category of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the the employment rate will increase 31% from 2014-2024. The BLS states that this rise in employment is caused primarily by a growing aging population and more access to health insurance due to the federal healthcare reform.

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What Is My Salary Potential With An MSN Degree?

An MSN often results in a higher paying job and a host of exciting job opportunities within several specialties, including acute care, pediatrics, women’s health, and many more. Below are the top paying industries for nurse practitioners (the most common advanced practice nursing role) according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals$52.81$109,850

Industry: Hourly Mean Wage: Annual Mean Wage:
Personal Care Services $56.39 $117,300
Grantmaking and Giving Services $51.61 $107,350
Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services $50.17 $104,360
Employment Services $50.00 $104,010

The BLS also provides a useful map of the top paying areas for nurse practitioners in the United States. The top paying areas for nurse practitioners are typically in highly populated areas of the country:

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Essential Facts to Know about MSN Programs

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is a graduate-level degree sought by nurses who wish to go into advanced practice. Those who opt for a master’s degree in a nursing related field should already have or be in pursuit of an undergraduate degree in nursing or related field. Once an undergraduate degree is earned, you can choose to apply to a master’s degree program.

There are many different types of MSN degrees, so it’s important to find the right program for your career goals. Below you’ll find a list of accredited schools that offer a number of options.

Walden University
Walden University

  • HLC
  • NCA
Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University

  • HLC
Sacred Heart University
Sacred Heart University


Click here to see more schools offering Masters in Nursing degrees

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