Master of Science in Nursing Degrees
While a master of science in nursing (MSN) can be a solid step forward for your career, there are several specializations, bridge programs, and even dual degrees for you to consider. This guide is designed to help you identify what type of MSN programs is the best fit for your goals and current status as a nurse and to help you learn more about MSN programs in general. Follow the links below to quickly access information you may be after:
- Essential Facts to Know about MSN Programs
- An Overview of MSN Specializations
- MSN Requirement for Nurse Practitioners
- MSN Degree Bridge Programs
- MSN Dual Degrees
Nursing is a rapidly changing field largely due to growing demands in health care from a population that is getting older in average age. At the pinnacle of a nursing career are nurse practitioners who often hold an MSN or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. While this position requires the most education in order to be qualified, it is the highest paying and fastest growing career in nursing with a job outlook projected at 31% (BLS.gov) – much higher than the projection for all occupations averaged together.
|Nursing Position||Median Salary||Job Outlook|
|Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses||$41,540||25%|
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.
Grand Canyon UniversityAccreditation
University of Saint MaryAccreditation
Sacred Heart UniversityAccreditation
An Overview of MSN Specializations
At the master’s degree level, the nursing field becomes greatly compartmentalized. Students can choose to specialize in a specific area of health care like mental health or infection prevention. You can also earn an MSN degree to prepare for administrative and education roles, like working as a nurse educator, administrator, or in the field of informatics.
Use the links below for more information on nurse specializations, including salary figures, qualifications and job responsibilities:
- Acute Care Nursing
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
- Infection Prevention & Control
- Innovation & Entrepreneurship
- Nurse Administration
- Nurse Education
- Nurse Leadership
- Nursing Informatics
- Psychiatric & Mental Health
MSN Requirement for Nurse Practitioners
In the past, an MSN degree was almost universally accepted as the minimum education level required for becoming a nurse practitioner (along with the necessary certifications and licensure, of course). However, several states now require students hold a doctor of nursing practice if they are pursuing that career. Currently working nurse practitioners who only hold an MSN degree are typically grandfathered in.
It is important that you research your state’s requirements to find out what degree is required for your career goal. While a DNP may be needed in order to become a nurse practitioner, DNPs require an MSN degree for enrollment, making an MSN degree a worthwhile investment in either case. We have listed several popular nurse practitioner fields below along with both MSN and DNP options that are available in that field of study:
MSN Degree Bridge Programs
Some schools offer accelerated paths for students with an educational background or experience as a nurse already. The most common programs offered are RN to MSN and BSN to MSN bridgeprograms. However, other bridge programs do exist, like ADN to MSN and MSN to DNP. BSN to MSN bridge programs that are designed with administrative roles in mind may not require the student to be a registered nurse.
Learn more about bridge programs with the links below, including how to apply and requirements:
MSN Dual Degrees
Dual degrees focused around MSN programs can lead to interesting careers for students because these programs allow you to work in other fields or even industries as they relate to nursing. Typically, an MSN dual degree is best suited for positions that require a strong grasp and knowledge of the nursing profession but other skills as well like advanced communication and management.
Holders of this degree can expect a variety of careers in fields related to:
- Policy making
- Leadership and management
- Business organization
- Community health
The links below cover each type of MSN dual degree in greater detail: