Introduction to the Masters in Nursing Degree

The most common masters of nursing degree is the Master of Science in nursing, commonly referred to by its initialism, MSN. MSN degrees come in a variety of specializations, including family nursing, health informatics, nursing management, nursing education, or nurse administration. The MSN degree is also the prerequisite to becoming an advanced practice nurse, such as clinical nurse specialist (CNS), nurse midwife, and nurse practitioner.

Online Master’s in Nursing Degree Programs

Earning a Master of Science in nursing (MSN) degree can open a world of career possibilities within the nursing profession. Listed below are featured online universities that confer MSN degrees.

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What is a Master’s of Nursing Program?

NurseA master’s of nursing degree is the prime way to get ahead in the world of nursing. Going back to school for a master’s of nursing degree enhances your job opportunities and earning potential. With this degree, you can work over a network of nurses or manage hospital floors or departments at major hospitals throughout the country. The variety of specialties available in master’s of nursing programs lets you branch out while honing your skills to become more desirable as an employee, and do more enjoyable and specialized work. This degree teaches students how to care for patients, oversee management of other medical employees, and to teach employees how to communicate effectively with patients and their families.

It’s essential you find a master’s of nursing program from an accredited college or university. Ask your school advisor about their accreditations in the nursing programs. Nursing programs must be recognized by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). This qualifies you for high paying jobs after obtaining your master’s degree. Any potential employers will look to see if your degree and education is from a properly accredited institution.

Types of Master’s of Nursing Degrees

There are many different types of nursing degrees at the graduate level. Your options have expanded to include a wide range of specializations, bridge programs, and dual-degree programs. There are also other post-grad options available like Doctor of Nurse Practice (DNP) and post graduate certificates.

Master's Programs

Bridge Programs

Dual Major Programs

Other Post-Graduate Nursing Programs

What Do You Need Prior to Entering a Master’s of Nursing Program?

A master’s of nursing program requires a student to have at least a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Nursing. There are many types of nurses and nursing degrees, such as licensed practical nurses (LPN), registered nurses (RN), and registered nurses with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing (RN + BSN). All of these programs take anywhere from one to four years to complete. A master’s of nursing program requires an additional two years of classes; this degree can focus on career education for leading other nurses or prepare you for a management position in the nursing field.

What Kind of Jobs Require an MSN?

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

This is a common position for those with an MSN. It is the ideal position for nurses who want to continue hands-on work with patients and families. The role of a nurse practitioner is similar to an RN, but it involves more responsibilities, and the level of specialization gives unique employment opportunities to nurse practitioners. In many cases, a nurse practitioner both treats patients and manages a group of nurses in a private practice or a hospital department. A nurse practitioner can also work in clinics in a role similar to a doctor. NPs need a thorough understanding of medicine, so their patients can rely on them for the care and advice they may once have asked of a doctor. Nurse practitioners often work as primary care providers, giving basic preventive services, checkups, physicals, and other regular medical services that were once the purview of physicians.

Clinical Nurse Practitioner (CNP)

A clinical nurse practitioner is similar to a nurse practitioner, but focuses more on the management and business end of a clinic or hospital. CNPs usually focus on one area of patient care, while also providing education and filling management and leadership roles. Becoming a CNP is a natural step for those with a significant number of years working with patients who wish to move to a more focused field, or simply need a change of pace. After years in the ER or in a particular specialty, many nurses are looking for a job that puts that experience to use but allows them to work in a new environment.

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

Certified nurse midwife is a role that emphasizes maintaining health during pregnancy and childbirth. CNMs work in delivery and gynecological departments, and are able to diagnose patients and write prescriptions. CNMs can also deliver babies in certain medical facilities or can work with private patients in their own homes for prenatal care and delivery, as well as help patients with any gynecological education or issues outside of prenatal care and delivery.

Dual Degrees and Combined Careers

Students of nursing can also pursue a double master’s or joint degree, which lets them take advantage of broader course offerings, and can provide career flexibility if a lifelong career as a nurse does not appeal. Combining a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) can prepare a student for leadership positions within the field of healthcare, or for a second career in business. This path takes longer, and is more costly, but the added flexibility and earning potential can pay dividends over time. Other careers that pair well with a Master of Science in Nursing include:

  • Master of Divinity: This combination works well for those who want to work as a hospital chaplain or as a nurse in a heavily religious community or institution.
  • Master of Health Service Administration: For nurses who want to progress into leadership positions and perhaps even leave nursing behind for high level administrative roles, an MHSA can be a good compliment to a nursing degree.

Nursing Salaries and Employment Projections

A nursing career has many perks, including respectable salaries. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics:

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