What Is an MSN Degree?
MSN stands for Master of Science in Nursing. Nurses who pursue this degree often seek out leadership or teaching positions within the nursing field.
The MSN program provides an opportunity for nurses to further develop their knowledge and skills to prepare them for more advanced roles in the future.
Some of the more common coursework for MSN students include advanced pharmacology, nursing research, and advanced health assessment.
Most MSN degree programs take up to three years to complete–it just depends on the nurse’s prior degrees and enrollment schedule.
Some of the positions that nurses with MSN degrees take are:
- Nurse practitioners (NP)
- Clinical nurse specialist (CNS)
- Certified nurse-midwives (CNM)
- Nurse administrators
- A certified nurse anesthetist (CRNA)
What types of MSN Degrees Are Out There and How to Choose a Program?
If you have decided to pursue an MSN degree, the next step is choosing a specific degree program. Your decision hinges a lot on what experience you have up to this point. There are four different types of MSN degree programs organized by experience.
- Entry Level MSN Program – This program is perfect if you do not have a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Generally, you will only have to take a few undergraduate courses to bring you up to par for this program’s requirements. Applicants with higher GPAs have an upper leg on the competition. It takes most students about three years to complete this program, as the first year is dedicated to learning clinical skills.
- BSN-to-MSN Program – This program is geared toward nurses who have received a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Students can complete this online or in-person, though they must receive in-person clinical hours. The program accounts for the student’s clinical experience, so it usually only takes 18 to 24 months to complete the degree.
- RN-to-MSN – This specific program tailors to nurses who have an Associate’s degree (ADN) and creates a way for them to obtain a master’s degree. Sometimes, students can receive a bachelor’s degree while they are pursuing their masters. Though the student doesn’t need the clinical training, they need the undergraduate education. Accordingly, they take undergraduate courses for the first year before taking master’s level education for the next two.
- Dual MSN Program – This program helps a student pair their graduate-level nursing education with another degree field such as business and health administration. That way, when the nurse graduates, they will have a master’s degree in two different fields.
Advantages to Having an MSN Degree
One of the basic benefits of having an MSN degree is the ability to specialize and gain expertise. Specialization helps provide a nurse with more opportunities than other nurses.
Also, expertise is needed as a lot of nurses are replacing doctors in certain settings. Being able to step into those roles requires expert knowledge that you learn through your degree.
Another advantage to having an MSN degree is access to more jobs and better pay. Nurses work long hours. Receiving compensation according to the level of your education can help promote job satisfaction.
Receiving an MSN degree puts you in a position for a pay raise. Most Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Midwives and Advanced Practice Nurses make an average of $110,000. Also, some employers will pay for some if not all of the tuition since they need specialized nurses.
Last, obtaining an MSN allows nurses to work independently. Many doctors have started outsourcing roles to nurses who have the specifications to help them out. By specializing, you can become your own boss and operate a clinic in some instances.
When to Consider Receiving an MSN Degree
At this point, you might feel convinced that an MSN degree is the next practical step for you. However, determining when to start is another decision altogether. Most programs only require that you have spent a year as a registered nurse.
Other than that, you’re good to go whenever you feel ready to start the program.
Having an advanced degree paves the way to succees as a nurse and elevate your status even further.