Nursing Degrees & Schools / BSN vs. MSN
Paying for graduate school
The average cost for an MSN program ranges from $35,000 to $70,000, with some schools charging up to $100,000.
However, it’s important to note that tuition varies widely for these programs due to the type of school (such as an in-state public university versus out-of-state or private university) number of required credits, and cost per credit. So, it’s best to research and compare different institutions in relation to what they charge and choose what works best for you.
In addition to checking out costs, you should also explore the opportunities different institutions may have to cover some – or even all of your tuition expenses.
Many MSN programs offer scholarships to students. These are typically advertised on the institution’s website. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing also offers multiple scholarship opportunities.
Most scholarship requirements include completing an application, a minimum grade point average, a short essay, details on academic achievements, and one or more letters of recommendation.
Employer education reimbursement
If you are a working nurse, check to see what benefits your employer offers. Many organizations offer tuition reimbursement to their nurses.
The typical range of employer education reimbursement is $2500 to $5000 per year. The amount usually depends on your employment status with full-time employees being eligible for a higher amount.
1 year of work experience
MSN programs typically require at least 1 year of nursing experience to apply. Make sure to closely review all program requirements as they may vary among different schools.
Although MSN programs only require 1 year of experience, many nurses will wait even longer to garner more experience.
Similar to applying for scholarships, when applying to a nursing program you will likely need at least 1-3 reference letters highlighting your professional and academic experience.
Reach out to your professors, managers, or peers. Anyone who can speak to your ability to perform in the program you want to apply to can be a candidate for your reference letter.
When asking someone to write you a reference letter, give them plenty of notice to write the letter (a week at minimum), instructions on where to send it, and information about the program you are applying to.
BSN career pathway + MSN career pathway
Still can’t decide? Check out some of the combination BSN and MSN pathways. Many of these programs are designed for working registered nurses with an associate degree and allow them to complete a BSN and MSN in 1 program. Or, it allows nurses to go straight through to an MSN.
There are also options available for those who are not nurses but have a bachelor’s degree in another field, to enter directly into an MSN program.
Completion of an MSN through this pathway allows many of the same opportunities as completing a traditional MSN program including advanced patient care, teaching, and leadership positions.
Despite the path you take, the job outlook for RNs and APRNs is favorable and includes many career opportunities.
Questions from the Incredible Health Nurse Community
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Start checking out different schools and programs. Keep in mind the information you’ve learned here and see how the programs you are interested in match up.
Other important resources to review include the Essentials of Baccalaureate and Master’s Education in Nursing. These documents can give you an even more in-depth review of the specific goals of BSN and MSN education to help decide which path is best for you.
- “Foundation Scholarships.” www.aacnnursing.org. Accessed July 7, 2022.
- “Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners.” www.bls.gov. Accessed July 7, 2022.
- “Registered Nurses.” www.bls.gov. Accessed July 7, 2022.
- “The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice.” www.aacnnursing.org. Accessed July 7, 2022.
- “The Essentials of Master’s Education for Professional Nursing Practice.” www.aacnnursing.org. Accessed July 7, 2022.