If you’re a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) interested in advancing your career, continuing your education is one option. Earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is a popular career path for LPNs. Going this route allows you to easily climb the nursing ladder toward sought-after and high-paying nursing positions.
There are several steps you’ll need to take to earn your MSN. Making the journey requires several years of commitment, but you’ll earn a strong return on the investment.
In this article you’ll discover:
- What are reasons to earn an MSN?
- What are the requirements for earning an MSN?
- What are similar programs?
- How do you choose the best LPN to MSN program?
What are reasons to earn an MSN degree?
Many nursing professionals choose to continue their education as part of a natural progression in their careers. If you’re interested in greater opportunity or leading the charge in the transformation of healthcare, an MSN is a smart move. Here are some of the top reasons to earn an MSN degree:
- Increase your earning potential. LPNs do not have the same earning power as an RN with an MSN degree. Earning your MSN opens doors to better-paying nursing opportunities.
- Develop your professional skills and knowledge. MSN degree programs teach specialized skills like data analytics and informatics, healthcare evaluation, and policy and advocacy.
- Prepare for the future of healthcare. Healthcare is transforming rapidly. An increased focus and reliance on healthcare data makes an MSN degree valuable for any nursing professional.
Master of Science in Nursing degree
An MSN degree is one of the highest levels of education you can earn as a nursing professional. The only educational degree higher than an MSN for nursing is a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). You’ll need an MSN to become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) or work in leadership roles like nursing administration.
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What are the requirements for earning an MSN?
Before you can earn an MSN degree, you must first become a Registered Nurse (RN). Most MSN degree programs do not accept nursing professionals without RN licensure. It is considered the first step in your application process.
To become an RN, you must either have an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). After you complete your required education, the final step to becoming an RN is to pass the NCLEX-RN exam.
Some MSN programs also have specific criteria for:
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores
- Miller Analogies Test (MAT) scores
- Letters of recommendation
- Minimum undergraduate GPAs (usually 3.0 or higher)
- Transcripts from an accredited BSN program
Impact of earning an MSN
Nursing professionals who earn an MSN expand their career opportunities and earnings potential. Some of the highest-paying jobs in nursing require an MSN. Here are some of the options you’ll have if you pursue an MSN.
- Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP). ANPs earn six figures a year. In this career path, you’ll work in local clinics and medical facilities. You can even open your own practice.
- Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). NAs earn even more than ANPs, pushing close to $200,000 annually. Your advanced skills earn you top dollar in a fast-paced and demanding work environment.
- Nurse Consultants. Nursing consulting is another well-paying option if you have an MSN degree. Healthcare facilities and insurance companies rely on nursing consultants to provide analysis of legal issues that involve healthcare policies and regulations.
With an MSN degree, you’ll also have greater job security. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, demand for nurses with MSN degrees is expected to grow by 45% from 2020 to 2030. Salaries for those with advanced degrees average $118,040.
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What are similar programs?
If going from an LPN to an MSN seems too difficult or time-consuming, you can consider pursuing two similar programs that offer career advancement.
LPN to RN programs also allow you to climb the nursing career ladder. RNs can assume roles that require more responsibility than typically given to LPNs. With greater obligation comes more earnings. LPN to RN bridge programs allow you to use your existing education and experience to fast-track toward your RN licensure.
BSN to MSN programs help you advance your nursing education quickly. If you already hold a BSN degree, you can accelerate your path toward an MSN while continuing to work. Most nurses who choose bridge programs earn their MSN within 3 years.
How do you choose the best LPN-MSN program?
Before you apply to an MSN program, follow these tips to ensure you choose the best fit. Always look for a program that’s accredited by a reputable accrediting agency. Accrediting bodies for MSN degree programs are approved by the U.S. Department of Education and include:
- Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
You also should ask about any specializations offered, admission and graduation requirements, and whether they offer financial aid or scholarship opportunities.
Getting an MSN is not the right move for every nursing professional. It has both advantages and disadvantages. If you’re not sure which path is the right one for you, seeking advice from other nursing professionals can help you sort your options.
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- 2023 Best Nursing Schools: Master’s. usnews.com. Accessed June 7, 2022.
- A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding the Levels of Nursing Credentials. rasmussen.edu. Accessed June 7, 2022.
- Healthcare Transformation and Changing Roles for Nursing. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed June 7, 2022.
- Miller Analogies Test (MAT). pearsonassessments.com. Accessed June 7, 2022.
- NCLEX & Other Exams. ncsbn.org. Accessed June 7, 2022.
- Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners. bls.gov. Accessed June 7, 2022.
- The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. acenursing.org. Accessed June 7, 2022.
- The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. aacnnursing.org. Accessed June 7, 2022.
- The GRE General Test. ets.org. Accessed June 7, 2022.
- Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash