Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs, whether offered online or on campus, are designed almost exclusively to prepare students to become nursing teachers or fill specialized capacities in the medical industry. Depending on the program, students may opt for an MSN that has a concentration in a specific area of the medical industry. These concentrations are designed to prepare students for the different careers they can pursue with this level of nursing degree.
The MSN programs are more dynamic than most masters programs because of the license and credential requirements for nurses. Programs can be tailored for students who are registered nurses (RN) with or without a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and many are offered with the option of transitioning from an RN program to an MSN program. Having a master’s degree in nursing greatly increases the career opportunities for this aspect of the medical industry and since the demand for healthcare in today’s market is only increasing, the job stability is well worth the investment.
Completing an Online Master of Science in Nursing
Depending on the specific type of master of science in nursing (MSN) program selected, students will study a particular application of nursing for the field. This may include clinical nurse leading, patient care services administration, and leadership and management. The primary nursing program at the master level is the MSN with a concentration in nursing education. All of these programs and their specializations effectively prepare students for entry or advancement within their field. For each specialization, courses are included that combine knowledge from experienced professionals and hands-on learning opportunities for real-world application.
Course work for online MSN is typically reflective of the quality and academic rigor of the traditional counterpart, but provides an added level of flexibility as students can study and submit assignments on a schedule that fits their needs. Distance learning programs are designed to retain the same educational quality as the traditional version, which ensures students are just as prepared for their careers upon graduating. Regardless of the concentrations, most MSNs have several core courses in common:
- Healthcare Policy & Ethics
- Theory and Professional Roles
- Principles of Healthcare Research
- Evidence-based Practice
The following is a list of a few of the requirements that may apply to students seeking admission to MSN programs:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- Proof of current nursing licensure
- Adequate scores on the GRE
- Sufficient letters of recommendation
- Minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher
Career Opportunities for Master of Science in Nursing Graduates
Career options for students graduating with a master of science in nursing (MSN) vary within the nursing field itself. Depending on the specific area of nursing a person desires to pursue, it may be necessary to have a specific concentration in that area, or take supplemental courses to be eligible for the position. However, the careers listed below can be obtained with an MSN as the starting point.
- Average Salary: $69,110
- Employment Prospects: 26%
This is the primary capacity filled by students majoring in nursing, and it’s the career that’s most applicable to the subject. In this capacity, nurses work as part of a team of health care specialists and are responsible to provide and coordinate patient care and educate their clients and the public about various health conditions. Often, the demands of the job necessitate that registered nurses provide critical advice and emotional support for patients and their family members. Although this position can be obtained with the right bachelor’s degree, having a master of nursing degree can be a huge advantage for the student seeking to enter this career. The figures listed above are provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
- Average Salary: $91,539
- Employment Prospects: N/A
Nurse practitioners work with other healthcare professionals to examine and treat patients to ensure the right injury and illness care is provided. This particular nursing position requires candidates to hold a master’s degree in an area of specialty and obtain their certification as a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP) and depending on the state of residence a candidate will also need to meet additional requirements. Ideally, candidates for this career will possess a wide degree of creativity and latitude. The salary figure listed above was taken from Salary.com and is the average amount earned for nurse practitioners.
Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Average Salary: $90,192
- Employment Prospects: N/A
Clinical nurse specialists are primarily in charge of assessing the nursing practices of a healthcare facility and determining its impact on patient outcomes. Because this career generally requires a master’s degree and a minimum number of years of experience, it can be the ideal career for a graduate with a master of science in nursing degree. Students with this degree will already have acquired experience and familiarity with the intricate practices, concepts, and procedures exercised in this career. The average salary for this position, listed above, was taken from Salary.com’s resource for clinical nurse specialists.
Additional Benefits of a Master of Science in Nursing
Because there are a number of specialization options for concentrated study in this subject, the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) can be the ideal option for traditional or distance learners seeking to promote within their field. In addition to this career leverage, graduates of this program can broaden the scope of their career options by choosing to specialize in a unique area of study. This gives them the ability to consider alternatives to their current job within the healthcare industry. For dedicated medical professionals, the MSN is a solid foundational program that can lead to a doctoral degree in a highly specialized area of study should they choose to pursue that course.