The Ultimate List of Masters Degrees in Nursing
Are you considering getting your Master’s Degree in Nursing? A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree can open the doorway to more opportunities for you as a nurse, from leadership positions to advanced clinical roles.
All types of MSN programs prepare a Registered Nurse to better serve different types of patient populations from a holistic perspective — graduate-level nursing courses will cover topics such as ethics, public health, leadership, healthcare practice, and clinical skills. As the American Association of Colleges of Nursing explains, a Master’s degree in nursing also prepares nurses on how to conduct research, consult, and implement evidence-based care and solutions.
One of the major benefits of an MSN degree is that not only does it offer more advancement opportunity and earning potential (MSN-prepared nurses earn an average of $94,000 per year), but it also allows you to specialize in a role and/or patient population that interests you the most. For instance, you can choose to specialize in a clinical specialty track as a Nurse Practitioner or choose a more administrative role, such as a nurse educator or consultant.
Want to learn more about what types of MSN degrees are available? Here is a list of some of the many different specializations in Master Degrees in Nursing that you can pursue.
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Master of Science in Nursing Degree
The following MSN tracks are commonly offered at many different schools across the nation, although there may be specialty course programs available at select schools as well:
With a Public Health degree, a nurse may pursue a track that is focused on broad public health goals, such as healthcare policy, population or community health. A Public Health Nurse may complete population studies, perform research, analyze outcomes, and provide education and advocacy for public health goals. They may work at the state or local level on infectious diseases, disease prevention, and health promotion.
As a Nurse Educator, you will be responsible for educating the next generation of nurses, both at the clinical and classroom levels. Nurse educators can conduct research, present at conferences, consult, and publish academic pieces to continually keep up-to-date on healthcare developments in the nursing profession. Nurse educators can work in a variety of settings and may have some flexibility to their schedules as well. If you are interested in becoming a nurse educator at the collegiate level, you should be prepared to continue to earn your doctorate degree as well.
In this role, nurses work in an intersection between technology and nursing. An informatics specialist could do things like consult on new technology systems, analyze and build data systems to reach healthcare goals or write computer programs.
Nurse Administrator or Executive
This track—also known as Nurse Leadership—prepares a nurse to manage a team of other nurses and/or healthcare members. An MSN Nurse Administrator may serve as a unit manager, for instance, or in even more expanded leadership roles. Additional advanced certification for Nurse Administrators and Executives are available as well.
Are you fascinated by studies? A Nurse Researcher role might be right for you—in this track, nurses learn to perform, assess, analyze, and provide recommendations based on research.
APRN Master’s Degree
Advanced Practice MSN degrees prepare a Registered Nurse for an advanced clinical role. In addition to earning an MSN degree, a nurse must pass a certifying exam in their chosen specialty field. Nurses who earn a Certified Master’s Degree will use the credential “C” with their title, i.e. a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner will be an FNP-C and a Certified Nurse Midwife will be a CNM. These degrees generally take 2-3 years to complete and include clinical hours as well as classroom coursework.
Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL)
As it sounds, in this role, nurses deliver and supervise bedside care and work with other team members to assess and improve clinical care. After earning your MSN, it’s recommended that nurses also become certified through the Commission on Nurse Certification as a CNL. According to Payscale, CNLs earn an average salary of $79,411.
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) serve as a clinical expert in one specialty field, such as geriatrics or acute care. A CNS can provide care and act in more of a consulting role for advanced practice. Payscale reports an average salary of $90,050 for CNSs.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
One of the highest-paid APRN roles, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists earns an average of $181,040, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS). CRNAs assess patients before administering anesthesia, monitor and adjust medication flow during the time the patient is under anesthesia, and provide post-anesthesia recovery. CRNAs can work in a variety of settings, from the hospital to surgical clinics and may work in a medical or oral surgeon field.
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
Certified Nurse-Midwives are practitioners who provide complete pre and post-natal care, along with labor and delivery services and women’s health care. The average salary for a CNM is $108,810, according to the BLS. CNMs can work in an office setting, at a hospital or birth center, or in private practices.
Nurse Practitioners work to provide advanced care to different patient populations; they can independently assess, diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication. The BLS notes that the average salary for NPs is $113,930 annually. As an NP, you can choose from a variety of different specialties in your practice.
Much like a doctor can specialize in virtually any type of medical care, an NP can choose a specialty track with the corresponding certification to become an expert in his or her field. Some courses will allow you to specialize in your chosen field through your degree program, while others will have you become a general practitioner, and then take an additional certification course to specialize. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners lists the following different types of tracks available to NPs:
- Emergency NP
- Family NP
- Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP
- Adult NP
- Acute Care NP
- Pediatric Primary Care NP
- Neonatal NP
- Pediatric Acute Care NP
- Women’s Health NP
- Psychiatric Mental Health-Family NP
- Psychiatric Mental Health NP
- Gerontology NP
- Orthopedic NP
Dual Master’s Degrees
You can also choose to pursue a dual degree to earn both your MSN and a concentration in another specialty. For example, according to the AACN 120 dual MSN degrees are available in the following specialties nationwide:
- MSN/MBA — to combine nursing with business
- MSN/MPH — a nursing degree with a public health degree (MSN/MPH)
- MSN/MHA — nursing and health administration
- MSN/MPA — nursing and public administration
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