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Master of Science in Nursing (MSN): RN to MSN Degree Overview

Registered nurses seeking more advanced specialization and opportunity in the field may consider a Master of Science in Nursing degree with an RN to MSN option.

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Essential Information

Master of Science in Nursing degree programs with RN-to-MSN options can qualify RNs to work as advanced practice nurses in a variety of specializations, including nurse midwife and nurse practitioner. RN-to-MSN programs also provide a foundation for further study or work in nursing-related fields, such as education, public health and research. RNs who do not have Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees can earn an MSN through this type of program, receiving credit for previous RN training coursework. Some program specializations may be available, such as leadership, research, or education. Program length varies based on previous education; accelerated programs available to those who qualify.


Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Clinical Nursing
  • Critical Care Nursing
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  • Licensed Vocational Nurse Training
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Neonatal Nursing
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Assistant or Patient Care Assistant
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Nurse Practitioner or Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nursing Administration
  • Nursing for Adults and Seniors
  • Nursing Science
  • Occupational Health Nursing
  • Operating Room and Surgical Nursing
  • Pediatric Nursing
  • Public Health Nurse or Community Nurse
  • Registered Nurse

Master of Science in Nursing RN-MSN

RN-MSN programs are designed to expedite the professional development of registered nurses. A wider and more advanced field of opportunities is available to nurses with an MSN, and the RN-MSN path allows registered nurses to bypass a traditional four year bachelor's degree. Programs combine clinical experiences with classroom and laboratory learning, and generally cover advanced topics in the field. Typical coursework might include:

  • Health promotion and assessment
  • Community health nursing
  • Nursing research methods
  • Patient-care settings
  • Nursing management

Popular Career Options

With an MSN, registered nurses can qualify for advance practice nursing positions. Their options may vary according to their specialty. Some career options include:

  • Nurse educator
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Nurse midwife
  • Nursing manager

Employment Outlook & Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates that the employment of registered nurses will increase by 16% from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, the BLS estimated that nurse instructors at the postsecondary level received an average wage of $73,150 per year. On average, nurse practitioners and nurse midwives earned $101,260 and $93,610, respectively.

Continuing Education Information

All RNs must complete continuing education in order to maintain active licensure. Continuing education requirements for nurses vary depending on their advanced education specialty. Advanced practice nurses may obtain professional certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. This credential can assist with career advancement and may be required by employers.

Nurses who wish to pursue further education may consider Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs. DNP programs are primarily for nurses who wish to dedicate themselves to nursing research or more advanced leadership roles.

Registered nurses who would like to advance their careers--or achieve qualification in specific nursing specialties--can apply to a RN to MSN Master's of Nursing degree. These degree programs will help nurses with their professional development in different aspects of their careers.

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