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

Trained nurses who wish to further their education and open up more career opportunities can enter a dual-degree program to earn both a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

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Essential Information

Students in a dual BSN-MSN program begin graduate studies during the final year of the bachelor's program, applying the credits toward both degrees. This option usually shaves two or more years off earning the degrees separately. Most of these programs require applicants to have a nursing license and CPR certification. Some programs also require specific prerequisite undergraduate coursework. Online options are common, and programs offer several specialization tracks in advanced nursing.

While the most common BSN to MSN programs are aimed at current RNs who do not hold bachelor's degrees, other options are available for those who already hold a BSN and a valid RN license. These programs typically focus on training nurses interested in becoming nurse educators.


Master of Science in Nursing Program

The program includes both classroom instruction and hands-on clinical courses. Class topics might include:

  • Medical education methods
  • Pathophysiology
  • Adult health and critical care
  • Health care systems
  • Pharmacological intervention
  • Health and physical assessment

Popular Career Options

Depending on the focus of the master's program, registered nurses with a master's degree can work in administrative and teaching positions or as advanced practice nurses. Career titles include:

  • Nurse educator
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Advanced practice nurse
  • Nurse midwife
  • Nurse anesthetist

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment of nurse practitioners will increase by 35% from 2014-2024, which is much faster than the national average. BLS data also indicates nurse practitioners earned an average annual salary of $101,260 as of May 2015.

Continuing Education

RNs with a master's degree and an interest in research might choose to further their education by enrolling in a doctoral degree program. Graduate certificate programs are also available for general nurse practitioners who are seeking a specialty. Options include the Family Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate or Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate.

Dual-degree BSN to MSN programs give experienced nurses the opportunity to earn both a bachelor's and a master's degree in the field, which can increase their range of job opportunities or prepare them for more specialized graduate-level nursing education.

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