Master of Science in Nursing (MSN): Integrative Degree Overview

Oct 15, 2019

Essential Information

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs take two years to complete. By the end of the program registered nurses (RNs) have the education they need to become advanced practice nurses. They are qualified to provide primary and specialty care. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree, preferably in nursing. Though some programs accept students with bachelor's degrees in other subjects, it is usually still necessary to have completed an accredited registered nursing program and be licensed as an RN. Some programs also require some clinical experience working as an RN. For busy professionals, many schools offer the degree program online.

Master of Science in Nursing with Integrative Health

Courses offered in an integrative MSN program instruct students about methods for combining Western medicine with alternative treatments. Throughout the program, students also receive general nursing training in areas such as qualitative and quantitative research, nursing theory, pharmacology and pathophysiology, and a clinical practicum is typically required. Some programs include integrative courses, while others require students to choose a concentration and provide integrative health as an option. Topics include:

  • Chinese and herbal medicine
  • Hypnosis/suggestive therapy
  • Public health
  • Evidence-based integrative health practice
  • Holistic nursing
  • Complementary healing modalities

Popular Career Options

Integrative health courses are incorporated into many MSN programs. For example, clinical nurse leader, public health nurse and holistic nurse programs may all include integrative health components. Graduates will be able to bring an integrative health focus to the nursing area of their choice. The following are career options:

  • Nurse practitioner
  • Nurse midwife
  • Nurse anesthetist
  • Clinical nurse specialist.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of registered nurses is expected to increase 12% from 2018 to 2028 ( which is much faster than the average rate compared to other occupations. This increased rate in employment for nurses is due to a rising elderly population, and the government reform of the healthcare system. The median salary for this profession was $71,730 annually in 2018, according the BLS.

During 2018 through 2028, the BLS predicts a 16% job growth for nurse midwives, 28% for nurse practitioners, and 17% for nurse anesthetists. Additionally, in May 2018, the BLS reported an annual mean salary of $106,910 for nurse midwives and $110,030 for nurse practitioners. According to, clinical nurse specialists earned an annual median income of $105,258 and nurse anesthetists were paid $183,121 in September 2019.

Continuing Education Information

Advanced practice nurses are required to obtain certification in their specialties in addition to maintaining RN licensure before they can practice. A number of organizations offer specialty certification, including the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (each organization doesn't offer certification for every specialty). Certification involves passing an exam and then acquiring continuing education hours regularly for renewal.

Graduates who wish to earn a higher degree rather than seek immediate employment may consider pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). The difference between these two types of doctoral programs is that PhD programs are research based and take around four years to complete, while DNP programs are practice based and last around two years. Some programs include integrative health courses. Dual DNP and PhD programs are also available.

A master's of science in nursing can lead to several different specialized careers in the nursing profession. Students interested in this program should look into the specific prerequisites and specialties for different programs before applying.

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