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Nurse Practitioner Vs. Master's Degree in Nursing

Nurse practitioner programs are often part of a master's degree program and prepare graduates to perform advanced levels of medical care. Those who earn a Master of Science in Nursing may focus on areas involving nursing administration, education and informatics. View article »

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  • 0:00 Comparing Graduate Programs
  • 1:12 Nurse Practitioner Programs
  • 1:43 Nursing Master's…

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Video Transcript

Comparing Graduate Programs

Let's examine the difference between nurse practitioner programs and master's degree programs in nursing, as well as the educational requirements for each.

Nurse practitioner programs prepare graduates to provide advanced clinical care to patients, while graduates of a master's program in nursing are typically prepared for management positions in the field. Specializations for nurse practitioners are available in adult practice, women's health, family practice, geriatrics, and acute care. Nurse practitioners are qualified to perform physical examinations, interpret X-rays, prescribe medications, and treat various conditions. Other responsibilities that may be included are health behavior counseling, prenatal care, and mental health and illness prevention. Those enrolled in the master's program focus on administrative areas in nursing. Graduates are often qualified for management positions in nursing and make decisions regarding medical care. Opportunities are also available to focus on nursing education and work in university settings.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Clinical Nursing
  • Critical Care Nursing
  • Direct-Entry Midwifery - LM, CPM
  • 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

Nurse Practitioner Programs

While students can complete a nurse practitioner program within a master's degree program, applicants can also enroll in a post-master's certificate program. Graduates of a nurse practitioner program are qualified to sit for the clinical nurse specialist and nurse practitioner certification examinations. While the core courses focus on a student's nursing concentration area, all nursing students need to learn about:

  • Research principles
  • Diagnostic assessment
  • Pathophysiology
  • Advanced pharmacology

Nursing Master's Degree Programs

Master's degree programs in nursing often require two years of full-time study. Those enrolled in a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program with a business administration concentration take courses involving financial management, business planning, market strategy, health systems management, program development, and leadership in health care. MSN programs with a focus in education require that students complete courses in curriculum development, issues in nursing education, teaching-learning strategies, and assessment of student learning.

Nurse practitioner programs provide additional training beyond a typical master's degree in nursing to prepare students for advanced clinical care, while master's programs usually prepare students for administrative careers in nursing.

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