Best Graduate Degrees for Nurses

The nursing field is a broad area with many career branches. The best degree to hold when entering the nursing field is the flexible Masters of Science in Nursing, which can prepare you to enter your choice of those fields.

Nursing Degrees

The best graduate degree for nurses to hold is a master's degree in nursing, which prepares you to enter a variety of roles, such as a nursing practitioner or a clinical nurse specialist. This degree also prepares you to continue into nursing administration and can later be used to launch into your doctoral studies. This program typically takes between four to six years to complete.

Foundations of Nursing Practice

As per its name, this course focuses on the theoretical underpinnings of the nursing profession. Students get a chance to learn about the various theories that underly the duties of a nurse. Students are expected to learn about the science of nursing and current developments in the field. The course may also situate these theories within their appropriate historical context.


At the graduate level, students are expected to gain advanced knowledge about pathophysiology. This can involve a study of genetics and pathophysiology as it relates to various diseases. The pathophysiological process is studied as it occurs over the lifetime. Students are also asked to demonstrate the skills necessary to distinguish between normal and abnormal physiology.

Older Adult Care

The treatment of older adults require being aware of the specific problems this part of the population faces. Older care courses can be separated into acute and primary settings. In the primary setting, students learn about delivering primary care, promoting health, and preventing disease. Courses in this area also involve performing assessments of older adults.

Pediatric Pharmacology

Students in this course learn the core foundations of pharmacology as it applies to the area of pediatrics. This course is designed to teach students about the effects of different drug classes, including their method of action and therapeutic effects. How they are used to treat health problems, and their potential side effects, are all studied.


Some nurses choose to progress forward into administrative and leadership roles. Coursework in leadership asks students to learn about skills such as team building, communication, interdisciplinary effectiveness, and other skills that allow for leadership in an organization. Students in this course learn how to set a vision and take actions to accomplish that vision within their departments.

Entry Requirements

Admissions can vary from one university to another, but the following are some of the most common requirements. You will need to send transcripts demonstrating that you maintained a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Your program will also require that you submit a graduate exam, typically the GRE, though schools rarely list a minimum score. You may be asked to score at least in the 50th percentile in each component. Programs may also require that you submit letters of reference and recommendation that attest to your abilities.

A Master of Science in Nursing program prepares you to enter many roles in the nursing field. Your courses will address working with both adults and children while also learning about the theories underlying this field.

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