Types of Master’s Degrees in Nursing

Are you considering getting your masterss in nursing? A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree can open the doorway to more opportunities for you as a nurse, from leadership positions to advanced clinical roles, as well as a higher salary!

If youve been thinking about advancing your degree, nows the time! Read on to explore all the different paths you can take with an MSN.

What You Can Expect from an MSN Program – Masters of Nursing

Types of MSN degrees

Nurses with a variety of backgrounds decide to pursue an advanced degree. Because of the range of experience and the choices nursing professionals make to specialize in a certain area of care through a masters program, there are plenty of options for higher learning.

The following is a list of the types of masters degrees available to nurses with examples of jobs relevant to each program:

General MSN degrees

The following degree programs prepare nursing professionals for public and private healthcare roles:

Primary duties: Public health nurses work in public or private institutions to inform national and local health policies. They may help perform healthcare services for communities, advocate for public health measures and educate community members on health practices.

Primary duties: A nurse educator instructs nurses in training through classroom and clinical environments. Nurse educators must continue their own professional development to understand the evolving practices of the healthcare industry as they teach nurses entering the field.

Primary duties: Nursing informatics is an emerging field that combines technological expertise with nursing knowledge to engineer new data systems, analyze medical data or consult with other nurses regarding medical technology.

Primary duties: Nurse administrators are leaders who supervise other nursing professionals. They may oversee an entire unit of nurses and other healthcare professionals.

Primary duties: As with other research positions, nurse researchers use and study data to consult and advise the medical community regarding best practices. Nurse researchers shape the medical field with their insight and analysis.

Advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) masters

Nurses who wish to move into advanced positions within the healthcare industry need to pursue an advanced practice masters degree in nursing along with a certification in their area of expertise to earn these credentials.

Here are the areas of study and job positions available to APRNs:

Primary duties: A nurse practitioner functions independently to assess and treat patients for many types of care. They offer more advanced medical services and expertise than a registered nurse, acting as a primary care provider for many healthcare needs. Nurse practitioners can also specialize in certain areas including neonatal, family and orthopedic care.

Primary duties: Clinical nurse leaders supervise the bedside care of a team of other nurses, making sure patient needs are addressed. Most clinical nurse leaders also earn an additional certification from the Commission on Nurse Certification.

Primary duties: A clinical nurse specialist provides care in an area of expertise. These nurses can also act in a consulting role for patients.

Primary duties: Nurse anesthetists provide care for patients before, during and after anesthesia is administered. They are certified to adjust dosage levels, monitor patient vitals and administer anesthesia medication. These professionals may work independently or under the direction of a supervising medical doctor.

Primary duties: A nurse midwife cares for women and babies during childbirth. They also perform routine checkups to assess a mothers health during pregnancy and postpartum.

What is a master’s degree in nursing?

A masters degree, also referred to as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is an advanced degree for nursing professionals who wish to pursue higher-level opportunities for staff and healthcare facility management or specializations within the medical field.

Typically, a nurse can pursue a masters degree through the following paths:

Dual master’s degree programs

Some nurses choose to use their masters degree studies to combine skills from other disciplines with an MSN:


Nursing professionals who want to learn business skills they can apply to the healthcare industry choose this degree path. A nurse with a dual masters in these disciplines can pursue positions that require nurses to handle the business side of healthcare.

Here are some nursing positions professionals with an MSN/MBA can choose from:

Primary duties: A chief nursing officer is responsible for ensuring the quality care of patients in a facility. They also make sure nurses are supported and work in an environment where they are given the tools they need to provide excellent medical care.

Primary duties: Health services administrators manage healthcare facilities or areas within a medical institution. They may oversee staff as well as day-to-day business operations.

Primary duties: A nursing home administrator provides leadership for all aspects of nursing home care and resident life.


This dual degree combines a nursing masters with public health for professionals who want to play a role in community healthcare for various organizations using a deep knowledge of nursing practices.

Here are some positions for nurses with a combined MSN/MPH degree:

National average salary:

Primary duties: An epidemiologist monitors the cause, spread and outcomes of infectious diseases and other injury and illness causing agents or events. They are involved in collecting and analyzing data to inform the medical community as well as public policy.

Primary duties: Public health leaders act as healthcare leaders for non-profit, academic, government and faith-based groups both locally and internationally. They are focused on maintaining health for entire communities rather than individual patients.


A masters in health administration and nursing can help prepare nurses to move into supervisory roles within the healthcare industry. This degree prepares nursing professionals for staff and resource management within large-scale healthcare operations.

Here are some possible jobs for nursing professionals with a dual MSN/MHA degree:

Primary duties: Nursing consultants act as advisors to nursing and hospital leadership to guide nursing practices. They may help lead the implementation of new technologies and techniques that meet changing standards within the healthcare industry.

Primary duties: A hospital manager uses their administrative training to oversee the daily operations of hospital staff and activities. They manager quality control and ensure patient satisfaction and care within their facility.


Combining nursing with public administration allows nurses to take on government roles in their community or the nation. Public administrators work to effect positive change through policies and advocacy. Nursing positions in this field include administrative jobs in public and private healthcare institutions.

Tips for earning a master’s degree in nursing

Here are some ideas as you consider as you pursue earning an MSN degree:

Decide on an area of specialty

Advanced nursing degrees focus on training healthcare professionals for specific types of care. Masters degrees are best for nurses who decide to pursue an area of nursing practice that requires more education and certification. While these specializations require more schooling and professional expertise, they also offer higher earning potential.

Plan your advanced career path

Before you earn a masters degree in nursing, consider your career goals. An MSN offers nurses more opportunities for advancement through positions in management, consulting, education or research. Decide what role fits your career trajectory and skill set so you know the best way to pursue an advanced education as a nursing professional.

Consider an online program

Although some practical experience like clinicals can only happen in a medical facility, there are plenty of online MSN programs to choose from. An online program may give you the flexibility you need to balance work, school and family life as you pursue a higher nursing degree.


What is a nurse with a master’s degree called?

Master’s in Nursing (MSN)

A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse who is educated at the master’s level or higher, and represents a step up in responsibilities and autonomy compared to registered nurses.

Is a master’s degree worth it in nursing?

The short answer is yes, a Master’s in Nursing degree is worth getting. It’s the logical next step for a nurse with a bachelor’s degree who is looking to advance their career, potentially focus on a more concentrated area of nursing, and increase their earnings.

Which nursing masters degree is best?

As the top position on this list, the nurse anesthetist is one of the most prestigious Masters level nursing careers attainable at this time.

Is RN higher than MSN?

An MSN is different from an RN and a BSN in its emphasis on advanced education to work in healthcare leadership roles. Typically, nurses who seek an MSN are RNs who would like to further advance their careers by gaining the skills and expertise necessary for management positions.

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