Last updated on July 9th, 2024 at 03:25 pm

Are you contemplating advancing your nursing career or stepping into the healthcare field with a fortified academic foundation? If so, exploring the realm of Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs may be the next logical step for you. Whether you are presently employed as a registered nurse (RN) or aspire to enter the nursing profession, comprehending the significance of an MSN can unlock a plethora of opportunities, encompassing higher remuneration and specialized roles. 

By understanding the meaning and importance of an MSN in nursing, nurses can chart a course toward specialized roles, leadership positions, and lifelong learning. Through dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to excellence, MSN graduates embody the essence of nursing’s noble profession, enriching the lives of patients, families, and communities. Let’s dive into the significance, benefits, and pathways of pursuing an MSN degree.

Understanding the Meaning of an MSN

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is an advanced graduate-level degree program tailored for individuals possessing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree or current registered nurses (RNs) aiming to elevate their careers. Acquiring an MSN not only grants access to advanced nursing specializations like nurse practitioner, nurse educator, nurse anesthetist, mental health nurse, and nurse administrator roles but also fosters the development of essential skills required for nursing leadership positions. 

Leveraging your clinical experience and healthcare education, an MSN empowers you to make a substantial impact within the healthcare system, facilitating greater efficiency and patient-centric care delivery.

More Advanced Nursing Specializations

For starters, having an MSN degree qualifies you for a number of jobs and opportunities for career advancement that may not be available to you with a BSN alone. Some examples of nursing specializations or certifications that you may be able to pursue with an MSN include:

  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Administrator
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Educator
  • Mental Health Nurse

Likewise, having an MSN degree under your belt can qualify you for more leadership roles

Among the myriad of MSN specializations, two stand out for their dynamic career trajectories: nurse midwifery and nursing leadership positions.

Nurse Midwifery

Midwifery is a specialized field within nursing. Nurse midwifery focuses on providing comprehensive care to women throughout the childbirth process. By pursuing a nurse midwifery specialization as part of your MSN, you develop expertise in prenatal care, labor and delivery management, postpartum support, and women’s health advocacy. As pivotal members of the healthcare team, nurse midwives play a vital role in promoting positive birth experiences and improving maternal and neonatal outcomes.

Nursing Leadership Positions

Embracing a broad spectrum of roles, including nurse managers, directors of nursing, chief nursing officers (CNOs), and nurse executives, nursing leadership positions necessitate robust leadership skills, strategic thinking, and adeptness in navigating complex healthcare environments. Armed with an MSN degree, you are poised to pursue nursing leadership roles and spearhead organizational initiatives aimed at enhancing patient care quality and safety.

Higher Salaries for MSN Degree Holders

With additional career opportunities and other possibilities for advancement, having an MSN also opens up the doors for a higher salary.

In fact, the median salary for a registered nurse with a BSN is around $75,000 annually, compared to about $118,000 per year for an advanced practice nurse with an MSN. If you’re looking for a way to earn more money while working in nursing, then getting your MSN is a smart way to do just that.

Expanding Opportunities Through Clinical Experience and Healthcare Education

Central to the pursuit of an MSN is the integration of clinical experience and healthcare education to advance your nursing career.

MSN programs prioritize practical application through clinical rotations and experiential learning opportunities, enabling you to deepen your understanding of nursing practice and patient care. Whether you are a recent BSN graduate or an experienced RN, infusing your clinical experience into an MSN program provides invaluable insights and equips you with the necessary understanding to navigate the intricacies of modern healthcare delivery.

Differences Between BSN and MSN Degrees

Considering an MSN at some point in your educational journey? If so, then you’ll need to understand some key differences between a BSN and an MSN to help you make your decision.

Required Licensure and Prerequisites for MSN Programs

Because it is an advanced degree, getting into an MSN program requires a little more in the way of qualifications and previous licensure. While each school may differ slightly in its admission requirements for an MSN, some will insist that applicants have an undergraduate degree. Ideally, this will be a BSN degree—as this type of degree will set students up for success in an MSN program. 

Some programs, on the other hand, don’t require a previous undergraduate degree but will require applicants to have an RN license. Having a few years of hands-on clinical experience working in healthcare is also a bonus but not always a requirement. Ultimately, you’ll need to check with the specific school/program for which you’re applying to determine their requirements in terms of previous degrees, experience, and licensure. 

Some graduate programs also require applicants to have taken the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), so this is worth looking into as well.

Cost and Tuition of MSN Programs

The cost of an MSN can also vary depending on the specific school and program with which you enroll. On average, however, an MSN will cost around $36,000 when all is said and done. Pricing will also vary depending on whether you’re paying in-state or out-of-state tuition.

Despite the high costs of obtaining an MSN, there are some ways to help make your schooling more affordable. If you already have your RN license, you can work your way through school and potentially set up a payment plan with your school directly. Likewise, there are grants and Federal/private loans available to help you finance your education. Remember that when you complete your MSN and begin working in the field, you can make over $ 100K annually, which is a comfortable enough salary for many nurses to pay off their loans.

Pathways to Success: Choosing the Right MSN Program 

Selecting the appropriate MSN program aligning with your career aspirations and educational background is paramount to your success. Consider these pathways:

  1. Direct-Entry MSN Programs: These are tailored for individuals with non-nursing undergraduate degrees seeking a transition into nursing.
  2. BSN-to-MSN Programs: Accelerated programs designed for BSN graduates seeking to advance their nursing education and career trajectory.
  3. RN-to-MSN Programs: Flexible options crafted for RNs without a BSN, facilitating a seamless transition to an MSN degree.
  4. Dual MSN Programs: Combined programs offering dual degrees, such as MSN-MBA, broadening your skill set and career prospects.

By selecting the right MSN program, you can tailor your educational journey to align with your unique aspirations, whether you aspire to clinical practice, education, administration, or research.

Find the Right MSN Program for Your Career Goals

Ultimately, the MSN program that’s best for you will depend on a few factors—including your long-term career goals. If you have aspirations to someday open your own nursing or healthcare practice, then a dual MSN program that also allows you to study business can empower you to do just that. 

On the other hand, if there’s a particular area of nursing that you want to focus on (such as mental health, midwifery, or education), then you’ll want to find an MSN program that will allow you to pursue those specific interests.

MSN Degree FAQs

Do you still have questions about obtaining an MSN degree? Explore some of our most commonly asked questions about MSN programs (along with answers) below or reach out to

Advance Your Nursing Career With Salem University

Embarking on the journey to attain a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) unfolds a myriad of opportunities for registered nurses (RNs) and aspiring healthcare professionals. With the promise of specialized roles, elevated remuneration, and leadership positions, an MSN degree equips you with the requisite knowledge and skills to effectuate meaningful change in the realm of nursing. By leveraging your clinical experience, healthcare education, and passion for nursing, you embark on a fulfilling odyssey toward professional growth and excellence in patient care.

At Salem University, we’re proud to offer a 100% online MSN program that’s designed to help you build the confidence and expertise you need to thrive as a nurse administrator, nurse educator, and beyond. This program was created by nurses for nurses and was designed to work around a busy schedule. It can be completed in as little as ten months and consists of 30 credits. If you already have a BSN degree and an RN license under your belt, you can get started in no time.

Reach out to our team to request more information or start your MSN application today!

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