BSN to MSN Masters of Science in Nursing Degrees

Nursing Masters Degree Graduate ProgramsEnhance your nursing career by moving from a BSN to MSN Masters of Science in Nursing Degree, The BSN, or Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, is a four-year degree in the science of nursing. While only a two-year associate’s degree is required to obtain an RN (Registered Nurse), which is considered a “technical” degree, the BSN is considered to be a “professional” degree. It offers additional training in the areas of management and leadership. 

It may function as a platform for career advancement as well as higher-level training at the graduate level. The MSN, or Master’s of Science in Nursing, is a post-graduate degree for registered nurses. It may prepare qualified individuals for careers as a nurse educators or managers. It can also enable students to specialize in a particular area, such as geriatrics, prenatal, or psychiatric.

Those considering a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Master of Science in Nursing should ideally possess the following skills and attributes:

  • Excellent people skills
  • Calm under pressure
  • Solid background in science
  • Not squeamish
  • Interested in medicine

BSN to MSN Bachelor of Science in Nursing / Master of Science in Nursing Programs and Curriculum

Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs take approximately four years to complete. The first two years usually involve

a standard undergraduate curriculum, while the final two years are dedicated to the practice and principles of nursing and medicine. Those holding an LPN or LVN should note they may be able to transfer their credits into certain Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs, thereby enabling them to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing in as few as four semesters. In addition, those who wish to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and who already hold an undergraduate degree in a different discipline may be able to transfer credits, enabling them to finish the BSN in a little as two years. BSN students are required to enroll in at least one practicum. Graduates of BSN programs are qualified to sit for nursing licensure exams.

Master of Science in Nursing programs teach students advanced theory, research, and professional development, and allow them to specialize in a particular area. These might include acute care, cardiovascular care, oncology, pediatrics, midwifery, and family care, among others.

Core MSN courses might include:

  • Nursing theory and research
  • Advanced community health
  • Statistics
  • Pathophysiology
  • Applied pharmacology
  • Clinical decision making
  • Ethics

MSN programs also prepare interested students for doctoral programs. A practicum and thesis are usually required for graduation.

BSN programs vary widely in regard to their application requirements. While some are “direct entry”, meaning you can apply and enroll directly from high school, others require a combination of work experience and college credits. Some students, seeking to begin work as quickly as possible, obtain their RN degree, and enroll in a BSN program from there. Be sure to check carefully the requirements of the schools that interest you.

Applicants to Master of Science in Nursing programs must be registered nurses (RNs). Some MSN programs require applicants to hold a BSN, while some can accommodate students who do not. However, most MSN programs have strict requirements involving coursework prerequisites, such as statistics, anatomy, physiology, microbiology and psychology. In addition, applicants to MSN programs will need to submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, a personal statement, and an application fee. As application requirements differ from school to school, it’s best to check directly with the admissions department at your MSN program of choice.

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education is the accrediting body for both undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. You will need to attend an accredited program in order to gain licensure as a nurse.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Master of Science in Nursing Career Paths

Nurses with a  BSN can specialize in a certain area, but they are more likely to be trained in that area on the job, rather than undergoing a formal course of study as do MSNs.

Nurses can choose from specializations based on work setting (operating room, emergency room, pediatric unit), conditions (drug and alcohol, psychiatric, oncology, AIDS), body parts (dermatology, gynecology), or populations (geriatric, family, women, pediatric).

Those holding an MSN may be qualified to take on management, administrative, or consulting positions. The BLS statesit is becoming increasingly common for nurses in management positions to earn a master’s degree.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Master of Science in Nursing Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the 2012 median annual salary for registered nurses was $65,470. The top 10% of earners made more than $94,720 and the bottom 10% of earners made less than $45,040. Registered nurses working in private general medical and surgical hospitals earned a median salary of $67,210, RN’s working in physician’s offices earned a median salary of $58,830, nurses employed in nursing and residential care facilities earned a median salary of $58,830. Registered nurses providing home health care services earned a median salary of $62,090 and those working for the government earned $68,540.  The BLS predicts that job growth for nurses will increase by 19% between 2012 and 2022, faster than the average of all other occupations.

Masters of Science Nursing Degrees MSN Salary

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