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What can you do with a Master of Science in Nursing?

By Brian Fairbanks

If you’re a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree who has thought about enhancing your career in the healthcare field, pursuing a master’s degree may be the right choice for you. Nurses with a Master of Science in Nursing could pursue advanced practice roles in public and community health nursing. Or, they can look to enhance their nursing career as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) or a nurse practitioner.

A master’s degree can help nurses move into the leadership side of patient care. This is especially applicable when looking to pursue a certain specialty. Degrees to consider include a Master of Science in Nursing Degree (MSN) with focuses in informatics, nursing administration or nursing education. Registered nurses may even want to consider additional advanced practice roles. These roles can include MSN/Family Nurse Practitioner or even a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

If you’re looking to enhance your nursing education, continue reading for information on the skills and careers you can expect with an MSN.

What jobs can an MSN prepare you for?

An MSN can provide nurses with the foundation to take their experience further and improve the delivery of healthcare. Nurses with an MSN can expect to work in hospitals, clinics, classrooms or labs. In today’s day and age, some may even work from their living room, providing patient care remotely. You will learn how to help save lives through an advanced understanding of using data to inform decisions and improve patient care, coach other nurses, provide specialty family care or influence the future of nursing. It all depends on the advanced practice path you choose to pursue.

A Master of Science in Nursing can prepare registered nurse graduates for leadership roles in a variety of specializations. These can include nurse administration, nurse education, informatics and family nurse practitioner. Read on to learn more about the potential roles available to graduates of a Master of Science in Nursing program.

Careers as a nursing instructor

Registered nurses who enjoy teaching others or research may be interested in specializing nurse education. This can lead to a career as a postsecondary nursing teacher or instructor. These professionals are responsible for teaching patient care to nursing students in classrooms or clinical units. Nursing instructors often work at universities, community colleges or other postsecondary education providers. When not teaching, they may be involved in research or other administrative tasks.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job growth outlook for postsecondary instructors is 9% from 2019-2029, much faster than the national average. BLS reports that the median pay in 2020 was $80,790 per year.

Careers as a nurse practitioner

An MSN with a specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner can help prepare registered nurses for a career as a nurse practitioner or family nurse practitioner. A nurse practitioner can work in a variety of settings, including clinics, college campuses and hospitals. According to the BLS, nurse practitioners can be both primary and specialty care providers, making diagnoses, ordering medical tests and prescribing medications for their patients. Additionally, these professionals are responsible for treating common and acute physical and mental illnesses and injuries. They use theory and evidence to provide health protection.

A nurse practitioner may choose to specialize in family medicine. As a family nurse practitioner (FNP), nurses work with people of all generations, often in schools or other public facilities. Responsibilities may include coordinating the birthing process as well as providing health advice and emotional support. Additionally, these professionals may teach primary care patients how to manage a chronic or brief illness such as the common cold or strep throat. They can also assist in treating injuries for people of all ages.

Careers as a medical and health services manager

Registered nurses who are interested in informatics, administrative roles or analyzing data to inform patient outcomes, may want to consider a career as a medical and health services manager. These professionals help to coordinate and plan business activities and improve efficiency. They may prepare and monitor budgets, create schedules or maintain organizational records.

BLS reports high growth in this career field as well, with a growth rate of 32% between 2019-2020. In 2020, the median annual salary was $104,280.

What you may learn in a Master of Science in Nursing program

In MSN programs, students build upon their current role as registered nurses. They learn vital skills in clinical practice, informatics, leadership, administration, physical assessment, pharmacology and pathophysiology. MSN graduates are eligible to sit for the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Family Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (FNP-BC) credential or the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) Family Nurse Practitioner-Certified (FNP-C) credential.

Coursework touches on a variety of concepts important to clinical and general practice, including research and evidence-based practice, while helping students develop their nurse practitioner, leadership, research, analytics or academic skills needed for their area of specialty practice.

Get started with your nursing degree

With an advanced nursing degree in a variety of specialty areas, registered nurses will have the foundation to take their patient care to the next level. They can also enhance their careers through specific skillsets. Moreover, registered nurses may be qualified for more hands-on roles in diagnosing and treating patients as a family nurse practitioner or another APRN role.

At University of Phoenix, a student can earn a Master of Science in Nursing in approximately 21 months to three years. The length of program depends on location and program concentration. If you’re interested in taking your nursing experience further and specializing your MSN, check out our available degree programs.

If the strong predicted growth of nursing jobs and the meaningful roles available in the field sound inspiring to you, it might be time to go back to school to pursue your MSN. Visit the University of Phoenix’s website to learn more about available course options within the online Master of Science in Nursing degree. We can’t wait to "see" you in class!

Frequently asked questions

Q: Can I get my nursing degree online?

A: Yes, the University of Phoenix is one example where you can get your nursing degree online. Our BSN, MSN and DNP degree programs have coursework offered online, with some programs have in-person requirements. Visit our site to learn more about enrolling in one of our nursing or nurse practitioner programs so you can enhance your nursing career.

Q: Why should I get my degree from University of Phoenix?

A: University of Phoenix offers instruction by faculty who have real-life work experience in their fields of study. Additionally, the Higher Learning Commission,, have continually accredited University of Phoenix since 1978. The baccalaureate degree program in nursing, master's degree program in nursing, and Doctor of Nursing Practice at the University of Phoenix are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K St., NW, Suite 750, Washington, D.C. 20001, 202-887-6791.

We also offer the following resources designed to make our students’ lives easier:

-Our Career Services for Life™ commitment. Our career services team can give program graduates the guidance they need to move into new careers — even two, five or 10 years after completing one of our nursing or nurse practitioner programs. We offer career counseling for the duration of your coursework with us and, if you graduate from a program, for the rest of your life. Contact us for details.

-Exceptional flexibility. Our Master of Science in Nursing/Family Nurse Practitioner degree program is completed one course at a time. With courses available year-round and multiple start dates annually, we offer extraordinary flexibility. Visit our website to learn more.

-Earn your degree without starting from scratch! The University of Phoenix can save you tuition costs through scholarships and college transfer credits. Additionally, the University evaluates relevant life and work experience for potential credit. Visit our site for more information!

Q: How much do MSN majors make in the real world?

A: Salary ranges depend on experience and location. BLS states that "employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations." In 2020, the median salary for America’s registered nurses was $75,330, while for APRNs, including nurse practitioners, the median salary was $117,670 per year. The salary information is not specific to students or graduates of  University of Phoenix.

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