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25 Reasons to Get a Master’s in Nursing

NurseJournal Staff
Updated April 9, 2024
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    What can you do with a master's in nursing? A lot. Learn about the benefits of a master's degree in nursing with this guide.
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    Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

    Nurses sitting and talking to one another about the course of treatment for their patientsCredit: LumiNola / E+ / Getty Images

    For nurses, an advanced degree can add up to a smart investment. For one, nursing professionals with a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree tend to land jobs with higher salaries and greater responsibility than some of their nursing colleagues. But that’s not all; the list below outlines 25 reasons to go to graduate school. If you’re wondering what you can do with an MSN, keep reading to learn more.

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    • checkBecome an advanced practiced nurse: Many registered nurses (RN) choose to continue their education with a master’s degree because they need it for advanced practice nursing licensure, which leads to higher-paying positions and greater responsibility.
    • checkTake on more responsibility: Nurse practitioners (NPs) work in a role somewhere in between nurses and physicians. This means they can work with more independence than other nurses, with several states allowing NPs to diagnose patients and prescribe medication.
    • checkMore job opportunities: Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that demand for advanced practice nurses will grow 38% from 2022-2032 — much faster than average.
    • checkFill a need: With the nation’s ongoing physician and nursing shortages, advanced practice nurses with a master’s degree can fill a critical need in providing important healthcare services.
    • checkGain more skills: An advanced degree can increase your professional skill set in any profession, and the same remains true for nursing. You can master competencies that you never learned during your undergraduate education.
    • checkChoose a concentration: If you feel passionate about one area of healthcare, you can opt to specialize in that topic for your master’s degree. Some common specializations include gerontology, neonatal care, and pediatric care.
    • checkHigher entry-level earnings: MSN holders tend to have significantly higher earnings potential than many of their peers. According to the BLS, advanced practice nurses, including NPs, averages $125,900 annually.
    • checkHigher earnings over time: The earning potential for NPs only increases over time. PayScale reports that mid-career NPs earn a median salary of $110,624 each year, while late-career NPs earn a median annual salary of $114,379.
    • checkPotential for leadership roles: Because of their higher education level, many MSN graduates find themselves competitive job candidates for administrative or managerial positions in nursing. Some universities even offer a master’s in nursing with a leadership concentration.
    • checkFunding opportunities: Employers sometimes offer financial assistance for nurses who want to pursue an advanced degree. MSN students can also find plenty of scholarships from professional associations, companies, nonprofit organizations, and universities.
    • checkEnter one of the most lucrative areas in healthcare: Several schools offer a concentration in various specialities, including nurse anesthesiology, which leads to one of the highest-paying jobs in the field. In fact, certified nurse anesthetists make an average annual salary of about $181,157, according to PayScale.
    • checkBecome a nurse educator: Another common concentration offered at universities involves clinical nurse education. Professionals who choose this path work at colleges and academic healthcare facilities, teaching nursing students and preparing them for professional practice.
    • checkBecome a mentor: Even if you don’t become a nurse educator, your additional schooling and experience can help you become a mentor for newer nurses. You can help young nurses succeed, and that’s no small accomplishment.
    • checkTake advantage of bridge programs: Several colleges and universities offer BSN-to-MSN and RN-to-MSN programs for students who wish to go straight from their undergraduate education to an advanced degree program. Schools often offer these in an accelerated format so degree seekers can graduate sooner.
    • checkWork better hours: RNs often need to work 12-hour shifts, which can become exhausting for anyone. Nursing professionals with master’s degrees may land managerial roles or other positions that follow a more conventional eight-hour workday.
    • checkContinue your education: A master’s degree offers a path toward a doctorate, which can lead to even more advanced positions, academic jobs, or careers in research.
    • checkBecome a nurse-midwife: Like other advanced practice nursing roles, nurse-midwives must earn a master’s degree to qualify for licensure and certification. Nursing professionals interested in this career can find several schools offering a nurse-midwife specialization.
    • checkBecome an expert: You will gain plenty of knowledge about medicine and the healthcare industry by taking a year or two of advanced nursing courses. This expertise can only help you become more proficient at your job.
    • checkGain respect in the workspace: With master’s-level knowledge and expertise, your coworkers and other healthcare professionals may seek you out for advice or guidance with certain precarious medical situations.
    • checkOnline degrees offer flexibility: If you’re hesitant to pursue a master’s degree because of potential barriers like a long commute or undesirable time commitments, many online nursing programs allow you to take charge of your own study schedule.
    • checkConduct research: Master’s programs often involve a research component, such as a thesis. If you are interested in exploring a certain part of your field, you can take advantage of program research requirements to do exactly that.
    • checkExpand your professional network: One of the most important parts of attending graduate school is making connections with other people in your industry through courses and conferences. You may even meet a potential employer.
    • checkStart a stable career path: The healthcare industry needs workers, especially those as versatile and knowledgeable as advanced practice nurses. That’s evident in the strong outlook and salary estimates for the field.
    • checkTake advantage of unique opportunities: If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can go a somewhat nontraditional route and use your skills to travel around the world. You could work as a health volunteer for organizations including the Peace Corps, for example, providing healthcare services to populations in need around the world.
    • checkPersonal fulfillment: For many, a master’s degree isn’t just about career opportunities or a higher salary. Attaining an advanced degree takes hard work, but it comes with a commensurate sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction.

    Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

    Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.