by Robert S. Balan
MSN degrees, or Masters of Science in Nursing, are some of the most popular degrees in the world, because of the great worldwide demand for Nursing professionals. Nursing careers provide stable workplaces, transferrable skills, and are ideal for people who find fulfilment in helping others.
But what if you’re an experienced nurse with some undergraduate studies behind? Is a Master’s degree in Nursing worth the financial and time investment?
Let’s find out by going through:
- What is an MSN degree? How long is it? What are the main MSN specialisations?
- MSN degree specialisations
- Admission requirements for Masters in Nursing
- Top Nursing schools worldwide
- Average tuition fees for MSN degrees & affordable degrees
- Benefits of online Masters in Nursing
- MSN degree careers and salaries
- Is an MSN degree worth it?
What is an MSN degree?
MSN means Master of Science in Nursing. This type of degree allows Registered Nurses (RNs) or BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) graduates to advance their careers. MSN programmes help students to specialise in various areas and further develop their knowledge and skills through intense practice and theoretical classes. An MSN degree is also necessary if you want to apply for doctorate studies in Nursing.
How long does it take to get a Master’s in Nursing?
Most postgraduate Nursing degrees take between 1-2 years to complete. Some MSN courses will require 3 years to finish. These 3-year courses either allow you to study part-time or use the first academic year as an introduction to general Nursing concepts.
MSN degree specialisations
These are some of the most common Nursing specialisations. Each one opens a different career path, and while the curriculum is similar, they focus on developing different specific skills.
- Nurse Midwife – help mothers giving birth to children safely, help women with planning, medical check-ups, and prenatal care
- Disability Studies – provide health care and support for children and adults with physical or mental disabilities
- Mental Health – offer support and medical care to people suffering from a wide range of mental health problems
- Nursing Education – train aspiring students to become nurses through lesson plans, assignments, evaluation, and mentorship
- Nurse Anesthesia – help anesthesiologists, surgeons, dentists, and other medical professionals during the preparation and administration of anesthesia
Different paths to an MSN degree
There are different ways to apply for a Master’s in Nursing. They vary depending on your previous studies, work experience, and the area in which you want to specialise. According to Everynurse.org, these are the most common paths to an MSN degree:
BSN to MSN
- Takes 1-2 years to complete
- Most common way to obtain an MSN degree
- Usually taken by BSN graduates without work experience
RN to MSN
- Takes 3 years to complete
- Chosen by RNs with work experience but no BSN degree
- Allows students to obtain both a BSN and an MSN degree during studies
- Some RN to MSN courses only accept applicants with an ADN (Associate’s Degree in Nursing)
Regular Bachelor’s to MSN
- Takes 1-2 years to complete
- Taken by students holding a Bachelor’s not related to Nursing
- Might require extra classes to cover the gap in Nursing fundamentals
- Takes 1-3 years to complete
- Ideal for students who want to earn their BSN & MSN degrees quickly
- Most programmes are only available online
- Candidates need to have a Bachelor’s in any discipline and a competitive GPA
- They also have to submit an essay explaining why they want to study Nursing
Dual Nursing Master’s degrees
Dual Master's programmes allow students to combine different disciplines and graduate with a double specialisation. This type of degrees is very useful for nurses who want to take on more administrative and management responsibilities. You earn higher salaries and have the opportunity to lead and inspire your coworkers.
Master of Science in Nursing/Master of Business Administration (MSN/MBA)
- Designed for nurses interested in top management positions like Director of Nursing, Chief Nursing Officer (CNO), etc.
- Graduates take up executive management positions in hospitals, nursing facilities, and other healthcare institutions
- Classes combine advanced nursing knowledge with leadership, project management, and accounting
- Study programmes are offered both online and on campus
Master of Science in Nursing/Master in Healthcare Administration (MSN/MHA)
- For nurses who want to move into administrative positions in hospitals or other healthcare institutions
- Courses expand students’ nursing skills and combine them with strategic planning, business administration, and quality management
- You can study online or in a traditional on-campus setting
Master of Science in Nursing/Master in Public Administration (MSN/MPA)
- Designed for nurses who plan to take administrative positions in healthcare institutions
- Classes include advanced nursing practices as well as budgeting, human resources, and healthcare policies
- Degrees are available both online and on campus
Admission requirements for Masters in Nursing
These are the documents you’ll need to provide to nursing schools during the MSN degree application. Some may ask for more, while others may have fewer demands. The requirements also depend on the type of MSN degree and whether you have a BSN degree or not.
- Minimum English language test scores: TOEFL – 70, IELTS – 6.5
- Official documents attesting you’re a registered nurse (if applicable)
- Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) degree or in another Medicine related field
- Minimum GPA: 3.0
- One or more letters of recommendation
- Personal statement or essay
- Work experience as a registered nurse (RN)
Best Nursing schools in the world
According to QS 2019 Rankings, these are some of the best Nursing universities in the world:
- Johns Hopkins University, in the US
- University of Toronto, in Canada
- King’s College London, in the UK
- University of Sydney, Australia
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, in Hong Kong
Tuition fees at these top Nursing schools are generally in the range of 15,000-25,000 EUR/year. Some Nursing courses start at 3,000 EUR/year, but you'll also find MSN degrees that costs as much as 48,000 EUR/year.
Average tuition fees for MSN degrees
We’ve listed below the average tuition fees for MSN degrees in these regions. You can definitely find less expensive Nursing programmes, but you’ll also see courses which have tuition costs twice as high as the average.
20,000 EUR/academic year in North America
8,000 EUR/academic year in Europe
9,000 EUR/academic year in Asia
Affordable MSN degrees
You can find affordable or free Masters in Nursing at universities and colleges from these countries:
- Ireland – average tuition fees of 5,000 EUR/year
- Switzerland – average tuition fees of 1,000 EUR/year
Benefits of online Masters in Nursing
For many registered nurses, online programmes are the only option to advance their Nursing career and keep their part-time or full-time jobs. Flexibility makes all the difference when you only have a few free hours per day and a family to look after.
You can take an Online Master’s in Nursing from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a mobile device, ideally a computer or a tablet, and a reliable internet connection.
Tuition fees for online MSN degrees aren’t cheaper than those for on-campus programmes. Still, they allow you to save the money you’d spend commuting or even moving abroad if you’d decide to study abroad.
Securing clinical placement can be one of the downsides of an online MSN course. Some nursing schools help their students to find these placements, but in big cities, competition for places is high. There are also educational institutions that leave it entirely up to students to find clinical placements.
You also need a lot of discipline to complete an online Master’s in Nursing. The idea of staying in bed and taking all the exams in your pyjamas is exciting but doing your coursework and assignments after exhausting work shifts isn’t.
Overall, an online MSN degree is more convenient and perhaps the only option for some students. It’s all about taking advantage of the flexibility and creating a schedule that works for you.
Popular countries offering online Masters in Nursing
Careers with a Master’s degree in Nursing
One of the main reason registered nurses apply for an MSN degree is to take the next step in their medical careers. This allows them to earn better salaries, have a more flexible schedule, or take up more demanding management positions, where they are in charge of entire departments and other nurses. These are some of the most popular Nursing jobs and their average salaries in the United States according to Glasdoor:
- Certified Nurse Midwife – 117,000 USD/year
- Clinical Nurse Specialist – 83,000 USD/year
- Nurse Administrator – 80,000 USD/year
- Nurse Consultant – 74,000 USD/year
- Research Nurse – 68,000 USD/year
- Nurse Educator – 48,000 USD/year
According to Nursing.org, these are the average salaries for nurses based on education level:
- LPN(Licensed Practical Nurse)/LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse) – 45,500 USD/year
- Associate Degree in Nursing (AND) – 67,000 USD/year
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) – 81,000 USD/year
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) – 92,000 USD/year
Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc) – 103,000 USD/year
Is an MSN degree worth it?
A postgraduate degree in Nursing is definitely worth it for people who already have experience in this field and want to advance their careers. An MSN degree allows you to specialise even more and become a better all-round nurse. All the effort will be worth it, as nurses with a postgraduate degree enjoy higher salaries.
Being a nurse is also incredibly rewarding. It allows you to help patients who are in pain and go through some of the most difficult moments in their life. That’s often when these people are most vulnerable and transparent. They often show you who they really are, share deep feelings and regrets, and tell you all the great things they plan to do once they fully recover.
There’s nothing more fulfilling then being there for your patients and you learn something from everyone you meet.