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The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is a master’s-level degree that allows you to transition from being an RN to a future in a more advanced or specialized clinical or nonclinical nursing role. Those interested in advancing their careers and taking on more of a leadership role within patient care, administration, or other areas of nursing will find that the degree opens many doors for them.

If you are an RN who has begun to consider the potential that this degree could offer you, here is what you need to know about earning your MSN degree.

Reasons to transition from an RN to MSN

People choose to earn their MSN for a wide variety of reasons. Some want to specialize in a particular discipline that requires the degree. Others want to do or earn more than they can as an RN.

We have identified four of the top reasons to transition from RN to MSN. If any of these resonate with you, it could be a sign that you are ready to make the transition.

New job prospects

Nurses who hold the MSN degree can pursue several new, more specialized, and usually higher paying job roles. These roles include both clinical and nonclinical positions. The roles listed below are some of the more popular roles for MSN degree holders, but there are others in addition to these.

  • Advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) positions
    • Nurse practitioners
    • Nurse midwives
    • Clinical nurse specialists
  • MSN generalist positions
    • Clinical nurse leaders
    • Clinical research nurses
    • Public health nurses (government/city/county public health)
  • Nonclinical positions
    • Executive nurse leaders
    • Nurse administrators
    • Clinical genetics nurses
    • Nursing informatics specialist (CIN)

Bear in mind that many of these roles require a specialized certification of varying complexity. But the Master of Science in Nursing is the foundational degree required or recommended for these and other advanced nursing roles.

When you pursue your education from Post through the American Sentinel College of Nursing and Health, you can earn your BSN and MSN in a single program. This transition from RN to BSN to MSN saves you time and money, so that you can spend more energy pursuing your dream career.

Within the MSN portion of your coursework, you will also have the chance to select a specialization, such as:

  • Nursing management and organizational leadership
  • Nursing education
  • Case management
  • Infection control and prevention
  • Nursing informatics

Depending upon the type of role you want to take with your MSN degree, you can select the specialization that will help your dreams materialize. Best of all, Post’s RN to BSN and MSN program can be completed 100% online, allowing you to continue working professionally as an RN while you study.

Opportunity to Earn a Higher Salary

The opportunities for new positions and greater responsibilities that come with earning the MSN degree also can lead to higher salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a registered nurse is $75,330 per year. The lowest 10% in the field earned an average of $53,410, however, at the other end, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners can earn a median annual wage of $117,680.

The precise amount you will earn after completing your MSN program will vary depending on factors such as your specialization, skills, experience, and even where you live and practice. Regardless, you are likely to earn more in a role requiring an MSN than you can as an RN.

Expand Your Education

As you pursue your MSN, you will get to explore a wide range of topics and courses related to nursing on an entirely new level. You can explore medicine and the field of nursing in a way which can deepen your understanding of the career, enrich you personally, and help you perform better in your profession.

Through Post, for example, the RN to MSN requirements include courses such:

  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Leadership and strategic planning
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Advanced physical assessment

All coursework in the RN to MSN program is designed to help you grow in your understanding and your practice of nursing.

Focus on a Specialty

As mentioned earlier, nurses who earn their MSN have the opportunity to focus on a specialty. APRNs who choose to become clinical nurse specialists, for example, obtain certification in a specialty that they choose, like pediatrics or oncology. While their training does not rise to the level of doctors in those specialties, it far surpasses what RNs know. In fact, the role may even include training other nurses and staff, in addition to direct patient care.

The range of specialties available to nurses who earn an MSN is quite wide. If you are interested in pursuing a specific one, contact HR (if currently employed at a hospital) to learn whether an MSN is the appropriate next step. You can also reach out to admissions here at Post for further guidance.

Common Steps for Transitioning from an RN to an MSN

Nurses can take two main paths for the transition from RN to MSN. Those who became an RN through a two-year degree program will first need to earn their BSN before they can move onto graduate-level work.

Many institutions offer programs for those who want to transition from their RN to a BSN degree. In this path, students may only begin applying for MSN programs after completing their BSN; it can be a lengthy process.

This degree program begins by bridging the gap to the full BSN. From there, as students continue toward earning an MSN, they will also have the chance to pursue a specialty.

Once you finish your education for the MSN degree, you will need to follow your state’s requirements regarding board or national certification exams. You may also need to complete specific certifications beyond the MSN, as your desired role requires.

The RN to MSN Career Outlook

Many of the nursing roles that require an MSN, including nurse practitioners, are expected to see tremendous growth over the next ten years. The BLS reports that this field is expected to see a 45 percent growth rate between 2019 and 2029, which is more than 10 times the average growth rate for all occupations. This growth will result in over 100,000 newly created positions.

Advanced practice registered nurses currently play critical roles in healthcare, and their value and involvement are expected to grow in the coming years due to a worsening doctor shortage in the US. Not only will APRNs and other nurse leaders become more integrated into clinical practice—everywhere from pediatricians’ offices to major hospital systems—but they can also help to fill gaps in healthcare in remote areas and assist in caring for the aging population.

If you enjoy the field of nursing and want to take your career even further, then earning your MSN may be the perfect solution for you. This master’s degree will help you open new doors to a more rewarding and higher-paying career path.

If you want to learn more about a nursing program that will allow you to make the leap from RN to MSN, come learn more about the program offered through Post’s American Sentinel College of Nursing and Health Sciences.


Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a complete list of our programs on our website or reach out directly!

Please note jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s program and their outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions representative.