What is a Master of Science in Nursing and Is It Worth It?


As a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) student, you’re no stranger to the demands of higher education and the healthcare industry. But as you embark on this journey, you may be wondering if it’s all worth it. Will an MSN degree truly make a difference in your career, or is it just another piece of paper?

In this article, we’ll explore the pain points of pursuing an MSN degree and all the benefits that come with it to help you determine if it’s the right choice for you.

What Is A Master of Science in Nursing?

It is a graduate-level nursing degree that prepares nurses for advanced practice roles and leadership positions in healthcare. The program typically takes two years to complete and involves both classroom instruction and clinical experience.

MSN programs offer specialized tracks in various areas of nursing, such as nurse practitioner, nurse anesthesia, and clinical nurse specialist. Students typically complete coursework in advanced nursing theory, research, and practice, as well as a practicum or capstone project that allows them to apply their knowledge and skills in a real-world setting.

The degree is designed to build on the knowledge and skills gained during a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and prepare nurses for more advanced roles in healthcare. It is a valuable investment for nurses who want to advance their careers and make a greater impact on patient care.

It is also a gateway to many advanced nursing specialties, such as nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, and clinical nurse specialist. These specialties require additional education and training beyond the bachelor’s degree, and provide nurses with the opportunity to work in specialized areas of healthcare and make a difference in the lives of their patients.

Requirements for Obtaining an MSN Degree

Before you can pursue an MSN degree, you must meet certain educational prerequisites. Typically, you will need a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from an accredited institution. Additionally, you will need to pass certain exams and obtain certifications, such as the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and the Clinical Nurse Specialist certification.

Once you meet these requirements, you can choose a specialization for your MSN degree. Some popular specializations include Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Nurse Anesthetist. The program length and requirements vary depending on the chosen specialization.

Benefits of Getting the Degree

Obtaining this can open up many career advancement opportunities. With an MSN degree, you may be able to move into leadership positions or specialize in a particular area of nursing.

In addition, MSN holders often earn higher salaries than nurses without. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners all earn median salaries of over $120,000 per year.

Furthermore, it can improve your job security and employability. As the healthcare industry continues to grow, there is an increasing demand for highly skilled and specialized nurses. By obtaining an MSN degree, you can position yourself as an expert in your field and increase your chances of being hired for your desired job.

Challenges of Getting an MSN Degree

While pursuing the degree can be a smart career move for many nurses, it’s important to be aware of the challenges that come with obtaining this advanced degree.

Financial burden: Pursuing an MSN degree can be costly, with tuition and fees ranging from $20,000 to $60,000 per year. Additionally, many nurses must continue working while pursuing their degree, which can add to the financial burden.

Advanced coursework: The coursework is more advanced and specialized than that of a BSN degree. This can be challenging for some students, particularly if they have been out of school for a while.

Clinical requirements: Many programs require students to complete a certain number of clinical hours to gain hands-on experience in their chosen specialization. This can be difficult to balance with work and personal commitments.

Specialization limitations: While specializing in a particular area of nursing can be a benefit of obtaining an MSN degree, it can also limit career options. For example, if you specialize in a particular area of nursing, it may be challenging to transition to a different specialty or role.

Technology requirements: As healthcare technology continues to advance, programs are increasingly incorporating technology into their curriculums. This may require students to become proficient in new software and tools, which can be a challenge for some.

Time and commitment: Pursuing an MSN degree requires a significant time commitment, often taking two to three years to complete. Additionally, many nurses continue to work while obtaining their degree, which can make it challenging to balance work, school, and personal life.

If time is a pressing matter for you as a practicing nurse, you can look into Online Nursing Programs.

Online Programs for MS in Nursing

The University of Southern Maine is one of the institutions that offer an online Masters of Nursing Education. As per their course program, some of the education roles you can take on are:
● Nursing Instructor
● Clinical Nurse Educator
● Nurse Educator
● Clinical Educator
● Nursing Faculty
● Adjunct Instructor

Their online nursing program has 36 credit hours and the program can be completed in 18 months and upward. Check out online programs in your area to find out if this is a more viable option for you.

Is Pursuing an MSN Degree Worth It?

So, is pursuing an MSN degree worth it? Ultimately, the answer depends on your goals and priorities. If you’re looking to advance your career and increase your earning potential, an MSN degree is a wise investment.

However, if you’re not interested in specializing in a particular area of nursing or if the financial burden is a concern, this degree may not be the best option for you. That said, many nurses have found great success and fulfillment after obtaining their degree.


In conclusion, pursuing an MSN degree can be a smart career move for many nurses. By obtaining an MSN degree, you can advance your career, increase your earning potential, and position yourself as an expert in your field. However, it’s important to carefully consider the potential drawbacks so that you can adequately prepare for them.

Ultimately, the decision to pursue an MSN degree should be based on your goals, priorities, and personal circumstances. If you’re interested, be sure to do proper research into various programs and speak with those who currently have the degree to get a better sense of what to expect. That way, you can make an informed decision and set yourself up for success in your nursing career.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing