MSN vs. BSN: What’s the Big Difference?

Stop and think about your career five years from now. Will you be fulfilled? Will your skills be in demand? Will you have room for growth? Will you earn a good salary? If you aren’t sure about your answers, you may want to consider a nursing career because it can offer you all of these things and more.

But once you decide you want to become a nurse, you have another question to answer – do you want to earn a BSN or MSN?



MSN vs. BSN: Two Main Differences

  1. A bachelor’s of science in nursing degree will afford you the opportunity to work as a registered nurse in a variety of health care facilities.
  2. A master’s of science in nursing degree also allows you to work as a registered nurse but you can also work as an educator. Another benefit, your master’s degree puts you on a direct path to advancement through certification in careers like an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse.

If you’re worried about the time it would take to earn a master’s degree in nursing, there is good news. If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, our Direct Entry MSN program allows you to earn a quality nursing degree in just 18 months – that’s just 2 months longer than a tradition accelerated BSN program. And, once you graduate, the employment possibilities open up.

3 Key Areas of What You Can Do with a Masters in Nursing

One-on-One Preceptorship1. Education (Nurse Educator)

In most places, a master’s in nursing is considered the minimum requirement for nurse educators.

Due to the nursing shortage, nurse educators are high in demand. They can teach in a variety of settings such as hospitals, universities, community colleges, and technical schools. A day in the life of a nurse educator is spent in an office or a classroom, preparing for classes, giving lectures, mentoring students, and keeping up with the latest health care innovations.

Nurse educators perform various workshops, organize preceptorships, and speak at health care conferences regularly. On average, nurse educators can make up to $78,000 (Johnson & Johnson). If you are looking to blend clinical expertise and teaching, while performing research on the side, the nurse educator role could be a rewarding career for you.

2. Health Care Business Management

Although you graduate our Direct Entry MSN program with a master’s in nursing, you are still seen as an entry-level nurse. But an MSN does provide you a great stepping stone to become a health care manager.  Health care managers can be seen as the “chief” of a medical practice. They head various types of medical facilities while making prominent business decisions, creating a vision for the practice. Health care administrators work closely with medical boards and the medical staff ensuring that the goals of the practice align with not only the budget, but the community. If you prefer not to don scrubs and spend hours at a time on your feet, a career in the following health care management roles below could be for you.

Nursing Administration

For many career changers who come from the world of business, nursing administration is an attractive avenue. Nurse administrators must utilize learned business skills to provide the best patient care. According to The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the median expected annual salary for healthcare administrators is $92,810. If you have strong leadership skills and know how to effectively delegate, the nursing administration role could be for you.

Nurse Manager

Nurse Managers are held accountable for supervising a nursing unit in a hospital or clinic. Rather than screening patients and checking vitals, nurse managers are constructing work schedules, coordinating meetings and acting on decisions. Healthcare leadership positions, including nurse managers, are expected to grow by 23 percent through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). If you have the ability to help others find their strengths and act on them, the nurse manager role could be for you.

Clinical Nurse Leader

If you are looking to advance into a nurse administrator or a nurse manager role, a clinical nurse leader would be a great place to start. Nurse leaders work closely with staff, delegating responsibilities and monitoring performances. They assist with interviewing, evaluating, and counseling nurse employees. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers earned an average of $88,580 per year. If you possess good interpersonal and risk management skills, a career as a clinical nurse leader could be for you.

3. Clinical Care

Advanced degrees have become vital for career advancement. If you are looking to play a key role in today’s health care system, the DE MSN program can get you one step closer to becoming certified as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. Through extensive knowledge and experience, graduate level education, and an advanced certification in clinical care, APRNS are serving as trusted primary care providers to patients everywhere. Listed below, you will see that APRNS have the ability to choose from four distinct career paths.

adult-gerontology-nurse-practitionerNurse Practitioner

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) states that on average, 98.7% of NPs have graduate degrees. As a nurse practitioner, you will have the opportunity to change the lives of others on a daily basis. Depending on the scope of practice NPs can earn as much as $113,000 annually ( If you are one who enjoys complex problem solving and caring for others, the nurse practitioner role could be for you.

The nurse practitioner role can be divided up into four areas of focus:

  • Acute Care Nurse PractitionerProvides short-term advanced nursing care to patients with complex acute, critical and chronic health conditions.
  • Adult Nurse Practitioner: Evaluate, diagnose, and manage common, acute, and chronic health problems from adolescents to the elderly.
  • Family Nurse Practitioner: Much like a family doctor, FNPs work with patients throughout their lives.
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner: Much like a pediatrician, these nurses work with patients from infancy to young adulthood, working alongside pediatricians in a hospital or outpatient facility.

Nurse Anesthetist

From open heart surgery to pain management, you can find a nurse anesthetist in every setting anesthesia is delivered. Like many advanced professions in health care, nurse anesthetists carry much responsibility. Their job does not stop at simply putting patients to sleep; it is also their responsibility to monitor vital signs and provide post-surgical care. Johnson & Johnson states that on average, nurse anesthetists can earn as much as $129,000 annually. If you are looking to be a valued member of the medical-surgical team, while providing optimal patient centered care, the nurse anesthetist role could be for you.

Certified Nurse Midwife

Certified nurse midwives play a significant role caring to women before, during, and after pregnancy. There are approximately 5,700 midwives and certified nurse-midwives in practice throughout the United States and Canada (Midwives Alliance of North America). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median expected annual salary for nurse-midwives is $96,970. If you are looking to mentor mothers everywhere, the certified nurse midwife role could be for you.

Clinical Nurse Specialist

Clinical nurse specialists tend to have the most versatile and flexible of all APRN careers. They can specialize in certain diseases and work alongside other nurses to provide training and clinical expertise. As a CNS, your salary can range up to $79,000 (Johnson & Johnson). If you are looking for a challenging yet fulfilling career, the clinical nurse specialist role could be for you.

As you can see, what you can do with an MSN is very substantial. Now it is your job to decide which of these three areas best suit your personality and long term goals.

If a great career with a wide range of possibilities part aligns with your long-term goals, then contact our admissions team to learn how Marquette University fits into your 5-year plan.

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