Is Working While in Nursing School a Viable Option?

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nursing student at desk using laptop

When first considering a nursing education, it’s important to analyze your financial situation and plan for what paying for nursing school may look like. Nursing is a growing, vital profession with plenty of opportunities for professional growth (as we’ll explore later). Even so, the up-front costs of earning a degree and entering the profession could discourage some individuals from pursuing a future in nursing. Depending on the type of nursing program in which you enroll, working full- or part-time during your studies may or may not be a good option for covering expenses.

In this article, we will explore the viability of working while in nursing school, share some of the most common ways students pay for their degrees and examine how Marquette University’s Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing program can provide options and opportunities throughout your nursing career.

Should I Work in Nursing School?

Whether or not working is a viable option for nursing students depends on the nature of the program. For “traditional” nursing students enrolled in a full-time, 4-year degree path, work can be a feasible challenge. That being said, students in a program with an intensive curriculum like Marquette University’s 19-21 month Direct Entry MSN are generally not advised to work beyond part-time hours due to the increased rigor and demands of their coursework.

Two Marquette students examining a simulation manikin

To learn so much in such a shortened timeframe requires an extensive amount of study time, which might make it difficult to commit to meaningful hours at a job. Furthermore, in a mere 19-21 months, students can earn their master’s degree and start a nursing career with far more earning potential than a part-time job could ever have provided. Those working while enrolled in such a fast-paced program might find themselves overwhelmed and less likely to succeed than peers who can devote more time to their studies.

What Are My Options for Paying for Nursing School?

While it is not generally advised to work while in a nursing program, you still have multiple options when it comes to paying for your nursing education. As you begin the admissions process, Marquette’s dedicated admissions advisers will be able to answer any questions you may have, as well as to connect you with staff in the University’s Office of Financial Aid, who will be able to talk through your options in more detail, including the following.


Using personal savings to cover the cost of some expenses is a common element in supporting yourself during nursing school. Although savings alone will likely be insufficient to sustain most students through the entire program, they can be combined with grants, scholarships and loans to make it possible to succeed in nursing school without needing to work.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is an essential option to explore when it comes to paying for nursing school. Available both independently and through Marquette’s Office of Student Financial Aid, financial aid to students can take the form of scholarships, grants or other arrangements as relevant to each student’s situation. Financial aid representatives can help you look at your options and determine how to get the best funding during your time as a nursing student.


Lastly, in addition to savings and financial aid, you may need to consider loans to pay for the remainder of your nursing tuition. There are federal loan programs administered at Marquette, as well as private alternative loans available from national lending institutions. Given that loans—unlike financial aid—must be repaid with interest, it’s best not to take out more in loans than necessary. The cost of loans is an important consideration, but it also serves as a long-term investment in your nursing education and future.

Is a Nursing Degree a Wise Investment?

Although the logistics of paying for nursing school can be complex, you can rest assured that an MSN degree is a wise investment. With a master’s degree, you will be prepared to enter the nursing field with the foundation necessary to continue advancing and specializing throughout your career. Your degree can also help you access more specialized and potentially lucrative career opportunities from the start, as more healthcare organizations are emphasizing higher levels of education in their nursing workforce. Some of the many reasons why an MSN from Marquette is a sound investment are as follows:

Job Security

Once you earn your MSN degree, pass the NCLEX-RN® exam and become a nurse, you’ll be entering a career field filled with opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are projected to be 276,800 new nursing positions within the profession by 2030. Advanced practice roles like nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners are projected to grow by 45% during that same timeframe. With so many opportunities available in healthcare organizations across the country, an MSN can help ensure you flexibility and security within the nursing field for years to come.

Opportunities for Advancement & Specialization

Beyond job security, nursing also presents pathways toward specialization and advancement—especially if you’ve earned an MSN degree. Magnet hospitals across the country, lauded for their statistically better patient outcomes as well as higher rates of employee retention and worker satisfaction, require all nurses in leadership positions to have a baccalaureate or graduate degree in nursing. Further, an MSN degree provides a foundation from which you can pursue certificates for advanced practice nursing specialties. In fact, Marquette offers nursing graduates multiple certificate options for specialties including:

  • Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (Adult or Pediatric)
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Health Systems Leadership
  • Nurse Educator

With so many opportunities to grow, advance, and specialize, a career in nursing is well worth the initial investment required to earn your degree.

Become a Master’s-Holding Nurse with Marquette

Marquette MSN student in scrubs

Hopefully, you now have a clearer sense of the feasibility of working through nursing school, as well as the multiple options available to help you pay for your education. Through Marquette, you may be able to earn your MSN degree in 19-21 months and enter the field as a practicing nurse with an array of opportunities.

Contact an admissions adviser today to take the first step towards earning a nursing degree.