BSN vs. MSN Degree: Which is Best?

BSN vs. MSN Degree: Which is Best?

Deciding between a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or a master of science in nursing (MSN) involves looking at several factors. Keep reading for assistance!

Difference Between BSN and MSN

There are different paths to becoming a nurse, including getting a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) or a master’s degree in nursing (MSN). Before joining an MSN program, nurses must get a registered nurse (RN) license. One option for future RNs is to pursue a BSN.

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Though there are quicker paths to becoming an RN, like getting a nursing diploma or associate degree in nursing (ADN), the BSN program provides the best preparation for graduate nursing studies.

Choosing the right path depends on factors like job prospects, desired salary, time and money for education, and what area you’re interested in. This page has information and advice to help you decide.

Key Considerations for Choosing a Nursing Program

Thinking about the pros and cons of pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing can guide you in choosing the best route for your goals. Your situation matters – if you’re already a nurse, have an RN degree, or are just starting your nursing education, it’s a good place to start.

Traditional BSN or MSN programs can take 4 to 7 years. Accelerated or bridge programs can shorten this for eligible students and reduce costs.

Salaries can vary a lot. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says registered nurses earn around $75,330 per year, while advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) with master’s degrees make about $117,760.

Think about your career’s future too. Some areas like critical care and emergency rooms might lead to nurse burnout. The amount of time you spend with patients is another factor. RNs are very hands-on with patients, while master’s-level nurses can move towards administrative or research roles.

The BLS also predicts job growth. Nurses with master’s degrees could see a 45% increase in jobs from 2020 to 2030, while BSN-holders might see 9% growth. An MSN can make you more appealing to employers, especially if you want leadership roles.

BSN and MSN in Detail

Below is a comparison of traditional BSN and MSN programs, showing credit requirements, program features, length, and potential earnings.

Comparison Between BSN and MSN Degree Programs
Credits Required 120 36-60
Program Traits General education, nursing prerequisites and training Specialty-driven curriculum, advanced nursing core courses and clinicals
Average Program Length Four years 1-3 years
Average Earning Potential $75,330 $117,760

Features of BSN Programs

The time it takes to complete a nursing degree varies based on full- or part-time study, online or in-person classes, specialization, previous education, and work experience. Accelerated BSN and RN-to-BSN programs can make this shorter for some students. Check out the options that suit you.

While programs may differ, typical admission requirements include grades, SAT or ACT scores, and a resume.

BSN programs help students pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), which is needed for an RN license. BSNs also provide the best training for RN practice and advanced studies.
Features of MSN Programs

MSN programs include:

– BSN-to-MSN: This takes 2-3 years, needing a BSN and nursing experience. You can do it online or in-person with clinic training.
– RN-to-MSN bridge programs: RNs with an ADN or nursing diploma can do this 3- to 4-year program with BSN coursework. You can study online or in a mix of online and in-person.
– Direct-entry MSN: People with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees can do this accelerated program, finishing in 18 months to 3 years. You need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam at some point.

Other common requirements include transcripts, GPA, test scores, essays, and reference letters.

The MSN program trains students for advanced nursing careers like nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, administrators, leaders, educators, and researchers.

Benefits of Earning a BSN or MSN

BSN-holders have many nursing jobs available, with good growth and starting salaries. An MSN can be worth the extra time. The table below explains the advantages of each degree.

Comparing Advantages Between BSN and MSN Degrees
Strong projected job growth of 7% Much stronger employment growth projection of 45%
Broad nursing preparation and knowledge base Opportunities to specialize and focus on patient populations
Intensive patient interaction Options to care for patients or pursue leadership and administrative roles
Preparation for graduate study Opens doors to doctorate-level nursing education
General education and nursing-specific didactic and clinical training Coursework in advanced nursing topics, management, leadership, research, and informatics
Potentially high salaries Six-figure incomes for most positions


Common Questions About Nursing Degrees

Do nurses with MSN degrees earn more than those with BSN degrees?

Nurses with MSN degrees typically earn higher salaries compared to BSN-holders. The lowest 10% of BSN nurses earn less than $53,000, while the highest 10% can earn over $116,000. On the other hand, the lowest 10% of MSN-educated nurses make less than $84,000, while the top 10% can earn more than $190,000.

What sets apart a BSN from an MSN?

Nurses with a BSN are licensed RNs who work alongside medical teams to care for patients. They can also take up leadership and management roles. MSNs open doors to advanced nursing roles, including specializations like anesthesia, midwifery, family nurse practice, and higher-level administration and leadership positions. MSNs can also venture into teaching and research.

What extra can an MSN offer over a BSN?

MSN-educated nurses have access to higher-tier positions in clinical practice, administration, and research. They can also earn advanced certifications in specialized areas and complete doctoral degrees more quickly. For instance, nurse practitioners with an MSN can work more independently, but the extent of this independence varies depending on state regulations.

Are BSN to MSN programs challenging?

Pursuing an MSN comes with difficulties, like managing advanced coursework and clinical rotations, although non-clinical options are available. Nursing students often invest long hours and might juggle work or other responsibilities while earning their degrees, which can be demanding.

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