Is an MSN Degree Higher Than an RN Degree?

There’s more than one way to become a nurse. However, the type of training you get determines your career trajectory. Among the many education options for registered nurses are associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs. Choosing the path that best aligns with your career goals is critical. The more you learn, the further you will go. With an MSN, you will go a long way.

Is an MSN Degree Higher Than an RN Degree?  

A master’s is an advanced degree in any field. Programs take an additional 18 months to two years to complete. Nurses, however, qualify for the same professional nursing license whether they have an associate, a bachelor’s, or a master’s degree. Still, earning an MSN has a profound impact on professional development.

RN-MSNs qualify for positions reserved for the best-educated among nurses. If you aspire to a supervisory or leadership role, enrolling in an MSN program as a new student is the best way to level up your nursing career.

What Do You Learn During an RN-to-MSN Degree Program?  

What you learn during an MSN program depends partly on your concentration in the specific area of healthcare in which you want to specialize. The curriculum expands on BSN-level coursework with classes that prepare you for work as an autonomous healthcare provider.

Courses include: 

Nursing Theory 

MSN programs emphasize nursing theory, exploring the history and development of the field. Graduates can better conceptualize the nurse’s role within the healthcare system.

Physical Assessment in Health Care 

MSN students learn how to perform systematic physical assessments. Beyond the average head-to-toe examination, you will learn the advanced techniques required to make diagnostic and treatment decisions.

Advanced Pathophysiology 

Pathophysiology is the study of how disease affects the human body. Students study the underlying risks, causes, mechanisms, and consequences of complex disorders.

Applied Nursing Research 

In this course, learners are exposed to research methodology. Topics include types of research, data collection methods, study design, outcome analysis, and literature review. Graduates can contribute to nursing research in educational and clinical settings.

Ethical and Legal Aspects of Nursing Practice 

MSN programs expand on BSN topics, diving deeper into the principles of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice. You will scrutinize the ethical framework of nursing, including the regulatory nuances.

Crisis Intervention 

Crisis intervention models are the focus of this course. You will gain the practical skills necessary to assess, triage, and stabilize individuals and communities in times of need.

Population Health, Epidemiology, and Statistical Principles 

A primer in epidemiology and healthcare statistics, this class covers the principles of population-based nursing. Concepts include cultural health disparities, social and economic health determinants, and health outcome analysis. Graduates are better prepared to embrace diversity in a small world.

Community Nursing 

This course covers community health and nursing. Students learn to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate educational health programs. Topics range from cultural competency and healthcare accessibility to disaster response and public policy development.

Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice 

Nursing is a research-intensive, evidence-based field. Students in this class learn to apply proven scientific principles to improve their practice.

Advanced Health Assessment 

This course expands on students’ physical examination skills with training in preventive health and psychosocial wellness. You will learn to treat patients as whole people, addressing the many factors that impact their health.

Advanced Pharmacology 

Advanced pharmacology courses emphasize the skills to prescribe, manage, and monitor drug therapy. Topics include high-risk medications, dosing strategies for sensitive populations, and prescribing practices.

Healthcare Policy 

Students are introduced to healthcare policy and finance basics, equipping them to be better administrators and advocates. Expect thought-provoking discussions of timely issues, from healthcare affordability to accessibility, equity, and reform.

Health Promotion and Role Development in Advanced Nursing Practice 

Preventive care is the crux of this course. You will explore broad-based strategies for promoting health and wellness at the individual, family, and community levels.

Health Care Informatics 

Students in this class learn how information systems manage patient data. Beyond electronic health records (EHR), topics include data quality standards, telehealth applications, and clinical decision support systems.

Nursing Leadership and Management 

The course examines concepts related to healthcare administration, leadership, and managerial functions. You will look closely at organizational structures, strategic planning, leadership and motivational styles, and financial management.


MSN programs train future decision-makers. As a student, you will learn how to apply decision-making models to advanced nursing practice.

MSN Capstone Project 

A capstone project is an end-of-program assignment. Students must demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and professionalism by addressing a challenge in their chosen field. Projects involve presentations, including original research, data analysis, or clinical experiences.

What Are the Career Benefits of Earning an MSN Degree? 

An MSN degree is the foundation upon which independent nursing careers are built. RN-MSNs offer more career choices, which provides a broader range of career options than bachelor’s-prepared nurses. You will be eligible for roles that aren’t accessible with a BSN. In most states, for example, an MSN degree is the minimum qualification for nurse educators.

Professional Autonomy 

RN-MSNs are autonomous professionals with decision-making authority. Although they generally work as part of a team, they enjoy a refreshing professional freedom. You will have control over your work and the flexibility to chart your course. MSN programs prepare you to specialize in one of several concentrations. You can choose the area of interest that best meets your personal and professional goals.

Options vary among institutions, but popular choices include:

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) – are advanced practice nurses (APNs) who diagnose and treat patients as their primary healthcare provider. You will perform examinations, order diagnostic tests, and prescribe medications.

In most states, NPs work collaboratively with physicians but carry a separate caseload and make independent treatment decisions. NPs can specialize in mental health, pediatrics, adult gerontology, and critical care.

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) – provides clinical nurse leadership in specific areas of medicine, from chronic disease management to neonatal care. Most CNSs work in healthcare facilities, supporting staff through research, education, leadership, and policymaking. Some, however, opt for clinical work, caring for the sickest patients in emergency rooms and critical care units.

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) – cares for families during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum, managing gynecological and obstetric services from prenatal care to child delivery.

Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) – partners with surgeons and anesthesiologists to administer sedation during medical procedures.

Nurse Educators – are employed as nursing instructors and staff development coordinators. Whether you work in a school or a hospital, you will actively prepare the next generation of nurses.

Public Health Nurse – promote community health through research, disease surveillance, and education. Most work with government agencies and non-profit institutions to inform the public and improve access to healthcare.

Nurse Administrators – hold leadership roles in healthcare organizations. As a nurse manager or nursing executive, you will provide the vision and strategic guidance required to navigate clinical and administrative challenges.

Healthcare Informatics – involves using data and technology to improve healthcare delivery. You will design, evaluate, and implement information management systems in this role.

Forensic Nurses – play a critical part in the justice system, working for law enforcement and social service agencies. Responsibilities include performing forensic examinations, collecting evidence, investigating abuse allegations, and supporting victims.

Job Security 

Advanced practice nursing is among the fastest-growing fields in the country. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a remarkable 38% increase in demand for nurse practitioners, midwives, and nurse anesthetists through 2032. While only some nurses need help finding employment, having an MSN degree broadens your job prospects.

Growth Potential 

Nurses are tackling increasingly complex roles and managing responsibilities that were once the domain of physicians. Facilities are responding by insisting on better-educated applicants for leadership positions, such as nurse managers, nursing directors, or nurse administrators. Regardless of your career objectives, having an MSN can put you at the front line for promotions.

Work-Life Balance 

Advanced practice nurses (APNs) have a higher level of autonomy that contributes to a better work-life balance. They are busy, but unlike floor nurses, they have more control over their hours. Employers wish to retain top talent, so APNs frequently work less overtime and have fewer on-call responsibilities. Having a master’s degree lets you enjoy both nursing and life.

Personal Fulfillment 

Nursing careers are inherently fulfilling. Regardless of your training level, you make a difference. However, because roles in nursing are defined by education, earning an MSN facilitates opportunities to effect tangible change.

On a personal level, you will have the necessary clinical training to intervene in challenging cases. At the professional level, you will contribute to improvements in the field that benefit all nurses and advance the profession.

A Seat at the Table 

Nurses with an MSN degree have a deeper understanding of healthcare policies and regulations than BSN-prepared nurses. Clinically savvy and business-minded, their participation in policymaking at the institutional and public levels helps shape the direction of healthcare.

Final Thoughts 

Earning an MSN is less about your credentials than your mission. Degrees are printed on paper, but learning is etched in your soul. If you are passionate about nursing, committing to excellence through education is the key to personal and professional development. Success is no accident; it’s a choice you can make today.

Eager to Learn More? 

The RN to MSN program is offered to foreign-educated doctors with a nursing license and nurses who earned a Baccalaureate degree in a related field. This curriculum builds upon students’ nursing education and professional experiences. This program will allow these professional nurses with previous medical and robust educational backgrounds to acquire evidence-based knowledge and the necessary skills to provide direct patient services at an advanced level.

If you are interested in advanced Nursing, let Florida National University answer any questions. Contact us today to learn more about our RN to MSN program.