How to Choose BSN to MSN Degree Programs + Online Options

This article details what a BSN to MSN program is in nursing, and why earning one can be a good career option. It will describe what this degree program is, the curriculum and the skills and knowledge you will develop. Also, you will discover what you can do with the degree, and learn about a recommended BSN to MSN online degree program.

What Is a BSN to MSN Degree?

A BSN to MSN degree program is a graduate level nursing program that allows the experienced nurse with an active RN license to earn her MSN at a faster pace. Instead of taking up to three years to earn their MSN, nurses may be able to complete the program in less than two years.

When you enter a BSN to MSN program, you may get credit for some of the entry level graduate courses in nursing, due to your previous education and work experience.

Nurses who enter an MSN program need to choose a specialization. The most common specialty today is nurse practitioner, but there are several other popular choices as well. Nurses who focus on the NP role in their MSN program will learn about evidence-based techniques that will enhance the quality of patient care and outcomes for people who need healthcare. You will study strategies that will ready you to work in primary care and to make a difference in the lives of others.

Some of the types of courses that an RN with a BSN will take in the master of science in nursing program are:

  • Policy and advocacy for improving population health
  • Transforming nursing and healthcare through technology
  • Essentials of evidence based practice
  • Organizational and systems leadership
  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Advanced health assessment and diagnostic reasoning
  • Primary care for adults, adults, children and women

Why Earn a BSN to MSN Degree?

There are many nurses with experience and a BSN who eventually decide to earn their master’s degree. There are several excellent reasons that this is the case:

Increased Demand for All Nursing Professionals

There is little question that more nurses are needed today than ever. The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS states that there will be a 16% increase in demand for regular nurses by 2024. This increase in demand has been driven by the aging of the American population. People who are older almost always require more healthcare services. There clearly will be a need for more nurses to provide vital healthcare services.

Higher demand also is being caused by advances in technology. Older people are living more active lives. They want to take advantage of leaps in technology today to live more productive and pain free lives into old age.

Wanting a Higher Level of Responsibly

Nurses with a BSN can earn a very good living. They enjoy plenty of demand and good pay, plus a lot of overtime in many cases. However, nurses are still at the end of the day simply carrying out the orders of doctors and other healthcare providers.

Experienced nurses with a BSN may discover after many years of work that there are limits to what they can do with a bachelor’s degree. Some nurses desire a higher level of responsibility. They also may want to diagnose and treat patients, which requires the nurse to have a master of science in nursing.

Much Higher Demand for Advanced Practice Nurses

The MSN degree is very much desired and in demand because of the huge increase in need for advanced practice nurses. The most common specialties are listed below:

  • Certified nurse midwife (CNM): This nurse provides specialized care to women and their babies. Common duties involve family planning, prenatal care, and providing delivery services. They also are involved in post-natal and pre
  • natal care for women. There will be a strong 25% increase in demand for nurse midwives by 2024.
  • Certified nurse anesthetist (CRNA): Offers anesthetic and anesthesia services to a variety of patients who are having many types of medical procedures and surgeries. These advanced practice nurses work under the supervision of an anesthesiologist. CRNAs are able to provide most of the same services at a lower price. This is why CRNAs frequently provide anesthesia services in underserved areas. There will be a 20% increase in demand for CRNAs by 2024.
  • Nurse practitioner (NP): This type of advanced nursing practice professional provides most of the same primary and secondary care services that a doctor can provide. Demand in the field will rise by more than 30% by 2024.

When a nurse begins her MSN program, she needs to choose early on what her specialty will be. All nurses will take the same core MSN classes, then will begin to study their chosen specialty.

High Salary

The high demand for advanced practice nurses means high salaries. While regular nurses can easily earn between $60,000 and $70,000 per year, the median salary for most advanced practice nurses is much higher. For NPs, the median salary is an impressive $100,900 per year.  Nurse midwives earn over $99,000, and CRNAs earn more than $160,000.


Today there are 20 states that allow nurse practitioners to work without the supervision of a doctor. You may be able to open your own practice, or open a practice with other NPs.

Online Option for BSN to MSN Degree

If you are interested in earning your MSN to become an NP or another advanced nursing practice professional, consider this online program:

Bradley University

Bradley University offers a CCNE-accredited BSN to MSN degree that will provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to work as a family nurse practitioner.

Graduates of this two or three year MSN program are able to acquire a big picture point of view of the modern healthcare facility. They expand their knowledge and understanding of advanced nursing practice theory, care that is patient centered and advanced nursing research practice. Also, learn how to offer the highest quality care to families and individuals throughout their lifespan.

Bradley University is widely respected across the country for its excellent nursing faculty, as well as its student-centered approach to teaching.

Your required courses include:

  • Statistical Procedures
  • Advanced Pathophysiology
  • Nursing Theories, Analysis and Development
  • Leadership in the Healthcare Delivery System
  • Evidence Based Practice
  • Health Informatics
  • Principles of FNP Practice – Acute and Chronic
  • Healthcare Policy
  • Healthcare Clinical Practicum


Getting your BSN to MSN degree is a very effective way to enhance your nursing career. With the high, long term demand for advanced practice nurses and the high salaries, it is very likely that this will be one of the best graduate degrees to earn for years to come.

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