With so many Master's in Nursing programs, it's hard to know the exact coursework you'll complete for your degree. After all, the educational needs of a nurse practitioner and a nurse manager are different. In general, an advanced degree in nursing will make you a better clinician and a better nurse as you grow your understanding of the nursing approach to patient care. Here are four possible graduate degrees in nursing and the classes you might take for each of them.
Related Resource: 50 Best Graduate Nursing Schools in America
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (ARPN)
To become a nurse practitioner, you need a Master's of Science in nursing (MSN) degree. You'll also need a Registered Nurse (RN) license. Your degree program will concentrate on clinical knowledge relevant to your specialty. For example, if you're earning a degree in women's health, you'll study gynecology and obstetrics, while a future pediatric nurse practitioner will focus more on children's health issues. Regardless of your specialty, you can expect classes on nursing research, pharmacology and pathophysiology.
Someone has to teach the next generation of nurses. If you're ready to step away from the bedside, a Master's in Nursing Education might be the next step in your career path. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, over 50,000 potential nursing students were turned away from nursing programs in 2016 because there weren't enough teachers. You can help address the nursing faculty shortage by earning your M.S. in Nursing Education. You'll enjoy more regular hours, higher pay and less physically demanding work. You can also negotiate a part-time teaching schedule so you can continue caring for patients part-time. Typical classes in these degree programs cover teaching pedagogy, test design and curriculum development, as well as advanced training in physiology and pharmacology. To see if this is the right path for you, volunteer as a clinical preceptor or student mentor at your current job.
Not every nurse heads to graduate school to become a nurse practitioner. You might want to advance your career in nursing management and leadership. This type of degree doesn't require clinical coursework, so it can be completed entirely online. You'll study finance, organizational psychology and management topics. When you graduate, you can lead nursing departments, run occupational safety efforts or manage independent clinics.
Dual degree programs let you earn two master's degrees at the same time. You can pair your MSN with a master's degree in public health (MPH), business (MBA), healthcare administration (MHA) or law degree (JD). These programs allow you to "double count" some classes, saving you time and money. For example, you might take a course in organizational leadership to satisfy requirements for your MBA and master's in nursing leadership or a class in clinical management to meet the requirements for an MHA and MSN degree.
Every university has different requirements for its graduate students. If you're ready to enroll in classes to earn your Master's in Nursing degree, reach out to potential schools and ask for a copy of required coursework.