Different Types of Nursing Degrees

Before you start filling out nursing school applications, you want to have a good understanding of the types of nursing degrees that are out there. As you review the different nursing degrees below, think about your future career goals and the education option(s) that can help you achieve them.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Degree

A BSN is the preferred entry degree for professional nursing practice. While you can still enter the field with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), health care employers prefer to hire nursing graduates with a BSN or higher.

While an ADN primarily focuses on clinical skills application, a BSN does the same but dives deeper into the profession. A person with a BSN has studied the liberal arts and completed a curriculum that includes nursing research, informatics, disease prevention, and nursing ethics.

After earning a BSN, your next step is to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN®). From there, you can choose to enter the profession or continue your education.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Degree

An MSN is a post-graduate degree for registered nurses who want to pursue advanced practice roles.

While establishing the foundation for your higher education, an MSN enables you to pursue certification to become a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, or nurse midwife, to name but a few. After earning certification, you must pass the national examination that aligns with your chosen area of practice.  

Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree

A DNP is the highest level of nursing education a registered nurse can achieve. At this level, you develop adept knowledge that enables you to influence health care outcomes via direct patient care, organizational leadership, and health policy implementation. Once you obtain the appropriate credentials, you can apply your expertise in a clinical setting or a leadership capacity.     

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