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Key Decisions to Make Before Earning Your MSN Degree

Before you choose an MSN program, you should answer a few important questions.

You already know that a Master of Science Nursing can help you gain the knowledge and credentials you need for the top nursing jobs and nursing salaries. But are you prepared to go to nursing school and earn your MSN degree? To get the most out of any MSN program—and enter the MSN nursing career that’s right for you—you first need to make some key decisions.

Here are the most important questions you should answer.

Key Decisions to Make Before Earning Your MSN Degree

What Are Your Career Goals?

More than anything else, a master’s in nursing prepares you to be a nurse leader, capable of managing aspects of the healthcare system and helping people live healthier lives. Because nearly every field of healthcare needs nurse leaders, there are a wide variety of nursing careers you can enter with an MSN degree. Before you enroll in an MSN program, you should know which career you most desire. That way, you can plan ahead and make sure you gain the right skills and knowledge for your nursing career of choice. Common MSN nursing careers include:

  • Nurse practitioner
  • Nurse educator
  • Nursing faculty
  • Administrative nurse faculty
  • Nursing instructor
  • Patient educator
  • Staff development manager 
  • Staff educator
  • Continuing education specialist
  • Clinical nurse educator
  • Clinical supervisor
  • Consultant
  • Case manager  

Which Specialty Is Right For You?

When you choose to earn a master of science in nursing, you’ll be expected to select a specialization. Each of the many MSN degree specializations prepare you for different kinds of nursing, from the clinical to the administrative. Since you have to select a specialization from the very beginning, it’s good to know what specialty you wish to pursue before you start applying to nursing schools.

If you already know your nursing career goals, selecting an MSN degree specialization won’t be particularly challenging. All you have to do is choose the one that most directly relates to your career goals and passions. Some MSN degree specialties currently in demand include:

What Type of Nursing School Will You Attend?

In the past, if you wanted to attend a master’s in nursing program, you had to live near a nursing school and attend class at specific times. However, the rise of online education has changed the dynamic. Now, no matter where you live, you can earn an MSN degree. The question you have to answer is: Is an online MSN program or a campus-based MSN program right for you?

If you work full time and/or live in an area with limited educational options, earning a master’s in nursing online is likely your best option. At an online nursing school, you can complete your coursework from home or from anywhere else you have internet access. Plus, online learning platforms offer flexible scheduling, giving you the power to attend class at whatever time of day works best for you—an advantage that makes it possible to continue working while you earn your degree.

If you’re currently an RN, online learning can offer an additional advantage. Many online MSN programs include an RN to MSN path for RNs who don’t hold a bachelor’s degree. Instead of having to first earn a bachelor’s and then find an MSN program, you can go from RN to MSN online, streamlining the process and potentially saving yourself time and money.

For working adults, an online university is often the best path to a graduate degree.

Where Can You Find the MSN Specialization You Want in the Format You Need?

If you’re like many who are considering earning a Master of Science in Nursing, an online nursing school offers the format you need. But which school provides the MSN specializations and quality of education you want? The answer may be Walden University.

Walden is No. 1 in MSN graduates in the U.S.,* attracting a diverse student body from across the nation. In addition to its convenient online learning platform, Walden offers MSN nursing students eight specializations and a 100% doctorally prepared teaching faculty. Walden also partners with over 300 leading healthcare employers and associations, which can help you further your career. If you’re ready to earn your MSN degree, consider Walden.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Science in Nursing degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


*Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) IPEDS database. Retrieved July 2017, using CIP code 51.3801 (Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse). Includes 2016 preliminary data.


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