The Right Online Nursing Degree Programs Can Lead to More Successful Nursing Careers

Top 6 Nursing Degrees and Certificate Programs

Due to an aging population and changes in the U.S. healthcare system, nurses are more valuable than ever before. They’re more in demand, too. Fortune recently ranked registered nurse (RN) as the most in-demand job in the U.S.* Whether you’re already an RN or are just beginning to consider a nursing career, the right online nursing degree or certificate program can help you take full advantage of the growing opportunities for nurses. Here are some of the top nursing degrees and certificate programs that can help you achieve your goals.

PhD in Nursing

Focused primarily on research and interdisciplinary studies, a PhD in Nursing is designed for nurses who want to help guide the future of healthcare. If you want to conduct scientific research at the highest levels in your field, shape healthcare policies as a government policymaker or program director, or educate the next generation of nursing professionals, a PhD in Nursing can give you the advanced expertise you need to succeed. This is a great nursing degree for any nurse who wants to make a difference in healthcare.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

As a terminal degree for clinical nurses, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is becoming an increasingly valued and sought-after credential. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has encouraged the medical community to make the DNP degree the expected degree for those who want to become nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists. Many online degree programs allow you to earn your DNP while continuing to work within the nursing profession. This option allows you to advance your career whether you’re just starting out or have worked as a nurse for many years.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

If you want to enter any of the advanced nursing professions, you’ll most likely want to earn your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Although it’s a postgraduate degree, an MSN is considered the entry-level degree for such nursing careers as nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, and nurse anesthetist. These advanced nursing careers earn a median annual salary of more than $96,000.‡ A number of nonclinical careers such as nurse educator and nurse manager also require an MSN—so earning your master’s through an online nursing degree program can open numerous professional doors.

MSN With Specialization

When earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, you can select from a wide variety of specializations in both clinical and nonclinical fields. Your choice of specialization will depend on your personal passions, strengths, and preferences. If you’re looking at nonclinical work, your online nursing degree program could allow you to specialize in such fields as leadership and management, nursing education, and nursing informatics. If you prefer to work directly with patients, you can select from specializations that put you on the path toward such nursing careers as public health nursing, psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, and family nurse practitioner.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

The Institute of Medicine is calling for nurses to take the lead in improving the healthcare system, and RNs must enhance their education to meet this challenge.§

The Institute of Medicine’s goal is that 80% of the nursing workforce hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree by 2020. The recommendation came from research demonstrating that nurses who have earned a bachelor’s degree score higher on quality-of-care indicators. With these changes in hiring practices, a BSN degree is a great choice. If you are already an RN but don’t hold a bachelor’s degree, you may want to consider earning a BSN through an RN-BSN completion program to help advance your career and maximize your ability to have a positive impact on patient care.

Post-Master’s Certificates in Nursing

Professional nurses who wish to enhance their skills for the sake of improved patient care or professional advancement may wish to consider Post-Master’s Certificates in Nursing.  Some particular areas of focus include nursing education, nursing informatics, and nursing leadership and management. 

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online nursing degree programs. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

*B. Snyder, “These are the top 10 in-demand jobs of 2015,” Fortune, on the Internet at http://fortune.com/2015/01/24/in-demand-jobs-for-2015.

†Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

‡Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014–2015 Edition, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners, on the Internet at www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm.

§The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, on the Internet at www.iom.edu/Reports/2010/The-future-of-nursing-leading-change-advancing-health.aspx.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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