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Degree Overview: Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) Degree

Majors Overview August 17, 2014

Receive information about a Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) degree program and its educational requirements, coursework, and job and wage outlook.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Degree Programs

Students enrolled in Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree programs and aspiring to become nurse practitioners are required, by most schools, to have completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. The curriculum in the master’s program commonly includes topic areas such as pharmacology, medical practice theory, diagnostics, and advanced nursing practice.

Most students enrolled in a nurse practitioner master’s degree program choose specializations in a particular field, such as geriatrics, women’s health, pediatrics, family practice and adult care. Many Master Nurse Practitioner programs, which typically end in either a comprehensive examination or a thesis, facilitate student research.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to have completed a BSN, meet a GPA requirement and be a registered nurse. At least one year of clinical experience is usually compulsory for incoming students to the program. Most admission committees also give weight to resumes, personal statements, and letters of recommendation.


The program curriculum is a combination of rigorous classroom instruction and clinical experiences. As nurses would have to prescribe medicine, students are often required to take pharmacology classes. Courses vary in accordance with specialty. Core coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Evaluation of common health problems
•Health assessment
•Ethics and public policy in healthcare
•Family practice methods
•Child and adolescent development

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2010 – 2020 decade, job growth rates of 26% have been predicted for registered nurses, including nurse practitioners, with a higher demand for these professionals in under-served locations (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In 2012, these professionals brought home an average annual wage of $96,460 (BLS). Higher wages were paid to nurse practitioners in intensive care, geriatrics and internal medicine than to gynecology and family practice.

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