ADN to MSN: One Diploma at a Time

The road to an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) to a Master in Science Degree in Nursing (MSN) doesn’t have to be a difficult one. Not for you. Because you’ve got big dreams. You want to be a nurse. You want to climb to the top of the nursing career ladder.  Getting an Associate Degree in Nursing is one place to start.

Education Requirements

ADN: Associate Degree in Nursing

The Associate Degree in Nursing or ADN is an entry-level degree that qualifies graduates to take the NCLEX-RN and apply to be a licensed registered nurse. ADN tends to focus on courses directly on basic general education requirements and nursing courses.

Schools  that Award ADNs

  • Online Colleges. Online ADN programs are among the most popular of online programs available. An online ADN degree program utilizes  the Internet as a virtual classroom. Lessons are channeled through e-mails, e-books, video simulations, and other such electronic technology. Students are given 24/7 access to a controlled academic domain.
  • Community colleges. Most associate degrees in nursing are earned at this level. Students appreciate the convenience, scheduling flexibility and cost effectiveness of these programs. Many community colleges have waiting lists because of budget and clinical site constraints.
  • Private for profit technical schools. They offer the same type of nursing programs found at community colleges. The cost is usually higher and there may be the same enrollment constraints.

Many successful RNs have launched their careers with an ADN, while others use the ADN as a stepping stone to a Bachelor in Science Degree in Nursing (BSN),

BSN: Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Many prospective nursing students select a BSN program because they want a traditional college experience with a liberal arts foundation. BSN programs also include more community-based care, than ADN programs, so graduates are prepared for non-hospital jobs in addition to direct patient care jobs. This degree also positions nurses for more advanced study, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

As a nurse with a BSN rather than an ADN, you also have more opportunities to choose a specialty area of nursing. Once you have determined what area you would like to specialize in (pediatrics, cancer, etc.) your BSN will help you enroll in an advanced degree program to obtain a master’s or doctorate in nursing. From there you can pursue an advanced degree career such as a nurse practitioner in your area of specialty. Without getting an advanced degree, you may be able to use your BSN to obtain a position overseeing other RNs in a particular area of the hospital or facility in which you work.

MSN: Master of Science in Nursing

The MSN program offers nurses the opportunity to prepare for advanced practice with a specialization such as anesthesia, midwifery, nurse practitioner, education, and administration. Graduates provide advanced patient care, perform research, become educators, and provide professional leadership.

Career Options: What you can do with an MSN

  • Nurse practitioner
  • Certified nurse midwife
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Clinical nurse leader
  • Nurse educator
  • Nurse administrator

In addition, some universities offer joint master’s degree programs for nurses who wish to advance further in another professional arena. The most popular programs bundle the MSN with either a master of business administration for those interested in management or a master of

What to Consider if you Pursue an ADN, a BSN, or a MSN

Regardless of whether you choose to get an ADN, a BSN,  or a MSN, registered nurses are in high demand, and with a median pay of $66,650 for BSN. However, if you plan to advance in your career and make nursing a lifelong occupation, you may earn more with a MSN. Employers will value your degree when it comes to offering raises and choosing candidates for managerial positions.