Master of Science in Nursing vs. Doctor of Nursing Practice

Master of Science in Nursing vs. Doctor of Nursing Practice #beverlyhills #beverlyhillsmagazine #bevhillsmag #nursing #nurses #MSNnurses #BSNnurses #DNPnurses #nursepractitioner #salaryofnurses #improvinghealthcarequality

The changing healthcare dynamics require their professionals, including nurses, to go above and beyond their duties and be willing to overcome challenges. Therefore, future-oriented healthcare facilities need their staff, especially those for nursing practice, to have the right skills and educational qualifications. It helps healthcare facilities provide the best care to their patients whenever they need it.

Nurses that are inclined to get higher education are the ones that excel in their field, get more experience in the process, and adequate compensation from their respective organizations. To put it simply, if a nurse gets the right education, it provides them with a better earning potential and more career opportunities. It also advances their career, putting them on an upward trajectory.

This article will discuss the two advanced degrees a nurse can opt for. So, without further ado, let’s get straight into it.

Higher education degrees in healthcare

Advanced degrees in nursing include Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). These degrees focus on clinical nursing practice contrary to other research-oriented degrees. But nurses wanting to reach the next level of their career must understand the difference between these two higher education degrees. You can make a better decision about enrollment in one of these programs if you have no ambiguities about them. An appraisal of MSN vs DNP is essential because the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties requires all MSN nurse practitioner programs to shift to the DNP level by 2025.

MSN degree

An MSN is a master’s level degree in healthcare. The degree has an advanced curriculum and helps nurses reach their full potential and leadership skills. The courses offered in an MSN degree include healthcare policy, health informatics, and direct patient care. You can enroll in an MSN program in a number of ways. According to ACCN, you can enroll in entry-level master’s degree programs with a BSN degree that puts you on an accelerated degree path. The length of the program is two to three years, but you can get an RN license after the first year.

RNs can also enroll in an RN to MSN program where you don’t require a BSN degree. The program will complete within two years, though previous coursework and credit hours are considered too. Another path is adopting a Dual degree program. For instance, MSN-MPA and MSN-MBA are all dual degree programs. This way, you are skilled in two areas of healthcare. Whatever pathway you choose, make sure the program is accredited, which means that your institution meets the educational requirements outlined for this degree by the education authorities.

DNP Degree

DNP is one of the highest degrees in the healthcare sector. It is often referred to as the terminal degree in nursing. In simple words, DNP graduates put what has been found in research into practice. Like MSN, there are many pathways to earn a DNP degree, and one of them is the traditional path which requires you to have a BSN and an MSN to get into a DNP degree. Additionally, some programs can bypass the MSN degree, such as the BSN to DNP program. Most DNP programs require you to commit for 3 to 4 years fully. Often they do not allow a part-time program. Hence, in most cases, this program requires full dedication.

Your focus in DNP program is on leadership, improving healthcare quality, evidence-based practice, management, and development of systems. The goal of the DNP degree is to prepare the candidates who can thrive in the complex healthcare environment and respond to evolving patient care needs. Moreover, with its primary focus on leadership, it intends to develop nurse leaders who can assist doctors in making patient care plans and sharing the burden of the physicians. DNP graduates are perfect for working as nursing educators and preparing the new generation of nurses. Here is an appraisal of the difference and similarities in both degrees.

Jobs opportunities

Both of these degrees prepare the students to get high responsibility meaningful jobs. With an MSN degree, you have more clinical jobs available to you. Some of the MSN jobs include Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Cardiac Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, and many others. You can get jobs in research, management, and teaching positions with a DNP degree. In both degree programs, you have got highly attractive job opportunities.

Salary prospects

Both DNP and MSN nurses have greater earning potential than BSN nurses. According to the recent PayScale data, the median salary of an MSN nurse is $96,000 per year. The exact amount depends on the exact degree and specialization you choose, work full time or part-time, or the kind of environment you work in. Contrary to that, the median salary of nurses having a DNP degree is $104,000.

Responsibilities and job duties

Graduates with an MSN degree are prepared to adopt roles in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practice, and research-based institutions. Many states also allow MSN nurse practitioners to take up an independent practice. They can diagnose, treat and prescribe medications to the patients. This way, they can take up many of the roles of physicians. Hence, they make up for the shortage of qualified physicians too.

But in the case of a DNP degree, you have broader responsibilities that can transcend the boundaries of clinical roles. As they can get teaching positions and clinical roles, nursing schools and colleges are a prospective area of practice. As nurse managers and administrators, they can lead nurses and manage whole departments.


Both MSN and DNP are advanced-level degrees, helping nurses attain advanced skills and more professional experience. The degrees also help them work in several roles and increase their earning potential. It is recommended to choose one of the two degrees keeping in view your interest and what you want to achieve.

Hope this article provided you with enough understanding about Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees. Happy Reading.

Martin Maina
Martin Maina is a professional writer and blogger who uses his expertise, skills, and personal experience in digital marketing to craft content that resonates with audiences. Deep down, he believes that if you cannot do great things, then you can do small things in a great way. To learn more, you can connect with him online.
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