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How does an advanced nursing program differ from undergrad? Most notably, in its intensity and focus. In your area of study, you’ll attain a higher skill level and build a deeper knowledge base, preparing you for leadership, specialization, or research opportunities in your field.

Course Work & Learning Outcomes

A few examples of advanced degree programs in nursing are the Master’s of Nursing (MSA), Nurse Practitioner (NP) certification, and Doctor’s in Nursing Practice (DNP). You may need to complete a thesis before graduating. Depending on your goals, you may also need to acquire a license.

The MSN can focus on either clinical practice or administration. It will add to your independence, position you for better pay, and expand your options for career advancement. The program typically takes 18-24 months to complete, and it focuses on the concentration you choose; for example, informatics, midwifery, or orthopedics.

NP certification establishes a higher level of credibility for nurse practitioners. It demonstrates that you’re licensed, that you’ve met certain educational standards, that your professional knowledge is up to par, that you’re continuing to maintain competence, and that you subscribe to the established scope and standards of practice for nurse practitioners.

Doctoral programs in nursing include the traditional Ph.D. (for those who want to research or teach) and the DNP (for those who want to go further in administration or direct care).

Career Outlook

You can use your advanced nursing degree to achieve greater pay and responsibility, establish a specialty, or pursue research opportunities. If you want to get your doctorate, pursue an administrative role, or practice medicine, anesthesiology, midwifery, osteopathy, or some other specialized area, a master’s could help you get there.