What Can You Do With a Master’s in Nursing?

Master's in Nursing

A master of science in nursing (MSN) degree is a graduate degree. It typically takes two years of full-time study to complete an MSN degree. MSN programs include a combination of coursework and clinical experience to ensure graduates have both the knowledge and practical skills required to succeed in their chosen career field.

Earning an MSN degree enables registered nurses (RNs) to advance in their careers and pursue several job opportunities. MSN degree holders can pursue a wide range of opportunities, including openings for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), postsecondary instructors, and legal nurse consultants.

Nurse Practitioners (NPs)

Earning a masters of science in nursing will prepare you to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners are APRNs. MSN program applicants must be a licensed registered nurse with a year of clinical experience. Students take courses, such as advanced pathophysiology, which teaches students about diseases and how diseases develop and spread. Students learn about pharmaceuticals and how different medications work from advanced pharmacology studies. Diagnostic reasoning for nurse practitioners teaches students how to differentiate and diagnose physical and mental illnesses. In the second year of studies, NPs choose a specialty. Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) treat patients of all ages and serve as the primary healthcare provider for their patients. They diagnose and treat their patients.

Adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioners (AGPCNPs) perform many of the same tasks as FNPs, but they only treat adolescents and adults. Adolescents may transfer to an AGNP once they’re too old to be treated by a pediatrician.

Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) focus on diagnosing and treating patients with psychiatric disorders and mental health issues. They may work in psychiatric hospitals or clinics. During their second year of studies, their courses focus on psychopathology and treatment options.

The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that a nurse practitioner earns a substantially higher salary than a registered nurse. While NPs took home median annual incomes of $109,820 in 2019, the BLS reports that RNs earned median salaries of $73,300 the same year. RNs can also expect jobs to increase at a faster rate. While the BLS expects NPs to see a 52 percent job growth rate from 2019 to 2029, RNs will see jobs grow by seven percent during the same ten-year period.


Nurse-midwives are APRNs who focus on providing prenatal care and delivering babies. They may assist with cesarean sections and treat injuries incurred during childbirth. Nurse-midwives may also perform gynecological exams. They also educate patients about reproductive health and disease prevention.

The BLS reports these APRNs took home median annual salaries of $105,030 in 2019 and projects their job growth rate will be 12 percent from 2019 to 2029.

Nurse Anesthetist

Nurse anesthetists are APRNs qualified to administer anesthesia to patients to alleviate their pain or render them unconscious during surgical procedures. They also use local anesthesia to numb part of a patient’s body, so they can have pain-free medical procedures without being put to sleep.

The BLS expects nurse anesthetists’ job opportunities to increase by 14 percent from 2019 to 2029 and reports they enjoyed a median annual income of $174,790 in 2019.

Legal Nurse Consultant

Legal nurse consultants use their medical training to assist lawyers dealing with personal injury cases, workers’ compensation lawsuits, birth injuries, and criminal cases. These legal professionals review medical documents, participate in client interviews, review standards of care, and perform medical research. Their objective is to provide relevant information that can be presented during legal proceedings. A legal nurse consultant has the experience and knowledge needed to determine if the medical care a patient received was appropriate. They can substantiate medical claims by verifying the nature of a person’s injury and what caused their injury.

People affected by personal injuries, medical malpractice, and birth injuries may opt to hire a lawyer to protect their legal rights. Patients who turn to a workers compensation lawyer in Chicago benefit from hiring an experienced attorney who understands workers’ compensation law and is familiar with relevant case law that can help them fight for injured workers’ rights to ensure they receive fair compensation for a job injury. Patients also benefit from hiring an attorney who uses a qualified legal nurse consultant’s services because these professionals are reputable legal experts who will provide relevant medical knowledge that strengthens your case.

Payscale reports these professionals earned median annual salaries of $78,069 as of 2021.

Insurance Advisor

Consumers who need health insurance can use an insurance comparison tool to generate quotes from insurance companies. The tool asks for pertinent information about their age, gender, and location. You’ll also need to confirm if you smoke or have any existing medical conditions. Once you answer all the questions, the tool produces a list of possible insurance plans you can consider.

Nurses with an MSN degree may work for insurance companies and help create insurance packages. They may work with comparison tool creators to create questionnaires and match patients with suitable insurance plans. Some nurses also serve as case managers and determine whether a client’s insurance will cover some of their claims. The BLS reports that insurance underwriters earned median salaries of $70,020 in 2019.

An MSN degree can increase your job opportunities and income. Career opportunities for people with a master of science in nursing include being an APRN, a legal nurse consultant, or an insurance advisor.