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A master's degree in nursing is a type of education that teaches nurses advanced practice skills. Also called a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), this degree requires study at the graduate level of college, and students typically pursue areas of specialty for practice after graduation. Some of the nursing professions that require MSN degrees include Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), and Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs). There are also specialties within these different roles, according to patient population, such as oncology, family practice or pediatrics.
Many students who pursue masters in nursing education are already working as nurses, and may have bachelor’s degrees. Some students work toward MSN degrees with undergraduate education in other disciplines. There are also registered nurses with associate’s degrees who want to pursue MSN degrees, and programs are available that assist students in each of these situations with attaining their graduate education. Many schools offer accelerated tracks or completion programs that recognize the previous work and education of potential students.
For students who are unable to attend classes on a regular schedule, many schools offer online course options for courses. Online MSN programs provide classes and correspondence with instructors online, allowing students to complete their degrees when it is convenient. Online masters in nursing degrees are optimal ways for busy nurses to work toward career advancement while simultaneously holding jobs. The path toward an MSN requires practice and hard work, but results in an advanced career that may be both challenging and rewarding.