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MSN Program Comparisons

Ready to Level Up In Your Nursing Career?
Get started on an MSN program of your choice from WGU.

Which MSN Program Is Right for You?

Becoming a nurse can  provide job security, an active work environment, ample prerequisite education programs, competitive salary, and flexibility. These are all attractive qualities in a profession, and nursing offers even more impactful opportunities: to give the gift of compassion, to care for those that can’t care for themselves, and to stand on the front lines to defend human lives. It’s this passion that drives many to pursue a lifetime of nursing—and what is likely to prompt you, as an RN or BSN holder, to continue seeking higher education in the field. Pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree at WGU allows you to do just that, and the benefits and options are vast. Getting your MSN helps you expand your knowledge in the nursing field, allows you to choose a concentration you’re most passionate about, qualifies you for higher-level employment options, and opens the door to better salaries. 

There are MSN options whether you’re continuing your education as an RN or BSN holder. If you are entering this program as a registered nurse without a BSN degree, then you will need to complete the bridge program which will allow you to earn your bachelor’s degree before starting on MSN specialty coursework. 

If you’re ready to take the next step in your nursing education, learn about the different MSN specialties available at WGU.

Nursing – Education (RN-to-MSN) – M.S.

This MSN – Education online nursing program for RNs includes a BSN program...

This MSN – Education online nursing program for RNs includes a BSN program component and is a substantial leap forward for an aspiring nurse educator.

  • Time: 73% of RN-to-MSN grads finish within 42 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,998 per 6-month term during undergraduate portion, $4,367 per 6-month term during graduate portion, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.
  • Courses: 32 total courses in this program.

This program is ideal for current RNs who are looking to earn both their BSN and MSN in a single, accelerated program.

Sample careers and jobs this online nursing degree will prepare you for:

  • Nurse Educator
  • Nursing Faculty
  • Program Director
  • Academic Clinical Nurse Educator

Given the growing nurse educator shortage, earning your MSN with a focus in education is both a rewarding decision and a solid career move.

Nursing – Education (BSN-to-MSN) – M.S.

A master's in nursing education program for nurses with BSNs....

A master's in nursing education program for nurses with BSNs.

This degree will prepare you to teach the next generation of nurses.

  • Time: 64% of grads finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition: $4,367 per 6-month term, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.
  • Courses: 15 total courses in this program.

This program is ideal for RNs who already have their BSN and are ready to progress in their career.

Some careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:

  • Nurse Educator
  • Nursing Faculty
  • Program Director
  • Academic Clinical Nurse Educator

Hospitals and other facilities need nurse educators. Earn your MSN – Education and step into a role inspiring and empowering caregivers.

Nursing – Nursing Informatics (RN-to-MSN) – M.S.

A nursing program that empowers data-driven nurses with a BSN and MSN...

A nursing program that empowers data-driven nurses with a BSN and MSN component, allowing them to go from RN to MSN.

  • Time:  67% of RN-to-MSN grads finish within 36 months.
  • Tuition: $3,998 per 6-month term during undergraduate portion, $4,367 per 6-month term during graduate portion, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.
  • Courses: 31 total courses in this program.

This program is ideal for currently licensed RNs who are looking to earn a bachelor's degree and a master's degree at an accelerated pace.

Some careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:

  • Chief Nursing Informatics Officer
  • Informatics Director
  • Nursing Informatics Specialist
  • Informatics Analyst

The trajectory of data and informatics in healthcare will continually open opportunities for registered nurses who take this path.

Nursing – Nursing Informatics (BSN-to-MSN) – M.S.

A nursing degree program that empowers data-driven nurses who already have...

A nursing degree program that empowers data-driven nurses who already have a BSN but seek the success a master's can bring:

  • Time:  72% of grads finish within 18 months.
  • Tuition: $4,367 per 6-month term, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.
  • Courses: 14 total courses in this program.

Some careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:

  • Chief Nursing Informatics Officer
  • Informatics Director
  • Nursing Informatics Specialist
  • Informatics Analyst

The trajectory of data and informatics in healthcare will continually open opportunities for nurses who take this path.

Nursing – Leadership & Management (RN-to-MSN) – M.S.

This program for RNs includes a BSN component and is a substantial leap...

This program for RNs includes a BSN component and is a substantial leap toward becoming a nurse leader.

  • Time: 75% of RN-to-MSN grads finish within 42 months.
  • Tuition: $3,998 per 6-month term during undergraduate portion, $4,367 per 6-month term during graduate portion, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350
  • Courses: 32 total courses in this program.

Some careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:

  • Director of Nursing
  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Quality Director
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Project Manager

If you're driven to lead, this online nursing degree will provide you everything needed to make that career a reality. This program is ideal for current RNs who are interested in earning both their BSn and MSN in an accelerated program.

Compare degrees

This program is not the only degree WGU offers designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees.

Nursing – Leadership & Management (BSN-to-MSN) – M.S.

For registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who are ready for...

For registered nurses with a bachelor's degree who are ready for additional career opportunities.

  • Time: 68% of grads finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition: $4,367 per 6-month term, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350
  • Courses: 15 total courses in this program.

This program is ideal for current RNs who have a BSN and are ready for the next step in their education.

Sample careers and jobs this degree program will prepare you for:

  • Director of Nursing
  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Quality Director
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Project Manager

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of medical and health services managers to grow 17% by 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Compare degrees

This program is not the only degree WGU offers designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees.

M.S. Nursing Education

What Will I Learn in a Nursing Education Program?

WGU’s 15-course nursing education curriculum is designed to make you the kind of nurse educator employers are looking for—and there are track options whether you have an RN or BSN.

As an RN that has completed the five prerequisites or a BSN, your Nursing Education program will be broken into two sections: MSN Core (which are the same no matter what advanced nursing degree you pursue) and Nursing Education Speciality. The specialty section consists of seven courses:

  • Evolving Roles of Nurse Educators in Diverse Environments 
  • Facilitation of Context-Based Student-Centered Learning 
  • Contemporary Curriculum Design and Development in Nursing Education 
  • Assessment and Evaluation Strategies for Measuring Student Learning 
  • Emerging Trends and Challenges in 21st Century Nursing Education 
  • Nursing Education Field Experience 
  • Nursing Education Capstone

Nursing education is an avenue for RNs and BSN-level nurses to pass down their knowledge to rising nurses at colleges and universities. Nurse educators have advanced educations and have an expert understanding of the workload, policies, and requirements necessary for becoming a successful nurse. WGU’s nursing education degree prepares you to be an influence on the future of healthcare.

Who Should Pursue a Nursing Education Degree?

A nursing education MSN candidate is someone who is passionate about the healthcare field and sharing their knowledge with others. They have cared for patients as an RN or BSN nurse and now want to take their career to the next level by imparting their wisdom to a new generation of nurses. The ideal nursing educator is comfortable leading classes of young nurses, acts with professionalism as a representative for nurses around the world, is responsible for teaching young nurses how to properly and effectively treat patients, and employs creativity to adapt to the needs of diverse and ever-changing teams of students.

What Careers Can I Pursue with a Nursing Education Degree?

There are many career options for nursing education MSNs, and salary outlooks are promising . The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports nursing educators at higher education institutions make over $84,000 a year on average. Also, there is a growing shortage of nurse educators, making this a really solid career move. After finishing your MSN, you’ll enjoy a fulfilling career that’s in very high demand. 

These are some of the major titles, industries, and employers you become eligible for with a nursing education degree:

Job Titles

  • Nurse educator
  • Nursing faculty
  • Program director
  • Academic clinical nurse educator

Diverse Industries

  • Hospitals and healthcare clinics
  • Colleges and universities
  • Healthcare networks
  • Law enforcement and corrections
  • Hospice providers

Major Employers

  • Healthcare Corp. of America
  • Kaiser-Permanente
  • Purdue University
  • University of Utah
  • Hospice Care of California

"The greatest impact on my continued learning was the experience at WGU. Having the ability to work at my own pace for one cost was amazing and I had the most amazing student mentor employed at WGU."

Patricia Wentz
M.S. Nursing – Education (BSN to MSN)

M.S. Nursing Leadership and Management

What Will I Learn in a Nursing Leadership and Management Program?

This curriculum begins with eight MSN core classes and continues into six specialty classes designed specifically to prepare you for a career in nursing leadership and management. With personalized pacing and a competency-based approach, you can complete this program while juggling the unpredictable and demanding schedule of a nurse. The six specialty classes include:

  • Leading with Personal Mastery 
  • Business Case Analysis for Healthcare Improvement 
  • Strategically Planning the Execution of a Healthcare Improvement Project 
  • Nursing Leadership and Management Field Experience 
  • Managing Resources in an Era of Disruption 
  • Evidence-Based Measures for Evaluating Healthcare Improvements 
  • Nursing Leadership and Management Capstone 

A leader in nursing knows how to strike a balance between the science of health and the art of care. Not only do they feel that helping others is their calling, but some nurses feel a pull to leadership and management, adding to their calling to help others and change lives. In the RN-to-MSN or BSN-to-MSN nursing leadership and management degree program, nurses will build skills to help others in their organizations succeed, bring out the best in their coworkers, and execute procedures as effectively as possible. WGU’s MSN in Nursing–Leadership and Management enables you to take your career to the next level by creating superior care for patients, empowering other nurses, and changing the future of healthcare.

Who Should Pursue a Nursing Leadership and Management Degree?

This degree program is a great route for those who feel like they can become a leader on their nursing team. If you are hardworking, are passionate about what you do, and have ambitious goals for your career, then you could be an excellent candidate for the nursing leadership and management track. 

What Careers Can I Pursue with a Nursing Leadership and Management Degree?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of medical and health services managers will grow 32% by 2029. With a growing demand for leaders in the nursing field, this is an attractive degree program that can lead nurses to job security and competitive salaries in their careers. Nursing Managers with Leadership skills earn an average annual salary of $89,000, plus overtime. 

These are some of the major titles, industries, and employers you become eligible for with a nursing leadership and management degree:

Job Titles

  • Director of nursing
  • Chief nursing officer
  • Quality director
  • Clinical nurse leader
  • Project manager

Diverse Industries

  • Hospitals
  • Health systems
  • Cancer centers
  • Hospice providers
  • Local, state, or federal government

Major Employers

  • Anthem
  • Ascension Health
  • Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
  • U.S. Army
  • UCLA Health System

M.S. Nursing Informatics

What Will I Learn in a Nursing Informatics Program?

The nursing informatics program begins with the same eight MSN core courses as the other nursing specialties. The six specialty courses under the nursing informatics curriculum teach you how to put data at the center of your decision-making in the healthcare field. The specialty courses include:

  • Foundations in Nursing Informatics 
  • Informatics System Analysis and Design 
  • Data Science and Analytics 
  • Data Modeling and Database Management Systems 
  • Nursing Informatics Field Experience 
  • Nursing Informatics Capstone 

Healthcare science has become extremely sophisticated in modern-day society. Medicine and innovative technologies are making diseases more treatable and lives easier to save, thanks in part to data and data-driven decisions. Nursing informatics is the study of using data to help healthcare workers provide better care to patients and whole communities. WGU’s nursing informatics degree allows you to use data to drive impactful change in the healthcare industry.

Who Should Pursue a Nursing Informatics Degree?

This degree program is ideal for someone who wants to learn about the information technology side of healthcare. Without patient data, our healthcare system would essentially be blind in the process of making decisions to better care for people and communities—this is where a nursing informatics MSN comes in. 

What Careers Can I Pursue with a Nursing Informatics Degree?

As a nursing informatics specialist, you will play an essential role in improving the level of care in your hospital and in the healthcare industry as a whole. You have the unique position to empower your coworkers and management with important information to make decisions and implement better practices. Informatics Nurses make $102,000 a year on average.

These are some of the major titles, industries, and employers you become eligible for with a nursing leadership and management degree:

Job Titles

  • Chief nursing informatics officer
  • Informatics director
  • Nursing informatics specialist
  • Informatics analyst

Diverse Industries

  • Hospitals and healthcare clinics
  • Health systems
  • Healthcare vendors
  • Colleges and universities
  • Insurance companies
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Local, state, or federal government

Major Employers

  • Healthcare Corp. of America
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Anthem
  • Cigna
  • UCLA
  • Atrium Health

What are the Program Similarities?

No matter which WGU MSN track you choose, whether it be education, leadership and management, or informatics, you will be required to complete eight MSN Core courses to create a foundation of essential knowledge for your specialty advanced learning. These courses cover a wide variety of topics designed to increase knowledge in all the most important areas of nursing. The MSN Core courses are:

  • Professional Presence and Influence 
  • Essentials of Advanced Nursing Roles and Interprofessional Practice 
  • Quality Outcomes in a Culture of Value-Based Nursing Care 
  • Advanced Pathopharmacological Foundations 
  • Advanced Health Assessment for Patients and Populations 
  • Informatics for Transforming Nursing Care 
  • Leadership and Management in Complex Healthcare Systems 
  • Advancing Evidence-Based Innovation in Nursing Practice 

What are the Program Differences?

While each nursing program starts with foundational courses covering everything a nursing MSN needs to know, each specialty track has its own concentrated coursework, which is why it’s important as a nursing student to know which area of the field you are most passionate about. Do you feel that your calling is to share your knowledge with young nurses? Do you think you’re best suited to lead a team? Or do you imagine yourself collecting and analyzing patient data to make decisions that impact the whole world of healthcare? No matter what track you choose, by having a career in nursing, you are dedicating your time, expertise, and energy to helping others which is as important and needed now as ever.

Why WGU?

Earning Potential

A masters in nursing degree can dramatically impact your earning potential. After graduation WGU IT students report earning $15,729 more per year.

On Your Schedule

Competency-based education means you can move as quickly through your degree as you can master the material. You don't have to log in to classes at a certain time—you are truly in the driver's seat of your education

Entirely Online

You can do your coursework at night after working at your full-time job, on weekends, while you're traveling the world or on vacation—it's entirely up to you.

There are a wide variety of career opportunities open to students on all 3 of these degree programs. There are also major benefits associated with pursuing a degree program with WGU, including a flexible schedule, coursework and lessons that are fully accessible online, affordable options for every student, and more.  These degrees can help you achieve your goals—it just depends on your experience and what you want your future to be.

COST & TIME

An Affordable Master's Degree

By charging per term rather than per credit—and empowering students to accelerate through material they know well or learn quickly—WGU helps students control the ultimate cost of their degrees. The faster you complete your program, the less you pay for your degree.

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Prepared for Success
on the Job

From a 2021 Harris Poll of 300 employers of WGU graduates.

97% of employers said that WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs.

95% of employers said that they would hire another WGU grad.

98% of employers said WGU graduates met or exceeded expectations.