What Can You Do With a Master’s in Nursing? 9 Roles To Explore

online master's in nursing
online master's in nursing

The demand for nurses with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is substantial in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job growth for nurse practitioners is approximately 46% from 2021 through 2031.

If you are a nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and are wondering what you can do with a master’s in nursing, this blog is for you. We will explore a range of jobs for those with this graduate education and discuss the key skills you will learn in an MSN program. With additional education, there is also increased earning potential

There are different types of MSN degrees, and many kinds of nursing positions are available for MSN-prepared nurses. Clinical positions are prevalent, but there are also administrative and academic roles for experienced clinicians. Nurses work in both remote and in-person environments on a variety of schedules. Part-time, full-time, and PRN (i.e., pro re nata, or “as needed”) commitments are available.

The versatility of an MSN degree is just one of the many benefits, and you can conveniently earn a master’s in nursing online while you continue to work. In this article, we will explore the top jobs you can get with a master’s in nursing.

Top 9 Jobs for MSN-Prepared Nurses

Some of the most common jobs for nurses with graduate education are advanced practice roles such as nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, and clinical nurse specialists. 

1. Certified Nurse Practitioner

The role of a nurse practitioner includes diagnosis and management of common and complex health conditions. A nurse practitioner may see patients in acute care or primary care settings and may specialize in a specific patient population or practice area. Types of nurse practitioner certifications include:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP)
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PPCNP)
  • Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (PACNP)
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)
  • Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP)

There are a wide variety of certifications available to nurses with an MSN degree. Certification options are largely available through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board and the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

2. Certified Nurse Midwife

Another APRN role is the Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), who specializes in women’s health care. The scope of a nurse midwife includes reproductive health and childbirth. Patient care responsibilities for a nurse midwife include:

  • Routine and problem-specific reproductive health visits
  • Annual women’s wellness screenings
  • Patient education and family planning
  • Nutritional advice for pregnancy and lactation
  • Labor and delivery services

Nurse midwives may offer services in hospital settings, outpatient clinics, and patient homes.

3. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is responsible for patient safety and sedation throughout surgeries and other medical procedures. These clinicians administer anesthetics and analgesics to reduce pain safely. The role of a nurse anesthetist includes preoperative teaching, patient preparation for surgery, monitoring of the patient throughout the procedure, and managing postoperative recovery.

The level of autonomy for a nurse anesthetist varies by state. This role is one of the higher-paying jobs for registered nurses. A doctoral degree is required to become a nurse anesthetist, and the MSN is a step in this direction. 

Learn more about RU's Online MSN-FNP Program

4. Clinical Nurse Specialist

The role of a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is similar to a nurse practitioner in that a CNS can specialize in a particular patient population or practice area. However, clinical nurse specialists focus largely on patient education and improving patient outcomes through the implementation of evidence-based practice programs.

The leadership aspects of the clinical nurse specialist role allow these clinicians to improve patient safety and make meaningful changes in the delivery of health care. They work across disciplines to promote collaborative care and advocate for vulnerable populations with complex health conditions.

5. Public Health Nurse 

The field of public health nursing focuses on the collective health and wellness of communities and populations. Disparities in health care that are linked to patient demographics and other risk factors are largely addressed through public health awareness and initiatives. A master’s degree in nursing is beneficial for a position in public health nursing. The expansion of knowledge and skills that a graduate degree brings to the field of public health is advantageous for excelling in this role. For example, a nurse practitioner who specializes in geriatric nursing may find this skill set applicable to a role in public health nursing.

Public health nurses may work in clinics, but they also work in governmental roles alongside epidemiologists and other scientists. There are also several non-clinical roles available to nurses with an MSN degree. Many of these roles have a greater focus on legal matters, nursing administration, nursing education, or nursing informatics.

6. Forensic Nurse Consultant

Both civil and criminal cases may require an individual with a clinical background to investigate health-related situations and help inform related legal decisions. Forensic nurse consultants often work on cases related to:

  • Domestic violence
  • Psychiatric and mental health 
  • Child abuse
  • Mechanism of injury
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Human trafficking

The forensic nurse consultant is a specialized role where patient advocacy, professional integrity, and a passion for ethics and justice are essential. 

7. Informatics Nurse

As technology in nursing continues to evolve, the need for advanced informatics specialists in health care continues to grow. Nurse informaticists are skilled in information processing, computer programming, and workflow design. Additional responsibilities of an informatics nurse include training clinicians on the use of new technologies for documentation and streamlining point-of-care decisions. 

8. Nurse Educator

The role of a nurse educator is prevalent in both academic and clinical settings. However, nurse educators are not always found working directly with patients. They may provide continuing education in-services for staff development on a hospital unit or focused training to improve interprofessional collaboration and specialty skills. Nurse educators may also be found teaching in graduate nursing programs and overseeing the clinical education of nursing students.

9. Director of Nursing

A nursing director works in clinical settings that provide inpatient or residential care, but this role is focused on managing health care staff through leadership and administration responsibilities. Directors of nursing are responsible for managing the operations of a facility and compliance with regulatory and accreditation standards for health care delivery. They are also responsible for leading team members in the pursuit of high-quality and safe patient care. A master’s in nursing will strengthen empowering leadership skills to reduce nurse burnout and bring together an effective care team.

Benefits of Earning an MSN Degree

The versatility of the MSN degree is one of the many benefits available to those who pursue this graduate education. An MSN degree can be the educational preparation that gives nurses an advantage in the job market and opens opportunities for career advancement.

Advanced practice nursing degree paths provide unique avenues for greater flexibility and freedom. Many states allow nurse practitioners to experience full practice autonomy, which allows clinicians to open their own practices. With an MSN degree, you may be positioned to effectively influence health care organizations through leadership roles. In an MSN program, you will learn key skills that will help you deliver quality health care and improve patient outcomes. 

Key Skills You Will Learn in an MSN Program

One of the essential nurse practitioner skills you will learn in an MSN program is the ability to evaluate research evidence for application in clinical practice. Evidence translation is one way that best practices are implemented in the real world. You will also learn practical ways to maintain clinical competence through continued education in advanced nursing roles that require lifelong learning.

Most MSN programs will also teach foundational information technology concepts and perspectives on organizational systems and policy. Each curriculum has specific features that ensure graduates are adequately prepared for future roles. If you are interested in earning your master’s in nursing online, Rockhurst University offers several quality MSN programs.

Learn More About Rockhurst’s Online MSN Programs

Rockhurst University is recognized for quality education and commitment to student success. The Online MSN-FNP program prepares nurses to care for patients and families of all ages in primary care practice. With 100% online coursework and clinical placement services provided, you can focus on your studies and develop your skills while completing the program in as little as two years.

If you prefer to work in an acute care environment in adult-gerontology, Rockhurst offers an affordable Online MSN-AGACNP program where you can complete courses on a part-time or full-time schedule. At Rockhurst, you also have the option of earning both the Family Nurse Practitioner and the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner specialty certifications in one program by completing the Online MSN Dual Track program. If you're looking to fill the need for mental health care, Rockhurst also offers an Online MSN-PMHNP program.

If your passion is to become a dynamic and transformational leader in nursing, the Online MSN in Leadership program will teach you the skills for evidence-based quality improvement. You will learn best practices for management and financial decision-making to promote safety and excellent patient care within systems and organizations.

Learn more about Rockhurst University's online MSN programs today.

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About Rockhurst University's Online Programs

In the heart of Kansas City since 1910, Rockhurst University is dedicated to learning, leadership and service in the Jesuit tradition, and today is the #1 Regional University in Kansas City (2021 U.S. News and World Report).

Rockhurst University’s online programs are delivered by the highly reputable Saint Luke’s ™ College of Nursing and Health Sciences and the School of Education. As an educational leader serving exceptional students in the field of health care and education, we are committed to preparing the workforce of tomorrow with our unique programs designed to prepare graduates to meet the needs of diverse populations and work in various organizations.

To learn more about our highly competitive online programs, please visit onlinedegrees.rockhurst.edu, or read more here: