Nursing is a complex field with multiple entry points, degree paths, and opportunities for continuing education and advanced certification. For more information about degree programs, visit the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Accelerated BSN: These 12 – 18 month programs are intended for students who have already completed a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing, though programs usually have science and social science requirements. The programs are fast-paced and expect students to finish coursework and clinical rotations in a compressed time-frame.
Direct Entry MSN: These programs are also intended for students who have completed a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing. Students complete the BSN coursework and the initital RN licensure during the first year, and complete the master’s level coursework in years two and three. This Direct Entry MSN targets students who aim to play dual clinical and administrative roles.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN): APRNs provide primary, preventative and specialty care in a variety of clinical settings. Advanced practice nurses have pursued advanced education to develop knowledge and skills beyond those expected for an RN. These include: diagnosing and managing common acute and chronic diseases, ordering diagnostic tests, prescribing medications, and performing minor procedures. APRN roles include: Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, and Certified Nurse-Midwife.
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP): The DNP is intended for students seeking the highest level of preparation in clinical practice. The DNP is a relatively new degree (as of 2015) that moves the level of education for APRNs from master’s to the doctorate level.
Nurse Researchers (PhD): The PhD in Nursing is the pathway for students interested in a career in research. Nurse researchers develop new nursing science, lead the profession, and educate future nurses.
Nurse Educators: Preparation for teaching varies by institution. RNs, MSNs both serve as clinical faculty while PhDs are more likely to engage in the work research and curriculum design in Schools of Nursing.
Public Health Nurses: These nursing professionals engage in work related to population health, health promotion, disease prevention and control, and community education.
Many Schools of Nursing also offer dual degree programs, such as MSN/MBA, MSN/MPH, or PhD programs in combined fields such as Nursing and Engineering.