Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system, and nursing is one of the most impactful careers an individual can pursue. They provide patient care, educate patients and their families, and work to improve health outcomes. There is also plenty of room for advancement as the demand for nurses is growing faster than the supply of qualified professionals.

Many states have begun changing their minimum education requirements for nursing professionals to increase the number of qualified nurses in their workforce. Some states require bachelor’s degrees, while others require associate degrees or even an associate degree with a nursing certificate program.

At the same time, nurses are in a very competitive field. With more and more people wanting to enter the area, it is becoming increasingly difficult to land the most attractive jobs. To improve their chances of getting hired, nurses may consider pursuing further education. This can come in the form of a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree or even a Ph.D. or DNP in nursing.

Here is a look at when it is appropriate for nurses to pursue further education and how it can help alleviate some of the shortages in this field.

Opportunities for further education

The most popular graduate degrees that nurses can pursue include:

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN)
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Master’s Degree in Nursing (MN)
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

While the two master’s degrees are pretty similar, the doctoral-level degrees are intended for different career paths, and there are criticaldifferences between DNP and Ph.D. degrees. The DNP is a terminal degree for registered nurses who have completed a graduate program in nursing. DNP programs like the online DNP offered by Walsh University are designed to prepare nurses for advanced practice and leadership roles in nursing.

On the other hand, a doctorate is an academic degree awarded by universities to students who have successfully completed a course of study and research at the postgraduate level. A Ph.D.qualifies an individual to hold an academic position as a professor or researcher.

Bachelor’s degree

A bachelor’s degree in nursing is a four-year program that prepares you for a career as a registered nurse. You will learn about the medical field, anatomy and physiology.

There are many benefits to earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing. For example, nurses with bachelor’s degrees typically have higher salaries and better employment opportunities than nurses with only an associate degree or diploma.

Master’s degree

The decision to pursue a master’s degree in nursing is not an easy one. You must consider your current and future experience, the cost of the degree, and the potential benefits you will receive.

However, a master’s degree in nursing will provide you with a more competitive edge in the job market. It will also enable you to take on more challenging positions, such as nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetist, if you decide to specialize.

You should consider pursuing a master’s degree in nursing if:

You have experience as a registered nurse
You are looking for better pay
You want to advance your career


The first thing to consider when deciding whether to apply for a Ph.D. in nursing is your nursing experience. The most common route for obtaining a Ph.D. in nursing is to work as a nurse and then return to school for an additional degree. Still, getting a Ph.D. with prior experience in the field is possible if you can find an advisor who will support you through your studies and career goals.

People often ask when they should consider a Ph.D. in nursing. The answer to this question depends on the individual’s goals and experience. Most people prefer to have a Ph.D. if they want to work as an academic or researcher.

PhDs are not just for academics, however. Many other career paths can be taken with a Ph.D. in nursing, such as becoming a nurse practitioner or working as an administrator at a hospital or clinic.

Nurses with a Ph.D. in nursing are often seen as experts and leaders in their field, and they are more likely to be promoted to leadership positions than nurses without a doctoral degree or those with an MSN, for example.

You should consider pursuing a Ph.D. in nursing if:

You want to work in graduate education
Do you want to become a researcher or a professor
You are interested in pursuing advanced studies in international health, global health or public policy


The Doctor of Nursing Practice is the highest degree for nurses and is usually only pursued by those who want to become leaders in the field of nursing or teach at universities.

A DNP in nursing can make a huge difference in your career. You will have more advancement opportunities, a higher salary and better job prospects.

Individuals with a DNP in nursing are qualified to take on the clinical nurse leader, nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist role. They are also eligible to teach nursing as adjunct faculty.

Nurses with this degree have the experience, knowledge and skills to make decisions about patient care that will affect their course of treatment. They can provide input on changes that need to be made in the health system and serve as experts for public policy decisions.

The decision to pursue a DNP should not be taken lightly. It is best to consider the pros and cons before deciding.

You should consider pursuing a DNP in nursing if:

You have substantial experience as a registered nurse
You have nursing management or administration experience
You have strong communication skills
You want to leap in your career, and compensation

With the demand for nursing leaders continuing to grow, it is the perfect time for nurses to expand their careers by pursuing an advanced degree.