DNP VS MSN: All-Inclusive Nursing Career Guide


Advanced nursing practices aim to achieve more intense objectives from taking patients’ best care to improving their health. These professionals have to overcome various modern healthcare industry challenges. To do it successfully, they tend to learn more as aspiring nurse practitioners. It qualifies you for the local and national credentialing and, most notably, for the professional world.

Suppose you want to establish a nursing career. In that case, you must know about two significant nursing practice degrees: the nursing practice doctor (DNP) and the master of science in nursing (MSN). DNPs are more focused on practices, while MSN courses focus on clinical specialization and graduate-level nursing subjects.

The statistical study has shown that dedicated nurse practitioners prefer DNP because it emphasizes advanced level learning. It prepares nurses to deal with issues once they step into a professional career. On the other hand, MSN prepares nurses to work in a wide range of clinical environments.

DNP and MSN programs are inherently different from each other. If you want to make nursing a career, you need to understand what potential benefits and opportunities they offer.

Here is a complete nursing career guide that will give you an in-depth explanation of DNP and MSN degree programs.

The Doctor Of Nursing Practice (DNP)

The degree of doctor of nursing practice (DNP) is a practice doctorate that is mandatory for nurses who want to work in the healthcare sector. There are different ways through which students can earn a DNP degree. The programs in this degree are for registered nurses who have received a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN).

In DNP, the curriculum enables students so they can complete prerequisite courses in the doctoral program. If you are wondering how long is a DNP program then visit your selected university’s official website so you can plan your career roadmap. It mainly depends on credit and clinical practice hours that you have to complete during a degree, so it is better to know about it.

DNP degree contains courses that are related to the following core competencies.

  • Advanced nursing practices
  • System and organizational leadership to improve quality and systems thinking in healthcare practices
  • The scientific foundation of healthcare practices
  • Analytical methods and clinical scholarship for courses based on evidence
  • Patient care and information system technology for transformation and betterment of healthcare
  • Healthcare policy to implement advocacy for the improvement of the healthcare industry
  • Population health and clinical prevention to improve the overall nation’s health
  • Interprofessional alliance to improve population and patient health outcomes

All DNP students must complete at least 1000 clinical practice hours to be eligible for the doctorate program. The final stage in the degree is the DNP project that is also known as scholarly work. You will have multiple semesters to complete the task that also includes practicum courses. The project is a test of the student’s ability, whether they can apply concepts learned in DNP effectively or not.

The Master Of Science In Nursing (MSN)

Students can opt for an MSN degree in different ways as it depends on their current education level. MSN degree programs get offered in direct and indirect specializations. If you are interested in nursing policy or organizational leadership, you can go for MSN through indirect care concentration. It includes courses related to health care systems, nursing administration, and public health nursing.

You can consider the following specializations options for MSN.

  • Midwifery focuses on learning about parental care and reproductive healthcare
  • A family nurse practitioner is related to primary care for children and adults
  • Orthopedics specialization is about bones and muscular disorders
  • Clinical nurse specialization prepares students to treat acute and chronic medical conditions and for diagnosis too
  • Gerontology specialization focuses on the medical needs of aging and other issues linked to it
  • The psychiatric practitioner specialization prepares students to treat mental health conditions
  • The nurse anesthetist specialization prepares students to treat anesthesia patients and monitor their condition during surgery

Being an MSN student, you have to complete the clinical practicum hours, ranging from 600 to 1000, depending on your chosen specialization and university.

Deciding On The Profession Over Solid Grounds:

Nurse practitioners have a great career ahead, regardless of which degree they choose. But you need to understand the educational and technical aspects of DNP and MSN degrees to make the right decision. DNP is a doctoral degree, and it is the highest degree you can earn in nursing. At the same time, an MSN degree has its value and focuses more on patient care and management.

DNP nurses can also fulfill these responsibilities, but they are supposed to deal with the broader healthcare system’s challenges. They implement evidence-based care to improve the health of the community and population on a large scale. Now it’s up to you which degree you want to choose to build your career in nursing. Whether you select a DNP or MSN degree, keep long-term goals in mind.

You can only set goals for the future if you are well-informed about the structure of degree programs. Salaries are not much different once you join the professional healthcare setting. But duties and responsibilities vary in specific cases. It means to decide which degree suits you, seeing its course types and areas of specialties is a must thing.


The healthcare profession offers one of the most difficult and challenging jobs. As a nurse, it increases your responsibilities more. Without high-level education, you cannot achieve your professional goals, either a respectable position. The same applies to the nursing field as DNP and MSN are its significant degrees. Regardless of which degree you choose, it is important to analyze where you fit in. You need to acquire hands-on training and learning to excel in your professional nursing career and enhance your skills. Hopefully, the information given above will help you choose the right degree and pursue a nursing career.

Leave A Reply