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What Is an MSN in Nursing Education?

Friday, August 25, 2017 | 12:00 AM

For BSN-prepared nurses interested in teaching in an academic or clinical setting, an online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Education program may be a wise investment. With accelerated online programs you can complete in as few as 12 months, the degree can prepare you for a range of career opportunities with hospitals and universities.

Here is what to expect from an online MSN in Nursing Education degree program — as well as an overview of the career opportunities you may find following graduation.

Why Pursue a MSN in Nursing Education?

An MSN in Nursing Education degree is for BSN-prepared nurses who would like to transition to a role in nursing education. The degree can lead to potential career opportunities as a patient educator as well as an academic or clinical instructor. Some nurse educators are also researchers or nursing staff educators for various healthcare organizations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the majority of nurse educators work for colleges and universities, either as clinical or academic instructors. Frequently, however, nurse educators in these positions oversee both classroom and clinical instruction. Hospitals may hire nurse educators to coordinate patient programs about healthy living, disease management and preventive medicine. These same organizations may also rely on nurse educators ongoing continuing education and professional development for nursing staff.

Other than a love of teaching, nurses may feel drawn to this field by opportunities for substantial job growth and competitive salaries. The BLS projects that job growth for postsecondary educators will increase at a rate of 13 percent — faster than average — through 2024. In addition, a 2015-2016 study by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) found that there were, on average, 3.1 full-time nursing faculty vacancies at AACN member schools with nearly a quarter of the schools indicating the inability to find qualified staff. Additional BLS data indicates that postsecondary nursing instructors earned an average annual wage of $73,150 as of May 2015, with nurse educators in the 90th percentile earning as much as $112,680.

What Should I Expect?

As a graduate-level program, the MSN program curriculum is challenging and comprehensive, ultimately providing the tools to successfully instruct a diverse nursing student and patient population. Programs may be accelerated — frequently concluding in as few as 12 months.

The flexibility offered by an online degree program is particularly enticing for adult learners who need to maintain their current jobs while earning the degree. The online environment allows you to complete coursework from virtually anywhere, without traveling to class and trying to accommodate work and family schedules.

As for the curriculum, most online programs consist of core courses and specialty practice courses. For example, the online MSN in Nursing Education program at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) includes 18 hours of core courses and 19 hours of education specialty courses.

The core courses at UTRGV include the following:

  • Leadership Policy and Population Health.
  • Theoretical Foundations in Nursing.
  • Nursing Informatics.
  • Advanced Pathophysiology.
  • Research in Nursing.
  • Practice Intervention Project.

Specialty practice courses at UTRGV include the following:

  • Curriculum Development in Nursing.
  • Instructional Design and Online Teaching in Nursing.
  • Evaluation in Nursing.
  • Teaching Roles and Strategies.
  • Advanced Pharmacology.
  • Advanced Health Assessment and Lab.

An Educational Investment

Earning an MSN in Nursing Education can provide BSN-prepared nurses with additional career opportunities and greater earning potential. The degree attracts nurses interested in clinical or academic teaching, research, and nursing staff or patient educator roles. Selecting an online degree program can offer flexibility, allowing you pursue professional growth and career advancement while also working and gaining experience in the field.

Learn about University of Texas Rio Grande Valley online MSN in Nursing Education program


American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Special Survey on Vacant Faculty Positions for Academic Year 2015-2016

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015 – Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Postsecondary Teachers

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