10 Pros And Cons Of MSN Degree

Written By: Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN

Many people feel that the next move after earning your BSN is to earn your MSN. Before doing that, you should be informed about what are the pros and cons of an MSN degree? By doing this, you can really start to make a plan for your life. Below you will find the top 10 pros and cons of an MSN degree. The list below will help you weigh your options when figuring out what is best for you.


(The following are the top 10 cons of earning your MSN degree.)

1. Necessity

At this point, the minimum degree needed to be a registered nurse is an associate degree. There is; however, a trend emerging for a push to make the minimum degree of entry into the nursing profession a bachelor's. That being said, if you plan on staying at the bedside and do not require an MSN in order to work, is it really necessary?

2. Debt

One of the top cons of an MSN degree is the amount of potential debt it could put you in. Earning your MSN will come with a pretty expensive price tag. If you do not already have an expendable income set aside for the endeavor, you may find yourself in debt. In order to pay for school, you may need to take out a loan with interest which will further propel you into debt.

3. Competitive

MSN programs are highly completive when it comes to their admission standards. Not everyone will be accepted into their chosen MSN program. Most MSN programs require that their students have a minimum GPA of 3.0 even to be considered for admissions. The 3.0 GPA is the benchmark because it has been shown to be an indicator of a student's long-term potential and performance as a student in the program. So, if you do not have a 3.0 GPA you may find yourself spending more time and money retaking your prerequisite courses to beef up your GPA.

4. Bye Bye Free time

Trying to balance your work life and social life can be difficult at baseline. Then you decide that you want to throw on earning a master’s degree on top of that? Well, whatever spare time you might have had before diving into graduate school will surely be gone. MSN programs are rigorous and demand a lot of your attention. You will have coursework that will all need to be completed in order to earn this degree.

5. Lengthy program

If you plan to start your advanced practice degree after your BSN, you could expect the program's length to be anywhere from 15 to 48 months. This will depend on the type of MSN degree you choose to pursue and if you choose to pursue this degree on a full-time or part-time basis.

6. Stress

Any time you have to take on more responsibility, you are going to have added stress. Even after all of your training and coursework ends, you may find that you have more stress in your work life with this new role.

7. More legal responsibility

If you decided that you want to become a Nurse practitioner, then you will definitely have more legal responsibility on your shoulders. This added legal responsibility not only applies to NPs. It also applies to other MSN specialties; for example, if you pursue your MSN in education, you will have an added legal responsibility in the clinical setting for how and what your students practice. Most of the MSN degrees will end up taking on more legal responsibility.

8. Your coursework will be challenging

When earning your MSN, you have to remember that they call this type of degree an advanced degree for a reason. The MSN degree will build upon the knowledge base you learned when earning your BSN, therefore being more complex. Keep in mind that if you found yourself struggling while earning your BSN, you will most likely struggle earning your MSN, which makes this one of the top cons of the MSN degree.

9. Will you be able to work?

Some MSN programs require so much of your attention that continuing to work is really not an option. If you do not have the luxury of putting work on hold while you earn your degree, you will have some tough decisions to make. Some of these decisions will be possibly taking out a loan which will increase your debt, or decreasing your hours at work which may not be an option.

10. The grass may not be greener

Every job you have will always have its ups and downs, but if you are pursuing your MSN thinking that you will find greener pastures, you may be in for a rude awakening. First of all, you may not get your dream job right away. You may need to get some experience under your belt first and second, every job will have its downside. Earning your MSN will not give you total access to the fantasy dream job.


(The following are the top 10 pros of earning your MSN degree.)

1. Earn higher pay

One of the top pros of earning your MSN degree is the higher pay rate that will go along with it. Earning an advanced degree will allow you to earn a greater salary. This salary increase will further increase over the years of experience that you have under your belt.

2. Job Opportunities

Earning your MSN degree will open up many more job opportunities for you. According to the Bureau of labor statistics, the job growth for certain types of MSN degrees is expected to grow tremendously. Other MSN specialties will also have job opportunities for those joining the workforce, such as those who wish to teach. Right now, we have an aging workforce in academia, and those jobs will need to be filled.

3. You are able to assume a leadership role

Having an MSN degree will enable you to become a candidate for administrative or managerial positions in nursing. This is a great opportunity and another one of the top pros of the MSN degree for those of you who have always dreamed of running a nursing unit.

4. Sense of pride

Think about it, you have just earned an advanced degree. Not everyone has accomplished this feat. It is a challenging degree to complete and you have done it! This is something you should feel great about.

5. Gain time management skills

When earning your degree, you will have to learn to juggle many things that are going on in your life. You will have to learn to manage your schoolwork, family life, personal life, and job. Orchestrating all these aspects of your life will teach you time management skills that will be so valuable in the future.

6. Independence

Earning an MSN degree will provide you with independence in many areas of your life. First and foremost, it will provide you with independence in your work life. Depending on the career path you take in earning your MSN, you may find that you can have more control over the hours you work. Earning an MSN degree will also provide you with more financial independence due to the higher salary you could be earning.

7. You will be able to specialize

Another one of the top pros of an MSN degree is that it will enable you to specialize in a particular area of nursing, allowing you to pursue advanced opportunities in a specific area. Besides specializing in education or becoming a nurse practitioner, you could also specialize in areas such as public health and informatics, to name a few.

8. You are one step closer to earning your terminal degree

If you ever wanted to pursue your doctorate degree, then you are one step closer to earning it if you already hold an MSN. Although there are programs out there that promote a BSN to DNP option, you still need to complete the MSN coursework.

9. You can leave the bedside

Some nurses may find that after years of being at the bedside, that it may be time to leave. One of the top pros of an MSN degree is that it will enable you to leave the bedside. Those who have earned their MSN degree tend to take a different career path away from the bedside. They have earned the knowledge and experience to take on more advanced roles.

10. Improved working hours

Those who have earned an MSN degree tend to have better working hours. Nurses who hold an advanced degree tend to no longer work 12-hour shifts and no longer have to work nights. An MSN degree can grant you better work hours, such as no weekends or holidays, as well as a 9-5 schedule. Depending on which career path you choose, you may even have the opportunity of working fully or partially from home.

Summing It Up

Like anything in life, there will always be pros and cons; earning your MSN degree is no exception. So, what are the pros and cons of an MSN degree? Well, I think that I gave you a lot to consider when contemplating earning this advanced degree. So now the time has come for you to weigh your options. These top 10 pros and cons of an MSN degree should help you decipher what will be the right path for you.

Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Jennifer Schlette is a registered nurse in pediatric critical care in New York City. She is the former Director of Undergraduate Nursing at a college located in New York. After obtaining her BSN from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, she went on to complete her MSN.