MS in Nursing vs MSN does this matter?

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    Hi everyone. I am researching grad schools and need to take courses online. I am finding that there is a difference in degrees offered :MS in nursing and MSN, but the colleges do not say what the difference means. My question to this forum is, does it really make a difference as long as the courses are in nursing? I am seeking a MSN in education and do not what something trivial to come between me and a faculty position in the future. Is this a non-issue in the eyes of universites that hire nurse educators? BTW I plan on continuing to my Doctorate in Edu. eventually. Also, I have a strong clinical background and was considering the CNS role, but most CNS's in my area are only used as educators-your thoughts?
    Thank you for any advice you folks can offer.

    Respectfully,

    CriticalHP
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  4. 16 Comments so far...

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    a msn is an ms in nursing. i don't know what the difference could be!

    i'm a cns and i do education as well as see patients in a clinic--what you do with the title depends on who hires you and what your state practice act says you can do.
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    Thanks for your quick reply. The University to which I'm applying made it a point to note their degree is not an MSN but rather a MS in Nursing program degree. This made me stop and think.
    Thanks again.

    CriticalHP
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    I think you should ask the University how their degree differs from a usual MSN. Make sure whatever university you choose is accredited though.
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    In most cases, the difference between an MS with a major in Nursing and an MSN are negligible. In many cases, there is no difference at all -- and the different titles of the degrees signify only a difference in the way the university titles its degrees.

    Historically (and in some cases today) ... the IS/WAS a difference of academic significance. The difference lies in the governance of the academic programs within the university system. The MS with a major in Nursing is the degreed conferred by the entire academic community as a whole: the nursing program is governed by the standards, committees, etc. that oversee all of the academic departments on campus. The MSN is the degree conferred by a separate college (or professional) school within a university system -- in which the nursing program governance is within that particular school/college and decisions are more decentralized.

    When you are dealing with reputable schools, the standards will be equally rigorous regardless of how the governance of the school is organized. Which is why the distinction between the two means so little today. However, many years ago, when many of today's institutions were founded... there sometimes was a significant difference in the standards. MS programs were more geared to the academic side of nursing and MSN programs were more focused on practice and less on academics and sometimes that was reflected in lower academic standards. Even today, you will sometimes see a school that offers both degrees -- with the MS requiring a thesis and/or the mastery of a foreign language in preparation for a research/teaching career while the MSN focuses more on clinical practice projects and make a thesis optional.

    All that being said ... in many places, the differences between the actual degree requirements have been blurred and even erased. Most schools offer one degree or the other and if you look at their actual requirements, you can see no differences between the two. Only a few schools offer both degrees on two different tracts. Doctoral programs know this and don't hold it against you if your degree says MSN vs MS. However, if you don't do a thesis as part of your Master's program, you may have to do something similar to demonstrate your research competence to a doctoral program before they'll admit you. That's what happened to me. I got my MSN and then needed to submit a publishable article (in lieu of a thesis) as part of my PhD program application.
    criticalHP likes this.
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    Thank you very much! I now know which direction to take.
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    I am also wondering about the difference between MS and MSN. I am accepted into the University of Southern Indiana's MSN in nursing education this fall. I'm currently adjunct at a local RN school, and when I asked the Dean (who also happens to be on the Ohio Board of Nursing and has a DNP), she stated most nursing schools want full time faculty members to have an MSN for their accreditation requirements.

    Walden University kept calling me (they offer the MS) and when I asked the "sales person" on the phone about this and and mentioned the statement above by the Dean, she became very defensive and almost rude and said there wasn't any significant difference between the MSN and MS as far as teaching goes. She also said I could give the Dean her phone number so she could educate her on this subject which I thought was pretty comical.

    I would like to research the subject further. Any information would be helpful!
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    I know in IL, you must have at least an MSN, not MS in order to teach nursing. Have a friend who has an MS and can not teach.
  12. 0
    Quote from traumaRUs
    I know in IL, you must have at least an MSN, not MS in order to teach nursing. Have a friend who has an MS and can not teach.
    What is your friend's MS in? Did she get an MS with a major in Nursing from a reputable school? Usually, it is the MS in Nursing that is considered the "higher" academic degree for teaching and research positions. What was wrong with (or missing from) her MS program? I'm curious.
  13. 0
    Quote from llg
    What is your friend's MS in? Did she get an MS with a major in Nursing from a reputable school? Usually, it is the MS in Nursing that is considered the "higher" academic degree for teaching and research positions. What was wrong with (or missing from) her MS program? I'm curious.
    I can't help but wonder if her MS is in a discipline other than nursing, such as education or public health.

    IL requires an earned Master's Degree in a nursing discipline to teach at any level in an RN program (ADN, BS or Diploma, clinical or theory). It seems a shame that related disciplines like public health are not considered, but that's the law. Shortsighted, in my opinion.


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