MSN in Education or DNP

  1. Hey guys. I'm currently taking a BSN program but I'm already trying to figure out the next step. I've always loved teaching and training and did so at my previous job. I want to get my MSN in Education to make that possible, but after e-mailing a few DNP programs that offer MSN-DNP, a lot of them stated they do not accept candidates with an MSN in Education. Now I'm torn. Should I just go ahead and do the MSN in Education and maybe stop there....or should I do the BSN-DNP track instead? I just don't want to feel "stuck" if I go the MSN route and have a hard time finding a DNP program to take me in because its in education. I'd love some input from nurses with either degrees, but everyone is welcome to give me some advice. Thanks!!!
  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   UVA Grad Nursing
    There are several important questions you need to ask yourself relative to your intended audience, setting, and subject matter. There are definite needs for nurse educators, but you will want to be sure you pursue the right program for your long term goal.

    1. Who do you want to teach? Do you want to be a patient educator, work in the education department of a hospital (teaching other nurses), or work for a school of nursing and teach either RNs or prelicensure students? If you want to be a patient educator or a staff educator, a MSN in Education is an excellent option for you. If you want to teach students, then proceed to the next question.

    2. Assuming you want to teach students, then the next question to ask is what kind of students (pre-licensure or post-licensure) and in what setting (community college, BSN program, MSN program, etc). Added to this, what type of school do you want to be on faculty -- a college that focuses on preparing RNs, or a university which is also engaged in research/practice innovation?

    3. The last question to ask yourself is what do you want to teach? If you want to teach something that is specialty based (critical care, pediatrics, community health, informatics) then you really should consider a graduate degree in that specialty area and perhaps minor in nursing education. If you want to teach more general items (health assessment, nursing skills, theraputic communication) to nursing students, then an advanced degree may not be needed. Also, do you want to teach clinicals only or teach didactic?

    My University is a top-15 SON, and we teach nursing at many levels (high school entry all the way through DNP and PhD). We have approximately 100 faculty (tenure-track as well as regular track faculty on yearly contracts). We have only one faculty member (of 100) with a MSN in Education - she coordinates the testing and evaluation programs for the prelicensure students (HESI, Evolve, etc). The faculty with doctorates (DNP and PhD) do the classroom instruction at all levels; those with MSNs in specialty areas and DNPs are the clinical instructors. But keep in mind that there are over 1,000 accredited and non-accredited nursing programs in the US - and different schools have different criteria for faculty. Individual hospitals also have different criteria to become a staff educator.

    There is no requirement that you have to have a graduate degree by a set calendar year or a specific birthday. So before selecting a graduate program, I would recommend that you consider what you want to do 10 and 20 years from now and then select the right program to get you there. You do not want to do a doctoral program in something and then have an "oops" moment.
  4. by   jujubeee
    I guess my reply didn't post...but anyway. Thank you for that! I definitely see myself teaching pre-licensure RNs in either a community college or BSN university, mainly in a clinical setting. I guess I haven't decided if I want to teach a specific specialty or not, so I'll definitely have to think about that. Thank you!!
  5. by   MilesRN
    I believe you should consider a MSN with concentration of nursing education. However, I recommend you explore programs offering the new AACN master's essentials. The new programs include courses in patho, pharmacology, advanced assessment, and an area of focus. Traditional nurse educator programs have not included a clinical component, and the updated curriculum will improve marketability. I disagree that all educators need a clinical specialty such as CNS or NP. Certainly, we need advanced practice educators, but not all faculty need preparation in advanced practice. However, clinically focused masters usually do not include courses in education. If you feel the need for clinical preparation, search for programs offering a combined track in education and a clinical specialty like the CNS. Some newer programs offer the combined track. As a nurse educator (MSN in nursing ed) teaching at the collegiate level for nearly ten years, I have taught content from assessment to mental-health nursing. Consequently, not all colleges or universities require the clinical track. If you are concerned about which path to complete, you might contact deans/directors of nursing programs in your area via email. Request they recommend the education preferred for faculty. Finally, I would recommend you consider an MSN program first before proceeding with a doctorate. The MSN will provide opportunity to enter nursing academia and explore teaching options. Best to you with your decision.
  6. by   serenitylove14
    I was having the same dillema. I choose to just get my FNP then DNP. It seems most jobs posted require you have a specialized license in the area you want to teach, so Im just gonna go that route and save me some headaches.
  7. by   NSCgrl
    This one of my questions too. Im also planning ahead. Iam interested in obtaining nursing education degree but preferrably online. I''ve done sone research. John Hopkins only offers a certificate. I was enticed with Duke's online BSN to DNP program but doesnt offer nursing educator degree. I dont know what the best course of action. Do I need a masters in nurse educator to be able to teach, or will a doctorate in any nursing concentration will do?
  8. by   HarryTheCat
    There are a number of schools that offer an MSN Nursing Education track online. With many of them you have to attend a few "on campus" sessions throughout the program. Depending on where you live you should be able to find a program that is close enough that you don't have to travel a long distance for the few required on-campus sessions.

    An MSN will allow you to teach courses at the undergrad level, but many universities will not hire you to a tenure track without a DNP or PhD (although some will hire you if you are actively working on your doctorate), Some have a very strong preference for a PhD, and consider the DNP to be a less academically rigorous program designed more as a terminal degree for advanced practice. If your goal is to eventually teach subjects such as Theory or Research at the graduate level you may find that the PhD opens more doors for you.

    Good luck!
  9. by   NSCgrl
    Thank you, Harry the Cat. Really helpful, thank you so much. With a Phd though, can I still practice as a nurse if I retained an active license. Say, I wanted to do both teaching and practicing?
  10. by   zmansc
    My local university has a BSN/RN program, and almost all of the professors have MSN in nursing education. Several have or are going on to get their DNP in nursing education. In my MSN/DNP program all of the professors have some sort of terminal degree in nursing. So, I would agree that the population you are wanting to teach does play a role.

    If I was to go back 10 years and you asked me if I would be here in 10 years, I would have thought you were crazy! So, to suggest that you need to have a 10-20 yr plan is a bit extreme in my opinion. One of the nice things about nursing education is there are so many programs which will take you from just about any nursing degree to just about any other nursing degree. Get the degree that gets you doing what you want to do now, and then figure out the next step later. If education is what you want, go for it and don't worry too much about finding a program that will take you from that degree to a DNP/FNP/PQRST degree. You can find that one later. Now, if you do have a set goal of doing something later in life, and you are sure of it, then factor that in, but I see far too much speculation that never comes to fruition because life goals change over time.
    Just my $0.02.....
  11. by   NSCgrl
    Thank you!! :-) :-)