To List a Master's or Not To List? That Is The Question

  1. 0
    Hi,

    I have a BA & MA in Liberal Arts (not remotely science related), just earned an AAS Nursing Dec 2011, hoping to take NCLEX in Feb/March 2012. Obviously, this is a second (third?) career.

    Question: Do I list the MA on my resume or job applications?

    Pro: It shows I am educated and not afraid of the work it takes to earn these degrees. I'm planning on earning at least an MSN once I get going as an RN. The MA has given me a broad base of knowledge that has really enhanced my ability to relate to a wide range of patients - but that's a bit wordy to go in a CV!

    Cons: The MA might make it seem irrelevant to a nursing job, or perhaps a recruiter/hiring nurse will interpret that as a sign of someone being indecisive or erratic. Also, many online job sites ask you to indicate the highest level of education you've achieved. But when I enter "Master's", I start getting hits for MSN/NP/MUCH higher level jobs than I'm qualified for/interested in, and I definitely do not want to mislead an employer.

    Any advice?

    Thanks in advance!
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  3. 16 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    List it. Not listing it would seem misleading should it ever be discovered.
  5. 0
    Thanks, LLG! Again, I'm certainly not ashamed of it, it's just that I feel it may be holding me back from "lower" level jobs - jobs I actually would like.
  6. 0
    One thing to be aware of about listing it is that some people, especially those in HR who may not know what nursing degrees are, may think that the masters is in nursing.

    Before anyone says that's impossible, I encountered a similar problem when I listed my non-nursing BA: one interviewer--who was a nurse--had seen it and thought I had my BSN...in fact, that was the reason I got called for the interview. Never mind that the subject I had gotten the BA in was listed on the resume along with the fact that my nursing degree was a ADN. Go fig :/

    I don't see the harm of listing it on the resume since it is higher education; I also don't see the harm of leaving it off the resume since it's not in nursing. As far as job applications go...why not ask the HR department if they would want you to list it?
  7. 0
    Hi, I also was debating this since I have a MS and BS in different fields other than nursing. I ended up leaving my full educational history on my resume but have yet to hear back from any of the potential employers I've applied to. I sent an email to the career services office from my former university and they stated to list my education as is. Guess only time will tell if any of the HR departments that review my information find it to be a good thing or a bad. If you wouldn't mind could you keep me posted on here and I can do the same on any results you find from listing your Masters? It could be very helpful for us in the future and also be helpful to others in similar situations.
  8. 0
    Absolutely! I plan to take NCLEX in late Feb/early March, so it'll be a while before I get that coveted RN position! But during my AAS program I tried & tried & tried to get assistant level jobs and got no where at all. Obviously it is a difficult market, but I fell between being overqualified and underqualified, and for a while, I started leaving the MA off applications. In hindsight, I wouldve gotten a quickie CNA, gone to work, then joined a BSN program. Oh well - hindsight is 20/20.

    Keep me posted on your situation, too!
  9. 0
    I would list it. I have a BA, and I most definitely have it on my resume- it's just after my nursing degree. Also, I have an MSN from a Master's Entry Program. I still appropriately applied to new grad programs when I first graduated and those are the jobs I was offered. I was no more "overqualified" with my MSN than you are with an MA. Even my BA has helped me- it's in Spanish, and it has been noticed by more than one employer as a definitely plus.
  10. 0
    I would also say to list it. It is part of what you have accomplished, even if it is non nursing. Though I would state what it is in so if anyone ever does get confused it isn't because you were trying to mislead them! I also have a MS in a non nursing field and went to a resume review at a nursing student conference and at no point did she say that I shouldn't list it. You are doing a career change so in my opinion it should be obvious that you are looking for an entry level position in nursing and not something higher.
  11. 0
    I have an MBA and a BSN. This is a question I too have wrestled with when I have applied for nursing positions that are non-management. I believe that it says something about you and should be listed, but not first on the resume. It says that you are well educated, and perhaps ambitious. Like it or not an education changes you. It changes your language, your self esteem, your behavior. You look in the mirror and see yourself as a well educated person and that will come across to others. They may as well know going in who you are.

    Some employers are intimidated by it and others are impressed, but either way you are what you are. They may see you as someone who could be skilled at creative projects, or things that involve writing. It may open doors in some ways and close doors in other ways. Still, if it comes out later that you did not put that on your resume it looks like you are hiding it for some reason and that looks worse.

    I will add that for some reason everyone assumes that because I have a graduate degree I want to teach. They are always telling me about teaching opportunities or even offering me opportunities to teach things. If I wanted to be a teacher I would have become one or at least went on for an MSN. I taught in the past and that is not my goal anymore. I have a hard time explaining that to people sometimes. Nurses seem to assume that a graduate degree means you want to teach, but that is not what an MBA is about. You may have similar experiences with your degree.
  12. 0
    I would absolutely list it. It doesn't matter that your masters is not science related, most of nursing is not science related. The pro's you list are exactly what makes you stand out as a candidate, and I do not think that "broad base of knowledge that has enhanced my ability to relate to a wide range of patients" is too wordy to go into a CV.

    The MA is in no way irrelevant to a nursing job, it actually shows that you are capable of the higher lever thinking and reasoning necessary to be an excellent RN. It also shows you have excellent written and oral communication skills (read-you know English better than a fifth grader- this is VERY important).

    As far as being indecisive or erratic, why did you choose nursing? Focus on the reasons for your choice (personal growth/fulfillment etc). It is not at all unusual for people to have five career paths in their lifetime, the days of doing the same thing for 30 years are over and hiring managers know that. You would not be misleading an employer by listing all of your strengths and qualifications.

    You might only want to be prepared for questions such as "what made you choose nursing?" or "why did you not attend and entry-level masters program?" The latter is what I am curious about, as you could have easily graduated with your MSN instead of attending an associates program. I am sure you have valid reasons, just make sure you make them clear in such a way that it accentuates your unique qualifications.

    Good luck and do not rule out advancing quickly. I am sure that you will soon find out that acute care bedside nursing is not really that difficult, after a year or two at the bedside you will be ready to move forward. I would suggest going directly into a MSN program, skip the BSN as it is simply a rehash of everything you have already done. You would probably make an excellent manager or director. You would also probably excel at nursing education, or anything else for that matter. From my personal experience most nurses in administration are grossly under-qualified for their positions, and some are not very bright. You will be an asset to any organization you choose to work for.


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