Nursing MSN & DNP

| 26 October 2022

The data in this blog is for general informational purposes only and information presented was accurate as of the publication date.

The Cost and Benefits of Obtaining an MSN Degree


Whether you’re an aspiring healthcare provider or a seasoned nurse practitioner, you may have considered pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

What is an MSN degree? The advanced degree holds immense promise: It can both deepen your nursing knowledge substantially and increase your earning potential. Nurses with an MSN degree bring in $42,000 more annually, per the National Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS).1

What is a typical MSN degree salary–and what are the benefits of an MSN degree? Let’s break it down.

The Price of Pursuing an MSN Degree

MSN tuition costs can vary widely depending on the program you choose. Tuition is determined in large part by:

  • The length of the program
  • Public vs. private institutions
  • Online vs. in person
  • Full-time vs. part-time programs

An MSN candidate can expect to pay anywhere from $30,000 to over $100,000, depending on these factors.2

The Average MSN Degree Salary

An MSN degree is a relatively rare and prized distinction. In 2020, only about 18% of all nurses had earned their graduate degree, giving them leverage to pursue more specialized positions and higher earning power.3

The average annual salary for an MSN graduate is $114,430.4 For a nurse practitioner (NP), which requires at least an MSN degree, it’s $123,780.5 A nurse’s actual salary is contingent upon their career route, as well as their:

  • Years of experience
  • Specialty
  • Location

Years of Experience

Experience can be a huge factor when it comes to the salary of an MSN graduate. The longer you remain in your profession, the more likely your income will climb.

On average, your experience and salary potential can range accordingly:4

  • Entry-level/Starting – $73,090
  • 1-4 Years of Experience – $92,760
  • 5-9 Years of Experience – $110,160
  • 10-19 Years of Experience – $133,110
  • 20+ Years of Experience – $137,720


Obtaining an MSN degree provides nurses with the chance to work in several different realms. Research, education, administration and management are all viable and attractive career paths for MSN graduates.

Here is what you can expect to earn in just a few of the many nursing specialties:

  • Nursing instructors and researchers – $75,4706
  • Medical and health services managers – $104,2807

MSN Nursing Career Options

After graduating from an MSN program, what are some of the jobs you might pursue? You might investigate becoming a:8

  • Certified nurse educator – As a CNE, you’d become responsible for educating the up and coming generations of nurses to follow your footsteps. If you find your passion for nursing in learning and helping your fellow students study and acquire skills, this might be the trajectory for you.
  • Clinical genetics nurse – As a CGN, you’ll be working to help patients suffering from or at risk of developing genetic conditions. If you find yourself most fascinated sitting next to a microscope and enjoying genetics classes, this role typically working in research facilities and medical centers might deserve a closer look.
  • Clinical nurse leader – As a CNL, you’ll become the ultimate generalist, capable of meeting daily responsibilities that include the following in virtually any healthcare setting:9
  • Care coordination and transition (e.g., across different teams and specialists)
  • Implementation of best practices based on evidence (i.e., decision-making)
  • Outcomes measurement
  • Quality improvement
  • Risk assessments
  • Team communication and leadership
  • Clinical research nurse – As a CRN, you’d play a direct part in the ongoing advancement of medicine and medical practices. CRNs generally help perform clinical trials and studies for government agencies, teaching hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies.
  • Executive nurse leaders – As an ENL, you can reach a double career high of becoming an executive for a healthcare provider and a nursing leader. Responsible for long-term and day-to-day business operations, your decision-making skills, management, and communication skills that all nurses share will be put to a different type of test.
  • Informatics nurse specialists – As a CIN, you’ll help healthcare reach technologies’ cutting edge. CINs will require a strong knowledge of technology and data science to help medical centers, medical device manufacturers, insurance companies, and other health organizations leverage current and future capabilities to benefit patients.
  • Nurse administrator – As a NE-BC, you’ll operate within the middle of the nursing hierarchy, experiencing executive-like challenges on a departmental level while still being adjacent to the patients under your team’s care. If you’re interested in management but want to remain close to the nursing experience you first developed a passion for, NE-BC might be your perfect role.
  • Public health nurse – As a PHN, you’ll be focused on improving the health and lives of your local or broader community. With responsibilities like community education, statistics tracking, and emergency response, you’ll be making an impact for the people around you both on a daily basis and when they need it most.

Regardless of what field of nursing interests you most, earning an MSN will open numerous doors for your career.


Where you decide to put your MSN degree to work is also a major factor.

California has the highest-paid MSN graduates, with an annual salary of $142,720.9 One of the places where a nurse with an MSN degree might earn the least is Tennessee, where the yearly salary is $95,570. While this may be significantly lower than in California, the median salary in the U.S. across all occupations is around $81,000, which sets MSN consistently (and potentially significantly) above the national average.11

Benefits of MSN Degrees

The earning potential for MSN nurses is surely attractive, but the degree also offers non-monetary rewards.

In addition to contributing to the quality and longevity of your patients’ lives, you’ll have the ability to explore various roles. You can select a speciality—such as psychiatry, gerontology or primary care—or pursue a leadership position like nurse executive, nurse educator, or researcher.

MSN vs. DNP: Which is better?

After graduating from an MSN program, should you study for a doctorate? There is no right or wrong answer. However, if your goal is to open your own nursing practice, consider pursuing a DNP degree.

Elevate Your Education With an MSN Degree

An MSN degree can take your nursing career to exceptional new heights—and the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences may be the perfect place for you to pursue it.

We offer both accelerated and MSN programs to suit your needs and lifestyle and will prepare you well for a profession that gives back in more ways than one.


  1. Chaunie Brusie, “Highest Paying Jobs for MSN Nurses,”, last modified August 2, 2021,
  2. Daniel Bal, “How Much Does Nursing School Cost?” NurseJournal, last modified December, 2022.
  3. Myrna B. Schnur MSN, RN, “U.S. Nurses in 2020: Who We Are and Where We Work,” Lippincott NursingCenter, last modified May 2020.
  4. “Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Salary – 2023,”
  5. “Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners,” US Bureau of Labor Statistics, last modified September 2022.
  6. “25-1072 Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary,” US Bureau of Labor Statistics, last modified March 2022.
  7. “Medical and Health Services Managers,” US Bureau of Labor Statistics, last modified OCtober 2022.
  8. Sheila Mickool, “Master’s of Nursing Opens the Door to Many Careers,” All Nursing Schools.
  9. “Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL),” American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
  10. “Master of Science in (MSN) Salary,”, last modified 2022.
  11. “Education Pays, 2021,” US Bureau of Labor Statistics, last modified May 2022.


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