JAANUU » Types of Nursing Degrees: What Are Their Benefits?

Types of Nursing Degrees: What Are Their Benefits?

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A common question among aspiring nurses is related to education. Once you’ve graduated high school or completed a General Education Development (GED) program, you wonder about the next step in your educational journey. But, don’t worry; we’re here for you!

The best way to guide your decisions is by closing your eyes and visualizing yourself working in the ideal capacity. Think about what kind of healthcare setting you’d like to be in, the medical specialties that interest you, and how much responsibility you’d like to have. When you finally decide on the perfect future role, check out the educational requirements. 

We’ll explain the ins and outs of common types of degrees in nursing below, but for now, remember that it’s important to know where you’re going, which will eventually determine how to get there. For example, many nursing roles accept an associate’s degree as a prerequisite, but more advanced or specialized roles will look for a bachelor’s, master’s, or even doctorate. 

Let’s continue taking this first step in your career by exploring the different types of degrees for nursing.

What are the different types of nursing degrees?

In your soon-to-be career, one thing is very true: you’ll have options. The nursing field is home to over 100 specialties with all different types of basic and advanced nursing roles. And, since each job requires a slightly distinct educational background, there are varied schooling paths to becoming a nurse. 


Even if you’re unsure what your dream job is, exploring the question “what types of nursing degrees are there?” makes you a more informed candidate. Let’s look at the roles each degree can get you, along with the compensation. 

Associate’s degree

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is a 2-year program that provides a solid base for many entry-level nursing roles and the National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) licensure test you have to pass before providing patient care. It is the minimum degree required for becoming a registered nurse (RN) and is accepted as an entry requirement for many career paths (including specialized ones) in the field. 

However, certain specialties and advanced nursing roles will not accept an associate’s degree, which means that if you choose to pursue one of these roles later, you may have to go back to school to complete your bachelor’s degree before taking any further steps.  

What are the advantages of this degree program?

Since many nursing roles accept this degree as a base, you’ll have various options going forward. Here are a few of the roles you could potentially hold: 

  • Home care nurse
  • Pediatric nurse
  • Oncology nurse
  • Emergency room nurse

How much can you earn with this degree? 

The average salary for RN roles is around $75,000 per year in the U.S., and since most roles that professionals with associate’s degrees pursue are of an RN, you could expect to earn in this range.  

Bachelor’s degree

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is typically a 4-year program that provides an excellent base for most RN careers. With this degree, you’ll have the right credentials for entering specialization programs later. You can easily begin a graduate-level degree without returning to nursing school first. 


What are the advantages of this degree program?

Getting a bachelor’s degree is the most flexible way of starting your nursing career. You can add specializations and high-level degrees to your educational journey later on and get a running start in your career in various areas of healthcare. Some of the roles you could hold are: 

  • Most RN roles (including specialized ones) 
  • Nurse manager 
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Public health nurse 
  • Researcher

How much can you earn with this degree? 

As we mentioned above, the average annual salary for RNs is roughly $75,000, although as you specialize and gain experience as a nurse, you could earn $80,000 or more. Some higher-paying roles, closer to the 6-figure range, may accept a BSN degree, albeit many will look for a master’s.  

Master’s degree

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally the first step in the graduate arena. But, if you have your sights set on a very specific role or need to bridge your studies, there are other types of nursing master’s degrees to consider. For example, you could get a dual degree, pair your MSN degree with a Master of Business Administration (MBA), or take a nursing program that helps you make the leap from an ADN to an MSN. 

What are the advantages of this degree program?

Those with graduate-level nursing degrees usually earn higher salaries, and with these increased earnings comes more responsibility. Here are some of the roles that master’s degree holders can perform: 

  • Nurse educator 
  • Nursing consultant 
  • Advanced practice registered nurse (APRN)
  • Nurse practitioners (in some states)
  • Nurse anesthetist  

How much can you earn with this degree program? 

Professionals who hold an MSN and work as nurse practitioners (NPs) earn around $110,000 annually, and those with highly specialized roles like nurse anesthetists earn roughly $190,000 per year due to their high clinical experience.  



When you’re ready to get a terminal degree in your field and practice the highest level of nursing, a doctorate is what you’re looking for. In nursing, you’ll have two options: Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). In most cases, nurses who plan to specialize in a certain type of high-level nursing take a DNP program, with a specific focus on the specialty. 

What are the advantages of this degree?

With a doctorate, all roles are open to you. Nurses who hold this degree not only have access to higher salaries and a greater level of responsibility but also become mentors in the workplace. Here are a few roles that nurses with doctorates can hold: 

  • Family nurse practitioner (FNP)
  • Women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP)
  • Pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP)
  • Psychiatric mental health nurses 
  • Chief nursing officer 

How much can you earn with this degree? 

The answer to this question varies widely based on the role you intend to fulfill. If you want to use your skills and experience to teach, you could earn around $90,000, but if you work as an NP, you could make anywhere in the $110,000-130,000 range. And, if you specialize in a high-responsibility field like anesthesia, you could earn around $190,000 annually.

As you start your journey as a nurse, we’re here to support you (literally and figuratively), with everything from compression scrubs to cheering on, so go get it (your degree)!

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