A Primer on Degrees and Educational Terminology
Here’s some terms and definitions often used without explanation:
Primary: Grade school and middle school (K-8)
Secondary: High school
Diploma, Certificates, and Degrees
Certificates, diplomas, and degrees differ in the time it takes to earn each as well as the credits required in order to earn and graduate. Each of these academic achievements are suitable for certain specific fields or career goals.
Diploma and certificate programs taken alone are similar to associate’s degree programs. However, they take less time because general education courses are not required for diploma and certificate programs, which are vocational in nature.
Degree programs differ from certificate and diploma programs in that they require the student to take general education courses to support a more rounded education.
General ed classes include English and Math. For instance, at many universities, those earning their bachelor’s degree are required to take English, Math, Science, Philosophy and History, among other courses
Diploma in Nursing
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN)
Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN) are offered by four year colleges. If you already have your RN, you can enroll in a hybrid BSN program online. Your classes will be online, but you will also be required to complete a certain number of clinical hours in the hospital setting.
A BSN degree is preferred by most nursing leaders and provides the best opportunities in today’s job market.
You’ll find that many job postings require a BSN degree for entry level nursing positions. Employers are beginning to require that RNs have a Bachelor’s degree or have plans to obtain one within a specified time frame. Opportunity for advancement is limited by not having a BSN.
Master of Science Degree in Nursing (MSN)
A Masters degree is an academic college degree.
Masters Degree in Nursing (MSN) are offered by four year colleges.
There are many online MSN programs. You will have a prescribed number of clinical hours in the hospital setting supervised by a preceptor.
An MSN is considered an advanced degree and nurses holding MSNs are also called “advance practice nurses”. Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are nurses with a state-approved master’s degree in nursing, who, at minimum, have successfully fulfilled the state’s requirements in terms of clinical hours and the completion of an advanced practice certification exam.
Nurse Practitioners, Certified Nurse Midwives, CRNAs, Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) are all examples of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). CRNAs are the top paid advanced practice nurses. Read How to Become a CRNA and How to Become a Nurse Practitioner by Dr. Rachel.
An MSN program takes between 18-24 months and requires completion of a terminal project such as a thesis, or capstone.
Job growth is expected to be 31% for APRNs from 2012 to 2022.
Doctorate of Nursing
A doctorate degree is the terminal degree in nursing. There are 2 types of doctorates. Both are scholarly degrees.
PhD: A PhD in nursing prepares nurses to conduct research to advance the practice of nursing.
DNP: A Doctorate in Nursing Practice prepares nurses to practice nursing at the highest level. APRNs can go on to obtain their DNP. It is predicted that at some point in the future, APRNs will be required to hold a doctorate degree.