What’s the Difference Between a BSN and MSN Degree?

Are you interested in a nursing career? Nursing is one of the most fulfilling careers available. As a nurse you have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives daily. There are many different paths you can take to become a nurse or to advance your nursing career – Earning a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) or a Master’s in Nursing (MSN) are two different avenues you can take. That said, the main difference between a BSN and MSN degree is that a BSN is offered at the undergraduate level and an MSN is a graduate degree. Let’s explore these degree options a little closer:

Career Outcomes:

The need for registered nurses continues to rise across the United States. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a 15 percent growth rate in employment for nurses by 2026. This is well above the predicted average growth rate of only 7 percent for all other occupations, which means a career in the growing nursing field is a great choice.

A core difference between a BSN and MSN is the potential career outcomes. BSN graduates typically work as registered nurses in a variety of healthcare facilities including hospitals, physician’s offices, nursing care facilities, outpatient clinics. While you can work as a registered nurse as an MSN graduate, you can also work in a more focused, higher-level positions such as a clinical nurse leader, nursing administrator, and nurse educator. You can read about the various MSN career options here. As a comparison point, the BLS predicts that employment of nurse administrators and other health care managers will grow 20 percent in the coming years.


The curriculum of BSN programs covers many important foundational nursing subjects. BSN students must complete general education courses including classes about basic mathematics, communications, and public health, plus all the nursing specific courses. Some of the nursing courses touch on subjects such as the foundations of professional nursing, health assessment, nursing research, and healthcare policy. A BSN program is designed to prepare students to become registered nurses with skills that can be applied across all health care environments.

The difference between a BSN and MSN curriculum is that the graduate nursing courses are designed to take BSN graduates to a higher level within their careers. Therefore, MSN courses explore more advanced, focused topics. Goodwin College’s MSN program, for example, is designed and equipped to help nursing professionals make an impact within the current healthcare system. The curriculum focuses on expanding knowledge in the core subjects of: Pathophysiology, Pharmacology, Theory, Policy, Physical Assessment, and more. Furthermore, MSN students expand their skillsets in areas related to population heath including research, healthcare policies and politics, leadership, and effective communication.

Program Structure:

Although every nursing degree program is structured slightly different, the truth is, there might not be a huge difference between a BSN and MSN degree in terms of program format and flexibility. For example, the BSN and MSN programs offered at Goodwin College are both conveniently designed for the working adult. Both programs can be completed part-time and classes can be taken online. This flexible structure allows for you to conveniently pursue whichever degree you choose during the times that best fit your schedule.

Regardless of the difference between a BSN and MSN degree, both paths will help you achieve a successful career within the nursing field. The question is, which path is most fitting for you? Which one will help you attain your career goals and position you for the greatest satisfaction?

There will always be a need for trained nurses at all levels, which makes a nursing career a great choice not only now, but in the future as well. If you would like to learn more about these different nursing degree options, contact Goodwin College’s team of academic advisors today. Call 800-889-3282 or visit us online to learn more.