master’s in nursing MSN specializations

5 Master’s in Nursing (MSN) Specialties You Can Pursue

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs for advanced practice nurses will likely increase by 40% by 2031. Over the decade, more than 30,000 job openings are projected for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners each year. These advanced nursing careers all require a master’s degree.

Both of these statistics reveal that individuals looking to advance their careers in nursing will likely experience ample job opportunities and offers with the right education and experience in hand.

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is key to opening the doorway to advanced opportunities, from nurse leadership positions to advanced clinical practice, not to mention a higher salary.

No matter your reason for pursuing an MSN, you can find MSN specialties to match your career goals and interests. In this guide, we will cover five specialties you can choose from as an MSN student.

MSN Specialty #1: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) work to provide advanced care to different patient populations of all ages, from newborns to seniors. They can independently assess, diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication, serving as primary care providers.

This career field is extremely popular, with 65% of nurse practitioners (NPs) working as family nurse practitioners. It is one of the best MSN specializations for those who wish to work in nearly any clinical setting, including your own practice. Check with the state you want to practice in to ensure FNPs have full practice authority.

FNPs earn their MSN, specialized in APRN-FNP, as well as additional training and certifications to fulfill responsibilities that closely resemble the ones doctors perform. These include:

  • Diagnosing and treating acute conditions
  • Ordering diagnostic tests (X-rays, lab work)
  • Managing patient cases
  • Serving as a primary care provider
  • Prescribing medications to patients in need

FNPs can also expect to earn a much higher salary than registered nurses (RNs). According to the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the average annual wage for nurse practitioners is $107,000. Salaries are further determined by specialty, location, and years of experience.

The FNP program at Goodwin University combines classroom teaching with in-person clinical experiences to provide students with a well-rounded understanding of how to apply their studies to a real patient-care setting.

Our students build on their current nursing skills and develop a deeper understanding of leadership theory, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and the policy and politics of healthcare.

Graduates of MSN-FNP programs go on to work in:

  • Acute or urgent care centers
  • Correctional facilities
  • Hospice centers
  • In-home patient care
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Private clinics

Learn more about Goodwin’s APRN-FNP program here!

MSN Specialty #2: Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)

Students pursuing an MSN with a psychiatric mental health nursing practitioner (PMHNP) specialty can enter the mental wellness field, designed to help patients of all ages cope with mental health disorders.

MSN-PMHNP programs prepare nurses to treat patients with mental illness and teach them how to handle stress positively while promoting healthy choices, holistically caring for patients’ well-being, and paving the way to a rewarding career that continually influences and improves communities.

PMH nurse practitioners also:

  • Partner with individuals to achieve their recovery goals
  • Conduct intake screening, evaluation, and triage
  • Administer and monitor psychobiological treatment regimens
  • Practice crisis intervention and stabilization
  • Provide case management

Goodwin University’s 50-credit PMHNP program is available to enroll at any time, making it highly accessible and convenient for candidates to focus on their future. Aside from two on-campus immersion weekends and offsite clinical practices, our program is entirely online, making your upgraded career only a few clicks away.

Applicants must provide the following:

  • A current, unencumbered RN license
  • An official or unofficial transcript verifying receipt of a bachelor’s degree in nursing
  • A professional resume
  • A formal 800-1,000 word personal statement
  • A minimum of 2+ years of direct patient care
  • A background check and drug screening

MSN Specialty #3: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP)

If you enjoy working with children and are comfortable managing patient needs and caregiver emotions, you may consider a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) specialty.

A PNP cares for newborns, infants, toddlers, adolescents, and young adults. PNPs focus on whole-child wellness and preventing or managing common pediatric acute illnesses and chronic conditions.

Additionally, PNPs impress the importance of good health and well-being onto their patients at a young age so they make healthy choices and habits for the rest of their life.

In many states, PNPs can work without a physician’s oversight, serve as their patients’ primary care providers, and run their own practice, similar to FNPs. And much like FNPs and PMHNPs, PNPs are in demand, especially where there are shortages of primary care providers.

MSN Specialty #4: Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioners (AGNP)

On the opposite end of the spectrum, adult-gerontology primary care practitioners (AGNPs) support older adults in hospitals, private practices, and long-term care facilities.

These NPs diagnose, examine, and treat patients through routine checkups, assessments, counseling, and education. In addition, they aim to develop and implement healthy lifestyles and disease prevention plans for their patients.

An AGNP specialty equips MSN students with the tools to provide comprehensive, proactive healthcare solutions to individuals in the later stages of life. It is a rewarding field for those interested in guiding individuals with their health and helping them cope with changes that may come with aging.

MSN Specialty #5: Population Health Leaders

Perhaps you do not wish to continue with the clinical and patient care side of nursing, but rather, desire to make an impact in a leadership role. Nurses looking to have an influence on the greater healthcare system, whether through policy development, department administration, or public health leadership, may choose a broader MSN degree program with a concentration in population health.

In a leadership-focused MSN program, specializing in population health, you will go beyond patient care. You will identify and explore issues of social justice and healthcare. You will evaluate gaps in healthcare access, and identify concepts that can promote health, prevent disease, and increase awareness within needing populations. An MSN degree, specialized in population health, will help you build a career that ensures the access and quality of care for a broader scope of people in need.

Goodwin University’s Master’s in Nursing program is a great example of this MSN specialty. Concentrated MSN students complete coursework in:

  • Advanced Nursing Leadership
  • Policy, Politics, and Organization in Healthcare
  • Advanced Nursing Research
  • Theoretical Foundations of Population Health
  • Healthcare Quality, Communication, and Informatics
  • Leadership Practices in Healthcare
  • And more!

MSN-Population Health graduates leave ready to take on careers as healthcare administrators, nurse managers, nursing leaders, public health directors, public health nurses, and more. They graduate with the skills needed to expand healthcare access, implement health campaigns, facilitate health education programs, and uncover healthcare risks in certain populations.

No matter what MSN specialty you choose, an MSN degree can lead you to a rewarding, fulfilling, and lucrative career in an in-demand field.

Find out more about Goodwin University’s online FNP and PMHNP programs, as well as our population health-focused MSN degree. Our dedicated team of advisors is ready to help you turn your dream of an MSN into a reality!