Is a Post-Master’s Nursing Degree Worth It?

Tyson Schritter / Colleges of Distinction »

Published: September 26, 2022

At whatever point you find yourself in your nursing career, the option to earn another degree can float in the background like an ever-present reality. Sometimes, earning another degree can be treated like a fix-all solution to any problem with your career or current role. However, people who don’t enter the process thoughtfully risk spending time and effort on a degree that might not ultimately accomplish what it was meant to. 

This guide can help you think through how to approach a post-master’s nursing degree. Taking a bit of time to weigh various options can help ensure that any degree program you embark on will be highly effective and worth the resources you spend to earn it.

Reasons a Post-Master’s Nursing Degree Can Be Advantageous

Nursing degrees are expensive and time consuming. It’s vital to make sure you know why exactly you would want to pursue one. Here are a few of the advantages that post-master’s degrees can create for your career:

The nursing job market is starting to require higher degrees.

Two interesting macro-trends are causing large-scale changes in the nursing job landscape. These trends will increase the demand for nurses with post-master’s degrees over the coming decade. 

First, nursing associations and organizations are increasingly calling for further education for nurses. This may make it more difficult in the future to secure a position without an advanced degree. 

Second, as technology becomes better able to perform many of the lower-skill-level tasks and responsibilities many nurses are currently expected to do, nursing roles that don’t require extra schooling will grow increasingly slim. Because of that, there will be even more positions that will require candidates to be proficient in highly skilled, complex tasks.

Earning a higher degree can increase your salary expectations. 

It probably goes without saying that holding a higher degree can directly translate into higher annual earnings. Having a post-master’s degree makes you eligible for a number of better-paid positions and career opportunities over those that only require bachelor’s-level skills.

Higher degrees make new opportunities and role types possible. 

Earning a post-master’s nursing degree doesn’t just open up access to larger-salaried positions. It also makes it possible to secure positions that are more leadership oriented, more managerial, or more specialized in nature. Nursing professionals with higher degrees will have much more success earning these types of positions.

How to Assess Whether You Need One

Though all of this information may pique your interest, earning a post-master’s degree is still a big commitment. It requires significant up-front costs. Review your finances and decide whether this expenditure is worth it in your particular situation. Here are a few criteria to help you make this decision.

1. What are your career goals? 

Especially if you are interested in a different set of responsibilities or in taking on a more leadership-heavy role, this might be the right step for you. Earning a post-master’s degree can prepare you for a number of different styles of leadership or management-style nursing roles. You’re likely to be both more qualified for leadership positions as well as more successful in getting hired.

2. What advice can you glean from employers or mentors? 

It’s always helpful to ask for advice from someone who is experienced in the field. Whether that be your current employer or supervisor, a colleague who has earned a similar degree, or anyone else you know who has the type of career you want, you’re sure to learn something new about their careers and what you can do moving forward.

3. Are you interested in specializing?

Though many people who earn a post-master’s degree are interested in bettering their salary or achieving a more leadership-focused position, another benefit of earning a higher degree is the opportunity to specialize in specific practice areas or foci. If you know of any specific areas of healthcare that you would like to pursue, a post-master’s degree is a strong way to make your dream possible.

Pursuing a Post-Master’s Degree

If you decide that earning a postgraduate nursing degree will serve you well, it’s time to find the right degree program for you. There are a large number of post-master’s nurse practitioner programs offered around the country. Here are a couple point of consideration to keep in mind:

What degree programs will be eligible for your practicing state

It’s important to make sure any degree programs you’re considering will be recognized in the state where you are licensed and where you want to practice. This is especially important to keep in mind If you are considering moving to a different state in the future. 

What degree program structure will be most conducive to your lifestyle and set of needs? 

Most post-master’s degrees are designed to fit into working professionals’ schedules. Some are more or less flexible, so it’s important to determine what kind of structure would work best for you while researching your degree program options.

Would you prefer an online program or an in-person program

Today’s online degree programs are increasingly growing in quality. They can even provide some distinct advantages over in-person programs! If you don’t mind completing programs in online settings, an online degree program could give you access to programs that are not otherwise located within your area. This could also provide a larger amount of flexibility and convenience than in-person programming. 

All that said, in-person programs can provide some advantages that online programs cannot; for instance, face-to-face interaction with teachers and peers and hands-on experiences are less likely to happen in digital settings. It’s important to decide carefully which program type will best suit your needs and learning style.

Earning a post-master’s nursing degree can provide distinct advantages to help advance your nursing career. Take the time to evaluate thoughtfully and choose the degree program that is best for your career goals. Keep our guide in mind to help you choose the most effective investment in your nursing vocation.