5 Tips to Help You Find the Right Graduate Degree Program for Your Nursing Career

A career in nursing can be an incredibly rewarding, challenging, and fulfilling one. There is a great deal of job security that comes with a career in nursing as well as decent earning potential. Among the many positive attributes that go along with a career in nursing is that of the opportunity for career progression.

While there are a great many nurses who opt to work as registered nurses (RN) for the duration of their careers and actively work in direct patient care, there are also those nurses who wish to assume more leadership roles in the world of healthcare. With the growing recognition that a nurse’s experience combined with the education they receive makes them excellent candidates for leadership roles in healthcare, the opportunities for nurses to assume such roles are growing as well.

If you are among those nurses who are looking to take their career farther and wish to become a leader in healthcare, you will first need to acquire an appropriate advanced degree. Such a degree will permit you to specialize in a particular area of medicine and take on positions of leadership and responsibility. Finding the right graduate degree program, though, presents its own set of challenges.

Here are five things to bear in mind as you conduct your search for the perfect graduate degree program that will allow you to take your nursing career down the path that you wish to follow.

1. Location

One of the first things that you will need to consider as you search for the right graduate degree program is the location of the institution that you are enrolling in. When it comes to advanced degrees in nursing, most nurses must continue to work full-time for the duration of their education. This means that you will need to find a school that is conveniently located in respect to your day job.

Thankfully, there are some online options as well that can help make this problem a bit easier for nurses earning a graduate degree. However, for the most part, it is best to find an institution that is at least within your state of practice. For instance, there are plenty of excellent DNP programs in Texas to choose from for nurses looking to work and study in the Lone Star State.

2. Types of Programs Offered

When you are looking to earn an advanced degree in nursing, you will want to find a school that offers the types of programs that you are interested in. For instance, if you wish to go into neonatal nursing, look for a school that has a high success rate of graduates from their neonatal nursing program. The fact of the matter is that not all programs are created equal, and there might even be a disparity among degree programs at the same institution. Do your research so that you can end up at an institution that has an exceptional degree program that will allow you to best pursue your specific career path.

3. Cost

As with all things related to you career, the topic of money is going to be a factor. There are many degree programs that are far more expensive than comparable degree programs at other institutions. Moreover, online degrees tend to be more affordable than those that require you to be in class in person. You might also be able to find a combination program that is partially completed online and partially in the classroom.

It is important to weigh the cost of your degree against the most probable earning potential that you can achieve once you obtain it. Financial aid is always an option when it comes to education, but you should always bear in mind the financial implications associated with attending one institution over another.

4. Time 

Another aspect of earning your degree that you will need to give due consideration to, is how long the degree program will take to complete. This will most likely depend on where you are starting out with your level of education. Nursing is a unique field in that you can become an RN through several different routes. However, if you hope to earn a graduate degree, you will need to first complete your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

There are some degree tracks that allow you to go straight from a BSN to a DNP program, but these can take quite a bit of time to complete. Others are of a more expedited nature for those nurses who already hold a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Degrees that take you from a BSN to an MSN can also be expedited as well. Make sure that you talk to an academic advisor so as to know precisely what sort of timeline you are looking at when choosing a particular degree program.

5. Quality of Faculty 

When you are looking into the various degree program options available to you, based on the above-mentioned criteria, you should also take the time to do a bit of research into the faculty working for a certain school. When you are going for a graduate degree, you want to find yourself being instructed by faculty with plenty of experience in the field and experience in your particular area of interest.

You will surely be able to find ample information on the faculty at an institution on that school’s website. Look for the particular qualifications that the faculty of a school possess to see if you think they would make for quality instructors. In the field of nursing, learning from others’ experiences is one of the most valuable things you can do. 

This is because there is only so much that you can learn from your textbooks and coursework. Experience is one of the best educators there is. This means that you should look to be instructed by teachers and professors who have their fair share of firsthand experience that they can pass along to you.