Differentiating BSN, MSN & DNP

Differentiating BSN, MSN and DNP: Find Out The Best Choice for You

differentiating BSN, MSN & DNPCommitting to ongoing learning and education improvement is a requirement for success in the healthcare sector. There are many opportunities for advancement in nursing; the trick is to determine which ones are best for you. Because of this, nurses at all levels are looking for ways to advance in their careers and are trying to figure out what degree will help them land the jobs they want. This typically entails earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Some also might think earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the best choice.


Numerous factors and circumstances must be considered because the final choice is personal and depends on your situation. Read on to learn which degree path might be the best choice for you based on your background and situation.

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing: What Is It?

The first step to becoming a registered nurse with a license is to earn a BSN or bachelor of science in nursing.  The BSN program prepares you for employment at the entry level in clinics, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. This means that although you don’t really need any prior experience, some exposure to the field will be beneficial. Furthermore, even though you could still work as an RN without a BSN, going the extra educational mile can lead to more responsibility and a higher salary.

BSN Core Curriculum

Nurses must be prepared to navigate this new healthcare environment as nursing is evolving quickly. Most universities around the world have updated their curricula, which will give students the best preparation for giving patients high-quality, safe care. To fulfill the university’s core curriculum requirements, the prerequisites for the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) major, and the prerequisites for the BSN foundation, students enroll in a variety of courses.

A BSN curriculum plan will typically entail the following:

  • Coursework for the first year (sophomore level) includes knowledge of the nursing discipline, fundamental health assessments, clinical nursing skills, and clinical experiences.
  • A combination of lectures, laboratory simulations, and clinical experiences for the second year (junior level). Nursing care for adults and older adults, pregnant women, children, and their families are the courses that call for clinical experiences. The average weekly clinical time for these students is 12 hours.
  • Coursework in the third and fourth years (senior year) consists primarily of precepted clinical experiences, classroom instruction, completing nursing assignments and simulations. According to their courses, students spend an average of 16 to 24 hours weekly in clinical settings.

Application Requirements for BSN Candidates

You must visit the website for the BSN program at the university of your choice to find accurate and current information on the requirements for applications. Either way, the requirement will be somewhat similar to this;

  1. Academic Transcripts– For review purposes, official copies of all your post-secondary transcripts, including those for any courses you might have taken at a community college or while studying abroad, must be submitted.
  2. Letter of Recommendation- You should provide one or two academically-based letters of recommendation. You can submit them online.
  3. A document proving English language proficiency may also be required. A score of 6.0 is required. However, depending on the university, the cut-off score can be as high as 7.5.
  4. Statement of purpose or personal statement


Clinical Work Entailed in Most BSN Programs

A crucial component of the BSN curriculum is practical, hands-on experience in actual clinical settings. Learning institutions collaborate with local hospitals and other healthcare organizations near their campuses to give students the necessary hours, certifications for exams, and extensive experience and exposure to various facets of the nursing profession. Depending on the institution, BSN students may take a variety of clinical courses throughout their program, such as:

  • Mental Health
  • Women’s Health
  • Pediatrics
  • Community Health
  • Acute care (collaborating with a preceptor in person)

Typically, 60 clinical hours are needed for each of these courses. Each student collaborates one-on-one in a specific area with a nurse preceptor.

For instance, in the community health course, students complete a community assessment in pairs, identify a community health need and plan and carry out an overall teaching project at a chosen agency or organization.


BSN Degree Requirements: Credit Hours

Depending on the program option they are pursuing, students must complete a minimum number of credit hours for the degree and a minimum number of credit hours that should reflect major nursing courses to be eligible for graduation from the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

You must complete 120 credits in most BSN programs, earning a C or better in every discursive course and an S (Satisfactory) in every clinical/practicum course necessary for the degree. 75 of the 120 credits must be from major-related nursing courses.

BSN Research Scope

The inclusion of research in a BSN program reflects the nursing industry’s dedication to the promotion of health and sedentary lifestyles, the advancement of quality healthcare, and the importance of placing professional nursing practice in research.

BSN research entails:

  • Nursing education research- The discipline and practice of professional nursing are the main research topics in nursing education.
  • Clinical research- The scientific underpinning for providing care to people of all ages in clinical research. It is based on biological, behavioral, and other types of investigations.
  • Research on health systems and outcomes- Here, healthcare services’ accessibility, value, and cost are examined.

What Does a Master of Science in Nursing Degree Necessarily Involve?

A master of science in nursing, or MSN, is a post-graduate advanced degree for registered nurses. Students with a BSN degree can enroll in these programs, which typically last two years. Students with bachelor’s degrees in health-related fields may be admitted to some MSN programs.


Before earning a master’s degree, students in an MSN degree program must complete their basic nursing education requirements to become legally qualified registered nurses. There are many nurse practitioner programs from which to choose if you decide that obtaining a graduate degree in nursing is the best option for you. Here are some more details about what an MSN degree entails:


Application Requirements

If you want to enroll in an MSN program, you must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Possessing a valid nursing license from your state.
  • A Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from an accredited institution
  • An application that is fully completed and the necessary fees for your school
  • Nursing experience of at least a year (this will depend on the school and specialty you are choosing)
  • Most schools will also require you to submit recommendation letters and a statement of purpose, and you might need to enroll in some prerequisite courses.


MSN Curriculum

There are two tracks in the MSN program for registered nurses:

  • BSN Track – Students who have earned a BSN should enroll in this track. BSN graduates begin the program at the level of the core courses.
  • RN Track – Students with an associate’s degree in nursing or a nursing diploma who want to become registered nurses should enroll in this track. Before beginning the core courses, students must complete several semester credits of foundational coursework. These courses provide the necessary information and learning opportunities.


The core curriculum, specialization curriculum, and capstone courses are all the same for every student. The foundational courses give students graduate-level training, in theory, research, diversity, law and ethics, and healthcare systems. The specialty courses, which build on the foundational courses, give students direction and instruction for influencing nursing practice in particular areas.


The capstone courses allow students to apply what they learned in earlier classes to real-world situations and assess how well they’ve accomplished their professional and organizational objectives.

Clinical Work

Nurse practitioners and nurse midwives are the two specialties with the most APRN MSN degrees. Most MSN-trained nurses are employed full-time in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practices, and academic and research-based institutions. A nurse with an MSN degree will be prepared to:

  1. Act as a sole practitioner in the area of specialization.
  2. Dispense drugs in accordance with their area of expertise.
  3. Own and run a private medical practice in accordance with local laws.

Credit Hours Required for an MSN

MSN programs frequently concentrate on particular subject areas. A minimum of 40 to 43 credits must be completed in the nursing education concentration for an MSN program. In addition, nursing students require a significant number of practicum hours.


To graduate, a public university’s MSN family nurse practitioner program requires 45 credit hours. Thirty-five credit hours of lecture-based coursework and 10 credit hours of clinical practice were completed over six or seven semesters.


A private university’s MSN family nurse practitioner program requires nursing students to complete 700 hours of clinical work in addition to 48 credit hours. To graduate from the school’s RN-to-MSN program, students without a BSN degree must complete 54 credit hours.

MSN Research Scope

Global demand for qualified nurses with strong interpersonal and leadership skills who can provide care and guarantee research is carried out in accordance with established standards has grown along with the number of clinical trials. Teams of these nurses are employed by academic medical centers, pharmaceutical firms, and universities. Graduates of the MSN in Clinical Research Coordination will be prepared to:

  • Carry out research interventions
  • Organize and evaluate medical data
  • Sync up the research
  • Analyze the effects of the treatments on the participants
  • Organize reports, operating records, and financial plans.

Doctorate in Nursing Practice(DNP)

Nurses who want to work at higher levels receive specialized, advanced training through the Doctor of Nursing Practice or DNP degree program. While traditional Ph.D. programs may emphasize academics and research, a DNP program may assist nurses in acquiring the knowledge and training needed for more advanced practice and leadership roles.

Application Requirements

The DNP Program has a competitive admissions process. It is advised for prospective applicants to read all application-related materials and stay current on the timelines and deadlines for the specialty in which they are interested. Some of the most typical DNP application requirements are:

  • Candidates must hold a regionally accredited institution’s BSN or MSN degree.
  • Candidates must have completed their last 60 modules of nursing coursework with a 3.0 GPA or higher.
  • The Post-DNP Master’s specialty applicants need to hold a valid, unrestricted APRN license.
  • Transcripts from each post-secondary institution attended by the applicant must be submitted.

DNP Curriculum

The DNP program’s academically demanding curriculum equips nurses to take on the challenges posed by the modern healthcare environment. Using a variety of distance learning technologies, the DNP curriculum offers at least six semesters of doctoral-level didactic and clinical coursework. Focus areas for the DNP program include evidence based practice and quality improvement, organizational and systems leadership, health policy, economics and finance, information technology, and emerging practice challenges. Graduates will have the knowledge and abilities to promote patient safety standards, enhance health outcomes, and lobby for policy changes and quality enhancement at local, regional, and national levels. DNP program culminates with writing and presenting a DNP project that translates research into practice.

This rigorous project require students to put in at least 540+ clinical practicum hours.

Clinical Work

Participating in supervised clinical settings gives nurses a chance to develop their professional roles in advanced nursing practice. In the student’s particular area of nursing specialization, DNP programs strongly emphasize the most recent evidence-based best practices to improve outcomes and raise the safety and quality of nursing care.


Clinical practicums can be completed in a range of locations, including clinics, hospitals, community centers, and health departments. In clinical settings, students learn to lead multidisciplinary teams, apply theory to nursing practice to enhance outcomes, and create and test fresh, research-based nursing care models. The practicum offer students DNP project writing guide for their final project.


Required Credit Hours

All candidates for the DNP degree must finish at least 72–74.5 credit hours of graduate-level coursework. The number of credit hours required varies depending on the student’s areas of emphasis. Depending on the review of the transcript and the applicability to the particular area of study, up to 38 credit hours of prior graduate-level coursework may be accepted toward the total hours needed for the DNP degree.

Research Scope

The DNP is a practice-focused degree that equips nurses to transform research into practice and bold system change to improve the health of individuals and populations. A DNP degree equips graduates with the skills needed to utilize research effectively and apply it to practice. Given the lengthy delay in translating research into patient care, this viewpoint is crucial in driving those changes in clinical practice.

Due to the intensity of the program you will face challenges related to DNP scholarly writing always feel free  to consult DNP project writing services or preceptors  for guidance


Even RNs with extensive experience in the field may not fully understand how these three degrees differ. Their focus is the primary key distinction. Medical skills like helping those with various mental illnesses or administering anesthesia are the main focus of MSN degrees. DNP programs incorporate that training with an additional emphasis on the management of employees, statistical analysis, and leadership. A BSN program prepares nurses for a wide range of careers and graduate study.

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