There are many specialized masters in nursing types options, including advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) programs (nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, certified nurse-midwife, and certified registered nurse anesthetist) and specializations in areas like research and education. Please note that by 2025, nurse anesthetists must hold a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree.
Lists Of Masters In Nursing Types
A good graduate program for nursing aligns with the student’s career goals and helps them secure their desired salary in their preferred work setting. Degree specializations offer the advanced skills and knowledge needed to excel in the following roles.
Unlike RNs, NPs are permitted to diagnose conditions and prescribe medications. In some states, NPs must work under a physician’s supervision, while in others they can practice independently. A master’s curriculum for prospective NPs includes courses in advanced pharmacology, diagnosis, treatment, and nursing practice. The average annual salary for an NP is $114,510. While most NPs specialize in family practice, some are certified in gerontology, pediatric, neonatal, psychiatric, or women’s health.
Clinical Nurse Specialist
A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is an APRN who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing patient health management. CNS programs emphasize identifying and diagnosing health conditions, pharmacology, and other treatment options. Like NPs, nurse specialists may further focus on adult, gerontology, or pediatric practice. Depending on state regulations, a CNS may work independently or under physician supervision. While Pay-scale as of May 2021 identifies the average annual salary for a CNS as $91,680, salaries vary based on responsibilities, experience, and location.
Certified Nurse Midwife
Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) are APRNs who care for pregnancy and childbirth. They are permitted to oversee births, including home births, and often supervise RNs and nursing assistants. CNMs also help educate pregnant individuals and their families on healthy birth practices and infant care. The average annual salary for a CNM is $115,540.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are the highest-paid APRNs, earning an average annual salary of $189,190. They administer anesthesia during medical procedures and provide pain management afterward. Like all APRNs, they are eligible to prescribe medications, including controlled substances, although some states maintain additional requirements. As of 2025, newly certified CRNAs must hold a DNP.
Public Health Nursing
Public health nurses specialize in disease prevention, especially communicable diseases. They often educate the public or stakeholders on health and disease, including proper hygiene and sanitation practices. Stakeholders might include legislators, workplaces, public transportation management, or public event administrators. These nurses can work in non-clinical settings, such as government agencies, community centers, or nonprofits, in addition to typical healthcare settings like hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ offices. The COVID-19 pandemic brought public health nurses into the spotlight and may have made the role more prominent in the long term.
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Nurse educators primarily teach in nursing schools and healthcare organizations like hospitals and health systems. Four-year colleges, universities, and academic medical centers require or strongly prefer nurse educators who hold either a DNP or a doctor of philosophy (PhD.) in a healthcare field. Other schools, especially ADN programs, typically prefer candidates with a master’s degree in nursing and clinical and teaching experience.
Nursing informatics is a growing field that uses information science, data analytic, and technology to improve nursing quality or efficiency. Nurse informatics programs examine topics in data science, business analytic, data quality management, and statistics.
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Other courses train nurse informatics in predictive analytic, machine learning and artificial intelligence, and data visualization, along with concepts in nursing and healthcare administration. Nurse informatics often work with different teams in the workplace including hospital and health system administration, IT departments, and nursing units.
Community Health Nursing
Community health nursing and public health nursing both educate the public and stakeholders on health and disease prevention. However, community health nurses are more likely to provide members of the public with healthcare and to emphasize both communicable and non-communicable diseases. These nurses often work in clinics and government agencies, where they focus on the community’s most vulnerable populations. A community health nurse curriculum addresses social causes of health, health promotion, working with marginalized populations, and providing health education for people with varying levels of health knowledge.
Diabetes is one of the most prevalent health conditions in the U.S. and can cause disability and even death if left untreated. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes treatment costs Americans more than $300 billion each year. Diabetes nurses are clinically trained to treat diabetes in adults and children. They also educate patients on the importance of diet, exercise, and medication. Because the disease is prevalent among Black, Hispanic, and Native American populations, diabetes nurses are often trained in culturally competent care.
Clinical Nurse Leader
Clinical nurse leaders oversee nursing care in hospitals and other healthcare settings. They monitor overall patient outcomes, specifying changes as necessary. Courses survey clinical treatment, advanced outcome monitoring, and data analytic and research. Evidence-based practices, risk assessment and management, and leadership and administration are also part of the coursework. According to Pay Scale, the average annual salary for a clinical nurse leader is $83,870 as of May 2021.
Nurse researchers typically work at academic medical centers like research and teaching hospitals. They can also be employed by companies that conduct medical research, such as pharmaceutical or medical equipment companies. Nurse researchers look after and monitor results for patients participating in medical research, or they might conduct original research on improving nursing quality.
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The curriculum for nurse researcher programs emphasizes the ethical treatment of human subjects, advanced data gathering and analysis, statistics, principles, and practices of medical research, evidence-based practices, and risk management.
There is a nursing master’s degree for every student, no matter their career goals or strengths. While nurses with a BSN might have a bit of an advantage for a master’s degree in nursing or an advanced practice degree, RNs without a BSN or candidates with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees can benefit from several bridge program options.