What Is the Difference Between a Nursing Degree and a Nursing Education Degree?

Are you considering beginning or advancing a nursing career? You might wonder what the differences are between a nursing degree and a master’s in nursing education degree. Which choice is right for you? Nursing degrees and nursing education degrees prepare students for distinct roles. There are a number of differences between a nursing degree and a master’s in nursing education degree, including:

  • the coursework they require
  • the opportunities they prepare you for
  • the subjects they emphasize.

Nursing vs. Nursing Education Job Roles

A major difference between a nursing degree and a master’s in nursing education degree is what each academic path prepares you to do. If you want to become a nurse and  provide care for patients, then you need a nursing degree. Registered nurses who want to advance into roles like nurse practitioner should pursue one of the following degrees, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing:

  • Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.)
  • Master of Nursing (M.N.)
  • Master of Science (M.S.), nursing major
  • Master of Arts (M.A.), nursing major

Master’s in nursing degree programs teach the advanced nursing skills you need to provide specialized or independent nursing care. Nursing education programs, on the other hand, are intended to train nursing instructors. These educators teach the next generation of nurses in  colleges and universities and in clinical settings like hospitals.

Nursing vs. Nursing Education Coursework

Another difference between a nursing degree and a master’s in nursing education degree is what academic subjects students  will study. Of course, there is some overlap. Students in both programs may study advanced nursing topics. However, master’s in nursing degree programs are more likely to emphasize clinical experience than nursing education programs. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) they often include advanced coursework in subjects like:

  • pharmacology
  • physiology
  • anatomy
  • a nursing specialization

On the other hand, nursing education programs emphasize the development of a nurse’s teaching skills. Many nursing education programs require students to complete a practicum. They also have to take at least some advanced nursing practice and research courses. However, they typically focus more on studies in topics like:

  • Curriculum design and development
  • Teaching methods and learning principles
  • Leadership in advanced nursing roles
  • Foundations of nursing theory and practice
  • Evaluation methods in nursing education
  • The role of nurse educators

To become a nursing instructor, you must first become a nurse. That means:

  • earning your associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing
  • completing clinical requirements
  • attaining your license

A nursing education program builds upon existing nursing knowledge while enhancing the skills needed to educate others.

Knowing your  career goals is important. Then you need to understand the differences between a nursing degree and a master’s in nursing education degree.

Then you can help you determine which educational path is the right choice for you.

Also see:

20 Most Affordable Online Master’s In Nursing Education

Brenda Rufener
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Julie McCaulley
Expert

Carrie Sealey-Morris
Editor-in-Chief