Bachelors VS Masters: Deciding Which Nursing Degree is Right For You

A Bachelor’s in Nursing is the lowest qualification required to become a Registered Nurse (RN) in Australia. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, you can work as a registered nurse in aged care facilities, hospitals, doctor’s clinics, and mental health facilities. If you would like to specialize in a particular nursing field or increase your income potential as an RN it would be highly beneficial for you to study a Masters Degree in Nursing or a Graduate Diploma in Nursing.

Masters degree in nursing
Fig: Masters degree in nursing

So, which should you choose? Should you immediately enter the workforce after completing a 3-year nursing degree or should you further your education and possibly increase your income potential and employment prospects? Here is how to choose whether a Bachelor’s or a Master’s in nursing is right for you.

Is a Master’s Degree in Nursing Necessary?

If you would like to work as a standard registered nurse, completing a Master’s In Nursing won’t be necessary. Your decision on whether to study a Master’s In Nursing will depend on what field of nursing you want to work in and whether or not you would like to advance your career in nursing to a particular specialization or leadership role. Some people choose to complete a Master’s in Nursing to increase their income potential, employment prospects and to have the opportunity to specialize in a specific nursing field.

Alternatively, if you have completed an undergraduate degree in a different field, like a Bachelor of Science and would like to become a registered nurse you will need to complete a Master’s in Nursing or a Nursing Degree for graduates.

Career Opportunities Available With a Masters Degree in Nursing:

Graduates of a Master’s in Nursing will have the opportunity to work in leadership roles, education roles and specialist nurse roles. Here are some careers that you may pursue with a Master’s in Nursing:

Advantages of Having a Master’s Versus (VS) a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing:

1. Higher Graduate Level Income:

Graduates with a Master’s in Nursing will have a higher starting salary than nurses with only an undergraduate degree. This will vary depending on your specialization and chosen nursing field but will be marginally higher than that of standard registered nurses and midwives. Potential employers will recognize and take your education and qualifications into account and this will increase your value and salary opportunities.

2. Ability to Specialize:

A Master’s in Nursing will allow you to specialize in your chosen field. Standard RNs have less choice over what field they work in.

3. Greater Employment Potential:

Career opportunities for nursing graduates are already great but if you want to stand out and have more career opportunities then a Master’s in Nursing is highly beneficial and will make you stand out.

4. Opportunity to be More Flexible:

RNs tend to work long 12-hour shifts and these shifts can often be overnight and on weekends. Nurses with a master’s degree will have the opportunity to be more flexible and may have the option to work in a more standard 9-5 role depending on what field they choose to work in.

5. Leadership Opportunities:

If you desire to be in a leadership role and to mentor others then a Masters degree will allow you to work in a managerial role within the nursing industry. Managers will earn more and are highly sought after.

6. Potential to Become a Nurse Educator:

If teaching nursing is something you would like to do then a master’s will give you the opportunity to become a nurse educator. A career as an educator will allow you to instill your passion and knowledge about nursing in others and will provide you with more flexible working hours than most registered nurses who work in hospitals.

Some Common Questions with Answers Regarding the Necessity of Master’s Degree in Nursing:

1. Do You Need a Master’s in Nursing to Be a Midwife?

No, you can complete an undergraduate midwifery degree to become a registered midwife. However, if you have only previously completed a Bachelor’s in Nursing and want to register as a midwife you can complete a Graduate Diploma of Midwifery or a Master’s of Midwifery to register.

2. How Long Does It Take To Complete a Master’s in Nursing?

You will first need to complete an undergraduate degree in nursing or a similar degree which generally takes between 3-4 years to complete depending on your specialty and the university you choose to attend. Once completed you can then complete a Master’s in Nursing which takes 2 years at most universities. So at a minimum, you can expect to spend a total of 5 years in university to attain your Master’s in Nursing.

3. Entry requirements for a Master’s Degree in Nursing in Australia:

To gain entry into a Master’s in Nursing you will need to have a nursing degree or equivalent and you will need to already be a registered division one nurse in Australia.

Alternatively, if you have completed an undergraduate degree in a different field like a Bachelor of Health Science or Bachelor’s of Science or equivalent you can apply for a Master’s in Nursing (Graduate Entry). This degree will allow you to register as a registered nurse if you haven’t already qualified as a Division 1 nurse.

4. Is a Master’s Degree in Nursing Worth it?

That will depend on what kind of nursing career you would like to do. If you would like to be a registered nurse and work in a hospital, mental health ward or aged care facility then you won’t need a master’s degree. You can register as a division one nurse and work as a qualified nurse in Australia with a Bachelor’s Degree as a minimum requirement. However, your starting salary will be lower and your ability to specialize and choose what field you work in will be limited. You may also work longer and less flexible hours.

If you are looking to become a standard RN or Midwife then an undergraduate Nursing or Midwifery degree will be just fine. But, If you would like to further specialize and move into a managerial role then a Master’s Degree would be right for you.

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