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Herzing University

Jessica Neddersen

RN to MSN vs. RN to BSN to MSN: What You Need to Know

Herzing offers an RN to BSN to MSN program as well as an RN to MSN program. Each path is slightly different and offers its own benefits. Here is what you need to know about both programs!

Nursing continues to be a growing career, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicting 6% growth for registered nurses (RNs) from 2022-2032. While the predicted growth for RNs is higher than the national average, there is an even greater demand for nurses who have their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). The demand for Nurse Practitioners is predicted to grow 45% from 2022-2032 according to the BLS.*

For RNs who are considering getting their MSN, there are a variety of pathways available. At Herzing, you can pursue your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and then go on to complete your MSN or you can directly pursue your MSN. Herzing offers an RN to BSN to MSN program as well as an RN to MSN program. Each path is slightly different and offers its own benefits. Here is what you need to know about both programs:  

RN to BSN to MSN

The RN to BSN to MSN pathway is a pathway that many licensed RNs choose to get their BSN and advance their career. Like most degrees, a BSN or MSN can usually take several years to complete, but RNs don’t have to put in years of educational training to get their degree.

Herzing’s RN to BSN to MSN program is designed to incorporate current work and educational experience. In this program, there are four different MSN concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Nurse Educator, Nursing Leadership and Administration (NLA) and Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). The entire RN to BSN to MSN program can be completed in as little as 28-32 months depending on your MSN concentration and how committed you are to obtaining this goal. Herzing is with you every step of your educational journey to offer you support and help you reach your goals.

Benefits of the RN to BSN to MSN program:

  • It offers a systematic approach. Some students find this pathway as a linear way to complete their degree. Students can also take a “break” between programs to prepare themselves for the next step.
  • It’s a fast pathway to earning two degrees. The program is designed to help you attain both your BSN and your MSN faster than if you completed two separate degree programs.
  • You get experience as an RN-BSN. There is a clinical approach to the BSN program that can help students better prepare to complete their MSN. Your education and experience can also help you better determine which MSN concentration you are most interested in pursuing.

Here are a few aspects of the program that are important to note:

  • It takes longer to complete. While getting your BSN might be a great educational experience, it is a longer pathway than the RN to MSN program.
  • A BSN is not always required. If you want to complete your degree for greater employment opportunities, you may not need to complete your BSN. It might make more sense for you to just complete your MSN. However, always double-check with your current or desired employer before making any decisions.


The RN to MSN program is an accredited pathway, allowing you to bypass getting your BSN degree with a curriculum designed to help you earn your MSN quickly. Herzing’s program is offered for all four MSN concentrations.

The program is offered 100% online and can be completed at your pace. Students are required to complete a clinical component, but Herzing offers a clinical pledge that will help assist you in finding a placement should you need help find a placement. The program helps prepare students for potential careers and positions that require advanced degrees.

Benefits of the RN to MSN program:

  • The fastest way to complete your MSN as an RN. The program is can be completed in as few as 20 months, depending on the concentration you choose.
  • Direct curriculum. In your concentration program, you can focus on your career interests while you pursue your degree and complete the path that is specific to your needs.
  • Shows dedication. By enrolling directly into your MSN program, you show potential employers that you’re passionate, committed and determined to complete your degree.

Here are a few aspects of the program that are important to note:

  • You need to know what you want. While you complete your BSN degree you can see what MSN concentration is right for you. However, you don’t have this benefit when you enroll in the RN to MSN program. Students need to know what concentration they would like to pursue before enrolling.
  • It’s a fast-paced program. While the RN to MSN program is a great way to complete your degree quickly, it’s an accelerated program that requires a lot of your time and dedication. If you prefer a traditionally paced program, the RN to BSN to MSN may work better for you.
  • Some employers require a BSN. Always check education requirements, as some employers will require employees to hold a BSN in addition to the MSN degree.

No matter which pathway you choose, completing your MSN is a great opportunity to advance your nursing career and gain valuable nursing experience in the process.

Learn More About Our MSN Programs


* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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