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Nursing Major

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Nursing

51,181 Master's Degrees Annually
8,781 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#2 in Popularity (Master's)
$106,910 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Nursing Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many nursing graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 51,213
Doctor’s Degree 8,781
Graduate Certificate 3,386

What Nursing Majors Need to Know

People with careers related to nursing were asked what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. They weighted these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

Knowledge Areas for Nursing Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in nursing should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

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  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Skills for Nursing Majors

When studying nursing, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

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  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Abilities for Nursing Majors

Nursing majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

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  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

What Can You Do With a Nursing Major?

People with a nursing degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Acute Care Nurses 14.8% $71,730
Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses 14.8% $71,730
Clinical Nurse Specialists 14.8% $71,730
Critical Care Nurses 14.8% $71,730
Medical and Health Services Managers 20.5% $99,730
Nurse Anesthetists 16.3% $167,950
Nurse Midwives 20.0% $103,770
Nurse Practitioners 36.1% $107,030
Nursing Instructors and Professors 24.0% $73,490
Registered Nurses 14.8% $71,730

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Nursing?

51,213 Master's Degrees Annually
88% Percent Women
32% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is one of the most frequently chosen graduate majors. It is the 2nd most popular in the country with 51,181 students graduating with a master’s in nursing in 2019. The major attracts more women than men. About 88% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of nursing majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Nursing Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 3,703
Black or African American 6,438
Hispanic or Latino 4,844
White 31,065
International Students 369
Other Races/Ethnicities 4,794

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Nursing, too. About 0.7% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • South Korea
  • Canada
  • China
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Nigeria

How Much Do Nursing Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

The median early-career salary of nursing students with a master’s degree is $93,100 a year according to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $88,400 (25th percentile) and $100,350 (75th percentile).

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Note that some of these people may have jobs that are not directly related to a nursing degree.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $81,350 to $113,730 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to nursing. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Nursing Major  ( 81350 to 113730 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some careers associated with nursing require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to nursing have obtained the following education levels.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 0.7%
Some College Courses 1.7%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 17.9%
Bachelor’s Degree 16.4%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 1.7%
Master’s Degree 48.2%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 5.3%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 2.0%
Doctoral Degree 6.1%
Post-Doctoral Training 0.8%

Online Nursing Programs

In 2018-2019, 2,152 schools offered a nursing program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 82 10
Certificate (1-2 years) 72 1
Certificate (2-4 Years) 39 0
Associate’s Degree 1,154 54
Bachelor’s Degree 285 79
Post-Baccalaureate 82 10
Master’s Degree 1,486 528
Post-Master’s 767 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 280 92
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 421 158
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 33 19

Is a Degree in Nursing Worth It?

The median salary for a nursing grad is $106,910 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 168% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,340,200 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to nursing.

Major Number of Grads
Allied Health & Medical Assisting Services 99,641
Practical Nursing & Nursing Assistants 93,192
Allied Health Professions 86,697
Health & Medical Administrative Services 82,868
Public Health 36,569
Rehabilitation & Therapeutic Professions 28,559
Mental & Social Health Services 27,743
Dental Support Services 26,183
Health Sciences & Services 25,948
Communication Sciences 21,606
Pharmacy/Pharmaceutical Sciences 19,767
Medicine 19,720
Clinical/Medical Laboratory Science 19,354
Health/Medical Prep Programs 11,279
Other Health Professions 8,168
Osteopathic Medicine 6,700
Dentistry 6,403
Dietetics & Clinical Nutrition Services 5,877
Alternative Medicine & Systems 3,576
Veterinary Medicine 3,297
Health Aids/Attendants/Orderlies 3,251
Chiropractic 2,608
Optometry 1,747
Advanced Dentistry & Oral Sciences 1,685
Medical Illustration & Informatics 1,624
Ophthalmic & Optometric Support Services 1,044
Medical Science 809
Veterinary Biomedical & Clinical Services 782
Bioethics/Medical Ethics 597
Podiatry 579
Movement & Mind-Body Therapies 444
Alternative Medical Support Services 191
Energy & Biologically Based Therapies 73

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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