There's no doubt that graduate school is a big financial investment; but, for nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), that investment may be well worth it. Nurses holding an advanced degree may see a significant increase in, not only salary, but in job opportunities and career enhancement.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses earned a mean average of $70,000 in 2017. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, on the other hand, saw salaries around $103,880 annually. Seems attractive, but let's consider the cost of advancing your degree.
Work vs School
The good news on this front is that you no longer have to quit your job to gain an advanced nursing degree. Aware of the nursing shortage in the U.S. more colleges and universities are providing online, accredited, graduated nursing programs to a) meet the educational needs of students and b) allowing nursing students to continue working as they pursue their degree. Coursework may be done through distance education and clinical experiences, more often than not, conducted in your home community or place of employment.
How Many Years?
The typical Nurse Practitioner program will average 2-3 years, although, there are some programs which may be completed in one year. Transfer credits from other colleges and universities may reduce the total number of credit hours required; and, many schools offer credit for work experience.
Does A Specialty in An Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Specialty Cost More?
The short answer is no. Advanced Practice Registered Nursing degrees require an average of 45-55 credit hours and programs include clinical experiences in that figure.
Average Tuition Cost
Tuition costs will widely vary based on the school. State supported schools will typically have lower tuition costs than private or for-profit universities or colleges. Best Medical Degrees recently published a ranking of Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner and Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner online degrees with tuition costs ranging from $5,000-over $30,000 per academic year. These costs don't include fees which may be charged by the school.
There's Financial Help Available
Now is one of the best times to be a nurse. Healthcare is undergoing significant changes and Nurse Practitioners are considered more important than ever. To help develop more Nurse Practitioners, organizations and foundations are offering educational grants for those advancing their degree. U.S. News and World Report reported on scholarships available for nurses.
Employer Financial Help
If you're currently working as a nurse, you may want to check with your Human Resources department to see if your employer offers tuition assistance for employees advancing their education. With a primary care physician shortage in the U.S., many hospitals and health systems see Nurse Practitioners as both providing efficient, quality care but being cost efficient as well.
Best Medical Degrees has published rankings of Best Online Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP) Degrees and Best Online MSN Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (A.G.N.P.) Programs which will help you identify programs which may meet your financial needs, as well as time commitments and degree outcomes.