Advanced Nursing Degrees at Southern

An MSN or DNP degree can help you distinguish yourself as an advanced practice nurse in the specialization that interests you.

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 The Value of MSN and DNP Degrees

As a nursing professional, you’re passionate about delivering the highest-quality care to your patients. Now, you can elevate that enthusiasm, compassion, and leadership in the nursing field with an advanced degree.

Whether you want to expand your patient care or open up new opportunities for career growth, an advanced nursing degree from Southern will support you in reaching your nursing career aspirations.

With programs for Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), we can help you drive positive change in patient care.

We’re proud to develop caring, competent, and compassionate leaders in nursing.

Now, more than ever, the world needs dedicated individuals like you to become advanced practice nurses. If you’re ready to tackle new challenges and raise the standard of care for your patients, an advanced nursing degree from Southern can help get you there.

First, let’s take a look at what opportunities are available for nursing professionals with MSN or DNP degrees.

Or, skip ahead to our program details if you're ready.

Souther MSN and DNP program nursing students

Opportunities for Nursing Professionals with MSN or DNP Degrees

With the need for quality healthcare being higher than ever, there’s a strong demand for nursing professionals with advanced practice skills who can deliver the highest levels of care.

Graduates who’ve earned an MSN or DNP degree are able to enjoy more autonomy in their roles, take on stronger leadership positions, and open new career paths and opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be available. Both MSN and DNP programs will build on the experience you’ve already gained in your career and teach you new in-demand skills that will help you become a highly respected and sought-after nursing professional.

Get a better understanding of each path below, or jump down to the careers section to learn about job opportunities and salary outlooks.

Female nurse leader in meeting with other nurses

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

A DNP is a practice-focused alternative to research-focused doctoral programs for advanced practice nurses. A nursing professional with a DNP is able to become a nurse practitioner, nurse educator, or a senior nursing leader.

With an emphasis on advanced clinical practice, research application, and evaluation of practice and care-delivery models, a DNP program will provide you with in-depth knowledge of healthcare leadership and policy, opening the door to higher-paying senior leadership opportunities.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Earning an MSN will open up new opportunities in patient care, education, and administration—whichever path fills you with the most passion. An MSN enables you to become a nurse practitioner, and you’ll get advanced training in specialized areas, such as gerontology, acute care, and mental health.

Nursing professionals with an MSN can work in any healthcare setting, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, public health agencies, schools, and private practices.

Female MSN student taking care of female patient

An MSN or DNP degree prepares nurses and nurse practitioners for leadership roles in advanced-practice settings.

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What Can You Do with an
Advanced Nursing Degree?

There are many reasons to earn an advanced nursing degree, whether you want a pay raise or promotion, you’re looking for more autonomy or flexibility in your job, or you want to specialize in a new area altogether. In addition to setting a higher standard for patient care, you’ll learn more about the technical and administrative parts of the job that will prepare you for a long and successful career as an advanced nursing professional. It's also worth considering the career opportunities that open up by earning an MSN vs a DNP (or vice versa) . If you want to become an acute care nurse practitioner, for example, an MSN or DNP degree can get you there through separate paths. You can also learn about why being a nurse practitioner was voted as the best job in healthcare!

Here’s a look at just a few of the career paths that become accessible to you by earning an MSN or DNP degree. As you're planning your advanced nursing career, you should also explore common alternative careers for registered nurses.

Nurse Leader

The primary responsibility of nurse leaders is to manage a team of nurses and oversee the bigger picture in their healthcare setting, including hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes. While they may still interact with patients, the core aspect of the role is as a member of the leadership team.

Family Nurse Practitioner

Family Nurse Practitioners, or FNPs, play a huge role in the healthcare system today. With a family-focused approach to nursing, they are trained to treat infants and the elderly—and everyone in between. In addition to treating injuries and illnesses, FNPs are prepared to provide lifestyle and preventative care to all ages and backgrounds.

Nurse Educator

Nurse educators are professionals with an MSN or DNP degree who teach nursing at colleges and universities, training the next generation of nurses. Nurse educators are prepared to teach the most up-to-date theories and practices in healthcare. They are often respected mentors, even outside of the classroom.

Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner

Lifestyle Medicine Practitioners focus on wholeness, prevention of disease, management of chronic illnesses, and promotion of health and healthy lifestyles—all of which are consistent with biblical teaching. They work directly with patients of all ages and backgrounds to help them take control of their health.

What Salaries do Nursing Professionals with Advanced Degrees Earn?

Depending on your area of specialization, career track, and job location, you can expect a salary in the range of $85,000-$115,000, with higher earning potential in a more senior role. Here's a quick look at the average annual salaries for some of the most common career paths after earning an MSN or DNP.

Family Nurse Practitioner
Nurse Administrator
Nurse Educator
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
Adult/Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
Advanced Practice Nurse
Emergency Room Nurse
Chief Nursing Officer

Access Southern’s Advanced Nursing Degrees Guide

If you're ready for the next exciting challenge in your nursing career, explore our resource, The Complete Guide to Advanced Nursing Degrees at Southern Adventist University. In this eBook, you'll find: 

  • More information about Southern's DNP and MSN programs (and how to know which is right for you)
  • Southern nursing student success stories
  • Southern faculty member spotlights and interviews
  • How Southern will prepare you to thrive as a nursing professional in the Metropolitan Chattanooga area
Southern - GS Nursing eBook Cover 1


Advanced Nursing Degree Options at Southern

With programs for both MSN and DNP, Southern will help you achieve your nursing career goals—whatever they are. Our advanced practice nursing graduates are highly respected and sought-after candidates with 100% job placement in their areas of interest.

To support your busy schedule, all programs can be taken on a full-time or part-time basis (and some emphases can be taken fully online).

Explore the areas of emphasis we offer, our DNP program options, and our MSN program options below.

Female MSN student performing checkup on female patient

MSN and DNP Degree Specialization Options

Area of Emphasis

Applicable Program(s)

Acute Care—Adult/Gerontology NP
Nurse Educator
Primary Care—Adult/Gerontology NP
Primary Care—Family NP
Primary Care—Psychiatric Mental Health NP
Acute Care + Family NP
Lifestyle Medicine
Healthcare Administration


MSN and DNP Degree Program Options

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

This practice-focused program is for registered nurses and advanced practice nurses who’ve already completed their master’s degree in nursing and are looking to expand their scope of practice. The DNP program emphasizes advanced clinical practice, research application, and evaluation of practice and care-delivery models.

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Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

This option is designed for nursing professionals who want to earn a graduate degree in nursing. Our program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and is offered on a full-time or part-time basis. You select your emphasis from the list above to customize your degree experience.

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Dual Degree: MSN/MBA

The MSN/MBA dual degree at Southern equips the BSN professional with interdisciplinary expertise in nursing, business, and healthcare leadership. You’ll also be positioned to influence healthcare policy and the future direction of the nursing profession.

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Post-Master’s Certificate

If you hold a master’s degree in nursing, a post-master’s certificate is a strong option for upgrading or expanding your credentials. We offer certificates in a range of specialized areas. Click below to see the full list and eligibility.

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This is a bridge doctoral program for the registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree in nursing (no experience is required at the time of entry into the program). This route allows you to bypass the MSN, and all areas of emphasis in the post-master’s DNP program are available for you to choose.

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Registered Nurse (RN) to MSN 

The RN to MSN program at Southern is an accelerated program that’s designed for registered nurses who have clinical experience and can manage an expedited approach to a graduate degree. Full-time and part-time options are available, and you’ll be able to select from multiple areas of emphasis as outlined above.

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Dual Degree: DNP/MBA

Southern's DNP/MBA dual degree is designed for the MSN professional committed to serve the bottom line of both nursing and business. You'll hone a unique expertise preparing you for a critical role as a nursing leader capable of driving change in healthcare policy.

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DNP Specialist Certificate

If you hold a doctorate degree in nursing, Southern’s DNP Specialist certificate helps you further distinguish your credentials. Click below for the full details and eligibility.

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A Faith-Based Approach to Nursing

With a strong on-campus ministry and an emphasis on faith-based learning at Southern, you’ll have the chance to discover God’s purpose for you in the nursing profession.

The faith-based learning approach will help you build a holistic, Christ-centered foundation for leadership, management, and research in the field of healthcare. You’ll also be equipped to share your expertise in any medical setting.

Advanced practice nurse holding patient's hand

Is a Southern Nursing Program Right for You?

Southern's MSN and DNP programs are designed for registered nurses pursuing leadership roles or other advanced careers in nursing. Our programs are a great fit for nurses who are:

  • Nursing professionals who are passionate about raising the standard of patient care and nurturing the next generation of nurses
  • Nursing professionals looking for a more senior role within their current healthcare setting (or at a new location)
  • Nursing professionals seeking greater career satisfaction and flexibility
  • Nursing professionals interested in becoming leaders, educators, or mentors

More Nursing Stories on the Blog

Nursing students learning about Southern's DNP program

Southern Nursing Student Success Stories

Hear from some of our distinguished Southern Nursing graduates on why they chose Southern, what their experience was like, and how Southern has prepared them for the impactful careers they're enjoying now.


Diana Taylor

Diana Taylor '21

BSN to DNP with an Emphasis in Acute Care
Julie McBride

Julie McBride '21

BSN to DNP with an Emphasis Psychiatric Health
Julie McKinney

Julie McKinney '20

BSN to DNP with a Dual Emphasis in Lifestyle Medicine and Family Practice

Looking for More Program Information?

We’re happy to tell you more about the MSN or DNP program specifics, requirements, and admissions. You can request additional program information or schedule a meeting with a Southern representative below.

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Meet the Faculty Who’ll Support Your Journey to an Advanced Nursing Degree

The team of nursing professionals and educators here at Southern is ready to help you continue in a successful nursing career. With more than 100 combined years of clinical and research-based nursing experience in diverse settings, these passionate professionals will do all they can to help you reach your career goals, pursue the nursing specialization that interests you, and deliver the best possible level of patient care.

Each faculty member brings unique expertise in a number of areas, which they love sharing with their students. Whatever program you’re enrolled in, you’ll have a chance to learn from faculty who offer invaluable hands-on experience on the cutting edge of nursing.

Many of our graduates maintain relationships with our faculty and still look to them as mentors. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them with questions!

Southern Adventist University School of Nursing

Why Southern?

An advanced nursing degree from Southern will prepare you to become part of the next generation of nursing leaders and administrators. Our private, faith-based programs are designed to help you take your career to the next level while delivering the very best in patient care.

More flexible. More affordable. More valuable.

Learn More About Southern


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