Saturday, April 20, 2013


For the past year or so I have contemplated whether or not I should get an MSW (Masters of Social Work) degree or a BSN (Bachelors of Science in Nursing) degree. You would think that a Masters degree in anything would be better than a Bachelors in anything but unfortunately that is not the case. Here's why in my situation:

  1. Getting a Masters degree in Social Work may not allow me to have a significant increase in my salary unless I work in the areas of administration, which I am not sure I want to do.
  2. I will probably have more job opportunities and greater job flexibility with a Nursing degree, particularly if I work in a healthcare and/or public health setting, which is what I have a current interest in.
  3. The average RN (registered nurse) makes at least $10,000 more per year than my current job as well as more than many LMSW (Licensed Master Social Worker) positions in my area. This does not include overtime and/or differential. Many private hospitals pay more.
  4. The amount of loans I would have to incur in a MSW program would be significantly higher than if I were to get a BSN, even if I went to a public university or college. This is hard to swallow when I realize that my salary, at least initially, would not change a great deal at all.
  5. There are more nursing jobs available than there are social work jobs and social work jobs are generally budget dependent regardless of how essential social work jobs are. In the medical/health setting many "social work" functions are performed by experienced RN (registered nurses) with case management experience.  
  6. I like the idea of counseling others and helping them to access resources or dealing with social problems but I wonder how long I could do a job like that without getting burned out from frustrations related to limited resources, excessive paperwork, non-compliance, etc.

All of that being said, an MSW would still allow for greater career flexibility than I have now (I would be able to work for different agencies and/or in a different setting) and I would be able to pursue my degree on a part-time basis without having to quit my job since its occupational related. LMSW (Licensed Masters Social Workers) generally have better work schedules than RNs and even though social work can be stressful, nursing has many of same issues as well so I would not necessarily have an easier time in the field. And even though the initial salary for a LMSW is a bit dismal, with significant experience and/or administrative skills, the salary would be almost comparable to that of an RN without all the "dirty work" (although social work has its own set of stresses especially in the areas of management). I had hope to resolve the "MSW vs. RN" internal debate at this point but I think I am more confused than ever! In a few weeks I take my second prerequisite class for nursing school and I hope I do not waste a lot of time, energy, and money on something that I should not be doing.


  1. Hello, I am reading this late but I am currently going through a similar challenge. Just wanted to know which path did you choose and how do you feel about it?

  2. Have you read the rest of the blog? To answer your question, I chose nursing and am currently enrolled at SUNY Downstate's accelerated nursing program. How do I feel about my choice? Still too early to tell but no regrets with my decision, at least not yet.

  3. Great! I am going through similar challenges.. MSW or BSN? I have one more pre-requisite to take before I enter the nursing program.