Nursing graduates choose to continue their education for a variety of reasons. Some simply love learning and want to expand their opportunities within the field of nursing. Others want to expand their practice arena into advanced practice, which requires graduate education - to become a nurse practitioner or a clinical nurse specialist, for example.
Graduate education, at the masters or doctoral level, builds on the competencies of baccalaureate education and focuses on advanced nursing roles in practice, education, research, and administration. A nurse interested in teaching nursing students or doing research to improve patient care might choose to get a degree as a PhD nurse; one interested in being a nurse practitioner might choose a masters degree or DNP (Doctorate in Nursing Practice). If a nurse wants to have a private counseling practice for psychiatric patients, he or she would earn a master's degree in that clinical specialty.