2022 Best Online Master's in Nursing (MSN) Programs

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 4/22/2022
2022 Best Online Master's Degrees in Nursing Badge

We rank the best online master of science in nursing (MSN) degrees currently available based on each program's alumni salary outcomes. This graduate degree is designed to help registered nurses (RNs) gain advanced knowledge of patient care and become experts in their field. An MSN opens the door to managerial and specialty roles as well as positions in the higher education sector involving research or teaching. Currently, 2.6 million new jobs are expected to open up in this industry through 2030, which is the highest growth among all U.S. occupational groups. 

View our methodology for more details about rankings or learn more about OnlineU.

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Rank School Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 AdventHealth University 100 $187,060
# 2 #2 University of Southern California 100 $167,228
# 3 #3 Touro University Nevada 99 $149,891
# 4 #4 Texas A&M International University 92 $129,066
# 5 #5 Midwestern State University 89 $125,822
# 6 #6 Samuel Merritt University 87 $123,663
# 7 #7 California State University - Dominguez Hills 84 $120,577
# 8 #8 Mercy College 84 $120,372
# 9 #9 Fairleigh Dickinson University 80 $117,472
# 10 #10 University of San Francisco 80 $117,274

2022 Online Colleges Offering Nursing Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 AdventHealth University

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $187,060
  • Locations: Orlando (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

AdventHealth University offers an online MSN program. The degree is entirely online, with the option to work on coursework at any time. However, students choosing the Family Nurse Practitioner specialty track are expected to visit the campus at least twice. Students must complete 14 credit hours of core courses and 17 additional credit hours from one of the three MSN specialty tracks: (1) Administration and Leadership, (2) Education, and (3) Family Nurse Practitioner. Students who already have a Bachelor’s of Nursing may be required to take some prerequisite courses before beginning this MSN program.

#2 University of Southern California

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $167,228
  • Locations: Los Angeles (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The University of Southern California — a large, private non-profit — offers an online MSN - FNP. Focused on research and evidence-based practice, the program's curriculum explores the biomedical, social, economic, and environmental influences on nursing care. Applicants must be RNs with bachelor's degrees and at least one year of clinical experience. Full-time students typically complete the MSN program in 21 months, while part-time students typically need 33 months. Graduation requirements include the completion of 49 credit hours, 784 clinical practice hours, and two on-campus intensives.

The Blackboard learning platform allows online students to interact with peers, access course materials, and complete assignments.

#3 Touro University Nevada

  • Salary Score: 99
  • Median Starting Salary: $149,891
  • Locations: Henderson (NV)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Touro University — a small, private, non-profit — offers an MSN - FNP. The program requires the completion of 53 credit hours, including five trimester practicums and three clinical intensives on the Nevada campus. Courses cover specialized topics, such as disease prevention, mental health, pharmacology, and caring for children and seniors. Newly enrolled students can choose among three annual start dates per year, and most complete the program in seven trimesters.

Touro's MSN is delivered primarily online through the Canvas learning platform. Graduate students can take advantage of the school's academic coaching, mental health counseling, and other services.

#4 Texas A&M International University

  • Salary Score: 92
  • Median Starting Salary: $129,066
  • Locations: Laredo (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Students can pursue an online MSN - Nursing Administration at Texas A&M International University. This fast-track program — which can be completed in 10 months or less — prepares students for managerial and executive nursing roles. The MSN program is composed of 31 credit hours, with a 180-hour intensive practicum focused on the leadership roles of nurse executives. Eligible applicants must have a BSN, 3.0 minimum GPA, at least one year of work experience as a registered nurse, an unencumbered Texas RN license, and a completed undergraduate course in statistics.

#5 Midwestern State University

  • Salary Score: 89
  • Median Starting Salary: $125,822
  • Locations: Wichita Falls (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Midwestern State University, a medium public institution, offers an online Family Nurse Practitioner MSN program. This degree is suitable for graduates with a Bachelor's of Nursing who want to expand their skill sets in the field. A total of 48 credit hours are required to complete the course, which includes 24 hours of clinical work, 18 hours of nursing core courses, and six hours of thesis or project-based courses.

Out-of-state students can complete their clinical rotations locally with preceptor supervision. Graduates of the program are eligible to take the National Family Nurse Practitioner Certification Exam, and they are eligible to meet the Board of Nurse Examiners' needs for the state of Texas.

#6 Samuel Merritt University

  • Salary Score: 87
  • Median Starting Salary: $123,663
  • Locations: Oakland (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

Samuel Merritt University (SMU) is a small, private, non-profit. Applicants to the MSN - FNP must hold a bachelor's degree and a license to practice nursing in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, or Virginia. Once enrolled, students take courses in health assessment, pharmacology, and care management. In addition to completing 49 credit hours of coursework, MSN students must complete three clinical practicum semesters and attend two on-campus intensives in Sacramento. Full-time students may be able to finish in 20 months.

SMU students gain access to coursework and class discussions through Canvas, a digital learning platform. Academic advising, writing support, and career services are among the available resources.

#7 California State University - Dominguez Hills

  • Salary Score: 84
  • Median Starting Salary: $120,577
  • Locations: Carson (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

California State University (CSU) - Dominguez Hills is a large, public university offering an online MSN program. This online degree requires the completion of 30-48 credit hours composed of core courses, role-specific classes, and practicums. Students can choose between five role-specific outcomes for their degree: (1) Clinical Nurse Specialist (Adult/Gerontology), (2) Clinical Nurse Specialist (Neonatal), (3) Clinical Nurse Specialist (Pediatric), (4) Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), (5) Nurse Administrator, and (6) Nurse Educator.

All coursework done through Blackboard must be completed within five years after beginning the program. In addition, CSU students are required to have a California RN license and complete their clinical hours within the state of California.

#8 Mercy College

  • Salary Score: 84
  • Median Starting Salary: $120,372
  • Locations: Dobbs Ferry (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Mercy College, which is a medium-sized, private, non-profit, has earned the distinction of being a Hispanic-serving institution. RNs interested in furthering their careers in nursing management may be interested in Mercy's MSN Administration. On the other hand, RNs interested in becoming nurse educators may be interested in an MSN Education. Both programs require the completion of 36 credit hours and 120 practicum hours, and most students complete their degrees in 15 months.

Mercy graduate students use the Blackboard platform to access course materials and interact with peers and instructors. The school's student support services include academic advising, tutoring, and mental health counseling.

#9 Fairleigh Dickinson University

  • Salary Score: 80
  • Median Starting Salary: $117,472
  • Locations: Teaneck (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

A medium-sized, private, non-profit college, Fairleigh Dickinson University's (FDU) Metropolitan Campus has earned the distinction of being a Hispanic-serving institution. FDU offers two MSN programs for licensed New Jersey State nurses: The MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) requires the completion of 37 credit hours and 650 clinical practicum hours to graduate, and the MSN - Nursing Education requires 35 credit hours and a one-semester practicum.

Although online nursing students at FDU enjoy the flexibility of independent online learning, they are encouraged to engage with peers in a supportive environment. The FDU Metropolitan Campus offers a number of student services, including counseling, tutoring, library access, and career development assistance.

#10 University of San Francisco

  • Salary Score: 80
  • Median Starting Salary: $117,274
  • Locations: San Francisco (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The private, non-profit University of San Francisco (USF) is a medium-sized school associated with the Catholic church. USF offers an MSN designed for both practicing RNs and bachelor's degree holders from other fields. Depending on their background, students are required to complete 33-38 credit hours. Most students take two years to fulfill the degree requirements, including an internship and practicum. With a focus on nursing leadership, the MSN program synthesizes concepts from the physical sciences, management, public health, and the humanities.

MSN students at USF use the Canvas learning platform to access course materials, complete assignments, and engage in class discussions. Tutoring and job placement assistance are among the student resources available.

Online Master's in Nursing

A Master’s in Nursing is a post-graduate degree program that helps students with a strong professional or academic background in nursing to broaden their knowledge of the field and advance their careers. This level of education is usually undertaken by Registered Nurses (RN) with some years of work experience. It focuses on developing leadership and research skills to prepare students for advanced positions in the workplace and higher levels of responsibility.

What are the Prerequisites for an Online MSN?

There are three primary types of master's degrees in nursing for aspiring students to consider: RN to MSN programs, BSN to MSN programs, and direct entry MSN programs.

Online RN to MSNs are the most common master's in nursing program and are perfect for individuals who are already Registered Nurses but would like to further advance their knowledge. Applicants will need to hold a valid RN license and an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a nursing diploma. In many cases, RN to MSN programs also confer a BSN upon students once they complete the undergraduate portion of the coursework. These programs allow students to accelerate the process of earning their BSN and MSN degrees, compared to enrolling in separate BSN and MSN programs. Online RN to MSN programs may take up to four years of study.

Online BSN to MSN programs are geared toward students who already have an accredited bachelor's degree in nursing. Applicants to these online programs will need to have a valid RN license in addition to their BSN, and may need to have experience working as a nurse to be eligible. Aspiring nursing master's students with a BSN will want to look for this type of online MSN program.

Online direct entry MSN programs are designed for students who already have an accredited bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing. These degree programs enable students to fast-track their nursing careers by allowing them to skip the process of earning a BSN before enrolling in a graduate nursing program. Direct entry programs are not intended for students with an RN or a BSN-those students should select RN to MSN or BSN to MSN programs depending upon their credentials.

What Classes Will I Take in an Online MSN Program?

The curriculum of the MSN depends on the program specialization; there are a variety of MSN program specializations available online including nursing education, nursing leadership, nursing administration, and nurse informatics. Clinical programs focus on advanced skills for assessing patients, managing cases, and promoting health in patients. Within these clinical programs, students choose a particular focus, such as nurse practitioner, midwife, clinical nurse specialist, or psychiatric nursing. Clinical care MSN degrees always require clinical rounds in a healthcare facility, where nurses practice advanced hands-on care.

What can I do with an Online MSN?

A Registered Nurse with a Master’s in Nursing are referred to as Advanced Practice Registered Nurse and will be eligible for positions such as a Nursing Consultant, Research Nurse, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Administrator, and many other positions. Salary range for an Advanced Practice Registered nurse starts at around $78,286 up to $119,562 a year.

This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the school by this site.

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