2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Nursing (MSN) Programs

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 6/5/2020
2020 Best Online Master's in Nursing Badge

Distance students seeking master's programs in nursing will find that these 23 colleges offer the best value based on affordability and alumni salaries. Graduates of the #1 school, University of Massachusetts - Amherst, report earning a median salary of $116,300. Second-ranked University of Arizona offers an MSN for $11,560 per year. Graduates of the school's nursing program earn a median salary of $116,000.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 University of Massachusetts - Amherst $11,060 $116,300
# 2 #2 University of Arizona $11,560 $116,000
# 3 #3 Rivier University $9,450 $114,800
# 4 #4 California State University-Dominguez Hills $13,116 $115,600
# 5 #5 University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth $11,880 $113,500
# 6 #6 Gonzaga University $9,550 $107,500
# 7 #7 University of San Francisco $37,180 $118,100
# 8 #8 Seton Hall University $19,650 $110,900
# 9 #9 University of Massachusetts-Boston $13,800 $108,100
# 10 #10 University of Hartford $10,455 $106,100
# 11 #11 The University of Texas at Arlington $6,500 $104,300
# 12 #12 The University of Texas at Tyler $14,328 $106,200
# 13 #13 Texas Woman's University $7,681 $103,400
# 14 #14 University of North Dakota $9,945 $104,000
# 15 #15 University of Southern Indiana $5,105 $101,600
# 16 #16 The University of Texas at El Paso $10,540 $103,200
# 17 #17 Drexel University $4,428 $99,800
# 18 #18 Rush University $19,980 $105,400
# 19 #19 Wichita State University $5,736 $99,600
# 20 #20 Fort Hays State University $5,179 $99,100
# 21 #21 The University of Texas Medical Branch $8,963 $100,200
# 22 #22 Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi $11,535 $101,200
# 23 #23 University of Kansas $9,901 $100,500
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering Nursing Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 University of Massachusetts - Amherst

  • Annual Tuition: $11,060
  • Median Salary: $116,300
  • Locations: Amherst (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

The University of Massachusetts - Amherst offers two concentrations in its online Master of Science in Nursing program: the nursing education (NE) track and the clinical nurse leader (CNL) track. Both tracks are offered entirely online, with the exception of the nursing education track's final practicum, which must be performed on campus in Amherst, Massachusetts. The CNL track requires 32 credit hours that can be completed part-time in three years or full-time in two years. Graduates of the track are qualified to take the Commission on Nurse Certification's clinical nurse leader certification exam. Students in the NE track complete 33 credit hours and graduate the program with the competencies necessary to design and facilitate nursing education in colleges and healthcare facilities. Online learning at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst is primarily asynchronous and involves communicating with instructors and classmates through virtual platforms such as Blackboard and Moodle. Students also use these platforms to submit assignments, complete interactive activities, and stream lectures. Students interested in applying must hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing with at least a 3.0 GPA and an active nursing license. Those who qualify can submit an application online, along with a personal essay, a scholarly writing sample, copies of all current nursing licenses and certifications, a professional resume, and two letters of recommendation. Students who are new to distance learning can take advantage of Preview Week, which is an opportunity to become familiar with the Blackboard platform and the online format. Additional resources for students include access to the library database, writing center, academic advising, and the College of Nursing Student Support Center.

#2 University of Arizona

  • Annual Tuition: $11,560
  • Median Salary: $116,000
  • Locations: Tucson (AZ)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Arizona offers a Master of Science in Nursing in Clinical Systems Leadership degree for registered nurses with either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor's in nursing (BSN). Nurses with an ADN can complete the program in as little as 24 months, and those with a BSN can finish in as few as 15 months. Students complete the online MSN program prepared to enter leadership or administration roles, including nurse administrator, nurse educator, clinical care coordinator, infection control manager, and patient navigator. Classes start three times a year and require no residency on campus. All online courses are delivered using the Desire2Learn learning management system, which streamlines students’ syllabi, grades, assignments, and lesson materials. Students have the ability to complete their coursework at times that fit their schedules. To apply, eligible students create a graduate application account online, submit their previous transcripts, current resume, proof of RN license, a completed work verification survey, and pay a small application fee. The University of Arizona nursing students have access to various virtual support services, including alumni mentors, career and networking opportunities, online tutoring, and library access.

#3 Rivier University

  • Annual Tuition: $9,450
  • Median Salary: $114,800
  • Locations: Nashua (NH)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

The online Master of Science in Nursing at Rivier University offers four tracks in the discipline: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Nursing Education, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), and Leadership in Health Systems Management. Depending on the track, the MSN program requires 36 to 49 credit hours and can be completed within two to five years. The program offers several start dates throughout the year, and each course runs between seven and 14 weeks. Certain tracks, including the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, require several clinical practicals on campus in Nashua, New Hampshire. Completion of the FNP and PMHNP tracks qualify graduates to be certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Students in these online programs study asynchronously using Canvas as a learning management system. Canvas is a virtual platform through which students submit assignments, email their instructors, and organize their lesson materials. The application process for interested students requires prospective students to be licensed nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited institution and at least a 3.0 GPA. Students must submit documentation, including a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, proof of licensure, a resume indicating at least two years of professional experience, and a practicum form along with their online application. Nursing graduate students benefit from a number of student services, including writing support, library access, and academic and career advising.

#4 California State University-Dominguez Hills

  • Annual Tuition: $13,116
  • Median Salary: $115,600
  • Locations: Carson (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

Students in the online Master of Science in Nursing program at California State University Dominguez Hills can choose from a number of specialties in the discipline, including Clinical Nurse Specialist - Adult/Gerontology, Clinical Nurse Specialist - Pediatric, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Administrator, and Nurse Educator. In addition to the core curriculum, each track requires coursework specific to the concentration. The programs require between 30-48 credit units, depending on the concentration. Students in the Family Nurse Practitioner track must be licensed as a registered nurse in California and are expected to visit the campus on a regular basis for hybrid courses. Graduate nursing students have five years to complete the program in the discipline of their choice, which culminates with a portfolio presentation to demonstrate successful acquisition of skills and proficiencies. The online component of the coursework takes place on the Blackboard learning management system. Students can expect to take part in both synchronous and asynchronous learning. The Blackboard platform is accessible to distance learners 24/7, allowing them to submit assignments, study, and stream pre-recorded lectures on their schedules. Students are supported through professional development resources, tech support, academic advising, disability accommodations, and testing services. To apply, students must submit an online application, a resume, letter of intent, a copy of their nursing license, and their transcripts. To be a competitive applicant, students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 on their last 60 credits of coursework.

#5 University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth

  • Annual Tuition: $11,880
  • Median Salary: $113,500
  • Locations: North Dartmouth (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

The University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth offers an online Master of Science in Nursing for registered nurses interested in advancing their education and careers. The program offers concentrations in Nursing and Healthcare Education or Global Public Health. Nursing and healthcare education students are instructed on the theory and technique of designing and implementing an effective education program for nurses. Global public health students focus on the fundamentals of health policy, illness prevention, and health promotion. The master's in nursing online program consists of 39 credit hours and explores the theoretical foundations for advancing nursing practice, healthcare informatics, health promotion, and physiologic knowledge in patient care. Students use myCourses, an online platform that organizes lesson materials, syllabi, assignments, grades, and online services such as academic advising, the career resources center, and online tutoring. Available resources also include mental health counseling and IT support. In addition to the online coursework, students are required to complete a capstone project in a real-world, evidence-based nursing practice application. Students interested in applying must submit an online application, a statement of purpose and resume, all official transcripts, proof of licensure, and two letters of recommendation. It is preferred that applicants hold an undergraduate degree in nursing with at least a 3.0 GPA. However, students who earned an undergraduate degree in a different subject may still apply via the Graduate Admissions Program and take a transitional course before beginning graduate nursing coursework.

#6 Gonzaga University

  • Annual Tuition: $9,550
  • Median Salary: $107,500
  • Locations: Spokane (WA)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Gonzaga University offers several tracks for students interested in earning a master's degree online. Available degree paths include a traditional Master of Science in Nursing for registered nurses who hold a bachelor's degree, and includes three different concentration options, a Second MSN degree, which is intended for RNs who already hold an MSN, but would like to specialize in a different area, and an RN-MSN program, which is for registered nurses who hold an associate degree. In order to apply for any of the online MSN programs, students must complete the online application and send in their transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, a current professional resume, and proof of RN licensure. In the traditional Master of Science in Nursing track, students can select a concentration, choosing from Nursing Leadership in Healthcare, Family Nurse Practitioner, or Psychiatric/Mental Health Practitioner. Specific coursework varies for each degree track. However, all students take the core MSN curriculum, which includes classes such as Information Technology & Data Management, Evidence-Based Practice for Quality and Safety, Contemporary Healthcare Environment, and Clinical Prevention for Diverse Populations. While courses are primarily delivered online, students pursuing the traditional MSN degree must visit the campus for a short immersion class as part of their studies. Online students at Gonzaga are supported by online career services, library resources, and financial aid opportunities. 

#7 University of San Francisco

  • Annual Tuition: $37,180
  • Median Salary: $118,100
  • Locations: San Francisco (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

Students can earn their Master of Science in Nursing online through the University of San Francisco. This online nursing master's program is designed for working professionals with an RN license who are looking to expand their knowledge base and advance their career opportunities and earning potential. The curriculum varies depending on whether incoming students have previously earned a bachelor's degree or an associate degree. For the BSN-MSN students, the curriculum consists of 33 credits, while the curriculum from ASN to MSN requires 38 credits. Students can complete the program requirements over the duration of two years, mirroring the curriculum pathway for traditional, on-campus students. Courses include Healthcare Policy and Ethics, Epidemiology and Population Statistics, Assessment Across the Lifespan, Advanced Pathophysiology and Pharmacology, and Nurse Leader Roles Synthesis. Students also complete a 220-hour internship, as well as practicum coursework, both of which can generally be completed in students' workplaces. At the beginning of the program, students are paired with an academic advisor who will work with them through their studies, offering guidance and support. To apply, students must be actively registered nurses with either an ASN or BSN from an accredited institution and have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students then submit an online application, their professional resume, transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

#8 Seton Hall University

  • Annual Tuition: $19,650
  • Median Salary: $110,900
  • Locations: South Orange (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Students hoping to earn their Master of Science in Nursing through distance learning can find two available options at Seton Hall University. The Master of Science in Nursing, Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner prepares students to work with adult and elderly patients in general or acute nursing settings, while the Master of Science in Nursing Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PNP) prepares students to work with children and youth. These online programs are taught by the same faculty as the traditional, on-campus programs, with identical coursework. Within the Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner track, students can select from specializing in acute care, or in primary care settings. The curriculum includes core MSN classes in the theoretical basis of nursing, forces in health care, and nursing research. Degree-specific courses include Health Concepts of Aging, Clinical Pathophysiology, Clinical Pharmacology, and Advanced Health Assessment and Clinical Decision Making, along with practicums. Students pursuing the PNP track take the same core MSN classes, followed by practicum experiences geared towards pediatric care. The application process for these programs requires that prospective students be current RNs who hold bachelor's degrees in nursing from accredited four-year universities, with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants must submit a personal essay, two letters of reference, their transcripts, and proof of registered nurse licensure in order to be considered.

#9 University of Massachusetts-Boston

  • Annual Tuition: $13,800
  • Median Salary: $108,100
  • Locations: Boston (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

The University of Massachusetts-Boston offers an online MSN program through the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. This program requires 48 credits and can be completed on a part-time or full-time schedule. Students who study full-time are able to finish their degree in two years, while those who study part-time may take three or four years to complete their studies. There are two concentrations available for students who wish to focus their education toward their career goals: the family nurse practitioner concentration (FNP) and the adult-gerontological nurse practitioner - primary care concentration. The former specializes in the primary care of children and families, while the latter specializes in the care of older humans, often in settings such as nursing homes or retirement facilities. Both concentrations require a blend of online and classroom learning, as well as 600 clinical hours. The core curriculum includes courses such as Introduction to Advanced Practice Nursing: Knowledge for Practice in the Global Community, Advanced Health Assessment, Pharmacology for Advanced Practice Nurses, and Advanced Pathophysiology. Students interested in applying must send in an application, accompanied by a personal essay, all transcripts, two references, proof of licensure, and a resume indicating at least one year of clinical experience. While in the program, students receive support from academic advisors, career services, the graduate writing center, and technical assistance.

#10 University of Hartford

  • Annual Tuition: $10,455
  • Median Salary: $106,100
  • Locations: West Hartford (CT)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

The University of Hartford offers an online Master of Science in Nursing with three concentration options: public health nursing, nursing education, and nursing management. The application process is the same for all three tracks. Applicants must be registered nurses in the state of Connecticut with at least one year of clinical practice and must have previously earned a bachelor's degree in nursing or a related field. Students can apply by submitting the online application, their academic transcripts, current resume, letter of intent, and two letters of recommendation. Once accepted to the program, students take 19 credits of required core courses that include  Advanced Nursing Practice, Theoretical Perspectives in Nursing, Applied Evidence-Based Nursing, and Scholarly Inquiry in Nursing. Students also take six credits in their selected concentration track and nine credits of elective coursework, such as Advanced Health Assessment, Pathophysiology, and Pharmacology. This MSN program can be started at any point in the school year and is designed to take two years to complete. As there are no required log-in times, students have ultimate flexibility when it comes to their coursework, and can continue working while pursuing their education. Online students can make use of virtual tutoring services, academic coaching, IT support, and mental health resources throughout their time at the University of Hartford.

#11 The University of Texas at Arlington

  • Annual Tuition: $6,500
  • Median Salary: $104,300
  • Locations: Arlington (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Texas at Arlington offers a number of options for students seeking distance learning options for a Master of Science in Nursing. The available programs include MSN clinical concentrations in Adult Gerontology Acute Care, Nurse Practitioner Acute Pediatric Care, Adult Gerontology Primary Care, Nurse Practitioner Family Care, Nurse Practitioner Neonatal Nursing, Nurse Practitioner Pediatric Primary Care, and Nurse Practitioner Family Psychiatric Mental Health. Additional administrative MSN tracks include Nursing Administration and Nurse Education. All tracks require the same three core classes: Exploration of Science and Theories for Nursing, Principles of Research in Nursing, and Evidence Based Practice. Following the completion of those classes, students engage in coursework that is specific to their nursing focus. Programs range from 27-37 credits required for graduation. The variety of study tracks allows students to focus on an area of nursing that is congruent with their professional plans. An additional option for students pursuing an online MSN program is the RN-MSN program, through which students with an associate degree and their registered nursing license can finish their undergraduate degree and their graduate degree at the same time. The admission processes for the online graduate nursing programs at UTA are the same. Students must be actively registered nurses with at least two years of clinical experience (no experience is needed for adult-gerontology primary care track or pediatric primary care track). Applicants must also hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited four-year institution (RN-MSN program, excepted) with at least a 3.0 GPA. A personal essay, professional resume, transcripts, and one letter of reference are the required documents when applying to the nursing programs.

#12 The University of Texas at Tyler

  • Annual Tuition: $14,328
  • Median Salary: $106,200
  • Locations: Tyler (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Students can select from three distinct online nursing master's programs through the University of Texas at Tyler. The available Master of Science in Nursing tracks include Nursing Administration, Nurse Education, and a unique MSN/MBA program. The application process is similar for all three tracks. Students must be accepted to the University of Texas prior to applying to the nursing program. When submitting their application to the MSN degree program, students must include their resumes, academic transcripts, GRE scores, proof of registered nursing license, three references, and a personal essay and/or video explaining their reason for selecting the track they selected, as well as their professional goals. Those applying to the MSN/MBA program must apply to both the nursing department and the business school. While pursuing their degrees, students may elect to enroll on a part-time or full-time schedule. The Nurse Education and Nursing Administration tracks both require 36 credits and can be completed in two years on a full-time schedule. The MSN/MBA program requires 63 credits, and if students study full-time, it can be completed in three years. This program is designed for students who aspire to work in healthcare administration or management. In addition to online coursework, all program participants complete practicum experiences that are arranged by the nursing faculty and partnering institutions. 

#13 Texas Woman's University

  • Annual Tuition: $7,681
  • Median Salary: $103,400
  • Locations: Denton (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Texas Woman's University offers several different options for students looking into online nursing master's programs. The online Master of Science in Nursing has specialization options in Health Systems Management, Nursing Education, and an option for aspiring Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs). For all MSN programs through Texas Woman's University, students must hold a bachelor's degree in nursing and be actively licensed RNs. The MSN in Health Systems Management requires 42-45 credits, which include 17 credits for a selected minor (students can choose between a minor in business or a minor in health care administration.) Core classes include Theoretical Foundations of Nursing Practice, Policy and Health Promotion, Nursing Health Systems Management Challenges & Opportunities, and practicums in fiscal assessment, organizational assessment, and outcomes assessment. Through the coursework, students are prepared to assume leadership roles in their places of work, as well as pursue executive roles in a variety of health care institutions. The MSN in Nurse Education prepares students to teach nursing skills and best practices to nurses in training at four-year institutions, community colleges, and in hospitals. The MSN for FNPs requires 46 credits, and can be completed in fewer than three years. Students in this program can expect to complete coursework in pharmacotherapeutics, health policy and promotion, advanced pathophysiology,  and family health nursing. In addition, these program participants engage in fieldwork in facilities that they are placed in by a clinical placement team. This team aims to place students in hospitals or clinics that are close to their homes. Students interested in applying for any of these MSN tracks can apply online.

#14 University of North Dakota

  • Annual Tuition: $9,945
  • Median Salary: $104,000
  • Locations: Grand Forks (ND)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of North Dakota offers an online nursing master's program with three distinct concentration options. Students pursuing their Master of Science in Nursing can select from specializing in adult-gerontology primary care nursing, family nursing (FNP), or psychiatric-mental health nursing. Eligible students hold a bachelor's degree in nursing with a minimum GPA of 3.0, as well as an active RN license. One year of professional experience is recommended, but not required. In order to apply, prospective students must send in an application, along with their official transcripts, proof of nursing license, resume, personal statement outlining their academic and professional goals, and three letters of recommendation. A clean background check and up-to-date immunizations are also required. In this online program, students take 22 credits of core curriculum, followed by 25-27 credits of concentration coursework. The core curriculum includes classes such as Theories & Concepts in Nursing, Advanced Pharmacology, Advanced Pathophysiology, and Advanced Health Assessment. In addition to the core curriculum and concentration courses, students complete advanced clinical practicums, for which they are placed in clinics with the support and attention of faculty. Certifications are available at the end of each of the concentration tracks, meaning students graduate with distinct achievements that will enable them to take on positions of leadership in their places of employment.

#15 University of Southern Indiana

  • Annual Tuition: $5,105
  • Median Salary: $101,600
  • Locations: Evansville (IN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Southern Indiana offers an online MSN program for those who are current RNs looking to advance their careers or gain additional skills and expertise. Students can specialize in one of five different areas: adult-gerontology acute care, adult-gerontology nurse specialist, family nursing, psychiatric-mental health nursing, or nursing education. Each of these tracks requires slightly different coursework and clinical requirements. However, the core curriculum remains the same across all specialties. Students can expect to take foundation classes such as Evidenced Based Practice for Advanced Nursing, Healthcare Informatics for Advanced Nursing Practice, Roles for Advanced Nursing Practice, and Theoretical Foundations for Advanced Nursing Practice. The tracks range from 42-44 credits required, and from 545-660 clinical hours (the nurse education track does not require clinical hours.) These programs are offered online, with the exception of a two-day orientation at the beginning of students' academic journeys, and another two-day intensive during the program to complete certain coursework. The admission process for the Master of Science in Nursing program takes place once per school year and requires that applicants be licensed RNs with a recommended 2,000 hours of recent professional experience. In addition, students should hold a bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited four-year institution. To apply, prospective students submit an application to the University of Southern Indiana, along with their transcripts. Upon acceptance to the university, students may apply to the MSN program by submitting their resume, statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation. 

#16 The University of Texas at El Paso

  • Annual Tuition: $10,540
  • Median Salary: $103,200
  • Locations: El Paso (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Texas at El Paso offers three different online nursing masters programs for students who require a distance learning option. Students can earn a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in Nurse Education, Nursing Administration Management, or in Nurse Practitioner Care. The Nurse Practitioner (NP) track includes sub-specialty options in adult/gerontology acute care, family nursing (FNP), pediatric acute care, pediatric primary care, and psychiatric/mental health nursing. The NP track requires 46-49 credits and 675-775 hours of clinical training. Students may need to travel 200 miles or further for their clinical fieldwork. The Nursing Administration Management track requires 33 credits and includes a 15-week residency. Students pursuing this track acquire the skills and knowledge to take on leadership roles and positions of management in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. The Nurse Education track requires 33 credits and prepares students to teach in nurse training programs at colleges and universities, and in hospital education departments. This track includes two experiences with students' mentors, with optional intensives held on campus. The application process for these online MSN programs requires that students submit their transcripts, statement of purpose, and resume, along with the online application. GRE scores and letters of recommendation are not necessary. Applicants must have an active RN license, as well as hold an undergraduate degree in nursing.

#17 Drexel University

  • Annual Tuition: $4,428
  • Median Salary: $99,800
  • Locations: Philadelphia (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

A number of online nursing master's programs are available through Drexel University. Students can pursue a Master of Science in Nursing, with concentration options that include Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Leader, Clinical Research, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Innovation, Leadership in Health Systems Management, Nursing Education, Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Public Health Nursing, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Quality, Safety, and Risk Management in Healthcare, an MSN Bridge Program, or an RN-BSN-MSN. This program is highly adaptable to students' professional goals. With the exception of the RN-BSN-MSN program, all tracks within the Master of Science in Nursing program require that students hold a bachelor's degree in nursing, with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Most tracks also require that students be registered nurses. Required documentation during the admission process includes official transcripts, a statement of purpose, and a professional resume. The MSN core curriculum involves courses covering issues in contemporary health care environments, ethical decision making in health care, research methods and biostatistics, and evaluation and translation of health research, as well as supporting courses such as Advanced Pathophysiology, Advanced Pharmacology, Advanced Clinical Assessment & Diagnostic Reasoning, and The Business of Healthcare. The total number of credits for degree completion varies depending on the academic track. In addition, students spend time completing capstone projects and participating in required fieldwork opportunities. Students pursuing distance learning at Drexel University can take advantage of career development services, library resources, counseling, and academic advising.

#18 Rush University

  • Annual Tuition: $19,980
  • Median Salary: $105,400
  • Locations: Chicago (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Rush University offers an online master's nursing program through the College of Nursing. Through this degree program, students earn a Master of Science in Nursing and work toward becoming certified Clinical Nurse Leaders. A total of 37 credits are required for the degree, and while most of the coursework is completed online, students must travel to campus on three separate occasions during the program for short educational intensives. Students study on a part-time schedule to allow them to continue working while in the program. The curriculum includes classes such as Healthcare Economics, Policy, and Finance, Health Promotion in Individuals and Clinical Populations, Organizational and Systems Leadership, and Clinical Leadership and Project Development. Near the end of the program, students have an opportunity to integrate their knowledge through a clinical experience and capstone project, which may be done at students' places of employment. In order to apply, prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 minimum GPA. An online application must be completed and submitted, along with three personal references, an essay, a professional resume, and proof of an active RN license. Students do not need to have clinical experience in order to be eligible for this program. Upon completion of the graduation requirements, students are prepared to take the American Association of Colleges of Nursing certification for Clinical Nurse Leaders. Students are also prepared to pursue a doctoral degree and may do so through Rush University's Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

#19 Wichita State University

  • Annual Tuition: $5,736
  • Median Salary: $99,600
  • Locations: Wichita (KS)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Wichita State University offers a flexible online nursing master's program through which students earn a Master of Science in Nursing Education. In order to apply, students must hold an undergraduate degree in nursing from an accredited four-year institution, with at least a 3.0 GPA. Admission is a two-step process, as students must be accepted to WSU prior to being accepted to the program. Following acceptance into the School of Nursing, students take required courses for the degree, including Theoretical Foundations of Advanced Nursing Practice, Health Care Systems: Policy and Politics, Advanced Health Assessment, and Teaching Strategies for Nursing Education. In addition to online coursework, students complete an applied learning unit in the form of a research project that is completed independently or with the guidance of faculty or professional mentors. While an online student at Wichita State University, resources such as tutoring, the university's library system, academic success coaches, and financial management tools are available. Following the completion of the program, students are prepared for advanced positions as educators providing training at universities or in healthcare facilities. 

#20 Fort Hays State University

  • Annual Tuition: $5,179
  • Median Salary: $99,100
  • Locations: Hays (KS)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Fort Hays State University offers two different online MSN programs: an MSN in Nursing Administration, and an MSN in Nursing Education. Students applying to either program must have previously earned a bachelor's degree in nursing, with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. In addition, applicants must be registered nurses. To apply, prospective students must submit an application, along with their transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay. The Nursing Administration track requires 36 total credits, with classes such as Advanced Foundations for Nursing Practice, Healthcare: Policy/Politics/Organization/Cost, Administrative Management in Health Care Organizations, and Complexity in Health Care Organizations. Students also complete two research projects. The Nursing Education track also requires 36 credits, and classes include Teaching Strategies in Nursing, Curriculum Planning: Nursing Education, and Nursing Education: Curriculum Evaluation. Evidence-based projects are also a culminating experience in this track. Students are prepared for positions of leadership through these distinct degree programs, and through the fully online curriculum they are equipped with the tools and knowledge necessary to advance in their respective fields. Students excel with the support of academic advisors, a strong student nursing association, and financial aid opportunities.

#21 The University of Texas Medical Branch

  • Annual Tuition: $8,963
  • Median Salary: $100,200
  • Locations: Galveston (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Texas Medical Branch offers an online Master of Science in Nursing for students looking to advance their nursing careers. There are seven different tracks available to allow students to specialize in a specific area of nursing that aligns with their professional goals. Those who want to work on the clinical side may choose between the following program tracks: Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program, Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program, Family Nurse Practitioner Program, or Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program, while students who prefer to focus on nurse education or leadership may select the Clinical Nurse Leader Program, Executive Nurse Leader Program, or Nurse Educator Program. Each of these programs prepare students for high-level work in the concentration they pursue. Coursework for these MSN programs is primarily online, with the exception of one campus visit each semester. Students complete their degree on a part-time schedule to allow for work commitments. While the curriculum for each of the individual MSN tracks varies, all are seven semesters in duration and require between 11 and 14 courses for completion. In order to apply, students must have a bachelor's degree in nursing with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants must also be active RNs with at least one year of clinical experience. Students send in a personal statement, one letter of recommendation, and their professional resumes for consideration. Online classes are taught using a learning management system called Blackboard. Technical assistance and support are readily available for students encountering issues. Students may also take advantage of the career development resources offered through UTMB.

#22 Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

  • Annual Tuition: $11,535
  • Median Salary: $101,200
  • Locations: Corpus Christi (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Three different online nursing master's programs are available through Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Students can earn a Master of Science in Nursing, with an emphasis in Family Nurse Practitioner Nursing (FNP), Nurse Education, or Leadership in Nursing. For the FNP track, 49 credits are required, while the Nurse Education track requires 37 credits, and the Leadership in Nursing track requires 40 credits. The curriculum for each track begins with the same core classes, which include Science in Nursing, Research Methods in Advanced Nursing Practice, and Health Policy and Cultural Diversity. Students then take courses in their chosen specializations. The Leadership and FNP programs are designed to be part-time so that students can continue to work while pursuing their degrees. The Nurse Education track prepares students to take the National League of Nursing Certified Nurse Educator Certification Examination. Prospective students may apply to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christ's online MSN programs by submitting an application, along with a professional resume, proof of Texas nursing license, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and all academic transcripts. 

#23 University of Kansas

  • Annual Tuition: $9,901
  • Median Salary: $100,500
  • Locations: Lawrence (KS)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Kansas offers a Master of Science in Nursing in an online format for students who require a flexible education option. The program curriculum is divided into four segments: the common core, leadership core, a segment defined by a supervised research project, and a functional specialty core. Students may select nursing education, organizational leadership, or public health for their functional specialty core focus. In total, 37-39 credits are required for completion, depending on what focus students select. In the nursing education specialty track, students take courses such as Designing a Student Learning Environment, and Teaching with Technologies. The organizational leadership track includes classes in healthcare economics, and human resources, and workforce development. Lastly, the public health specialty requires coursework covering epidemiology, as well as health promotion and complementary therapeutics. Students pursuing this online MSN program generally earn their degree in two years if studying full-time, and three to four years if studying part-time. In addition to online lessons, students complete practicums in professional settings in order to integrate their knowledge with practical application. To apply, students must submit an application to the University of Kansas School of Nursing and include their official transcripts, a letter of intent, three references, a current resume, and proof of an active RN license. Students may also be asked to set up a phone interview with program representatives. Successful applicants are registered nurses with at least one year of professional experience, who hold undergraduate degrees in nursing and a minimum GPA of 3.0.

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.

References

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