Online RN to MSN Programs

Updated March 17, 2021
Quick Facts
Accreditation: Institutional
Average Tuition: $28,452
Average Salary: $115,800

Online RN to MSN bridge programs are special degrees that can help registered nurses (RN) with an associate degree earn a graduate degree at an accelerated pace. After meeting the prerequisite requirements and enrolling, students take a small number of credits of bachelor’s degree bridge work; this is generally between 15 and 25 credit hours. Students are often required to maintain a GPA of at least 2.5 or 3.0 during this bachelor’s work in order to advance to the master’s portion of the program.

The master’s portion of the degree generally takes two to three years to complete. Students begin by taking general advanced courses, such as health assessment, professional practice, and community health. Many programs require students to focus in a particular specialty area after completing these general classes. Many specializations are available, such as acute care, gerontology, emergency care, women’s health, or midwifery.

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Rank School Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
# 1 #1 Purdue University Global $10,662 64% (304 reviews)
233 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
233 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN
  • Accelerated BSN to MSN
# 2 #2 Southern New Hampshire University Online $11,286 63% (401 reviews)
279 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
279 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN
  • MS in Nursing (RN to MSN) Accelerated Track
# 3 #3 Walden University Not Provided 50% (576 reviews)
612 Programs, 6 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
612 Programs, 6 Master's in RN to MSN
  • MS in Nursing (MSN from RN) - Public Health Nursing
  • MS in Nursing (MSN) from RN - Nursing Executive
  • MS in Nursing Education - RN to MSN - Tempo Learning®
  • MS in Nursing Executive - RN to MSN - Tempo Learning®
# 4 #4 Western Governors University $7,790 73% (689 reviews)
68 Programs, 3 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
68 Programs, 3 Master's in RN to MSN
  • M.S. Nursing - Education (RN to MSN)
  • M.S. Nursing - Leadership and Management (RN to MSN)
  • M.S. Nursing - Nursing Informatics (RN to MSN option)
# 5 #5 Spring Arbor University Online $8,176 0% (1 review)
45 Programs, 10 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
45 Programs, 10 Master's in RN to MSN
  • RN to MSN
  • RN to MSN - Education
  • RN to MSN - MBA
  • RN to MSN - MBA - Executive Leadership
# 6 #6 Michigan State University $37,056 100% (1 review)
101 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
101 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Adult Gerontology Clinical...
# 7 #7 South University Online $14,919 41% (66 reviews)
39 Programs, 5 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
39 Programs, 5 Master's in RN to MSN
  • RN to MSN specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner
  • RN to MSN specialization in Adult-Gerontology Primary Car...
  • RN to MSN specialization in Nurse Administrator
  • RN to MSN specialization in Nurse Educator
# 8 #8 Carson-Newman University $9,227 0% (1 review)
24 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
24 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN
  • Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner ...
# 9 #9 West Coast University $10,521 14% (7 reviews)
23 Programs, 5 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
23 Programs, 5 Master's in RN to MSN
  • RN to MSN - Advanced Generalist
  • RN to MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner
  • RN to MSN - Nurse Educator
  • RN to MSN - Nurse Leader
# 10 #10 Lamar University $15,860 50% (14 reviews)
65 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
65 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN
  • Master of Science in Nursing - RN to MSN
# 11 #11 Grantham University $4,800 56% (87 reviews)
75 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
75 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN
  • RN to MSN Bridge Program Option
# 12 #12 Wilkes University $27,024 Add Review
57 Programs, 4 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
57 Programs, 4 Master's in RN to MSN
  • Associate Degree in Nursing (R.N.) to M.S.N.
  • RN to M.S.N. - Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Pract...
  • RN to M.S.N. - Family Nursing Practitioner (FNP)
  • RN to M.S.N. - Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
# 13 #13 Graceland University $8,390 Add Review
27 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
27 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN
  • RN to MSN
# 14 #14 Jacksonville University $14,706 88% (8 reviews)
30 Programs, 4 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
30 Programs, 4 Master's in RN to MSN
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Clinical Nurse Educator (R...
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Informatics (RN to MSN)
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Leadership in Healthcare S...
  • Master of Science in Nursing (RN to MSN)
# 15 #15 Nova Southeastern University $21,206 71% (7 reviews)
203 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
203 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN
  • RN-MSN - Executive Nurse Leadership
# 16 #16 Saint Xavier University $16,450 Add Review
48 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
48 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN
  • RN to MSN
# 17 #17 The University of Texas at Arlington $22,980 35% (23 reviews)
42 Programs, 3 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
42 Programs, 3 Master's in RN to MSN
  • MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner (RN to MSN)
  • Registered Nurse to Master of Science in Nursing - Admini...
  • Registered Nurse to Master of Science in Nursing - Nurse ...
# 18 #18 Regis University $14,441 37% (19 reviews)
147 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
147 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN
  • RN to MSN - Degree Completion
# 19 #19 Concordia University - Wisconsin $11,172 67% (3 reviews)
106 Programs, 2 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
106 Programs, 2 Master's in RN to MSN
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing - RN-BSN Completion
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nurse Educator
# 20 #20 Olivet Nazarene University $13,420 19% (26 reviews)
56 Programs, 3 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
56 Programs, 3 Master's in RN to MSN
  • Master of Science in Nursing - RN to MSN
  • Master of Science in Nursing - RN to MSN - Education Track
  • Master of Science in Nursing - RN to MSN - Leadership/Man...
# 21 #21 California State University-Chico $18,744 Add Review
15 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
15 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN
  • Master of Science in Nursing
# 22 #22 University of Massachusetts-Boston $36,435 50% (2 reviews)
48 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
48 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN
  • MS in Nursing
# 23 #23 Wilson College $9,000 Add Review
23 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
23 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN
  • Master of Science in Nursing - RN to MSN
# 24 #24 Gonzaga University $17,096 100% (3 reviews)
30 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
30 Programs, 1 Master's in RN to MSN
  • MSN (RN to MSN)
# 25 #25 American Public University System $7,005 71% (169 reviews)
502 Programs, 3 Master's in RN to MSN (view all)
502 Programs, 3 Master's in RN to MSN
  • Master of Science in Nursing - RN to MSN
  • Master of Science in Nursing - RN to MSN - Nurse Educator
  • Master of Science in Nursing - RN to MSN - Nurse Leader

What is an Online RN to MSN Degree?

Nurses with MSNs typically have more career opportunities and higher salaries than undergraduate level nurses. Online RN to MSN programs prepare nurses to take on more clinical responsibility, such as those that train nurse practitioners (NPs) and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs). All clinical MSN programs are specialized, meaning they focus on specific aspects of patient care, such as mental health, primary care, acute care, emergency care, or women’s health. NPs and other advanced practice nurses are then licensed in these areas by passing specialty-specific board exams. MSN programs that are not intended for direct patient care include nurse education, nursing informatics, and nursing leadership. Nurses in these roles contribute to patient care on the systems level, rather than through individual patient contact.

How to Choose an Online RN to MSN Program

There are several factors that RN to MSN applicants consider when choosing an online program. First, applicants should ensure the curriculum is accredited by either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Because each school offers a different range of specialties, the prudent applicant reviews these offerings before applying to be sure their preference is availale. Information about cost, financial aid, licensure board pass rates, clinical hours, research focus, post graduate employment rates, and faculty is often readily accessible as well.

Applicants need to review each program’s prerequisites to see if they qualify. Programs may require a minimum GPA, standardized testing such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and nursing experience for admission. In addition, there are multiple earning formats and scheduling options for graduate nursing students. There are online, in-person, and hybrid programs, each of which vary in the schedule flexibility they allow for coursework. All clinical and some non-clinical MSN programs require clinical on-site training, which students may arrange themselves at local sites, or which may be dictated by the school.

Online RN to MSN Curriculum

Each online RN to MSN curriculum varies depending on the specialty chosen, but there are foundational concepts that each program covers. MSN curricula teach advanced nursing practice and theories, including nursing informatics, research, best practice, pharmacology, pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and leadership.

Online RN to MSN programs may also offer tracks in specific specialties. These are focus areas concerned with a variety of patient care aspects. As both MSN curriculum and licensing credentials are specialty-specific, this choice has a significant impact on post-graduate career course. These are common MSN specialties:

  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Family nurse practitioner
  • Gerontology
  • Midwifery
  • Nurse anesthetist
  • Neonatal and pediatric nurse practitioner
  • Acute care nurse practitioner
  • Psychiatric nurse practitioner

How Long is an Online RN to MSN Program?

Most online RN to MSN programs take three years to complete.

What Can You Do with an Online Master’s in Nursing?

There is a wide range of career trajectories that an MSN graduate can pursue. Graduate-level nurses have a broader scope of practice, greater opportunity, higher salaries, and more responsibility than associate- and bachelor-level nurses. These are different roles graduate nurses can fill:

Following are different roles graduate nurses can fill:

  • Advanced nurse practitioner: Acts as an advanced practitioner, overseeing care for a variety of patient populations
  • Clinical nurse specialist: Serves as a clinical expert and support for nurses; verifies use of best, evidence-based practice
  • Nurse administrator: Manages a team of nurses; directs patient care initiatives on a systems level; oversees nursing quality
  • Research nurse: Conducts and disseminates the most up-to-date research to inform patience care practices
  • Nurse educator: Works in an academic or clinical setting as a professor or expert nursing resource

Within all of these roles, MSN graduates can be found in hospitals, extended care facilities, academic settings, clinics, research labs, and their own private practices, among others.

MSN Salary

Salaries for employees with an MSN degree vary based on the graduate’s specialty and geographic area. According to PayScale, median pay for hourly employees who hold an MSN is $43 an hour, while the median annual salary for someone with an MSN is $92,000. Since an MSN is an advanced degree, it has one of the highest salary averages of all nursing degrees. States vary greatly in terms of compensation for nurses, as do geographic contexts, such as roles in urban versus rural settings. Income for MSN graduates is dependent on role as well; nurse educators generally have a lower salary than nurse anesthetists, for example.

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.