25 Best Affordable Online Master’s in Nursing Education in 2021

25 Best Affordable Online Master’s in Nursing Education in 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of the nursing profession and has brought change to the career.  Nurse educators are a vital part of this work. The National League of Nursing (NLN) defines these professionals as facilitators of nurse education and leaders who help design and evaluate nursing programs. 

As a nursing educator, you’ll not only be training the students who would eventually be on the frontline in such a crisis, but you may also find yourself stepping in to help as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), careers in this field will continue to grow at a rapid rate — about 13% through 2029. 

Nearly 11 million new registered nurses will be needed through 2021 to avoid a shortage, according to BLS data, and the lack of sufficient nursing staff in nursing programs across the U.S. proves the significant demand for these educators. 

If you’re interested in becoming a nurse educator, learn more about our picks for affordable online master’s in nursing education programs below, and let us guide you as you make a plan for your future career path. 

Accredited Online College Programs

Most Affordable Online Master’s in Nursing Programs 2021

  1. Missouri State University

    Springfield, MO



    The most affordable online master's in nursing education program on our list is offered by Missouri State University's School of Nursing. The program is designed to prepare licensed RNs with the advanced skills needed to secure jobs in advanced nursing roles at hospitals and colleges. Full-time and part-time options are available. Courses are delivered online and include advanced health assessment and health promotion throughout the lifespan, advanced research methods in nursing, health policies and issues, issues in healthcare education, teaching and learning for health care educators, and technology in health care education. Missouri State is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 71st best regional university in the Midwest and 16th top public school.

  2. University of West Georgia

    Carrollton, GA



    University of West Georgia's online MSN nursing education programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and offered 100% online. The program is designed to offer high quality advanced instruction to RNs that will prepare them for careers in advanced practice in various health and clinical settings. All classes are delivered online and taught by the same professors who instruct on campus. These courses include curriculum development in nursing education, evaluation and testing in nursing education, health promotion and advanced health assessment, scholarly inquiry and data analysis in nursing, and theoretical foundations of nursing practice. University of West Georgia is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top national institution. Also, the online graduate nursing programs are ranked #29 out of more than 1,200 programs surveyed by U.S. News.

  3. Angelo State University

    San Angelo, TX



    One of the best online nursing education master's programs on our list is offered by Angelo State University. The program is designed to help students develop expertise as an advanced-level nurse in a teaching role. While the program is fully online, on-campus attendance requirements are minimal. Some of the courses offered include curriculum in nursing education, evaluation in nursing education, evidence-based practice and theory for advanced nursing, leadership and practicum in nursing education, and teaching strategies in nursing education. The practicum may be completed near the student's home or geographic location and requires 150 clocked hours. Acceptance to the program requires an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better, a statistics course, a current RN license, and BSN degree. Angelo State is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the West, and its online graduate nursing programs are ranked #50 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

  4. Texas Woman's University

    Denton, TX



    The 100% online MSN nursing education programs from Texas Woman's College are some of the most affordable degree options available on our list. Online students take the same classes that on-campus peers experience and are assigned to participate as a nurse educator at an approved facility near the student's geographic location. Courses include curriculum design and management in nursing, educational communication and technologies of education, health policy and health promotion, measurement and assessment in nursing, research and quality improvement in nursing, and theoretical foundations of nursing practice. Admission requires a current unencumbered RN license, a bachelor's degree in nursing, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, and GRE or MAT scores. Texas Woman's University is a nationally ranked institution by major publications like U.S. News and World Report.

  5. Ferris State University

    Big Rapids, MI



    The online master's in nursing education program at Ferris State University is an accredited MSN degree with a specialty concentration in nursing education. The program is designed to build upon the BSN degree and is accessible as a fully online program. Admission is competitive, as the program only accepts twenty students in the fall and spring semesters. An earned bachelor's in nursing is required, along with a strong undergraduate GPA. Online courses include curriculum design in nursing education, introduction to advanced nursing roles, organizational and systems leadership, and teaching methods in nursing education. Ferris State is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 74th best regional university in the Midwest. Also, the online graduate nursing programs are ranked #68 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

  6. University of South Alabama

    Mobile, AL



    The MSN in nursing education online degree program at University of South Alabama is accredited and affordable. The program is designed to equip students for careers in professional nursing education. Courses are delivered online and designed to prepare students for doctoral nursing programs like the DNP. Online courses include current topics in nursing education, curriculum and outcomes evaluation in nursing education, instructional design and technology for nurse educators, and nursing education role synthesis. Admission to the program does not require the GRE or MAT, but does require an earned bachelor's from an accredited institution and a strong undergraduate GPA. University of South Alabama is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top national institution.

  7. Indiana State University

    Terre Haute, IN



    One of the most affordable online master's nurse educator programs on our list is offered by Indiana State University. This 100% online program offers courses taught by university professors and does not require on-campus visits. The program can be completed in 2 ½ to 3 years through part-time study; however, the program does allow up to five years. All courses are delivered online. These courses include advanced clinical concepts in nursing education, curriculum process in nursing, evidence based practice, and measurement and assessment in nursing. A statistical methods course is also required. Indiana State is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the online graduate nursing programs are ranked #81 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

  8. University of Missouri

    Kansas City, MO



    The MSN in nursing education online degree program from University of Missouri is a blended online program that requires minimal campus visits. This accredited program is designed to equip students with the skills and knowledge needed to work as nurse educators in a variety of education and clinical settings. Coursework covers a wide range of topics, including health care policy, nursing theory and evidence-based practice, public health and sociocultural issues, role development in nursing, and teaching strategies and curriculum development. A strong GPA of 3.0 or better is required for admission. If the student does not meet the minimum GPA requirements, GRE scores may be submitted. University of Missouri is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top national institution. Also, the online graduate nursing programs are ranked #21 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

  9. Lamar University

    Beaumont, TX



    One of the most affordable online nursing education master's programs on our list is the 37-credit hour MSN in nursing education from Lamar University. The program is offered through the institution's Joanne Gay Dishman School of Nursing and is designed to complete in just 24 months. Coursework is delivered online and taught by university professors. These courses include advanced health assessment, curriculum design, measurement and evaluation, and role development and learning – teaching theories. An education practicum must also be completed. Admission the program requires a BSN from a nationally accredited nursing program, a current RN license, and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better. Lamar is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top national university. Also, the online graduate nursing programs are ranked #61 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.

  10. Oklahoma Baptist University

    Shawnee, OK



    The online master's nurse educator program from Oklahoma Baptist University can be completed in just 18 months. This accredited online program is designed to equip registered nurses with a bachelor's degree with the skills needed to succeed in nursing education. Students will learn how to impact future generations of nurses by teaching some of the same skills they acquire during the program. Online courses include curriculum design and evaluation, health care and nursing informatics, nursing leadership and health policy, nursing research – evidence for nursing practice, and philosophical foundations of professional nursing. Admission requires a current license to practice professional nursing, the completion of a basic statistics course, a bachelor's in nursing, GPA of 3.0 or better, and one-year work experience as an RN. Oklahoma Baptist is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 5th best regional college in the West.

  • Our Methodology, Explained

    Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.

    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 30%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 10%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 30%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 20%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%

    A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

Answering Your Questions About Master’s in Nursing Education Programs

  • How do I become a master in nursing education?

    To earn your master’s degree in nursing education, you must first complete your undergraduate degree in nursing. The bachelor’s program should generally take four years unless you’re on an accelerated track or it could take longer if you’re not in school full time. Generally you also need to be an RN to be admitted into a master’s program and have some clinical experience, though it can vary based on where you choose to get your advanced degree. You also will most likely have to provide a GRE score. The master’s program typically takes two years and should include more specialized classes that will provide you with knowledge in ethics, pharmacology, and more so that you have both nursing experience and education experience.

  • Why should I get a masters in nursing education?

    With a master’s degree in nursing education, you will be more likely to earn a competitive annual wage, as well as complete highly rewarding work and inspire the next generation of nurses. You will also have the opportunity to teach in nursing schools. You could also pursue grant writing, either for a school or a medical institution, or focus on research in healthcare settings or in academia.

  • What are the requirements for an online masters in nursing education degree?

    Before you can pursue your master’s in nursing education, you’ll first need a bachelor of nursing. This degree would typically take four years, but if you’re in an accelerated program, you could complete it in three. If you’re not in school full time, it could take longer. Many schools will also require you to take the GRE test, as well as be an RN and have some clinical experience.

Career Outlook and Salary for Education Nursing Graduates  

Graduates with a master’s in nursing education can pursue a variety of careers. In addition to working as a nurse educator, graduates can work as clinical research nurses and clinical educators. Both of these titles might appear identical, but the method of learning, work setting, and salary will vary. 

Clinical Research Nurse

Clinical research nurses focus on the implementation of studies to investigate new medications and medical procedures. They’re a vital player when it comes to testing evidence-based research for safer nursing care. Although the BLS does not categorize a research nurse differently, Payscale.com shows that clinical research nurses earn an average annual salary of $72,019.

Clinical Educator
Instead of focusing on knowledge-based learning, clinical educators specializes in hands-on training and development needed in a healthcare facility. They often oversee a nurse’s training and are responsible for coordinating certification training for someone joining a new nursing team.

Top-paying industries for nurse educators 

IndustryAverage Salary 
Medical and Surgical Hospitals $119,050
Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals $95,430
Universities and Professional Schools $84,320
Community and Junior Colleges $75,190
Source: BLS 

According to the BLS, the 2020 mean annual wage for nursing instructors with a postsecondary degree is just over $84,000. 

Your salary will vary based on your potential employer’s industry too, but in general, nurse educators earn higher-than-average salaries. For example, if you work in a major metropolitan medical center, expect to earn an average salary of over $110,000. Colleges and universities tend to have the lowest wages for nurse educators. On average a nurse educator earns $84,320 working on a college facility. 

The BLS projects employment in healthcare occupations, including nursing, are expected to grow 15% percent. So don’t dismiss the possibility of pursuing other jobs, beside one as a nurse educator. The degree allows you to enhance your overall nursing skills and knowledge beyond the teaching environment.

Scholarships for Master is Nursing Education Students

A.T. Anderson Memorial Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Native American students with a 3.0 GPA who are members of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society are eligible to apply for this scholarship.
Amount: $2,000

AfterCollege/AACN $10,000 Scholarship Fund
Who Can Apply: Students studying for a master’s of nursing at a school that’s part of the AACN are eligible for this scholarship. Special consideration is given to students in a higher-degree program looking to further their education.
Amount: $10,000

NBNA Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: National Black Nurses Association members must submit transcripts, an essay, and two recommendation letters to apply for this scholarship. Graduate students must have at least one year of school remaining.
Amount: $1,000-$90,000

What are the Various Disciplines of Nursing Education?

Nursing education has many facets, but it is firmly rooted in the relationship between nursing, education, and technology. Because nurses often earn graduate and postgraduate degrees, they must be taught by working professionals who understand that technology is the new ally in the fight to prepare more nurses for the future of healthcare. Online degrees are becoming much more popular and so many nursing education degrees focus on how technology can help nurses, both in the field and in the classroom.

There are other disciplines as well. Leadership, management, curriculum design, administration, and soft skills are all focused on in nursing education programs. This is because nurse educators must lead the new generation of nurses in the classroom; their duties as nurse educators also means that they must communicate with students and have the ability to structure their time and educational department.

Why is a Nurse License Necessary for this Degree?

An online Master’s in Nursing is an advanced professional degree; these programs are built for working professionals with some degree of work experience in nursing. They are not built for academics or scholars, but rather for nurses who wish to transition into teaching. It is very rare to find an accredited program that does not require licensure.

One of the main reasons graduate schools in nursing require licensure is because licensure is the natural next step for an undergraduate nursing student. Without holding licensure they cannot practice nursing anywhere in America. A student without a valid license who is trying to obtain a graduate degree is very likely to be rejected by every program simply.

The other main reason that nursing schools require licensure is that advanced degree builds not only on previous educational experience but work experience as well. A nurse who does not hold licensure cannot work in the field and therefore would be far behind their classmates in terms of curriculum and concepts. They would also be unaware of many of the technical aspects that come with being a nurse.

Many students will also know that clinical hours are required for undergraduate students; this is the same for graduates. Without a valid license, students cannot partake in the practicums at the graduate level. This would bar them from finishing the degree, so schools have decided to require licensure.

It is possible to go from a BSN to a Master’s in Nursing, especially through online schooling, but even here, students must hold a nursing license that is in good standing with the state. This is something to bear in mind as a school that does not require licensure should be considered suspicious.

Is Accreditation Important for an Online Master’s in Nursing Education?

Accreditation matters for professionals that wish to earn advanced nursing certification and other credentials in their state. For some students, that is the main goal of entering into the field of nursing education; for others, advanced licensure and certification is not as important. The decision really is up to the student.

Most nursing education programs are delivered with accreditation; this is because nursing is a highly regulated field and must be kept to high standards. It’s also telling that most of the programs, including all of the ones listed in this ranking, require an accredited bachelor’s degree in order to apply for their programs. Accredited graduate programs make a practice of preferring students with an accredited undergraduate degree.

For nursing educators, accreditation is important. The distinction of having graduated from an online accredited master’s program is attractive to potential employers. It denotes a commitment to excellence in nursing and is seen as a sign of a valuable candidate.

Professionals should always try to receive a degree from an accredited university, regardless if their next step is to apply for advanced licensure. In fact, many states require their nurse educators to hold advanced licensure; this is not applicable for many states, so students are advised to do their research on the matter.

Nursing education is a field that requires more educators from the professional side of the field. The best teacher for a new nurse is a nurse with experience both in the hospital and in the classroom, which is why this is a great choice for nurses who are ready to move into the next phase of their careers. With this ranking of the top most affordable online master’s in nursing education, nurses can pick and choose the schools to apply to that are right for them.

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Hedy Phillips


Hedy Phillips is a freelance journalist based in New York who covers higher education for Grad School Hub, Best Value Schools, and Criminal Justice Degree Schools. Over the past 10 years, her bylines have appeared in MSN, Yahoo, Cosmopolitan, InStyle, and more.

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Andrea Perez


Andrea Perez is the schools editor at Grad School Hub who oversees our college rankings, school profiles, and other higher education coverage. A graduate school alumna of the University of South Florida, she previously served as an editor at The Simple Dollar, as well as a staff writer at Connect, USF's digital magazine.

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