In this article, we profile the 25 best affordable online RN to MSN degree programs at accredited colleges and universities in 2017.

According to Nurse Journal, a social community for nurses worldwide, earning a master’s in nursing provides improved job prospects, higher wages, and the ability to specialize in areas of interest. When you hold an MSN degree, career advancement opportunities become available to you. Moving from an RN to MSN degree is an investment of time and money, but may offer a tremendous return.

We reviewed 111 accredited colleges and universities that were listed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES College Navigator) to offer online RN to MSN degree programs. We looked at the school rankings received from major publications like U.S. News and World Report and selected institutions that had received regional, national, or program rankings. We then listed the 30 most affordable of these recognized schools, with the top spot going to the most affordable school.

Below are the resulting selections for our top 25 best affordable online RN to MSN degree programs for 2017.

#25 – George Washington University

Online RN to MSN

Washington, District of Columbia

Website

The RN to MSN online program at George Washington University requires students to attend some on-campus classes. These requirements vary depending on the track a student chooses: nurse-midwifery, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, or family nurse practitioner. Admission to the program requires that incoming students hold at least an ADN with a 3.0 GPA, an up to date RN license, and an up to date CPR certification. Students in the nurse practitioner track need to complete practicum requirements in addition to courses that study topics such as healthy policy, quality, and political processes; advanced physiology and pathophysiology; evidence-based practice for health care researchers; and advanced health assessment and diagnostic reasoning.

#24 – West Coast University

Online RN to MSN

Los Angeles, California

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West Coast University’s RN to MSN online takes only two years of full time study to complete. Distance learners must accumulate at least 270 hours of practicum experience if they hope to graduate and enter careers at the highest levels of nursing. The program offers coursework with topics in advanced physiology and pathophysiology, health promotion and disease prevention, advanced clinical practice theory, and principles of teaching and learning. Those interested in attending the school need to fill out and submit the online application, hold an unencumbered RN license, submit official transcripts from all previously attended colleges and universities, and possess at least a 3.0 GPA.

#23 – South University

Online RN to MSN

Savannah, Georgia

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South University boasts accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and offers an RN to MSN online with a family nurse practitioner specialization. Students must complete 76 credits in general education, and also need to complete courses toward the FNP in advanced health and physical assessment, advanced nursing practice, and pharmacology. Students in the program receive a qualitative education from the convenience of their own home and can plan their learning around their family and work obligations. Interested parties should fill out the online application form, discuss degree options with an admissions counselor, and consider their financing options.

#22 – Sacred Heart University

Online RN to MSN

Fairfield, Connecticut

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Sacred Heart University’s RN to MSN online holds programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Distance learners take foundation courses, natural science courses, liberal arts courses, and nursing major courses to complete the BSN part of the program. The MSN portion of the program offers three different tracks in clinical nurse leader, nursing management and executive leadership, and nursing education. Courses in the nursing management and executive leadership specialization include role development for nursing management and executive leadership, management of financial resources, creating a professional work environment, and health care delivery system.

#21 – Simmons College

Online RN to MSN

Boston, Massachusetts

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Simmons College administers an RN to MSN online program designed to prepare nurses for practice in the field. The aging nurse population means that organizations and companies nationwide are going to be looking for nurses with advanced credentials and experience. Students must complete foundational courses, clinical courses, and research courses prior to graduation. Example courses include contemporary issues in professional nursing; health assessment; nursing care of individuals, families, and communities; and advanced pathophysiology. Prospective students hoping to gain admission into the program must possess a current RN license and provide a resume outlining their work experience.

#20 – Loyola University

Online RN to MSN

New Orleans, Louisiana

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The RN to MSN online bridge program at Loyola University offers three different tracks: nursing leadership, family nurse practitioner, and nurse educator. Those in the nurse practitioner track take courses such as primary care of adults and women’s health and integrated behavioral health. Those in the nursing leadership track take courses such as theories in health care systems and nursing financial resources. Finally, those in the nurse educator track take courses such as teaching methods and curriculum design and evaluation. Each track lists its own requirements, but in general, students should prepare to complete both supervised practicum experiences and at least 36 credit hours in their concentration.

#19 – Southern New Hampshire University

Online RN to MSN

Manchester, New Hampshire

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Accredited by both the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Commision on Collegiate Nursing Education, the RN to MSN online at Southern New Hampshire University readies students for lucrative and meaningful positions in the nursing profession. The program requires that students complete a total of 120 credits, including in courses such as information management and patient care technologies, community and population health, systems leadership for continuous quality, and ethical and legal considerations of healthcare. Admission to the accelerated program at Southern New Hampshire requires a minimum undergraduate GPA of a 3.5 in all undergraduate coursework.

#18 – Chamberlain University

Online RN-BSN to MSN

Addison, Illinois

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Chamberlain University’s RN to MSN online allows students to complete the program fully online in order to maximize learning flexibility. Students design their own schedule and take classes in one of five concentrations: executive, educator, family nurse practitioner, informatics, or healthcare policy. The admissions office requires only that students hold an RN license approved by their state and 77 “proficiency” credits that cover prerequisite courses. Classes include studies in topics such as evidence-based practice; statistical reasoning for the health sciences; leadership and nursing practice – role development; and population health, epidemiology, and statistical principles.

#17 – Gonzaga University

Online RN to MSN

Spokane, Washington

Website

 

As a bridge program, Gonzaga University’s RN to MSN online takes nurses with an RN degree and gives them one of the highest degrees available in the nursing profession. Graduates go on to work as directors of nursing, health directors, and clinical managers. Nurses with their RN degree must complete 51 credit hours, 135 bridge work clinical hours, and 360 total clinical hours in order to graduate. Students take nursing classes that study topics in evidence-based practice for quality and safety, information technology and data management, and contemporary healthcare environment. A course in the theoretical foundations of healthcare improvement focuses on how to change the quality of care at organizations through team building, planning, and assessment.

#16 – Capella University

Online RN to MSN

Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Capella University administers an RN to MSN online with a specialization in administration. The degree includes three bridge courses, five courses in the concentration, and eight courses in the core. Students must complete a practicum experience where they test their learning in a real-world context before completing the total 66 required credit hours. The program holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing. Sample titles for some of the classes include advanced finance and operations management, health care quality and safety management, leadership and management for nurse executives, and leading the future of health care.

#15 – Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing and Allied Health

Online RN to MSN

Omaha, Nebraska

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The RN to MSN online at Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing and Allied Health offers multiple tracks: educator, executive, and informatics. The online MSN program holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing, and students can enter the program on the condition that they possess at least a 3.0 or above GPA. The program does admit some students with a lower GPA on a case by case basis. Classes in the RN to MSN bridge include community health nursing and introduction to statistics. Classes in the nurse educator track include measurement and statistical concepts for data interpretation and issues in advanced nursing roles.

#14 – University of Arizona

Online RN to MSN

Tucson, Arizona

Website

 

To earn an RN to MSN online at the University of Arizona, students need to attain several competencies, including knowing how to create qualitative care in a variety of environments, knowing how to evaluate the quality of care, and knowing how to work in interdisciplinary teams to provide qualitative care. Courses cover topics such as healthcare environments and care coordination, health information and patient care technologies, evidence-based practice improvement, and health promotion and risk reduction. Students take between 15 and 24 months to complete the program, depending on whether they enter the program with a BSN or ADN, respectively.

#13 – Thomas Edison State University

Online RN to BSN/MSN

Trenton, New Jersey

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Thomas Edison State University’s RN to MSN online program allows students to complete their nursing education through the convenience of online learning. Nurses in this track are able to schedule their work and family life around their classes to ensure that priorities stay in place. Thomas Edison allows students to enter the program any time of year, and students need only complete three credit hours over the course of a single 12-month period to remain in the program. Furthermore, students in the RN to MSN program need only complete a total of 27 credit hours for graduation, meaning applicants must already possess their RN licensure and prerequisites.

#12 – MidAmerica Nazarene University

Online RN to MSN

Olathe, Kansas

Website

 

The RN to MSN online program at MidAmerica Nazarene University requires the completion of at least 72 credit hours over the course of about 36 months. Courses at the master’s level include theory and research in nursing, health promotion for a global society, and research and evidence-based practice in nursing. A course entitled emerging trends in healthcare delivery: systems, ethics, policy, and politics explores both the history of and current nature of leadership in health care organizations — with the aim of learning how to optimize healthcare processes and outcomes. Students qualify for program entrance if they possess at least a 3.0 GPA in their pre-licensing program and hold an RN license.

#11 – Regis University

Online RN to MSN

Denver, Colorado

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Regis University’s RN to MSN online program requires the completion of 54 credit hours in core studies, 33 credit hours in the RN to BSN major requirements, 15 credit hours in the MSN major, and 18 hours in the education focus requirement. Three examples of courses in the MSN requirement include foundations of financial management for nursing leaders, population health and interprofessional collaboration practicum, and teaching and learning strategies in health care. Students interested in the program need at least a 2.75 or higher GPA score from their associate degree in nursing. They must also hold an unencumbered registered nurses license.

#10 – The University of Alabama

Online RN to MSN

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Website

 

Those who receive an RN to MSN online degree from The University of Alabama go on to work in some of the highest-paying jobs in the nursing profession. Students in the program need to complete a total of 50 credit hours, including a practicum experience that tests their ability to apply what they learn in the classroom to real environments, such as hospitals and clinics. Applicants must be in possession of RN license prior to admission. Students complete core courses in topics such as ethics or computer science. They also complete nursing courses that cover topics such as advanced health assessments, theoretical models for advanced nursing practice with rural populations, and basic epidemiology.

#9 – Clarkson College

Online RN to MSN

Omaha, Nebraska

Website

 

Clarkson College boasts accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, and its RN to MSN online program boasts accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, or ACEN. Students in the program complete classwork in topics such as concepts of professional practice for the RN to BSN/MSN, theories and concepts of advanced practice roles, principles of leadership and management for the RN to BSN/MSN, and evidence based inquiry in healthcare for the RN-BSN/MSN student. To apply, students need to submit a scholarly essay demonstrating their ability to write and research, a resume, and professional references. International students also need to submit proof of their English proficiency.

#8 – Concordia University

Online RN to MSN

Mequon, Wisconsin

Website

 

The RN to MSN online degree at Concordia University holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Requirements for admission to the program include an associate degree in nursing, a current RN license, and a minimum 3.0 GPA on undergraduate coursework. The program takes 126 credits to complete, and the school offers students at the school just under $16,000 on average in scholarship money. Incoming nurses need to select one of three concentrations: nurse educator, family nurse practitioner, and adult/gerontology nurse practitioner. Students should check whether the program is accepting learners from their state. For example, the program does not accept learners from New York, Pennsylvania, or California.

#7 – Graceland University

Online RN to MSN

Lamoni, Iowa

Website

 

To receive an RN to MSN online from Graceland University, students need to complete coursework in either the family practitioner or the gerontology concentration. Those in the family nurse practitioner concentration study topics such as advanced health assessment and diagnostic reasoning, leadership roles and issues in nursing, research application research, and advanced pathophysiology. Students in the program enjoy the flexibility that online learning affords them. Interested parties should apply using the online application form. Admission requires the possession of at least a 3.0 GPA during the last 60 hours of an undergraduate degree and proof of English proficiency for students who speak English as a second language.

#6 – Ball State University

Online RN to MSN

Muncie, Indiana

Website

 

Ball State University administers its RN to MSN program to individuals hoping to earn some of the highest credentials in the nursing profession. The program allows nurses to select one of three areas of concentration: nurse educator, nurse administrator, and family nurse practitioner. Those in the nurse educator track focus on curriculum development, class syllabi development, and lecture development. Distance learners take courses such as advanced health assessment, issues in the aging adult population, nursing and information technology, and role expectations. To gain admission, students need to hold at least a 3.0 minimum GPA and an unencumbered RN license.

#5 – Gardner-Webb University

Online RN to MSN

Boiling Springs, North Carolina

Website

 

Graduates of Gardner-Webb University’s RN to MSN program know how to apply the best practices that ensure quality care, know how to use medically related technologies used in places such as hospitals, and can lead a team to expedite and improve process at healthcare organizations. Students in this program take classes in administration of nursing and health care organizations, statistical techniques for graduate research, health care law and ethics, and curriculum theory and application. Admission to the program at Gardner-Webb requires that incoming students already possess a registered nurses license and a minimum 2.7 overall GPA on college transcripts; students also need to have received the requisite university immunizations.

#4 – Spring Arbor University

Online RN to MSN

Spring Arbor, Michigan

Website

Spring Arbor University’s RN to MSN program offers two possible tracks: a family nurse practitioner degree and an adult-gerontology, primary care nurse practitioners degree. Those who graduate enjoy an average wage of about $104,000 per year, almost 60% higher than that of those who hold only an RN degree. Online students get to schedule when they work, and they study subjects such as chronic disease and complex problems in older adults, patient centered care, and family systems and clinical management of the childbearing family. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accredits the nursing program at Spring Arbor University.

#3 – Aspen University

Online RN to MSN

Denver, Colorado

Website

 

An RN to MSN online degree from Aspen University readies nurses for advanced positions in the field of nursing. Students in the program can specialize in a number of fields: forensic nursing, informatics, administration and management, nursing education, or public health. Distance learners enjoy the flexibility of gaining their education online while studying a variety of topics, such as issues and trends in professional nursing, legal and ethical issues in health care, nursing leadership and management, and essentials of nursing research. Admission requires at least an associate degree in nursing, the completion of at least 50 hours of study in liberal arts, and a registered nurses license.

#2 – Western Governors University

Online RN to MSN

Salt Lake City, Utah

Website

 

Western Governors University’s RN to MSN online program requires students to complete 37 total courses for graduation. Learners take classes such as advanced standing for RN license, community health and population-focused nursing field experience, evidence based practice and applied nursing research, and advanced professional roles and values. The college assesses students based on their undergraduate and graduate readiness as determined by their work experience and previous academic credentials. It takes most students between one and four years to complete the degree, and 97% of graduates go on to recommend Western Governor’s University to interested prospective students.

#1 – Grantham University

Online RN to MSN

Lenexa, Kansas

Website

 

The RN to MSN online at Grantham University offers a convenient pathway for nurses hoping to advance in their careers. This bridge programs combines a rigorous education with flexible learning, allowing nurses who want to continue to working to get their education. Nurses also get to spend time with their families by scheduling coursework for times that make sense for them. To earn the RN to MSN degree, students need to complete courses such as theoretical concepts of research in nursing, population health in the global community, nursing leadership and management, and pathophysiology. Students leave the program as competent nurses capable of clear communication and conscientious of their role in the medical profession.

GSH Staff
June 2017

This concludes our list of the 25 best affordable online RN to MSN degree programs for 2017.