Make a difference in your community and the world with a career in nursing! The following 30 Best Master's Degrees in Nursing can show you how for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Sufficient health care extends beyond the direct treatment of sickness. It depends on several factors, including ethics, safety, and even technology in health care delivery. The following 30 Best Master's Degrees in Nursing offer a wide range of specialty areas that relate these factors to students health care goals. Most of the following programs require students to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a valid Registered Nurse license in their state of study. Some of the programs listed offer direct-entry pathways that allow students with a non-nursing background to gain fundamental nursing knowledge. Students may choose to follow a nursing practitioner track that focuses on hands-on clinical care for specific populations, such as children, women, and families. Other common MSN tracks relate to nursing administration and leadership in health care settings.

Individuals who hold an MSN and Registered Nurse licensure are prepared to work in specialized nursing fields with vulnerable populations and to move into nursing leadership roles. In general, registered nurses provide patients with advice, care, education, and emotional support. They may work in clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, physicians' offices, or schools. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs earned a median salary of $71,730 in 2018. RN employment is growing at a projected rate of 15 percent, which is much faster than average. This growth reflects the growing emphasis on preventative care, the growth of chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity, and the need to care for the large baby-boom population.

Methodology

The staff of Grad School Hub has compiled the following 30 Best Master's Degrees in Nursing for the 2019-20 academic school year based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Data contributed from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, and the U.S. Department of Labor plays a significant role in how graduate degree programs are ranked because institutional transparency is essential for deciding which career path is right for you. Based on this data, GSH organizes information into five weighted categories, which are:

  • Alumni Feedback: 20% 
  • Continued Enrollment: 20% 
  • Degree Selectivity: 10%
  • Graduate Expenses: 25%
  • Projected Annual Salary: 25%

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

Here are the 30 Best Master's Degrees in Nursing for 2020 – 2021!

#30 – University of Maryland, Baltimore

Master of Science in Nursing

Baltimore, MD

Website

The University of Maryland, Baltimore, offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its School of Nursing. The degree program provides options for Registered Nurses and non-nurses with undergraduate degrees in non-nursing fields. Students can choose from three specialty areas: Community/Public Health Nursing, Health Services Leadership and Management, and Nursing Informatics. The HSLM specialty offers a general focus, an education focus, or a business focus as an MSN/MBA dual degree program. The HSLM and Nursing Informatics can be completed entirely online, while the Community/Public Health Nursing program is offered in a hybrid format. The program also offers several graduate certificate options, including Care Coordination and Global Health. Students can complete the degree on a full-time or part-time basis. 

UMB is a public university and the founding campus of the University System of Maryland. It was established in 1807 as the Maryland College of Medicine. The university includes some of the nation's oldest professional schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and more. It is located in downtown Baltimore. The university's School of Nursing is one of the oldest and largest nursing schools in the nation. The university is also home to the University of Maryland School of Nursing Living History Museum, which explores the history of the nursing profession. U.S. News & World Report ranks the nursing school No. 12 nationally at the master's level, No. 2 in nurse leadership, and No. 1 in Nursing Informatics.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,550 in-state; $31,703 out-of-state 

#29 – Florida Atlantic University

Master of Science in Nursing

Boca Raton, FL

Website

Florida Atlantic University offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing. The degree program builds students' clinical, leadership, and teaching skills. It is offered on a full- or part-time basis, which allows students to continue working while enrolled. The core curriculum can be completed on-campus or online. Students can choose from seven concentrations, including Advanced Holistic Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Students can typically complete the degree in two to three years.

FAU is a public research university and a member of the State University System of Florida. It is considered to be the most diverse institution in the system and among the most diverse in the United States. The university was established in 1961 as the first public university in southeast Florida. Other than the main campus in Boca Raton, FAU operates five satellite campuses in the region. The university's College of Nursing includes the FAU Community Health Center and the Nursing Leadership Institute. U.S. News & World Report ranks the College of Nursing No. 49 in the nation at the master's level.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,467 in-state; $16,695 out-of-state 

#28 – Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Master of Science in Nursing

Natchitoches, LA

Website

The Northwestern State University of Louisiana awards a Master of Science in Nursing. Students do not need to take the GRE to be admitted, but they should be registered nurses with an undergraduate background in nursing. Students can choose from nine areas of concentration under the umbrellas of Administration, Education, and Nurse Practitioner. Required courses include Advanced Pathophysiology, Methods of Clinical Nursing Assessment, and Theory-Oriented Nursing Practice. Students are required to successfully complete research seminars, clinical hours, and comprehensive exams. The program can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis in four to seven semesters.

NSU is a public university and a member institution of the University of Louisiana System. It was founded in 1884 as the Louisiana State Normal School. It was the first school in the state to offer a degree program in nursing. Today, the university has four campuses, including the main campus in Natchitoches and a nursing campus in Shreveport.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,738 in-state; $16,526 out-of-state 

#27 – University of Connecticut

Master's in Nursing

Storrs, CT

Website

The University of Connecticut offers a master's degree in Nursing. The degree program offers four track options, which include Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, and Family Nurse Practitioner. Course formats include simulations, hybrid classes that combine classroom and online instruction, and clinical practica. Core course requirements include Nursing Practice Across the Lifespan, Nursing Science and Patterns of Knowing, and Statistical Methods in Health Sciences Research. The program can be completed on a full-time basis in five semesters or part-time in seven semesters.

UConn is a flagship public research university in Storrs, CT. It was founded in 1881 as an agricultural school. Today, the Carnegie Foundation categorizes UConn in its top tier of research universities. UConn is one of the founding institutions of New England's Knowledge Corridor, which is the region's cultural and economic alliance. U.S. News & World Report ranks UConn No. 89 for value, No. 63 nationally, and No. 22 among public institutions. The site lists the university No. 46 nationwide for its master's programs in nursing.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,350 in-state; $36,962 out-of-state 

#26 – Washington State University

Master's of Nursing in Population Health

Pullman, WA

Website

Washington State University offers a Master's of Nursing in Population Health. The degree program is suitable for students with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. It focuses on practical application, preparing graduates for advanced practice positions in acute, community, and outpatient settings. Courses include Evidence-Based Practice and Scientific Inquiry in Nursing. Students may follow a thesis or non-thesis pathway. The non-thesis option culminates in a clinical project. Students may choose to pursue a graduate certificate in nursing education, organizational leadership, or public health. WSU's nursing degree program can be completed in two years of full-time study or three to four years part-time.

Washington State is a public research university with the main campus in Pullman, WA. The university was founded in 1890 and is one of the oldest land-grant institutions in the western United States. Today, WSU is the second-largest university in Washington. The university's Master's of Nursing program is offered at all five WSU College of Nursing sites across the state. All MN courses are offered in a hybrid format that combines online and in-class learning. Most classes meet face-to-face no more than five times per semester. U.S. News & World Report ranks the WSU College of Nursing No. 35 nationally for its master's programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,876 in-state; $34,932 out-of-state 

#25 – University of Massachusetts Boston

Master of Science in Nursing

Boston, MA

Website

The University of Massachusetts Boston offers a Master of Science in Nursing. The degree program is designed for registered nurses with bachelor's degrees. Courses are offered both in the classroom and online to suit the needs of working nurses. Students can choose from three tracks: Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist, Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Concentration, and Family Nurse Practitioner Concentration. Core courses include Health Policy, Financing, and Ethics; and Informatics. The curriculum culminates in a comprehensive capstone project. Projects can take forms such as case studies, grant proposals, or publishable papers. Students can complete the program in two years of full-time study or three to four years part-time.

UMass Boston is a public research university and a member of the University of Massachusetts system. It was established in 1852 as Boston State College. Located in the Dorchester neighborhood, it is the only public university in Boston. The Carnegie Foundation classifies UMass Boston as a doctoral research university with a high level of research activity. The university's College of Nursing and Health Sciences researches childhood obesity and maintains partnerships with organizations such as the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the VA Medical Centers. U.S. News & World Report ranks the College of Nursing No. 83 nationally at the master's level.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,876 in-state; $34,932 out-of-state 

#24 – Loyola University Chicago

Master of Science in Nursing

Chicago, IL

Website

Loyola University Chicago offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. The degree program is designed for students with a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing and a Registered Nurse license. Students must log 2,000 hours of recent clinical experience before beginning their first practicum. The program offers multiple specialty track options, including those for Clinical Nurse Specialist, Health Systems Management, Infection Prevention, and Nurse Practitioner. The Nursing and Healthcare Administration program and the Oncology Certificate program can be completed entirely through distance learning. The remaining tracks are offered in a hybrid format that blends online and face-to-face education. The blended programs require Illinois state RN licensure and clinical placements in the Chicago area.

Loyola is a private Roman Catholic research university in Chicago, Illinois. It was founded in 1870 by the Jesuits. Today, it is one of the largest Catholic universities in the United States. It operates six campuses across Chicago and an international campus in Rome, Italy. The university's Health Sciences Campus was established in 1969 along with the Loyola University Medical Center. The campus is home to the university's schools of medicine and nursing and is located in the Chicago suburb of Maywood. U.S. News & World Report ranks Loyola's Niehoff School of Nursing No. 35 for its master's programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,594

#23 – University of San Diego

Master of Science in Nursing

San Diego, CA

Website

The University of San Diego offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science. Students must have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and a California registered nurse license upon enrollment. The degree program offers emphasis areas including Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Executive Nurse Leader, and Nursing Informatics. The degree requires 33 to 45 credits of study. Courses include Evidence-Based Practice: Role of Theory and Research, and Influencing the Health Care Environment: Policy and Systems. Each program requires clinical practicum experience in the student's area of emphasis. The degree can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis in one to two years.

USD was founded in 1949 as San Diego University and the San Diego College for Women, which merged in 1972. The Carnegie Foundation classifies USD as a doctoral research university with a high level of research activity. The university's campus features Spanish Renaissance architecture and sits on the edge of a mesa overlooking San Diego's Mission Bay. In 2018, The Princeton Review ranked the school as having the No. 1 most beautiful campus in the nation. U.S. News & World Report ranks the USD Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science No. 43 nationally at the master's level.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $26,712

#22 – Western Kentucky University

Master of Science in Nursing

Bowling Green, KY

Website

Western Kentucky University offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its School of Nursing and Allied Health. Students must have a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing and registered nurse licensure to be admitted. The degree program focuses on advanced nursing practice, nursing administration, or nursing education. It offers one specialty concentration: the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner concentration. Applicants should have at least one year of RN experience in a psychiatric mental health setting prior to enrollment. Courses include Advanced Pharmacology, Nursing Theory, and Statistics. Students must complete 600 clinical hours. The program is delivered in a hybrid blend of online and on-campus learning. Cohorts enter the program each spring and summer.

WKU was established in 1906 as a teacher training school. The university's College of Health and Human Services includes eight academic units, including Allied Health, Communication Sciences and Disorders, and Nursing. The college oversees the Center for Applied Science in Health and Aging, the South Central Kentucky Area Health Education Center, and the WKU Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Center. U.S. News & World Report ranks WKU No. 34 in Regional Universities of the South. The site lists the university's School of Nursing No. 126 nationally at the master's level.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,140 in-state; $17,980 out-of-state 

#21 – University of South Florida

Master of Science in Nursing

Tampa, FL

Website

The University of South Florida offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its College of Nursing. It is preferable for applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in nursing, but it is not required. Those with bachelor's degrees in other fields must complete additional undergraduate coursework prior to starting their graduate studies. The degree program offers seven concentration options, including but not limited to Family Health Nursing, Nursing Education, and Pediatric Health Nursing. Courses include Advanced Diagnostic & Procedures as well as Systems & Population in Health Care. All students must culminate their studies with a comprehensive nursing exam. 

USF is a public research university and a member institution of the State University System of Florida. Located in Tampa, FL, USF is the fourth-largest public university in the state. The university is a space-grant institution, and it has been named one of the fastest-growing research universities in the United States. USF Health conducts groundbreaking research in fields such as Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and heart health. In 2012, USF opened the Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation in downtown Tampa, which serves health professionals from across the globe. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university's College of Nursing No. 41 in Best Master's Nursing Schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,350 in-state; $19,048 out-of-state 

#20 – University of Toledo

Master of Science in Nursing

Toledo, OH

Website

The University of Toledo offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its College of Nursing. The degree program is designed for registered nurses with bachelor's degrees in advanced practice nursing or nursing education. It offers nurse practitioner tracks in adult-gerontology primary care, family care, primary care pediatrics, and psychiatric mental health. Sample courses include Family & Cultural Diversity Theories, Public Policy & Health Care, and Theoretical & Ethical Foundations of Nursing. The degree requires 51 to 56 semester-credits of study. Each track can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis and is offered in a blended format of on-campus and online learning. Graduates are eligible to sit for relevant certification exams.

Founded in 1872 as a vocational school, UT is now a comprehensive public research university. The university operates multiple locations and centers throughout Toledo, Ohio, including its Health Science campus, which includes the University of Toledo Medical Center. The university's research centers include the Lake Erie Center, the UT Polymer Institute, and the Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university's College of Nursing No. 135 in the nation for its master's programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,704 in-state; $24,048 out-of-state 

#19 – University of Maine

Master of Science in Nursing

Orono, ME

Website

The University of Maine offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its School of Nursing. The program originally focused on preparing family nurse practitioners but now prepares graduates for a variety of professional nursing roles. Applicants should have a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing, Maine Registered Nurse licensure, and RN experience. Track options include Family Nurse Practitioner, Individualized, and Nurse Educator. Depending on their chosen track, students must complete between 35 to 50 credits. The curriculum consists of clinical experience and courses in Advanced Pharmacology, Therapeutics and Health Policy; Politics; and Practice. The degree can be completed in two years of full-time study or three to four years part-time. 

UMaine is a public research university and the flagship university of the University of Maine System. It was established in 1865 in Orono as a land-grant college. Today, it is a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant institution. It is the largest university in Maine and the state's only university to be classified as a research university by the Carnegie Classification. The university's independent research facilities include the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center and the UMaine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site at Monhegan Island. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university's Graduate School of Nursing No. 97 in the nation.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,902 in-state; $25,740 out-of-state 

#18 – University of Iowa

Master of Science in Nursing

Iowa City, IA

Website

The University of Iowa offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its College of Nursing. The degree program focuses on preparing graduates to work as clinical nurse leaders. It is designed to build on students' educational and professional background in nursing. The program requires a minimum of 39 semester hours of graduate study. Required courses include Clinical Education in the Care Environment, Health Care Infrastructure and Informatics, Leadership in the Microsystem, and Quality and Safety. The curriculum culminates in a capstone clinical immersion. Students can follow a two-year or three-year plan toward the degree.

UI is a public flagship research university that was founded in 1847. It is the oldest and second-largest university in Iowa. The university occupies an urban campus on the banks of the Iowa River in Iowa City. It is home to the highly ranked University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the Stead Family Children's Hospital. The Carnegie Foundation classifies UI as a doctoral research university with a very high level of research activity. It is a space-grant university and a member of the Association of American Universities, an organization of the nation's top research universities. UI was the first public university in the country to open a coeducational medical school. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university's College of Nursing No. 21 nationally at the master's level and No. 4 for Clinical Nurse Leader preparation.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,785 in-state; $28,726 out-of-state 

#17 – University of Central Arkansas

Master of Science in Nursing

Conway, AR

Website

The University of Central Arkansas offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its School of Nursing. The degree program is designed for registered nurses with bachelor's degrees in nursing. All MSN courses are offered online, and students are only required on campus for their initial program orientation. Two track options are currently offered: the Clinical Nurse Leader Track and the Nurse Educator with a Clinical Specialty Track. All students must complete clinical practicum experiences. Foundation courses include Epidemiology & Community Concepts for Advanced Nursing Practice and Health Policy &Economics. 

UCA is a public state research university in suburban Conway, AR. Founded in 1907 as a teacher training school, it is one of the oldest universities in the state. The university is best known for its Norbert O. Schedler Honors College, which was one of the first of its kind in the United States. UCA is a space-grant institution. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university's School of Nursing No. 169 nationally in Best Master's Nursing Schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $4,807 in-state; $9,614 out-of-state 

#16 – University of Arizona

Master of Science for Entry to the Profession of Nursing

Tucson, AZ

Website

The University of Arizona offers a Master of Science for Entry to the Profession of Nursing. The degree program is a suitable option for students who hold bachelor's degrees in non-nursing fields. The program is offered on the university's Health Sciences Campus in Tucson and its Biomedical Campus in Downtown Phoenix. Course requirements include Health Assessment Across the Lifespan, Leading and Managing in Organizational Systems, Nursing Pharmacology, and Population and Community Health Nursing. Students can also expect to train with clinical experts in the community. The degree requires 56 units of study and can be completed in as few as four semesters. 

UA is a public research university with the main campus in Tucson, AZ. It was founded in 1885 as the first university in the state. It is affiliated with two academic medical centers via Banner – University Medical Centers, which has sites in both Phoenix and Tucson. The university conducts significant research in astronomy and space exploration. It is No. 4 among public universities for NASA research funding. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university's College of Nursing No. 30 in the nation for its master's programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,716 in-state; $32,065 out-of-state 

#15 – Rutgers University – Newark

Master of Science in Nursing

Newark, NJ

Website

Rutgers University – Newark offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its School of Nursing. The degree program offers tracks in Informatics and Leadership. The 37-credit Informatics program builds students' skills in communication and data management. One of the program's core courses meets on campus, while all specialty courses can be completed entirely online. The Informatics program also requires 225 clinical hours in person at the school's partner sites. The 42-credit Leadership program is suitable for nurses from various backgrounds to advance to leadership roles in their careers. The program offers courses both in-person and online. It requires 500 hours of clinical experience. The Leadership program can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis.

Rutgers – Newark is one of three regional campuses of Rutgers University. Rutgers is a public research university that was founded in 1766 in New Brunswick, NJ. In addition to the Newark and New Brunswick campuses, Rutgers operates a campus in Camden, NJ. The Carnegie Foundation classifies Rutgers – Newark as having a high level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report consistently name Rutgers' Newark location as the most ethnically diverse campus in the nation.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,232 in-state; $29,304 out-of-state 

#14 – West Chester University

Master of Science in Nursing

Chester County, PA

Website

West Chester University offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its College of Health Sciences. The degree program offers two specialization areas: Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist and Nurse Educator. It is delivered in a hybrid format through in-person evening classes and online formats. Sample courses include Healthcare Policy, Leadership & Organization; Nursing Informatics; and Population-Based Health Promotion. The Nurse Educator program also consists of a teaching practicum in classroom and clinical settings. The program can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis, but all requirements must be met within six years.

WCUPA is a public university in Chester County, PA, approximately 25 miles from Philadelphia. It was established in 1871 as a teacher training school. Today, it is the largest of the 14 state universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university's campus is split into North and South campuses. The North Campus quad is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The university is noted for its program, center, and annual conference in formal poetry. U.S. News & World Report ranks WCUPA No. 68 in the northern United States and No. 17 among public institutions. The university's nursing school is ranked No. 176 in the country at the master's level.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,384 in-state; $18,576 out-of-state 

#13 – Southeast Missouri State University

Master of Science in Nursing

Cape Girardeau, MO

Website

Southeast Missouri State University offers a Master of Science in Nursing. The degree program is open to students with undergraduate degrees in nursing who are registered in the state of Missouri. It emphasizes the health care needs of underserved rural populations. Students can follow a family nurse practitioner track and a nurse educator track. The program is designed to be completed in two years, where the first year is arranged in a blended format of online learning and campus visits. The second-year involves face-to-face classes held on campus once a week. The degree requires 43 credit hours of study, including 8.5 clinical hours.

SEMO is a public university in Cape Girardeau, MO. Established in 1873 as a standard school, it has particular strength in teacher education. In addition to its main campus, the university operates a River Campus, home to its School of Visual and Performing Arts. It also operates regional campuses in the Missouri towns of Kennett, Malden, Perryville, and Sikeston. U.S. News & World Report ranks SEMO No. 90 in the Midwest, No. 20 among public schools, and No. 184 in Best Master's Nursing Schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $4,981 in-state; $9,292 out-of-state 

#12 – University of Utah

Master of Science in Nursing

Salt Lake City, UT

Website

The University of Utah offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its College of Nursing. Students can major in Care Management, Nursing Education, or Nursing Informatics. The Care Management program requires 31 credits of study, including two practicum experiences and a culminating project. The Nursing Education program requires 37.5 credits. The curriculum includes three practicum experiences in Curriculum Development and Education, Teaching and Assessment, and a master's practicum with a capstone project. The Nursing Informatics program requires 40.5 credits, including two Interprofessional Education Experiences with a master's practicum and a capstone project. Each program can be completed in five semesters.

The U is a public research university in Salt Lake City. Established in 1850, it is the oldest university in Utah and the state's flagship university. The university's School of Medicine was the first medical school in the state. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the space-grant university as having a very high level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U College of Nursing No. 30 nationally for its master's programs and No. 6 in Nursing Informatics.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,988 in-state; $24,665 out-of-state 

#11 – University of Illinois at Chicago

Master of Science in Nursing

Chicago, IL

Website

The University of Illinois at Chicago awards a Master of Science in Nursing through its College of Nursing. The program typically requires students to have bachelor's degrees in nursing and RN licensure. Those with a bachelor's degree in another field may enroll in a graduate-entry program involving concurrent pre-licensure and master's coursework. Required courses for all students include Epidemiology & Statistics for Evidence-Based Practice, Health Equity & Social Determinants, and Quality & Safety Through Health Technologies. The degree requires a minimum of 34 semester hours of study, and the graduate-entry program requires a minimum of 77 hours.

UIC is a public research university and a member of the University of Illinois system. Located in the Near West Side community area, it is the largest university in Chicago and additionally operates the largest medical school in the United States. The university consistently ranks highly for its research expenditures and student diversity. The Carnegie Foundation classifies it as one of the nation's 96 universities with the highest level of research activity. In its 2018 rankings, Washington Monthly ranked UIC No. 26 overall in the country. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university's College of Nursing No. 16 nationally at the master's level.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,612 in-state; $23,299 out-of-state 

#10 – University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Master of Science in Nursing

Aurora, CO

Website

The University of Colorado offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its Anschutz Medical Campus. The degree program is designed to prepare graduates to be leaders in indirect care nursing roles. Students can choose from 12 specialization options, including Health Care Informatics, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care, and Women's Health Nurse Practitioner. Five of the specialty options include an interdisciplinary track that focuses on underserved urban communities. Core courses include Evidence-Based Practice, Foundations of Healthcare Informatics, and Policy & Politics of Health. Depending on their chosen specialization, students may be able to complete their program online, on campus, or in a blended format.

The University of Colorado Denver is a member institution of the University of Colorado Denver. It operates two campuses: the Auraria Campus in downtown Denver and the Anschutz Medical Campus 10 miles away in Aurora. The Anschutz Medical Campus is also the site of the University of Colorado Hospital and the Children's Hospital Colorado. It is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as having very high research activity. Campus researchers examine areas such as electron microscopy, mass spectrometry, and x-ray crystallography. U.S. News & World Report ranks CU Anschutz No. 49 in Best Master's Nursing Schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,786 in-state; $22,590 out-of-state 

#9 – University of Rhode Island

Master of Science in Nursing

Kingston, RI

Website

The University of Rhode Island offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its College of Nursing. The degree program can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. It prepares graduates for advanced roles in the specialty areas of Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (Adult Gerontological focus), Adult Gerontological Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. The core curriculum includes courses in Advanced Methods in Nursing Research, Philosophical & Theoretical Foundations of Nursing Science, and Social & Health Care Policy. Each program also consists of a clinical practice component. Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for certification exams.

URI is Rhode Island's flagship public land-grant and space-grant research university. It was first chartered in 1888 as an agricultural school and experiment station. Today, the university has the main campus in the village of Kingston and regional campuses in Narragansett, Providence, and West Greenwich. The university's College of Nursing researches areas such as best birth practices, gerontological health, premature birth, and vulnerable populations. U.S. News & World Report ranks URI No. 80 in Top Public Schools and No. 90 in Best Master's Nursing Schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,226 in-state; $25,854 out-of-state 

#8 – South Dakota State University

Master of Science in Nursing

Brookings, SD

Website

South Dakota State University offers a Master of Science in Nursing. The degree program prepares graduates for advanced practice in clinical practice, education, leadership, or nursing administration. It offers four specializations: Clinical Nurse Leader, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Administrator, and Nurse Educator. The Family Nurse Practitioner specialization is offered in a hybrid format, while the other options can be completed entirely online. Core courses include Health Policy, Legislation, Economics & Ethics, and Research in Nursing & Health Care. Students can complete the degree in three to five years. Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for certification exams. 

SD State is the largest and most comprehensive university in South Dakota. Established in 1881, it is also the oldest continually operating university in the state. It is a public land-grant, space-grant, and sun-grant research university in the town of Brookings. The Carnegie Foundation classifies SD State as a university with a high level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university No. 129 among the nation's top public institutions.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,825 in-state; $15,044 out-of-state 

#7 – University of Alabama at Birmingham

Master of Science in Nursing

Birmingham, AL

Website

The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its School of Nursing. The degree program provides pathways for nurse practitioners and health systems leaders, as well as an accelerated pathway for entry into professional nursing practice. The accelerated pathway is designed for individuals with bachelor's degrees in non-nursing fields. It is offered on campus on a full-time basis and can be completed in four semesters. Students can expect to learn in the environment of the university's Academic Health Science Center. Graduates are eligible to sit for certification exams.

UAB is a public research university and a member of the University of Alabama System. It began as the Birmingham Extension Center of the University of Alabama and was established as an autonomous university in 1969. It is affiliated with the UAB Health System, one of the largest academic medical centers in the United States. UAB Hospital sponsors medical residency programs in specialties such as anesthesiology, neurology, and radiology. U.S. News & World Report ranks the UAB School of Nursing No. 18 nationally at the master's level, No. 6 in clinical nurse leadership, and in the top 10 for nurse practitioner programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,100 in-state; $18,540 out-of-state 

#6 – Vanderbilt University

Master of Science in Nursing

Nashville, TN

Website

Vanderbilt University offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its School of Nursing. The degree program offers multiple entry options for registered nurses and non-nurses. It also provides 14 specialty options to align with students' career goals. Many specialties offer flexible formats and distance learning options. General Nursing courses include Enhancement of Community and Population Health, Human Experience of Health and Illness Across the Lifespan, and Legal and Ethical Accountability in Professional Nursing Practice. The curriculum also includes three clinical practice courses, culminating in a capstone practicum.

Vanderbilt is a private research university in the heart of Nashville, TN. It was founded in 1973 and named in honor of its initial benefactor, shipping and rail magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. The university is affiliated with multiple research centers and institutes, including the Dyer Observatory, the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, and the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities. The university also operates the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. U.S. News & World Report ranks Vanderbilt No. 14 in the nation, eighth among nursing schools at the graduate level, and in the top five nationally for several nursing specialty areas.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $47,208 

#5 – Johns Hopkins University

Master of Science in Nursing

Baltimore, MD

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Johns Hopkins University offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its School of Nursing. Students with non-nursing bachelor's degrees can enroll in the full-time MSN (Entry into Nursing) program. Those with undergraduate nursing degrees can advance directly to the doctoral Advanced Practice program, which offers nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialties. The MSN program emphasizes global and leadership perspectives in nursing. The curriculum covers areas such as humanities, genetics, public health, and sciences. 

Johns Hopkins is a private research university in Baltimore. It was established in 1876 using half of the bequest of American entrepreneur Johns Hopkins. The other half financed the establishment of the Johns Hopkins Hospital 13 years later. JHU is considered the nation's first research university, leading nationally in research expenditures. It is a founding member of the Association of American Universities. U.S. News & World Report ranks JHU the No. 1 best nursing school in the United States at the master's level.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $53,740

#4 – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Master of Science in Nursing

Chapel Hill, NC

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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a Master of Science in Nursing. The degree program emphasizes an understanding of care processes, evidence-based practice, patient progression and safety, and quality improvement. The university offers two pathways to the degree: the BSN-MSN program for students with undergraduate nursing degrees and the RN-MSN program for Registered Nurses. The core curriculum consists of three parts: Clinical, Professional, and Research. Core courses include Developmental Physiology and Pathophysiology, Population Health and Epidemiology, and Synthesis and Translation of Evidence.

UNC-Chapel Hill is a public research university and the flagship campus of the 17-member University of North Carolina system. In 1952, the university opened its UNC Health Care research and treatment hospital, which specializes in cancer care. The university's campus encompasses a portion of downtown Chapel Hill, NC. UNC is counted among the university's "Public Ivy" institutions for its high quality of education. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university's nursing school fifth in the nation for its master's programs.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,243 in-state; $27,454 out-of-state 

#3 – University of Texas at Austin

Master of Science in Nursing

Austin, TX

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The University of Texas at Austin offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its School of Nursing. Applicants must be Registered Nurses with either a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a non-nursing bachelor's degree and a diploma or associate degree in nursing. The university also offers an alternate-entry MSN program for those who do not meet these requirements. The program offers three concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Advanced Practice Nursing, and Gerontology Portfolio. The degree program can be completed on campus on a full-time or part-time basis. Students can complete the degree in one and a half to two years of full-time study. 

UT Austin was founded in 1883 and is now the flagship institution of the University of Texas System. The university conducts significant research in areas such as computer science, energy, and telescopes. In 2010, the university established the Dell Pediatric Research Institute to boost its medical research. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA No. 24 nationally in Best Master'sNursing Schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,742 in-state; $22,564 out-of-state 

#2 – University of Virginia

Master of Science in Nursing

Charlottesville, VA

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The University of Virginia offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its School of Nursing. It offers nine tracks, including Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Leader, and Family Nurse Practitioner. The Clinical Nurse Leader track is available as a direct-entry program that does not require Registered Nurse licensure or experience. Requirements vary by track, but Nurse Practitioner tracks typically require clinical experience. Full-time and part-time track options are available. The MSN curriculum usually includes courses in pathophysiology, pharmacology, and research and biostatistics processes.

UVA is a public research university that was founded in 1819 by founding-father Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson designed the university's original courses of study and its campus architecture. Located in Charlottesville, VA, UVA is the flagship university of Virginia. It was the first university in the American South elected to the Association of American Universities. In addition to its rich history, the university is noted for its student-run honor code and secret societies. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university's School of Nursing No. 21 at the master's level and No. 2 nationally for its Clinical Nurse Leader tracks.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,018 in-state; $26,830 out-of-state 

#1 – University of Pennsylvania

Master of Science in Nursing

Philadelphia, PA

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The University of Pennsylvania offers Grad School Hub's No. 1 Master of Science in Nursing program. Two Administration programs lead to the MSN: Health Leadership and Nursing and Healthcare Administration. The university offers one Advanced Specialist program in Nurse-Midwifery. It also provides eight Nurse Practitioner programs, including but not limited to Family, Neonatal, and Women's Health/Gender-Related. Core courses vary based on the program. Students may choose to add a minor in an area such as Global Health, Health Informatics, or Integrated Nursing Care of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Each program can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. 

Penn is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia. It was founded in 1740 by founding-father Benjamin Franklin. It is one of the United States' nine colonial colleges founded prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Penn was the nation's first institution of higher learning to deem itself a university. UPenn is also home to the first school of medicine in North America, the first collegiate business school, and the first student union. The university's health care programs are among its most selective and prestigious. U.S. News & World Report ranks Penn No. 3 nationally for its master's programs in nursing. The site lists the MSN program at No. 1 for both Nursing Administration and Nurse Practitioner: Pediatric, Primary Care.Graduate Tuition/Fees: $34,882