30 Best Master’s Degrees in Nursing 2020

| Staff

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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. 

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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.

Best Master’s Degrees in Nursing

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. 

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

  1. University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  2. University of Virginia
    Location

    Charlottesville, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  3. University of Texas at Austin
    Location

    Austin, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  4. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Location

    Chapel Hill, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  5. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  6. Vanderbilt University
    Location

    Nashville, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  7. University of Alabama at Birmingham
    Location

    Birmingham, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  8. South Dakota State University
    Location

    Brookings, SD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  9. University of Rhode Island
    Location

    Kingston, RI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  10. University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus
    Location

    Denver, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

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