25 Best Online Master’s Degrees in Nursing 2020

| Staff

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Effective health care considers ethics, evidence, and innovations. Grad School Hub‘s 25 Best Online Master’s Degrees in Nursing prepare nurses to provide informed contemporary care. 

Adequate healthcare is vital, from birth to death and everything in between. The health care system needs nurses who can provide care supported by research, compassion, and modern technology. The following list of the 25 Best Online Master’s Degrees in Nursing includes specialized programs that train nurses to care for various populations. These specializations include the areas of family care, gerontology, midwifery, and mental health practice. 

Advanced nursing programs typically require a bachelor’s degree in nursing and require extensive clinical experience. Other programs listed take a less clinical route, focusing on areas of nursing such as administration and leadership, education, and health informatics. Each degree program is completed entirely online or via hybrid classrooms for student or professional nurses.

Students pursuing MSN degrees are typically already registered nurses upon entry, or they seek RN licensure during or following the MSN program. All RNs must be licensed. Registered nurses generally provide patient care, health education, and emotional support to patients and communities. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses made a median annual salary of $71,730 in 2018. The demand for registered nurses is growing at a projected rate of 15 percent, which is much faster than the industry average. This is due to factors including the growing emphasis on preventative care, and the large and aging baby-boom population. 

Best Online Master’s Nursing

Rank School Location
1 Duke University Durham, NC
2 Georgetown University Washington, DC
3 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
4 Ohio State University Columbus, OH
5 Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY
6 Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN
7 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
8 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
9 San Diego State University San Diego, CA
10 Gonzaga University Spokane, WA

Methodology

The staff of Grad School Hub has compiled the following 25 Best Online 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. 

Advertisement GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Accredited Online College Programs

Here are the 25 Best Online Master’s Degrees in Nursing for 2019 – 2020!

  1. Duke University
    Location

    Durham, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Duke University's Master of Science in Nursing is Grad School Hub's No. 1 online master's program in nursing. The program offers eight majors for advanced practice registered nurses, such as Neonatal Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. It also offers three non-clinical majors: Health Informatics, Nursing Education, and Nursing and Health Care Leadership. While all major programs are offered via distance learning, all include required on-campus activities. Students are required to visit campus at least once per semester for two- to five-day intensives. Each program includes 11 clinical core credit hours and final clinical residency experience. The programs range from 42 to 49 required credit hours of study. Students may choose to add a specialty, such as Cardiology, HIV, or Orthopedics.

    Duke was founded in 1838 by Methodists and Quakers. Today, it is a nonsectarian private research university. It is spread out over three sub-campuses in Durham, North Carolina, and a marine lab in Beaufort, North Carolina. It marks one corner of the region's Research Triangle, along with North Carolina State and UNC-Chapel Hill. U.S. News & World Report ranks Duke at No. 16 in Most Innovative Schools, No. 13 in Best Value Schools, and No. 8 in National Universities. The university also ranks sixth in Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs.

  2. Georgetown University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Georgetown University offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its School of Nursing & Health Studies. Students can choose from four specializations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery/Women's Health Nurse Practitioner, and Women's Health Nurse Practitioner. Each program is offered in a hybrid format that combines live class sessions, online courses available at students' convenience, and on-campus intensives. The programs require 40 to 49 credit hours of study, two to three required on-campus intensives, and 600 to 1,000-plus clinical hours. Each program is offered on a part-time basis and takes 27 months to complete, except for the Family Nurse Practitioner program, which is offered on a full-time basis and takes 19 months to complete.

    Georgetown was founded in 1789 as a Roman Catholic college. Today, it is a private research university. It is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit-affiliated higher education institution in the United States. Despite this affiliation, the university is not governed by the church, and most students are not Catholic. The university's main campus is located in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. U.S. News & World Report ranks Georgetown at No. 32 in Most Innovative Schools, No. 25 in Best Value Schools, and No. 22 in National Universities.

  3. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Johns Hopkins University offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its School of Nursing. Students with an unrelated bachelor's degree can enroll in the full-time Entry into Nursing MSN program. Those with a bachelor's degree in nursing can pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice Advanced Practice track, which offers clinical nurse specialist and nurse practitioner specialties, or a Health Systems Management track. Only the MSN Health Systems Management track and the MSN/MBA dual degree program offer online options. The Health Systems Management track consists of 35 credit hours of study and 376 clinical hours. Core courses include Biostatistics for Evidence-Based Practice, Context of Healthcare for Advanced Practice Nursing, and The Research Process and its Application to Evidence-Based Practice.

    JHU was founded in 1876 and named after its benefactor, American entrepreneur, and abolitionist Johns Hopkins. At the time, Hopkins' bequest was the most significant philanthropic gift in United States history. Half of the money went to the establishment of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, the private university is considered the nation's first research university. It was a founding member of the Association of American Universities.

  4. Ohio State University
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The Ohio State University offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its College of Nursing. The program is designed for students who have a bachelor's degree in Nursing or Registered Nurses who have an unrelated bachelor's degree. It combines coursework, clinical experience, and evidence-based practice in general healthcare settings. Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for certification in their specialty area. All coursework is completed online, and all clinical experiences are completed in the student's local area. Some online coursework requires students to participate at set times throughout the week. Up to three on-campus visits may be required. Distance learning specialty options include Clinical Nurse Leader, Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.

    Ohio State was founded in 1870 as the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, a land-grant university. It has since developed into a comprehensive public research university with land, sea, and space grants. Located in Columbus, OSU has the third-largest university campus in the nation in terms of student enrollment. The university operates five additional regional schools across Ohio. U.S. News & World Report ranks OSU at No. 56 in National Universities, No. 18 in Most Innovative Schools, and No. 17 in Top Public Schools. The university is also ranked second in the nation in Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs.

  5. Stony Brook University
    Location

    Stony Brook, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Stony Brook University offers a Master of Science in Nursing degree. Students can choose from nine programs leading to the MSN degree. Options include, but are not limited to, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Leadership, Nurse-Midwifery, and Women's Health Nurse Practitioner. Applicants to the practitioner programs should have a nursing-related undergraduate degree or clinical practice experience. All programs are offered primarily through distance education, with some on-site requirements. The core MSN curriculum consists of three courses: Health Care Policy and Advocacy; Organizational Leadership and Role Transformation; and Quality Improvement, Safety, and Health Care Technologies.

    Stony Brook was founded in 1957 as a college in Oyster Bay, Long Island. Today, it is a public research university in Stony Brook, New York. A sea- and space-grant institution, SBU is a member of the Association of American Universities. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University at No. 80 in National Universities, No. 32 in Top Public Schools, and No. 15 in Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs.

  6. Vanderbilt University
    Location

    Nashville, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Vanderbilt University offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its School of Nursing. The flexible degree program offers multiple entry options for practicing nurses and non-nurses. The program can be completed through distance learning, concentrated blocks of on-campus courses, a hybrid format, or traditional on-campus learning. Depending on their chosen program, distance students may have to spend short periods on campus. Several advanced nursing practice specialties are offered, including but not limited to Emergency Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery, and Women's Health Nurse Practitioner. The program incorporates nursing informatics, fusing computer science, and information science with its study of nursing science.

    Vanderbilt was founded in 1873 and named after its first donor, Cornelius Vanderbilt. The business magnate hoped the university could help renew the South following the Civil War. Today, it is a private research university in Nashville, Tennessee. Its affiliated research centers include Dyer Observatory, the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, and the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities. U.S. News & World Report ranks Vanderbilt at No. 37 in Most Innovative Schools, No. 14 in National Universities, and No. 7 in Best Value Schools.

  7. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Liberty University offers a Master of Science in Nursing. The degree program is designed to be completed entirely online. It equips students with modern nursing skills for advanced clinical practice, research, and teaching. Students must choose one of the following five specializations: Community Health, Health Policy, Nursing Administration, Nurse Educator, and Nursing Informatics. The 42-credit curriculum consists of eight-week courses. Core courses include Health Policy & Ethics; Managing Population Health; and Nursing Issues, Informatics & Technology. The degree program takes students an average of two years to complete.

    Liberty was founded in 1971 as Lynchburg Baptist College. Today, it is one of the largest Christian universities in the world. It is also the largest private nonprofit university in the United States in terms of student enrollment. The main campus is located in Lynchburg, Virginia, though most students are enrolled in a fully online capacity. The evangelical Christian university has conservative views toward education, student conduct, and politics. U.S. News & World Report ranks LU at No. 126 in Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs.

  8. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Southern California offers a Master of Science in Nursing through its Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. All applicants should have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, Registered Nurse licensure, and at least one year of clinical experience. The program incorporates social work, research, and evidence-based practice. The MSN program also provides a Family Nurse Practitioner specialization. Coursework covers topics such as community-based research, health care technology and innovation, and pharmacology. The 49-unit specialized program makes use of video conferencing software and online communities to deliver its rigorous curriculum. All students are required to attend two on-campus intensive sessions and complete 784 clinical hours.

    Founded in 1880, USC is now a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The university's innovations include antivirus software, image compression, and the Domain Name System. U.S. News & World Report ranks USC at No. 37 in Best Value Schools, No. 28 in Most Innovative Schools, and No. 22 in National Universities.

  9. San Diego State University
    Location

    San Diego, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    San Diego State University offers a Master of Science in Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems. The degree program is designed to prepare nurses for innovative leadership positions in the health care sphere. Suitable for working students, the program combines online courses, traditional classroom meetings at convenient times, and summer immersion sessions. Students may follow a two-year or three-year completion plan of study. The 37-credit curriculum includes courses such as Financial Management in Health Systems, Information Systems for Nursing, and Quality Improvement & Program Evaluation. It also includes two practicum experiences, an independent study, and a culminating experience with a thesis option.

    Founded in 1897 as a teacher training school, SDSU is the third-oldest of the 23 members of the California State University system. It is a public research university and a space-grant institution. The university's research facilities include the Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory, the Mount Laguna Observatory, and the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve. In addition to its main San Diego campus, the university operates two branch campuses in California and one in the country of Georgia. U.S. News & World Report ranks SDSU at No. 127 in National Universities, No. 60 in Top Public Schools, and No. 45 in Most Innovative Schools.

  10. Gonzaga University
    Location

    Spokane, WA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Gonzaga University offers a Master of Science in Nursing degree program. MSN students can choose from three career track options: Family Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Leadership in Healthcare, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. The practitioner programs consist of 47 credits, 660 clinical practicum hours, and five to six on-campus immersions. The programs are typically completed in nine semesters. The Nursing Leadership in Healthcare program includes 30 credits, 180 clinical hours, and one on-campus immersion. The program is typically completed in six semesters. MSN core courses include Contemporary Healthcare Environment, Information Technology & Data Management, and Theoretical Foundations for Healthcare Improvement.

    Gonzaga was founded in 1887 by the Society of Jesus and named for the Jesuit Saint Aloysius Gonzaga. Today, the University is a member of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. The school's academic programs are rooted in the liberal arts. It has a main campus in Spokane, Washington, and an international campus in Florence, Italy. U.S. News & World Report ranks GU at No. 7 in Most Innovative Schools, No. 6 in Best Value Schools, and No. 4 in Regional Universities West. The university is also listed at No. 93 in Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs.

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