Online Nursing Master’s Programs 2021

Online Nursing Master’s Programs 2021

AffordableCollegesOnline.org 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.

Are you ready to find your fit?

Cheapest Online Master's in Nursing Badge

Affordable Online MSN Degrees

A master of science in nursing (MSN) prepares nurses for advanced practice roles with greater responsibilities. Registered nurses increase their median annual salary of about $75,000 to over $117,000 through nurse practitioner training. Advanced practice roles also report faster-than-average job growth projections, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Our list ranks the top master's in nursing degrees online for 2021. Nurses can use the rankings to find the best program for their career goals and budget. This article also introduces salary data for nursing careers, common MSN courses, and scholarships for MSN students.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Nursing

What types of master's degrees in nursing are there?

Nurses earn master's degrees in different specialty areas, including programs for nurse practitioners, nurse educators, and nurse executives. These specialties prepare graduates for focused career paths.

What is the highest paying nursing specialty?

The highest-paid nursing specialties include nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, and clinical nurse specialist. These roles require a master's degree.

How long is a nursing master's program?

An MSN degree typically takes 2-3 years depending on the specialty. Programs that require extensive clinical hours, such as nurse practitioner, generally take longer.

What kinds of jobs can you get with a master's in nursing?

After earning a master's degree in nursing, graduates work as nurse educators, nurse executives, and nurse practitioners. The degree also leads to opportunities as a clinical nurse specialist or nurse midwife.

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org 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.

Featured Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Why Get a Degree in Nursing?

A master's degree prepares nurses for advanced practice and leadership roles. With a master's degree, nurses increase their earning potential and professional responsibilities. Several nursing jobs, including nurse practitioner and nurse educator, require a master's degree. Advanced practice nursing careers pay median annual salaries of over $100,000, making an MSN degree a good financial investment for many nurses.

Nurses who earn their nursing degree online benefit from a flexible schedule. Designed for working nurses, online programs with asynchronous coursework let students complete lectures and assignments around their nursing shifts.

The cost of a nursing degree varies depending on the program and school. Private universities typically charge higher tuition rates than public schools. For example, the online master of science in nursing program at Duke University costs $1,910 per credit. At Penn State, students in the online MSN program pay $924 per credit.

Public universities may also offer tuition discounts for out-of-state students who enroll online. At Arizona State University, the online master's in nursing program charges a flat rate of $704 per credit regardless of residency. This discount can save out-of-state students a significant amount in tuition. In addition to tuition, prospective applicants should also research fees, textbooks, and other expenses.

Earning a nursing degree online offers several cost-saving benefits. The flexible schedule makes it easier for working nurses to advance their education while maintaining their career. Distance learners also save on transportation and commuting costs.

Calculating the Cost of a College Degree

How much can you afford to spend on a nursing master's degree? The ACO affordability calculator uses your monthly income, expenses, and expected financial aid to determine your budget for a graduate degree. Use the calculator to identify nursing programs that fit your interests and budget.

Break down your current financial situation, and receive a college tuition estimate you can afford to pay.

How Much Do Nursing Majors Make?

A nursing master's degree prepares graduates for careers in high-paying, growing fields. Registered nurses earn a median annual salary of $75,330 with faster-than-average projected job growth. With a master's degree, nurses increase their earning potential. For example, the highest-paid RNs make over $116,000 annually.

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) such as nurse practitioners and nurse midwives benefit from high salaries and strong job demand. These nurses earn a median annual salary of $117,670, and BLS data projects nearly 118,000 new jobs for APRNs between 2019-2029. These roles require a master's degree in nursing.

Nursing salaries vary by industry. APRNs who work in hospitals or outpatient care centers earn above-average salaries for their field, while professionals who work in doctor's offices or educational services earn slightly lower salaries. Job title, location, and experience also influence nursing salaries.

Courses in Nursing

A master's degree in nursing emphasizes patient care, research, and problem-solving skills. Nurses strengthen their clinical abilities through training in healthcare quality improvement and evidence-based practices. Graduate students choose a specialization such as nurse educator, nurse practitioner, or nurse administrator to focus their studies.

MSN programs incorporate practicum hours to provide hands-on experience. Students enrolled in a nursing degree online complete their practicum requirements at a local hospital or healthcare site. This section introduces common graduate-level nursing courses. While each program and specialization comes with different course requirements, many nursing degrees include the following options.

[tabs] [tab-item title="Evidence-Based Practice"]

Graduate-level, evidence-based practice courses blend theoretical and practical approaches to nursing. Students examine qualitative and quantitative nursing research and discuss applying research in nursing practice. Topics include advanced practice roles, interpreting research, and quality improvement. The course helps prepare nurses for advanced practice and leadership positions.

[/tab-item] [tab-item title="Healthcare Quality Improvement"]

Nurses learn how to improve quality in healthcare settings. Topics include safety improvements, healthcare quality research, and patient care feedback. Learners study evidence-based quality improvement strategies, quality outcome measures, and healthcare organizational accountability. The course also emphasizes research and analytical approaches. Healthcare quality improvement classes help build core abilities for nurse leaders.

[/tab-item] [tab-item title="Nursing Leadership"]

In nursing leadership courses, learners examine leadership theories, communication strategies, and healthcare leadership. Coursework helps students develop a personal leadership philosophy and strengthen their communication skills. Nurses also explore the best practices for leading teams in healthcare settings. The course helps prepare nurses for leadership roles.

[/tab-item] [/tabs]

Certifications and Licensure for Nursing

Registered nurses and APRNs need a license to practice in every state. Nurses can also pursue certifications to demonstrate specialized skills. For example, nurse practitioners earn certification in their specialty area and nurse educators also pursue certification. Nursing certification generally requires a degree, clinical hours, and passing scores on a certification exam.

Registered Nurse


Nurses must hold an RN license to complete their practicum hours and earn a master's degree. Each state's board of nursing sets the requirements for an RN license, which typically include a degree from an approved nursing program and passing scores on the NCLEX-RN Exam. Some states also conduct a background check.

Nurse Practitioner Certification


Nurse practitioners pursue specialty certifications in their focus area. Organizations like the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board and the American Nurses Credentialing Center offer certifications. Requirements typically include a master's degree plus a minimum number of practicum hours and passing scores on a certification exam.

Certified Nurse Educator


The CNE credential recognizes experienced nurse educators. Candidates must hold a graduate degree in nursing with either an emphasis in nursing education or a post-master's certificate in nursing education. Nine graduate-level credits in education and a master's degree also meet the requirement. After meeting the eligibility requirements, candidates pass a nurse educator exam.

Scholarships for Nursing

Nursing students qualify for multiple scholarship opportunities. Professional associations, private foundations, and government agencies offer scholarships and grants for graduate students in nursing. For example, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) offers a list of nursing scholarships. In addition to the following opportunities, nurses can research scholarships based on their state, employer, or career goals.

Geraldine Bednash Scholarship Who Can Apply: The scholarship supports nursing students in a bachelor's program or higher. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.2 GPA with good academic standing. Amount: $5,000
CastleBranch-GNSA Scholarship Who Can Apply: MSN students committed to innovation, mentoring, and leadership qualify for the scholarship. Applicants must attend an AACN-member school with a minimum 3.5 GPA. The scholarship also requires an essay. Amount: $2,500
Deborah E. Trautman Future Nurse Leader Scholarship Who Can Apply: The scholarship supports graduate students planning to work as nurse leaders. Applicants submit an essay. Recipients receive funding for a leadership development program and $2,000 to cover educational costs. Amount: $3,500

Online Master's in Nursing Programs 2021

Independence University View School Profile Salt Lake City, UT $15616

Independence University, a private nonprofit online institution, offers 2 Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degrees that can be earned with online coursework. Students in the MSN in Nursing Education program learn about nursing theory and current trends, teaching techniques and methods, to become educators in a range of health care settings. The MSN in Nursing Administration degree program prepares graduates for entry-level leadership, management and administrative positions throughout the health care industry. Both degree programs require 56 credit hours of coursework and are designed to be completed in 15 months. All coursework is provided online. However, students must participate in a practicum experience typically completed at an approved facility in the student's local community. To be admitted into either Independence University MSN program, an applicant must possess a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from a CCNE- or NLN-accredited program earned with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. Other requirements include a current unrestricted RN license from the state in which the student's practicum assignments will be completed, and a minimum of 1 year of nursing practice within the last 5 years. IU distance learners have access to a number of support resources, including academic assistance through the Student Success Center and career counseling services through IU's Career Services department. Additionally, all IU students are assigned an associate dean who acts as their personal learning coach.

The University of Alabama View School Profile Tuscaloosa, AL $10470

The University of Alabama's fully online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is designed for current RNs interested in pursuing a nursing specialization while seeking to advance their careers in the healthcare field. The program offers 3 concentrations. The Clinical Nurse Leader concentration (39 credit hours of coursework) prepares nurses as decision makers in coordinating care of distinct patient groups. The Case Manager concentration (39 credit hours of coursework) is for nurses interested in the care of patients in a specific age group or those diagnosed with a particular disease. Graduates with a Nurse Administrator concentration (32 credit hours of coursework) focus on health care policy and organizational operations issues while serving in executive-level positions. All 3 programs culminate in a practicum experience, and each program offers a thesis option. Admission into UA's MSN program requires a bachelor's degree in nursing earned with a minimum 3.0 overall GPA and current unencumbered RN license. Support services for distance students include career and academic counseling, writing assistance and technical support.

South Dakota State University View School Profile Brookings, SD $7516

South Dakota State University's online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program is offered fully online, with 3 specializations: Clinical Nurse Leader, which prepares nurses for leadership positions throughout the health care field and qualifies them to apply for AACN Clinical Nurse Leader certification; Nurse Educator, which prepares graduates to create and evaluate nursing education programs and provides eligibility for the NLN's Certification for Nurse Educators; and Nurse Administrator, which prepares nurses for advanced practice in nursing leadership, education, clinical practice and administration. SDSU additionally offers a Family Nurse Practitioner specialization in a hybrid format for students seeking the knowledge and skills for advanced practice care of patients in all stages of life, with a particular emphasis on rural health care. Credit hour requirements and program lengths vary depending on the chosen specialization. Admission requirements include a bachelor degree in nursing earned with minimum 3.0 GPA and current RN licensure. Students must also have completed 1500 hours of RN practice prior to enrollment in the first clinical nursing course. SDSU student support resources include career and personal counseling, disability and veteran's services and tech support. Academic advising is available through Nursing Student Services.

University of Central Florida View School Profile Orlando, FL $6916

The purpose of the University of Central Florida's online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree prepares RNs for leadership positions as nurse educators, advanced practice nurses and managers in all sectors of the health care field. The degree is offered with 3 specialization tracks: Nurse Educator (35 credit hours), which prepares graduates for teaching on college and university campuses and in private settings; Leadership and Management (36 credit hours), designed to prepare nurses to take leadership positions throughout the health care industry, and; Nursing and Health Care Simulation (31 credit hours), for nurses seeking to become simulation-based educators in university and private settings. Each of these MSN tracks can be completed with online coursework, although not all elective options or program prerequisites may be available online. Students are also required to complete a 60 clinical hour practicum, which is typically completed with an approved preceptor in the student's local area. An additional 180 clinical hour internship is required for Nursing and Health Care Simulation students. Admission into UCF's online MSN program requires a BSN from an accredited institution and a current RN license. Applicants with an RN license and non-nursing bachelor's degree may also be admitted, but must complete 3 prerequisite courses with a "B" or better prior to starting their graduate coursework. An extensive array of support resources for online students can be accessed through UCF's Online Student Connect Center.

Liberty University View School Profile Lynchburg, VA $8051

Liberty University, a private, Christian-affiliated institution, offers a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree with 5 specialization options: Nursing Administration, Nurse Educator, Nursing Informatics, MSN/MBA dual degree and MSN/MSHA dual degree. All specializations feature coursework that is completed 100% online in an accelerated 8-week course format. However, the Nursing Administration and Nurse Educator specializations require 200 clinical hours, typically completed as part of the student's current employment. Regular MSN tracks require 42 units of coursework, which may be completed in as little as 12 months. The 2 dual-degree programs each require completion of 60 units of coursework. Up to 50% of the required course credits may be transferred into LU's MSN degree program. Distance learners can access an array of online support services and resources through LU's Online Student Life program. Resources include counseling services, support groups, IT assistance and even prayer requests. Admission requirements into any of the 5 MSN degree programs include a BSN degree from a properly-accredited college, university or nursing school and a current and active RN license within the U.S. Applicants with a non-nursing bachelor's degree may also be admitted but must complete 5 specified bridge courses during their first year of degree study.

University of Mary View School Profile Bismarck, ND $12100

The private, Catholic-affiliated University of Mary has been in the business of training nurses since its establishment in 1959. Today, UM offers 5 Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs, each featuring fully online coursework. MSN options include both an ADN to MSN and BSN to MSN in Nursing Leadership and Management, a BSN to MSN Nurse Educator, an MSN in Nursing and Health Care Informatics and a dual degree MSN-MBA in Health Care Administration. While all coursework is delivered online, students are required to complete 500 hours of practical leadership experience (with the exception of the Nursing and Healthcare Informatics, which requires 360 clinical hours), normally at the student's current place of employment. Total credits needed for graduation and program completion times vary by specific program. Admission requirements for all 5 MSN programs include a BSN degree (with the exception of the ADN to MSN, which requires a nursing associate degree or diploma) earned with an overall GPA of 2.75 or better and a current unencumbered RN license. UM online students have access to a wide range of support resources, including personal counseling through the Counseling Services program and academic assistance through the Student Support Center.

Towson University View School Profile Towson, MD $6822

The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree offered by Maryland's public Towson University employs a "population-based" approach that teaches nurses the knowledge and skills needed to help patients navigate the complexities of today's health care system. The program is available with 2 concentrations: Nursing Education, which prepares graduates for teaching at nursing schools and for education and staff development positions at health care agencies; and Clinician-Administrator Transition, which prepares graduates for leadership positions throughout the health care field. TU's online MSN program is open to holders of a bachelor's degree in nursing (with a minimum 3.0 GPA) who are licensed or eligible for licensing as an RN in the State of Maryland. Students must complete 36 units of coursework. The program is offered in a hybrid format that alternates weekly online coursework and weekday evening on-site classroom instruction. Student support resources include career and academic counseling, childcare services from the University Child Care Center, financial aid assistance and much more.

California State University-Chico View School Profile Chico, CA $6738

California State University Chico's online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is designed to meet the needs of rural area nurses. The program prepares its graduates to be educators and leaders in health advisory positions at state agencies and private nursing facilities, as well as on nursing education faculties. The degree is offered with 2 concentration options: Nurse Educator and Nursing Leadership. Both options require completion of 30 units of coursework and feature theoretical course content that is presented entirely online. However, both concentrations include a 4-unit practicum requirement that must be completed in person working closely with an approved experienced nurse mentor (nurse educator or nurse leader) typically residing in the student's local community. The practicum requires 180 hours of student time with the nurse mentor. Admission requirements for CSUC's online MSN program include an bachelor's degree in nursing, 3.0 minimum GPA on the last 60 units of undergraduate nursing coursework, and a minimum GRE writing analytics score of 4.0. Support services for online students are available from the Office of Graduate Studies, Student Computing Services and the Advising and Financial Aid Offices, all of which can be accessed through the CSU Chico Home Page. IT assistance is available through IT Support Services.

Midwestern State University View School Profile Wichita Falls, TX $3849

Midwestern State University offers online graduate nursing programs through its Wilson School of Nursing. Degree seekers can pursue a Master of Science in Nursing in 1 of 3 majors: Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner or Nurse Educator. Students at Midwestern State learn advanced nursing practices in patient care, as well as academic research skills. Applicants should have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from a nationally accredited program and a current RN license to practice in Texas and the student's state of residence. Competitive applicants have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher. Prospective students must also submit their official transcripts and answers to the supplied essay questions. Students who pass the first round of the admissions process will participate in a personal interview with the graduate program coordinator. This is a competitive program and incoming learners are expected to have documented work experience in the field. Online students at Midwestern State have access to counseling services, student leadership and involvement opportunities, financial aid support, tutoring and career planning services.

University of Central Missouri View School Profile Warrensburg, MO $6683

Online students can pursue a Master of Science in Nursing degree entirely online at the University of Central Missouri. Degree seekers in this program develop advanced nursing and healthcare practices and learn to conduct original academic research. Students choose between 2 emphasis areas: Nurse Educator and Family Nurse Practitioner. Core courses include Methods of Research in Nursing, Organizational Leadership in Complex Health Systems and Health Care Policy and Advocacy. Students in both tracks must complete a final capstone clinical experience for graduation. Those pursuing the Family Nurse Practitioner track complete a series of practicum experiences to be eligible for graduation. Incoming students must have a bachelor's degree in nursing from a program accredited by the National League for Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Competitive applicants have an undergraduate GPA of 3.25 or higher and at least 1 year of work experience in the field as registered nurses. UCM subscribes to a rolling admission policy and reviews applications throughout the year. Students must earn a "C" or higher in each class to remain in good standing. Student services available at UCM consist of career services, academic advising, tech support and the Center for Multiculturalism and Inclusivity.

Ohio State University-Main Campus View School Profile Columbus, OH $11560

Ohio State University has an online program for distance learners interested in earning a Master of Science in Nursing. Located in the College of Nursing, graduate students prepare for careers in a variety of health care settings, including private practices, governmental agencies, hospitals and clinics. OSU offers 4 specialized tracks for distance learners: Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Leader. Some of the core courses for students in this program include Innovation Leadership in Advanced Nursing Practice, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Across the Life Span and Quality Improvement and Informatics. Distance learners have access to academic services, financial support, health services and student discounts. Academic services include tutoring, support for non-native English speakers, career services and a testing center. OSU's online nursing program is not available in all states. Prospective students should confirm that this degree is available to them before applying. Applications must include official transcripts and standardized test scores from the GRE or GMAT. Competitive applicants have a baccalaureate or professional degree from an accredited college or university with a 3.0 GPA or higher.

Ramapo College of New Jersey View School Profile Mahwah, NJ $14545

Ramapo College of New Jersey is a public liberal arts college founded in 1969 with a student population of 5,200. Students can pursue an online Master of Science in Nursing degree and choose from 3 major options: Nursing Education, Nursing Administration or Family Nurse Practitioner. Depending on the concentration, students complete 33-49 credits for graduation. For incoming students who possess an RN license but do not have a baccalaureate degree in the field, RCNJ offers a special transition option wherein new students complete the necessary undergraduate coursework before proceeding onto graduate-level courses. Nursing students in this program complete a significant number of clinical practicum hours, which varies for each major. Prospective students must submit a completed graduate application online consisting of official transcripts, a personal statement, 1 letter of recommendation and a resume. Competitive applicants have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA or higher, 2 years of relevant work experience and a valid RN license. Online students have access to the Center for Student Involvement, career services, academic coaching, health and counseling options and support services for the LGBTQ community.

Northern Arizona University View School Profile Flagstaff, AZ $8956

Northern Arizona University offers a hybrid Master of Science in Nursing - Generalist degree. Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), students in this generalist program develop a plan of study with their advisers to configure an emphasis area. Nursing students complete at least 30 units of graduate-level courses, including a thesis or final project. Required courses at NAU include Advanced Principles in Evidence-based Practice, Rural Theory and Health Policy and Applied Pathophysiology for APNs. Upon graduation, students are well-versed in clinical practice and patient care, critical reasoning, communication and leadership skills and global health issues. Students at NAU may also choose to pursue a Family Nurse Practitioner track. All master's coursework must be completed within 6 consecutive years, but most students typically finish within 2 years. Prospective students should have an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Applications should include a copy of one's current RN license, 3 letters of recommendation, answers to the essay questions supplied by the department, fingerprint clearance and documentation of all clinical health requirements. Admission to this program is highly competitive and merit-based.

California University of Pennsylvania View School Profile California, PA $11592

California University of Pennsylvania offers a 100% online graduate nursing degree. This flexible program is for current registered nurses with busy schedules who wish to advance their careers and increase their earning potential. Nursing students can pursue a Master of Science in Nursing Administration and Leadership or Nursing Education. The Leadership degree prepares students for management roles in nursing and hospital administration. The Education degree helps professionals enter academically based teaching and research careers in the field. Part-time students at CUP can complete the degree in 20 months. The Education degree requires slightly more coursework and takes about 2 years to complete. Graduate students must complete a capstone project as well as 150 practicum hours with a faculty member. Prospective nursing students should have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Applications for this graduate program should include official transcripts, a copy of one's current RN license, a professional resume and an essay outline in career goals and objectives.

Western Carolina University View School Profile Cullowhee, NC $4348

The School of Nursing at Western Carolina University has a Master of Science in Nursing degree for distance learners. Students select a major in Nurse Educator, Nursing Leadership or Family Nurse Practitioner and engage with a rigorous, hands-on curriculum that prepares them for a variety of leadership positions in the health care industry. While all required courses are completed online, distance students must complete a practicum at an approved location in their area. For graduation, nursing students complete a thesis or final project in addition to passing comprehensive exams. This degree requires 40-52 semester hours of coursework, depending on the major, and can be finished in approximately 2 years. The Family Nurse Practitioner degree includes an additional 640 total clinical hours. Students may enter during the fall or spring semesters and typically take 6-9 credits per semester as part-time students. Incoming students should have a bachelor's degree in nursing or a related area from a regionally accredited college or university with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Prospective students should be registered nurses with licensure to practice in their state and have 1 year of work experience in the field. Applications must include contact information for 3 recommenders, a resume and personal statement. Online students have access to the school's Career and Professional Development Center and service learning and volunteer opportunities.

University of Toledo View School Profile Toledo, OH $13166

The University of Toledo offers a Master of Nursing program with several major options. The program is primarily designed for students who already possess a baccalaureate degree in nursing and wish to become Advanced Practice Nurses or Nurse Educators. Toledo offers master's-level majors in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator and Graduate-Entry Clinical Nurse Leader (CLN). The CLN major is designed for online students with a bachelor's degree who want to become a registered nurse. Depending on the major, nursing students at Toledo complete 51-66 semester credits, including clinical experiences, research projects or a master's thesis, for graduation. Prospective students should have a 3.0 GPA and undergraduate work and must submit their official transcripts, personal statement, professional resume, 3 letters of recommendation and official GRE scores. Students who pass the first round of application reviews may be required to participate in an interview with the nursing faculty. Toledo's College of Nursing boasts a hands-on learning lab that teaches students how to use the latest technology in the field through 3D simulations and virtual reality programs.

University of Iowa View School Profile Iowa City, IA $8856

Accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the University of Iowa offers a Master of Nursing-Clinical Nurse Leader program. Courses for this 39-credit-hour degree may be completed entirely online except for 1 on-campus class: Health Promotion and Assessment for Advance Clinical Practice. Additionally, students must visit campus for orientation before beginning their first semester and at the end of their last semester to present their capstone project. Nursing students at UI complete a total of 490 clinical hours throughout the course of the degree, which includes participation in 1 practicum. After completion of the coursework, students must pass the Clinical Nurse Leader exam. While the GRE is not required for admission, all incoming students must possess an RN license. Applicants should have a baccalaureate or advanced degree in nursing with a minimum 3.0 GPA and 1 year of experience working in the field. Applications must include a statement of purpose, professional resume, a copy of one's current RN license, contact information for 3 recommenders and a statement of disclosure.

Fitchburg State University View School Profile Fitchburg, MA $3186

Fitchburg State University is a public institution with approximately 7,000 students. Online students can pursue a Master of Science in Nursing degree with a specialization in forensic nursing. This online program is designed for registered nurses who wish to advance their careers in the health care system and develop a forensic science-based skillset. Additionally, this program prepares nursing students for doctoral study in the field. Students in this program are typically enrolled part-time and take 6-7 credits per semester. Core nursing courses at Fitchburg State include Nursing with Diverse Populations, Advanced Clinical Concepts, Nursing Theory and Advanced Pathopharmacology and Epigenetics in Forensic Nursing. In total, students must complete 39 credit hours in addition to 420 hours of clinical practicums. In most cases, online students complete the degree in approximately 3 years. Applicants must submit official transcripts, 3 letters of recommendation, a personal essay and pass a background check. Additionally, applicants should have a current Registered Nursing license. Graduates of this program often pursue careers as crime scene investigators, legal nurse consultants, risk management specialists and forensic mental health consultants.

Boise State University View School Profile Boise, ID $6232

In Boise State University's Master of Nursing in Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner program, students learn to become expert caretakers for patients from adolescence through adulthood. Online students choose between specialization in Acute Care or Primary Care and complete 50 credit hours over the course of 9 semesters. For full-time students, this endeavor typically takes 3 years including summer semesters. Additionally, Boise State nursing students complete 700 total clinical hours, 576 of which take place in a supervised, direct patient care setting. Additionally, master's students must attend 3 week-long, on-campus intensive summer sessions. Online students pay $750 per credit hour regardless of their location. Prospective students are required to have 1 year of experience working with patients in an emergency room or another critical care environment. Boise State gives preference to applicants who specify an interest in Primary Care and have the requisite experience before applying. Online students have access to tutoring, career success workshops and academic coaching. Learners can also receive feedback on their homework and writing assignments through the Boise State Writing Center. Graduates of this program work in community health centers, hospice centers, correctional facilities and other private and public offices.

Grand Valley State University View School Profile Allendale, MI $15408

Grand Valley State University offers a Master of Science in Nursing in a hybrid format. Established in 1960, nursing students at this public institution engage with a flexible curriculum and develop leadership skills through evidence-based studies. Graduate students in this program train to be advanced generalists that can serve the health care system in various patient-centered roles. For graduation, hybrid students complete a total of 44 synchronous credit hours over the duration of 6 full-time semesters. The core nursing curriculum includes classes such as Biostatistics for Evidence-Based Practice, Pathophysiology for Advanced Nursing Practice, Advanced Health Assessment and Theoretical Basis for Clinical Reasoning. Applications must include official transcripts, professional resume and a personal goal statement. Applicants should have a 3.0 GPA or higher and current nursing licensure to practice in Michigan. Additionally, applicants must pass a background check and drug screen and engage in an interview with the nursing faculty for full consideration.

University of Cincinnati-Main Campus View School Profile Cincinnati, OH $12790

The University of Cincinnati is a public research institution founded in 1819. Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), UC offers an online Master of Science in Nursing in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP program. The program is designed for professionals who already hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and wish to improve their level of knowledge in the nursing field. Online UC students need to complete 44 credit hours, 504 for clinical hours and 42 lab hours for graduation. This is an accelerated program that many distance learners complete in as few as 2 years. UC nursing graduates can sit for the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) certification exam. Students are eligible for licensure within the state of Ohio. Graduates of this program move on to careers in rehabilitation centers, school campuses, community clinics and private practices. Prospective students should have a BSN degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applications should include 3 letters of reference, official transcripts, an outline of personal goals and a professional resume. UC expect students to have at least 1 year of work experience before applying.

Cleveland State University View School Profile Cleveland, OH $9565

Established in 1964, Cleveland State University is a public institution with more than 17,000 students. Online learners can pursue a Master of Science in Nursing degree entirely online. Master's students choose between specialized nursing tracks in Specialized Populations, Nursing Education, Forensic Nursing and Clinical Nurse Leader. Depending on the concentration, CSU students complete 31-38 credit hours at $531.40 per hour. The program is designed for registered nurses who desire to have specialized credentials and broaden their knowledge of the field. CSU prides itself on providing instruction in areas related to general population health care. Courses are delivered asynchronously and include Theory Development in Nursing, Evidence-Based Nursing Practice, Population Assessment and Forensics Methodologies. All CSU graduate students complete a clinical practicum in addition to a final project or traditional thesis. Prospective master's students should have a bachelor's degree in nursing, undergraduate experience in statistics and a license to practice nursing in the state in which they intend to complete their practicum.

Ferris State University View School Profile Big Rapids, MI $7046

Ferris State University is a public institution founded in 1884. Distance learners can take advantage of its online Master of Science in Nursing program. This program is designed for students who hold a bachelor's degree in nursing and wish to develop further their understanding of clinical care in the field. Aside from an in-person, 4-hour mandatory orientation session, this is a fully online program that offers 3 specialty concentrations in Nursing Education, Nursing Administration and Nursing Informatics. Advanced students may be able to take courses for more than 1 specialty concentration or have the option to earn an additional graduate certificate. All students, regardless of concentration, complete 2, 120-hour practicums. Master's students at Ferris State typically take 1-2 courses per semester. Online students at Ferris State have access to class orientation modules, career services, academic advising and technical support. Applications should include official transcripts, professional resume, 3 letters of recommendation and a writing sample.This is a competitive program that admits only 20 students per academic year. Scholarships are available for nursing students in addition to financial aid provided by the state of Michigan and outside professional organizations such as the Michigan Organization for Nurse Executives and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

Ball State University View School Profile Muncie, IN $8386

Ball State University has a Master of Science in Nursing program for online students. Distance learners in this program choose 1 of 3 concentrations to prepare for their desired career: Nurse Educator, Nurse Administrator or Family Nurse Practitioner. Ball State delivers courses asynchronously that online students complete on their own time with no on-campus obligation. Master's students need to finish a total of 36-47 credit hours, depending on the concentration. Graduate students in the Nurse Educator or Administrator concentration must complete a 180-hour practicum during their final semester. Practicums can be completed at an approved location within a student's immediate geographic area. Those in the Family Nurse Practitioner track complete 690 supervised clinical hours and will be eligible to apply for the FNP certification exam upon graduation. Online students at Ball State have access to the same rigorous curriculum and support services offered to students on the main campus. Services for online students include academic advising, peer mentoring, career planning and technical support.

University of Massachusetts-Amherst View School Profile Amherst, MA $13524
Clarion University View School Profile Clarion, PA $11592
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University View School Profile Tallahassee, FL $8019
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay View School Profile Green Bay, WI $7640
California State University-Dominguez Hills View School Profile Carson, CA $6738
University of Mississippi View School Profile University, MS $7644
Davenport University View School Profile Grand Rapids, MI $12942
William Carey University View School Profile Hattiesburg, MS $8400
University of Colorado Colorado Springs View School Profile Colorado Springs, CO $9983
The University of Texas at Tyler View School Profile Tyler, TX $4896
Texas A&M University-College Station View School Profile College Station, TX $5784
University of Southern Mississippi View School Profile Hattiesburg, MS $7549
University of Alabama in Huntsville View School Profile Huntsville, AL $9834
Stony Brook University View School Profile Stony Brook, NY $10870
Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville View School Profile Edwardsville, IL $6312
Delta State University View School Profile Cleveland, MS $6298
Western Governors University View School Profile Salt Lake City, UT $6500
Utah Valley University View School Profile Orem, UT $7192
Northern Kentucky University View School Profile Highland Heights, KY $10008
Florida Atlantic University View School Profile Boca Raton, FL $5467
Northwestern State University of Louisiana View School Profile Natchitoches, LA $5738
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh View School Profile Oshkosh, WI $7640
Albany State University View School Profile Albany, GA $3402
Georgia Southwestern State University View School Profile Americus, GA $3330
Columbus State University View School Profile Columbus, GA $5706

Genevieve Carlton holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University and earned tenure as a history professor at the University of Louisville. An award-winning historian and writer, Genevieve has published multiple scholarly articles and a book with the University of Chicago Press. She currently works as a freelance writer and consultant.

Related articles that may interest you

AffordableCollegesOnline.org 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.

Do this for you

Explore your possibilities- find schools with programs you’re interested in and clear a path for your future.