The Best Online RN-to-MSN Programs 2022

Nurses with an MSN degree often qualify for higher pay and leadership roles. RN-to-MSN programs offer an accelerated route to becoming a nurse practitioner.

The Best Online RN-to-MSN Programs 2022

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Nurses with an MSN degree often qualify for higher compensation and leadership roles. An online RN-to-MSN program offers an accelerated route to becoming a nurse practitioner. After earning an MSN, registered nurses often secure advanced practice roles as nurse practitioners and nurse midwives. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these high-level professionals earn a median salary of $117,670 per year.

This page ranks the best accelerated nursing programs online for 2021. Nurses can use the ranking to begin researching RN-to-MSN programs that fit their career goals and budget. The following sections also explore common RN-to-MSN courses and scholarships for graduate-level nursing students.

RN-to-MSN Questions

true Q. What is an RN-to-MSN program?

An RN-to-MSN program offers an accelerated path to a graduate degree in nursing. During the program, nurses take BSN and MSN courses to earn their graduate degree.

true Q. Can I get my MSN without a BSN?

Registered nurses can enroll in an accelerated nursing program to earn their MSN without completing a separate BSN program. During an RN-to-MSN program, degree-seekers take courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

true Q. How long is the RN-to-MSN program?

RN-to-MSN programs typically take about three years to finish. Nurses complete BSN coursework during their first year, before beginning graduate-level classes. Some advanced practice specialties, such as nurse practitioner, may require additional time.

true Q. What can I do with an MSN degree?

MSN degree-holders can work as nurse educators, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse administrators. Many of these roles offer median salaries of more than $100,000 per year, according to BLS data.

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Why Get an RN-to-MSN Degree?

An RN-to-MSN degree can help nurses increase their earning potential and secure specialized roles with increased responsibilities. Many leadership positions, such as nurse educator, nurse administration, and nurse practitioner, require an MSN degree. Learners can pursue their BSN and MSN separately. However, accelerated nursing programs allow students to earn the advanced degree faster, and learners often save money on tuition.

Online learning often appeals to working nurses seeking career advancement. By attending accelerated nursing programs online, nurses can complete coursework around their work schedule. Many online programs also allow students to complete clinical rotations at their current workplace.

How Much Does an RN-to-MSN Degree Cost?

The cost of an RN-to-MSN degree varies depending on the nursing school, the student's enrollment option, and the total credits required. Some accelerated nursing programs also charge significantly lower per-credit rates for BSN coursework than for MSN classes.

Students attending accelerated nursing programs online often save on tuition and expenses. Many online RN-to-MSN programs charge a flat tuition rate for distance learners, regardless of their residency status, which can save out-of-state students a significant amount.

Because costs vary, prospective MSN degree-seekers should carefully research the cost of tuition, fees, textbooks, and other expenses for each prospective program before applying.

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

How Much Do Nursing Majors Make?

Many nurses earn high salaries and benefit from strong demand. According to BLS data, registered nurses earn a median salary of $75,330 per year. However, factors such as experience and education level can impact earning potential. The highest 10% of registered nurses earn more than $116,230 per year.

Factors including geographic location and employer also influence a nurse's salary. For example, RNs who work in government roles or at hospitals earn higher median salaries than their peers.

Advanced practice RNs, including nurse practitioners and nurse midwives, earn a median annual salary of $117,670. The BLS projects employment for these professionals to increase 45% from 2019-2029, significantly faster than the average for all occupations.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse - Nursing Timeline

A typical nursing degree can take 2-4 years to complete. Each level of nursing has its own timeline, and that timeline can vary depending upon factors like part-time vs. full-time enrollment, certification, and the type of program. 

Below is an overview of the typical amount of time it takes to complete a nursing degree, keep in mind that the length provided is for the amount of time it takes to complete that segment of the degree, not the entire academic path overall:

Nursing Degree Level Time of Completion
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) 2-3 years
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) 1-2 years
Registered Nurse (RN) 4 years
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) 4-5 years
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) 1.5-3 years
Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) 1-3 years

RN-to-MSN Program Requirements

Accelerated nursing programs applicants must typically hold an RN license and an associate degree or diploma in nursing. Schools may require applicants to provide NCLEX-RN scores. Some programs also require professional experience in the field.

Students admitted to RN-to-MSN programs complete coursework at the undergraduate and graduate levels. MSN degree-seekers also fulfill clinical practicum requirements, and some programs require a capstone project.

Courses in RN-to-MSN Programs

RN-to-MSN programs prepare nurses for advanced practice and leadership roles. Coursework emphasizes evidence-based practice, advanced health assessment, and nursing analytics. MSN degree-holders often pursue leadership positions in healthcare organizations.

Nurses in an RN-to-MSN program typically complete BSN coursework before beginning graduate-level classes. Nursing students often choose a specialization such as nurse educator, nurse practitioner, or nurse administrator. Learners also complete clinical practicum hours to gain hands-on training in their specialty area.

This section introduces courses common to many RN-to-MSN programs. However, available courses vary by program and specialization. Students should contact their prospective institution for curriculum information.

Scholarship for Nursing

Nursing students can pursue various scholarship opportunities. Many professional associations, government agencies, and private foundations administer funding to nursing students. The following list highlights a few scholarship opportunities for students in accelerated nursing programs. Learners can also research scholarships based on their state, school, or career goals.

Scholarship Amount Who Can Apply

AfterCollege/AACN Scholarship

$2,500 AfterCollege and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing partner to offer this quarterly scholarship. Nurses in RN-to-MSN programs, aspiring nurse educators, and students in accelerated programs receive preference.

Geraldine 'Polly' Bednash Scholarship

$5,000 Graduate nursing students can apply for this scholarship from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Candidates must attend an AACN member institution or submit their nursing school application through NursingCAS. Applicants need a minimum 3.2 GPA.

CastleBranch-GNSA Scholarship

$2,500 The scholarship supports graduate nursing students who demonstrate innovation and leadership skills. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.5 GPA and submit an essay detailing their contributions to the nursing profession.

The Best Online RN-to-MSN Programs 2022

  1. University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $4478

    The online MSN degree program at the University of Central Florida (UCF) is designed for students who already have a bachelor's degree in nursing. Students who have a non-nursing bachelor's must fulfill specific prerequisites to be eligible for admission. Three tracks are available including leadership and management, nursing and health care simulation and nurse educator. Each track has a different set of graduation requirements. The leadership and management track is fully online and requires 36 credit hours and 315 clinical hours. The nursing health care simulation track is available online with some on campus activities and requires 11 courses and 60 clinical hours. The nurse educator track is fully online and requires 35 credit hours and 240 clinical hours. Online UFC students may access a range of support services such as academic advising, writing tutors, a resource center with peer-assisted learning, career services and the UCF library online. No special discount rate is offered to online students; tuition is $372.32 per credit hour for in-state students and $694.82 for out-of-state students. To qualify for admission, students must submit official transcripts from each college/university and have a BSN degree from a program accredited by the CCNE or ACEN, or a non-nursing bachelor's degree with certain prerequisites including 3 courses: Dimensions of Professional Practice, Public Health Nursing and Nursing Research. In addition, students must have taken an undergraduate statistics course and have an RN license. They must also submit an essay and CV, and they may also be required to participate in a faculty interview.

  2. The University of Alabama
    Location

    Tuscaloosa, AL

    Tuition

    $10470

    The RN to BSN/MSN program at the University of Alabama gives qualified registered nurses an accelerated route for completing both BSN and MSN degrees. To graduate from this program, students must complete 50 credit hours and a practicum. Two tracks are offered to students including clinical nurse leader and case management. The clinical nurse leader track prepares students to oversee a team of care providers and evaluate patient outcomes. The case manager track equips students with the knowledge and skills to work closely with patients and create long-term health care plans for those living with diseases like HIV/AIDs or cancer. Courses are offered online, and no campus attendance is required. The Bama By Distance Student Services team is available to offer personalized support to students navigating the admissions and financial aid process and to help coordinate proctored exams. In addition, students can access an online library, technical support and tutoring assistance. Distance learning tuition rates are the same as on campus, in-state tuition rates; $364 per credit hour for undergraduate courses and $394 per credit hour for graduate courses. At various times, scholarships are available to nursing students through the College of Continuing Studies and the Capstone College of Nursing. To be eligible for admission, students must have an unencumbered RN license in the U.S., an associate degree or diploma from a program accredited by the Accredited Commission for Education in Nursing, ACEN, a 3.0 GPA in lower-division core courses and a 3.0 for the last 60 credit hours of undergraduate work.

  3. University of Alabama at Birmingham
    Location

    Birmingham, AL

    Tuition

    $8040

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing offers an RN Mobility program for RNs looking to earn a master's degree. This program has a wide variety of MSN specialty tracks are available including family, adult-gerontology primary care, adult-gerontology acute care, psychiatric/mental health, pediatric primary care, pediatric primary and acute care, pediatric acute care, neonatal, women's health, clinical nurse leader, nursing health systems administration and nursing informatics. Graduation requirements vary depending on the specialty track; for example, the family nurse practitioner specialty requires 45 total credit hours, 13 clinical and 32 didactic, with 600 total hours of direct patient care. In contrast, the clinical nurse leader specialty requires 31 total credit hours, 9 clinical and 22 didactic, with 420 hours of clinical contact. The RN-MSN nursing program offers flexible scheduling, and clinical experiences are designed on an individual basis with students working under a clinical preceptor such as a certified nurse practitioner or physician. Courses are all offered online. Students can access tutorial videos and contact support for help using the Canvas portal. As an added resource, the UAB Nursing Network also broadcasts monthly 30-minute live video discussions with expert nursing faculty. No special tuition discount is offered for online students; however, residents and nonresidents are charged the same amount, $505 per undergraduate credit hour and $656 per graduate credit hour. To qualify for admission, applicants must complete a bachelor's degree or higher in a field other than nursing and have an associate degree in nursing from a regionally accredited institution. Students must also have at least one year of clinical experience and a nursing license, have a GPA of 3.0 or higher and submit three letters of recommendation and transcripts from all previous educational programs. Students who have a GPA of 3.2 or higher may waive the GRE/GMAT/MAT requirement.

  4. South Dakota State University
    Location

    Brookings, SD

    Tuition

    $7155

    The Registered Nursing to Masters of Science Nursing Program (RN-MSN) at South Dakota State University provides RNs interested in furthering their education. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in nursing with a 3.0-3.3 GPA, completed all baccalaureate admission requirements, have coverage by a non-employer sponsored RN liability insurance, and complete certain courses within a certain time frame prior to completing required graduate courses at SDSU. Eligible students can request to substitute 2 graduate level courses in place of undergraduate courses. Within the RN-MSN program, students can opt for several different degree specializations: Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator, and Clinical Nursing Leadership. The Clinical Nursing Leadership specialization offers Administration or Clinical Nurse Leader emphasis. These specializations can provide students with focused information and knowledge to accommodate their professional goals. Different tracks have different credit requirements, and depending on concentration, programs may be offered completely online with an on campus requirement or a hybrid of both distance and in person learning. Students should consult with academic advisors for assistance. Online students have access to SDSU's library which provide a multitude of services such sending books, articles and other materials electronically, providing technical help and research assistance. The South Dakota State Master of Science Family Nurse Practitioner program has met the American Nurses Credentialing Center certification eligibility educational requirements. Students who complete these programs are eligible to sit for the ANCC certification.

  5. University of South Florida
    Location

    Tampa, FL

    Tuition

    $4559

    The University of South Florida's RN-MS program is highly competitive. Interested applicants must be registered nurses and have bachelor's degrees (which can be in a non-nursing field). They must have a GPA of at least a 3.0, and must complete and submit an application. Different concentrations within this program include Adult-Gerontology Acute Care, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care, Family Health Nursing, Nurse Anesthesia, Nursing Education, Occupational Health Nursing/Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nursing, and Pediatric Health Nursing. one concentration can be selected. Depending on concentration and field of study within the program, additional requirements may be necessary. Some core classes may be completed online, but the majority of courses are offered on campus with students required to participate in person for didactics, labs, clinicals, etc. The program can be completed in 5-9 semesters for full time students and 7-12 semesters by part time students. Information sessions are available for interested students as an introduction the program, application process, as well as to provide an opportunity for additional information. Upon graduation, students are prepared with a variety of skills applicable to the workplace, including professional research, leadership, implementation of health policy, case management and consultation. Financial aid and scholarships are available along with graduate assistantships and research assistantships to qualified students. The USF College of Nursing has Florida Board of Nursing approval, and the University of South Florida is accredited by Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

  6. Troy University
    Location

    Troy, AL

    Tuition

    $7224

    The RN to BSN/MSN at Troy University is a track for registered nurses who have associate degrees in nursing or an accredited diploma from a nursing program. Offered online, students have access to faculty and advisors on 4 campuses - Montgomery, Troy, Phenix City, and Dothan, Alabama. Students have the opportunity to take master's level courses while completing the BSN, with the ability to select their clinical location. Many academic advisors can be reached by telephone or email. Students interested in applying should provide official transcripts, 2 letters of recommendation and proof of their RN license. Students should have at least a 2.5 GPA, completed prerequisite courses and a certified background check. Progression to the MSN program requires additional clinical requirements as well as GRE or MCAT scores. A 4 semester nursing sequence, this program generally takes 18 weeks to degree completion and offers several different routes of study. Students can select the Family Nurse Practitioner Track, the Nursing Informatics Specialist Track, or the Clinical Nursing sequence, with varying course requirements for each. Online students can generally expect more affordable tuition as well as financial aid and scholarships. Troy University also provides financial assistance to currently serving military students. Additional support is provided by free online unlimited tutoring in a variety of subjects offered through a program called NetTutor, and access to alumni as well as online career services help students with setting goals, career objectives, as well as interviewing skills, obtaining jobs etc.

  7. Washington State University
    Location

    Pullman, WA

    Tuition

    $9324

    The RN-Master's of Nursing Program (RN-MN) at Washington State University is designed for students with bachelor's degrees in nursing who want to pursue their master's. As such, full time as well as part time programs are available to accommodate working schedules. Once accepted into the program, students can choose between two tracks - Nursing Leadership or Nursing Education. These will be merged in the Fall of 2019, so qualifications for graduation may change. Those who obtain the nursing leadership certificate are eligible to sit for the national certification exam. Full time students can expect to complete the program in as little as 2 years whereas part time students usually complete the program in 3-4 years. The program is a hybrid program with students meeting on campus 5 times for each course, with the rest online. Those interested in applying must be currently registered nurses with bachelor's degrees licensed in the state of Oregon or Washington. Interested applicants must have an overall GPA of a 3.0 for all college courses with a minimum grade of a 2.0 in each prerequisite course. Certain additional required courses include statistics, chemistry, and microbiology to name a few. In order to bridge the gap between the bachelor's and master's program, students are expected to take 2 additional graduate level nursing courses before applying. These courses are offered online with one date on campus. RN-MN advisors are available for consultation before applying to the program for assistance in determining additional admission requirements and the application process.

  8. Missouri State University
    Location

    Springfield, MO

    Tuition

    $6150

    The Accelerated Master's program at Missouri State University is available to students who are already enrolled in the Nursing Completion Program for Registered Nurses (BSN-C program). The BSN-C program is offered completely online for registered nurses who already have an associate's degree in nursing. Several courses are counted as undergraduate requirements as well as prerequisites to the graduate program. Students who graduate from the Accelerated Master's program can obtain a master's degree in the Nurse Educator specialization. Students interested in this transition program must apply prior to admission and enrollment in courses required for the BSN program. Students on the accelerated track must go through a pre-admission interview as well as submit documents including their GRE test scores, 2 letters of recommendation, and the current American Heart Association BLS for Healthcare Providers certification. In addition, students meet all of the admission requirements for the BSN completion programs, have 1 year of full time experience as a registered nurse, and have an overall GPA of a 3.25 or higher. A minimum of a B average must be maintained in all of the undergraduate as well as graduate courses taken. The program is offered as a hybrid program of online and on campus courses. Missouri State offers specific online support with custom training, a help desk, tutoring, navigating Missouri State's online system and providing access to its library, among others. Scholarships, financial aid, and assistantships are available for graduate nursing students.

  9. Winona State University
    Location

    Winona, MN

    Tuition

    $7103

    Winona State University's RN to Graduate Nursing Pathway is for highly motivated nurses currently enrolled within the WSU RN-BS Completion program. Students must have professional experience as registered nurses and an associate degree or diploma in nursing. Graduate courses will be substituted for baccalaureate level credits in the RN - BS Completion program. Students will take 10 credits of graduate level courses in place of undergraduate level courses and have 10 credits waived towards their graduate program, thus reducing the amount of graduate level credits required and reducing the time necessary to obtain their master's. Interested students must fill out a separate application for this advanced plan of study, and can consult with advisors from both the undergraduate as well as graduate nursing programs for assistance in course selection as well as with the application process. This pathway allows graduate students to select a program of Nurse Educator, Clinical Nurse Specialist, or Nursing Organization Leadership. Graduates of the nursing master's programs are prepared for continued graduate studies or for advanced nursing roles in the workforce, with specific skills developed within each program. As these programs are directed towards working professionals, courses are offered in a variety of methods including online, one day per week on campus, or a hybrid of both. Winona State has 3 campuses located in Winona and Rochester, Minnesota. Different programs have different requirements, and different plans of study can affect how long it takes to complete the program.

  10. University of Southern Mississippi
    Location

    Hattiesburg, MS

    Tuition

    $7549

    The RN-MSN program at The University of Southern Mississippi allows registered nurses to obtain their master's in Family Nurse Practitioner or a Psychiatric Mental Health Practitioner. Both offer coursework fully online with varying requirements for on campus work. The length of completion varies with each program, but the general time frame for full-time students is 1.5 to 2 years. A part time plan is also offered to accommodate working schedules but does prolong the length of the program. Interested students must be licensed nurses in the state of Mississippi, submit scores from the verbal and analytical sections of the GRE, have proof of current CPR certification, criminal background check and certain immunizations. This program allows registered nurses to obtain their master's but upon completion, students in this program will not receive a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing. Requirements include graduate core courses, courses from each specialization, as well as clinical coursework. Academic policies are the same for all students pursing master's degrees. A comprehensive exam is required and the entire program of study must be completed with at least a 3.0 GPA in order to graduate. Online students pay resident tuition instead of out of state tuition with financial aid and scholarship opportunities available. A military friendly school, military or service members can also seek financial aid and scholarships specific to them. Graduates of the program have secured positions as nurses in rural and urban community health settings, as Psychiatric Registered Nurses and Primary Care Psychiatric Mental Health nurses.

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