In Focus: Top Online MSN Programs in 2021

Review top schools, look inside the online programs, and read how an online MSN can help you move your nursing career forward.

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Stephanie Johannsen

- Bio

Stephanie Johannsenis a Registered Nurse (RN) with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and a Master of Science in Health Administration (MSHA). Her unique background includes extensive clinical and administrative roles in hospitals, insurance companies, Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), drug companies, start-up joint ventures, ambulatory centers, hospice, long term care, home health, travel nursing and overseas education. She also worked as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant (CLNC) assisting with class action lawsuits, medical malpractice cases and catastrophic injury cases. Stephanie has had an exciting career fully exploring nearly every aspect of health care and thrives on sharing those experiences with others who wish to enter the field.

last updated

Last Updated: 09/22/2021
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A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is a top choice for current nurses looking to move their careers forward. In addition to enhancing knowledge and gaining skill, nurses can use MSN programs to become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) – also known as nurse practitioners – in about two years. Some programs can be completed in as little as 18 months.

This career advancement can be excellent for earning potential, as well. APRNs earned a median salary of $111,680 as of May 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with top APRNs pulling in $156,160. What’s more, the BLS estimates a 45% growth in APRN job openings from 2019 – 2029, much faster than average.

With online MSN programs available at dozens of schools nationwide, and growth in APRN/NP jobs on the rise, now is a great time to earn an advanced credential. Check out EduMed’s best schools for online MSN programs in 2021, and see which specializations a master’s in nursing could lead to.

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About the ranking

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Methodology for EduMed’s 2021 Best Online Programs

1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

2. Assign Weightings

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.

Affordability

  • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2021

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences CenterOklahoma City, OK Public $$ 3

The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center offers two online MSN programs. The first is the Education Pathway where 32 credits of coursework prepare students to teach other nurses. Students focus on academic nursing education and professional staff development with 320 required practicum teaching hours. The MSN track in Nursing Administration takes about 21 months to complete. The curriculum looks at healthcare administration, quality improvement, financial management, healthcare law and policy, and managed care operations, among other topics. The 33 credit program is mostly through 16-week, online courses.

Program Highlights:

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

  • Credits: 32-33
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $320.20/credit (in-state); $713.60/credit (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

  • Credits: 32-33
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $320.20/credit (in-state); $713.60/credit (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
2 University of Central FloridaOrlando, FL Public $$ 2

The MSN program at the University of Central Florida Online requires 31 to 36 credit hours. Specialties include Nursing Leadership and Management, Nursing Education, and Nursing and Healthcare Simulation. Nursing Leadership courses prepare students for work in administration, while Nursing Education courses prepare them to teach other nurses. The Healthcare Simulation program is unique because it teaches nurses to evaluate and create simulations for educational purposes. Applicants need bachelor’s degrees to apply for this CCNE-accredited program, and those with bachelor’s degrees in something other than nursing can take prerequisites to join the program. The program is open to residents of Florida and member states of the NCSBN nurse-licensure compact.

Program Highlights:

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

  • Credits: 31-36
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $327.32/credit (in-state); $1,151.72/credit (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
41%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
3 Indiana University-Purdue University-IndianapolisIndianapolis, IN Public $$ 3

The MSN in Nursing Education at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis takes 42 credits of study with over 80 percent of courses offered online. The program includes 22 hours of core courses, 17 hours of major courses, and 3 hours of electives. Students also complete 75 hours of supervised advanced clinical practice and 150 hours of a supervised teaching practicum. Acceptance requires a bachelor’s degree in nursing, an active RN license, a 3.0 or higher GPA, and completion of a three-hour statistics course. Graduates are eligible to sit for the Certified Nurse Educator certification through the National League of Nursing.

Program Highlights:

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

  • Credits: 42
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $607.00/credit (in-state); $1,600.00/credit (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
57%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
4 University of IowaIowa City, IA Public $$ 3

The College of Nursing at the University of Iowa offers three MSN programs: Clinical Nurse Leader, Nursing Systems Administration, and the Bridge for Master of Nursing and Healthcare Practice Alumni. The CNL program offers two or three-year plans of study with only one course requiring time on campus. With a class size of only 24, this cohort allows for plenty of interaction with peers and professors. The NSA program offers the same small class size, a 2.5-year plan of study, and only orientation required on campus. The Bridge program can be completed in 18 months and provides a pathway to the MSN for those who have only the MSN.

Program Highlights:

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

  • Credits: 33-39
  • Length: 18 months to 3 years
  • Cost: $18,365.00 to $39,823.00/program (in-state); $36,887.00 to $76,867.00/program (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
76%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
5 The University of Texas at ArlingtonArlington, TX Public $$ 3

The College of Nursing and Health Innovation at the University of Texas at Arlington offers numerous MSN programs, including seven through accelerated online delivery. Programs include Nursing Administration, Nursing Education, and RN to MSN. UTA also offers Nurse Practitioner MSNs in gerontology adult care, gerontology primary care, family nursing, pediatric acute care, and pediatric primary care. Courses are taken one at a time asynchronously with no on-campus requirements. There might be occasional timed meetings via video chat or discussion board. Full-time students can complete the program in 24 months.

Program Highlights:

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

  • Credits: Varies based on concentration
  • Length: 24 months (full-time)
  • Cost: $17,800 to $30,084/program based on area of specialization
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
54%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
6 University at BuffaloBuffalo, NY Public $$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
65%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
7 University of ToledoToledo, OH Public $$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
92%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
8 University of South Carolina-ColumbiaColumbia, SC Public $$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
62%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
9 The University of Texas Health Science Center at San AntonioSan Antonio, TX Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
10 Texas Woman’s UniversityDenton, TX Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
44%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
11 Stony Brook UniversityStony Brook, NY Public $$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
70%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
12 Washington State UniversityPullman, WA Public $$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
76%
AccreditationNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
13 The University of Texas at TylerTyler, TX Public $$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
48%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
14 Quinnipiac UniversityHamden, CT Private, Not-for-Profit $$$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
95%
AccreditationNew England Commission of Higher Education
15 Endicott CollegeBeverly, MA Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
92%
AccreditationNew England Commission of Higher Education
16 Loyola University ChicagoChicago, IL Private, Not-for-Profit $$$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
97%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
17 East Tennessee State UniversityJohnson City, TN Public $$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
37%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
18 The University of Texas Medical BranchGalveston, TX Public $$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
19 Saint Xavier UniversityChicago, IL Private, Not-for-Profit $$$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
100%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
20 Kennesaw State UniversityKennesaw, GA Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
6%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
21 Winona State UniversityWinona, MN Public $$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
49%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
22 University of LouisvilleLouisville, KY Public $$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
61%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
23 Minnesota State University MoorheadMoorhead, MN Public $$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
56%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
24 SUNY College of Technology at DelhiDelhi, NY Public $$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
77%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
25 Florida International UniversityMiami, FL Public $$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
76%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

Inside Look: Online MSN Profiles

With so many schools and programs offering the online MSN, it can be tough to choose. You can review the best institutions and compare and contrast their stats, but to truly find the right program, you need to dig deeper. Which programs have the most online courses? How many credits until you graduate? Do they offer specializations? We’ve researched three leading online MSN programs to give you an inside look on what you can expect.

University of Central Florida

University-of-Central-Florida

Located in Orlando, Florida, the University of Central Florida (UCF) boasts one of the largest student populations of any school in the nation. UCF offers a robust online program and with a variety of undergraduate and graduate program options, including an online a master’s of science in nursing degree.

Specifically, UCF offers its MSN program in three online formats across three specializations. Students can choose to pursue their degree in cohort, full-time, or part-time formats. This maximizes flexibility and allows students to tailor learning to fit their personal needs. Depending on the format, students will take between four and seven semesters to complete their degree.

The three specializations offered are: Nurse Educator, Leadership and Management, and Nursing and Healthcare Simulation. The latter is particularly unique in that it’s the shortest UCF online MSN program at 31 credit hours. It’s designed to train nurses in healthcare simulation for education, quality improvement, and training purposes. The Nurse Educator and Leadership and Management specializations are longer, at 35 and 36 credit hours, respectively. Each specialization consists of the same four core MSN courses, along with seven or eight track-specific courses.

Jacksonville University

Jacksonville-University

Jacksonville University is a small private university with a student body of about 4,200 undergraduate and graduate students. Students interested in earning a master’s of science in nursing degree can enroll in one of the Keigwin School of Nursing’s several Online Master of Science in Nursing programs.

This university offers two online MSN programs. The first is the RN to MSN, which allows currently practicing registered nurses to earn both their BSN and MSN degrees at the same time. This can be done by completing between 141 and 144 credit hours.

Next there’s the traditional MSN online program, intended for students who already have a BSN degree. In addition to earning their MSN, these students can choose from three majors: Clinical Nurse Educator, Leadership in Healthcare Systems, and Informatics Specialization. For maximum flexibility, students complete their projects and practicums close to home or work. They can even take off 8 to 16 weeks at a time if they need a break or have to focus on personal or professional obligations.

Both online MSN programs at Jacksonville University are offered with 8-week course sessions. Students can choose between full-time or part-time pacing.

Queens University of Charlotte

Queens-University-of-Charlotte

Queens University of Charlotte is a small, private liberal arts university situated in the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina. Besides providing a world class education, Queens University of Charlotte prides itself on the idea of serving one’s community. With more than 90 percent of its student body participating in service, Queens University of Charlotte has a robust nursing school, which includes an online Master of Science in Nursing program.

In recognition of the shortage of nurses in the United States, Queens University of Charlotte’s online MSN program is designed for maximum accommodation of talented students. For example, there is no GRE requirement or application fee. Students can complete their clinicals at a healthcare facility close to them; they are responsible for choosing a suitable location and qualified preceptor. Additionally, all classroom curriculum components can be completed online and asynchronously. This means that outside of completing assignments and exams at certain intervals, students can progress through each class on their own schedule.

Most classes are eight weeks in length, although a few can last as long as 16 weeks. Students can complete their MSN degree in as little as two years of full-time study in one of three MSN specializations: Clinical Nurse Leader, Nurse Administrator, or Nurse Educator.

Types of Online MSN Programs

There are lots of options for those who want to earn their master’s degree in nursing. Each program is specifically designed for a differing experience, and suits a different set of educational backgrounds of applicants. Some MSN programs are intended for registered nurses without a bachelor’s degree, while others require a bachelor of science in nursing for admission. Here’s more on the most popular types of MSN degree tracks:

Direct Entry MSN Programs

These are relatively new to academia and were created to help alleviate the shortage of health professionals within the United States. Direct entry MSN programs are designed for students who already have a bachelor’s degree, but in an area of study other than nursing. Programs differ in format, but usually begin with taking pre-licensure nursing courses during the first year and passing the NCLEX-RN exam. Once that is completed, students move onto the MSN related coursework. Students can choose from traditional campus-based programs or flexible online direct entry MSN programs.

The benefits

  • Time savings: Depending on the school, many direct entry programs take about three years. This is a far less time than going back to school to earn a BSN or associate degree in nursing, then obtaining an MSN (4-6 years).
  • Financial savings: Not having to earn a second undergraduate degree, whether it’s at the bachelor’s or associate level, can save tens of thousands of dollars on schooling.

The drawbacks

  • Background research required: Prospective direct entry students need to do careful background research to choose the right concentration for their MSN degree, yet do so without any prior knowledge.
  • Academic intensity: Because direct entry programs are open to students from any academic background, those with degrees that have less of a mathematical or scientific basis may have to spend extra time on those skills, and on an accelerated basis.

Best for… Direct entry programs are perfect for students who want an MSN degree, but do not want to earn a second bachelor’s or associate degree in nursing first.

Accelerated MSN Programs

Accelerated MSN programs include a curriculum set up so that that students can complete their MSN degree as quickly as possible, each unique. Some schools allow students to use their prior education or experience to help them move more quickly through a particular course. Other programs allow students to take as many courses as they want within a certain time period. Finally, some programs are extra flexible in allowing students to structure their degree requirements in the most efficient and practical way possible.

The advantages

  • Academic efficiency: Many accelerated programs allow students to take courses all year. Instead of taking off during the winter and summer breaks, you can continue with course work.
  • Potential to save money: Accelerated MSN programs reduce the amount of time a student spends in school working toward the degree. Depending on the school tuition rates, students can potentially reduce the overall cost of earning an MSN degree by reducing the time in school by an entire term.

The disadvantages

  • Higher initial cost: Accelerated programs can save time on an MSN degree in several ways, but typically allow more courses within a shorter period of time. As most schools charge per class or credit, this can result in a higher tuition cost in the short term.
  • Requires a full-time commitment: To allow students to finish their degree as quickly as possible, program administrators have set up accelerated programs such that there is little time for students to do anything else other than attend class online, study and complete clinicals.

Best for… Accelerated programs are ideal for students who want to earn their MSN as quickly as possible, and have the time and money to devote 100% of their attention to their goal.

RN to MSN Programs

Many registered nurses earn a bachelor of science in nursing degree. But many others become licensed RNs with just an associate degree or a diploma from an approved nursing program. However, a master’s degree traditionally requires incoming students to have a bachelor’s degree. To accommodate this need, many nursing schools have created special programs for non-BSN prepared RNs who want to get an MSN by building on their real-world clinical experience. Many RN to MSN programs are available online, as well.

The benefits

  • Still earn a BSN: RN to MSN programs vary, but many of them will include earning a BSN in addition to the MSN degree.
  • Large professional growth potential: For RNs who want to transition to management, education, or a specialized area of practice, a RN to MSN program is probably the most cost-effective way of getting there.

The drawbacks

  • Length of program: Because students are typically earning both a BSN and MSN degree, many RN to MSN programs last three or more years. For some nurses, it might not be worth the added time and expenses.
  • Challenging coursework: Many RN to MSN programs require students to take bachelor’s and master’s level courses at the same time. This can present an extra set of learning challenges for some.

Best for… Practicing nurses who want to advance their nursing career but don’t already have a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

BSN to MSN Programs

Getting an MSN degree after first earning a BSN is a traditional academic degree path. Therefore, the BSN to MSN route is the most common type of online MSN program available. Most BSN to MSN programs consist of about 35 credit hours and last about two years, if the course-load is full-time. Given how well-established these MSN programs are, students usually have the greatest opportunity to pursue a particular specialization or concentration this way.

Pros

  • Plenty of program options: Because the BSN to MSN is so common, almost every nursing school with a graduate program has this degree path, meaning there are many programs to choose from.
  • Speed of completion: Of all of the major types of MSN programs, the BSN to MSN path is the fastest. This is due to students not only having the requisite nursing background, but having already completed all foundational and general education undergraduate coursework as well.

Cons

  • Clinicals still required: Even though incoming students have already completed the clinicals necessary for earning a BSN and have real world clinical experience, BSN to MSN programs still have clinical requirements.
  • Lower return on investment: Because incoming nursing students already have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, the return on investment for an MSN degree isn’t always as good when compared to other MSN programs that accept students with little to no background.

Best for… Nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing who would like to move on to the next level of their nursing career, whether in management, leadership, education or a nursing specialization.

Dual Master’s: MSN/MBA

The MSN degree is typically intended for those who want to take on lower to middle level management or leadership positions within a department or healthcare organization. For those who want to enter the corporate or executive leadership roles at the highest level, some schools have created dual degree programs. These combine the master of science in nursing degree with the master of business administration.

Why it’s a good idea

  • Create change at the highest level: With the addition of the MBA degree, nurses earn the ability to take on roles that create policy changes at the top of organizations.
  • Networking opportunities: With the combination of the MBA and MSN degrees, students will have opportunities to create connections with individuals work in both the healthcare and executive realm of an organization.

The disadvantages

  • Time commitment: Depending on the program, obtaining two degrees at once can add an extra year or more to the time it takes to graduate.
  • Admissions requirements: While it’s not impossible to gain acceptance into a joint MBA/MSN degree program, the admissions requirements are more involved and rigorous.

Best for… Anyone with a nursing background who wants to reach the highest levels of leadership within a healthcare organization.

Exploring the Online MSN Curriculum

The majority of curriculums in online MSN programs consist of three parts. The first part includes the core MSN courses that all students take, regardless of concentration. The second portion are courses specific to the student’s concentration of choice, such as nurse educator or informatics. The third part is clinicals or practicums that students must complete at an approved healthcare site.

This curriculum structure changes slightly for students without a BSN degree or nursing background. In those cases, there is an additional portion of the curriculum to cover the missing coursework, such as foundational and prerequisite nursing courses. The following sample timeline is for MSN students who already have their BSN degree and choose to take a leadership and management area of specialization.

Term Courses # Credits
Semester 1 Nursing Informatics, Advanced Practice Nursing Theories, and Dynamics within a Healthcare Organization. 9
Semester 2 Nursing elective, Research Methods, and Nurse Management. 9
Semester 3 Healthcare Resource and Financial Management, Legal and Ethical Behaviors for Advanced Practice Nurses. 6
Semester 4 Leadership and Management for Nurses and Leadership and Management Clinical. 6
Semester 5 Evidence Based Practice and Leadership and Management Internship. 6

How Do Master’s in Nursing Programs Work Online?

In most cases, all the coursework in an online MSN program will be delivered through distance learning technology. Depending on the program, the bulk of the course material is delivered and managed by learning management software. This can include handouts, tests, assignments, and lectures. The software is also used to coordinate interactions between students and educators. Some programs supplement the collaborative learning with tools like Skype or Facetime.

The exact online education process depends on the preferences of school administrators, professors, and the educational format. For example, with asynchronous learning, interactions among students and between students and the professor are not as likely to be in real time. Instead, there will probably be message boards where students can access as it’s convenient to them. If a program contains synchronous learning, it is conducted primarily in real time.

Clinicals & Labs for the Online MSN

Even though many programs tout 100% online curriculums, that doesn’t mean MSN students have no in-person education elements. In nursing school, the most significant hands-on education requirements are clinicals or practicums.

Online MSN programs also have these requirements, but because the majority of students do not live or work close to the school, they have special procedures in place for reviewing and approving clinical sites chosen by the students. These locations can be either the same place where the student currently works as an RN or a potential future employer. It’s quite common for those who make a great impression during their clinicals to have their job applications receive special consideration during the post-graduate job search.

Students should be selective in choosing a preceptor, or healthcare professional, who helps find teaching opportunities for students during the clinical. In addition to clinicals, some programs may also have on-campus intensives, immersions, or labs that students must complete.

Specializing as a Master’s in Nursing Student

One of the key benefits of studying for a master’s level nursing degree is the ability to specialize. Most schools with MSN programs have several concentrations to choose from. By opting for an appropriate concentration, nurses can receive a tailored education designed to most effectively prepare them for career advancement.

Care-coordination

Care coordination: A lesser known MSN specialization, care coordination refers to the process of providing the most effective nursing care possible by taking into account factors which affect a patient’s health. Students learn how to manage the various medical providers and professional organizations that can affect treatment plans.

Forensic-nursing

Forensic nursing: The forensic nursing concentration teaches how law enforcement and the justice system interact with medical professionals. Students will learn about topics from gathering evidence and treating victims of sex crimes to the fundamentals of providing expert medical testimony in court, as well as crime prevention. Learn more about online forensic nursing MSN programs and find top schools.

Nursing-education

Nursing education: Also known as a Nurse Educator, this is one of the more commonly found MSN majors, partially because of a pressing need for more teachers to help train nurses and meet the rising demand for healthcare. Students will learn the skills necessary to teach in both an academic and clinical setting. Review top online MSN programs in nursing education.

Nursing-informatics

Nursing informatics: Nursing informatics is a type of information engineering subfield within healthcare. It involves using information systems to improve health outcomes in patients. In this concentration, students learn how to use computer hardware and software to tackle some of the most challenging problems in patient care management. Learn more about online nursing informatics MSN programs.

Nursing-leadership-and-administration

Nursing leadership and administration: Nursing leadership and management is a commonly available MSN major. It combines the clinical experience and management training necessary to properly lead and manage a group or department in a healthcare organization. Read more about the online MSN in nursing administration.

Public-health

Public health: This specialization deals with providing care to patients within a community setting. Students learn how to apply epidemiological theories to keep a community healthy, as well as maximize their roles as health evaluators and policy creators.

Online MSN Program Admissions

Graduate-level nursing programs can be competitive. Applicants are often concerned with more than just a high GPA, and those with a non-nursing background applying to direct entry MSN programs may have to compete harder. Below we identify the parts of an application candidates should be especially focused on, and ways in which to stand out.

Entrance Exam Scores

Many MSN programs require applicants to take an entrance exam, such as the GRE, and submit their scores. These exams provide an objective measure of a student’s potential success in graduate school.

How to stand out

A strong GRE or other entrance exam score can help convince an admissions committee that a student can handle the rigors of graduate school, especially if you do not have a nursing background.

Personal statement

Outside of the interview, the personal statement provides the only opportunity for applicants to present a side of themselves they can’t otherwise show.

How to stand out

Applicants should carefully consider what to write and spend plenty of time revising the essay. Admissions officials will notice if an essay contains mistakes.

Prerequisites

Non-nursing applicants should pay close attention to prerequisites. Without having any academic or clinical nursing experience, admissions officers want some way to ensure incoming students have the fundamentals necessary.

How to stand out

You may have already taken these courses, and if you’re your grades are already established. But most non-nursing students will need to take most or all of these courses. This is actually a great opportunity for you to show what you’re capable of and what kind of academic performance the program can expect from you once you’re admitted.

Cost and the MSN Online

The cost of an online MSN degree is comparable to many other graduate level degrees, including traditional on-campus MSN programs. In some cases they are about the same price. The exact cost for each student depends on many factors, one of the largest being whether the you have in-state status for tuition purposes. In some schools where online students all pay the same rate, this doesn’t matter. At other schools, in-state residency may significantly lower tuition. The following are examples of what you can expect to pay for an MSN degree.

1 1. University of Central Florida, Nursing, MSN $5,073.46/year (in-state) and $10,769.71/year (out-of-state) or $327.32/credit (in-state) and $694.82/credit (out-of-state).
2 2. University of Cincinnati, Master of Science in Nursing $15,594.00/year (in-state) and $15,894.00/year (out-of-state) or $724.00/credit (in-state) and $739.00/credit (out-of-state).
3 3. Duke University, Master of Science in Nursing $21,228.00/year and $1,769.00/credit.
4 4. University of Alabama in Huntsville, Master of Science in Nursing $12,360.00/year and $412.00/credit.
5 5. University of Arizona, Online RN to MSN $17,200.00/year and $800.00/credit.

For information on how to save on the cost of your online MSN program, check out the following pages: