Are you working in healthcare or want to switch to another field? If so, obtaining an MSN degree can be a lucrative and rewarding move since Georgia, ranked 49th in the U.S. for access to care, desperately needs providers. This pretty much guarantees a strong job market for years to come.
There are many types of MSN pathways, including BSN to MSN, direct entry programs for those with bachelor’s degrees in other areas, and less common options like RN to MSN bridge programs, dual master’s programs, and accelerated MSN programs. This guide dives into the many MSN programs available in Georgia, including on-campus, online, and hybrid options. Get started by taking a look at who topped our list of top online MSN programs in Florida for the ’23-’24 school year!
|#||School Name||Type||Tuition||Online Programs||More Details||School Information||Online Students||Academic Counseling||Career Placement||Students w/Institutional Aid||Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry||Accreditation|
|1||Georgia College & State UniversityMilledgeville, GA||Public||$||2||
Georgia College and State University's online Master of Science degree program is a primarily online program with in-person clinicals that must be completed in Georgia at an approved location. Another in-person requirement students must complete is the occasional campus visit for labs and other interactive learning requirements. However, the bulk of the courses can be completed online and in the following specializations: Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Women's Health Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator, and Nurse Midwifery.
Master of Science in Nursing
|2||University of West GeorgiaCarrollton, GA||Public||$||1||
Nurses who want to complete their MSN while working full-time should consider the program from the University of West Georgia. In this program, students specialize in one area. Options include a nursing education and a health systems leadership track. To make the degree as accessible as possible, all coursework is available online. Successful applicants should already have their bachelor's degree in nursing and be a licensed nurse. In their BSN program, they needed to complete certain courses to be eligible for this degree.
Master of Science in Nursing
|3||Columbus State UniversityColumbus, GA||Public||$||1||
Columbus State University's fully-online, 36-credit Master of Science in Nursing program is designed for flexibility and convenience to enable working adults to seek additional education. Students can choose from three concentrations -- Nurse Educator, Nurse Leader, or Nurse Informaticist. All faculty members are nurses themselves, and the MSN program offers one-on-one mentorship. Although academic courses for the program are fully online, there is a practicum requirement which can often be done with a current employer or at a local facility.
Masters of Science in Nursing
Accredited MSN Programs in Georgia
Plenty of schools offer MSN degrees in Georgia, but not every program is worth your time and money. This section identifies some of the top accredited MSN programs in GA based on affordability, academic excellence, and student support. All are nationally accredited, so quality is ensured. Begin your search with the three high-quality programs spotlighted below. See who stands out for 2023.
The MSN at Georgia College allows you to choose from a variety of specialties, including family nurse practitioner (FNP), psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP), women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP), nurse educator (NE), and nurse midwifery. No matter your interests, you can find a program that aligns with your needs. Georgia College’s curriculum is entirely online except for clinical rotations. It can be finished in nine semesters of part-time enrollment or six semesters of full-time enrollment. The number of required credit hours varies depending on the specialty, but it generally includes nine core credit hours, nine support credit hours, and 22 specialty credit hours. These are in addition to clinical rotations. This program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Georgia State University
At Georgia State University, MSN students can choose from four focus areas: adult-gerontology primary care NP, pediatric primary care NP, psychiatric mental health NP, and family nurse practitioner. This nursing MS curriculum consists of at least 48 semester hours of study that includes 22 hours of core courses and 26 hours of specialty courses. Students without bachelor’s degrees must complete additional coursework. Time to completion depends on full-time versus part-time status, with two to four years as the norm. All required coursework can be completed online, but you’ll attend the first official day of classes in person, and some courses have on-campus events meant to create connections and enhance online learning. This program is accredited by the CCNE.
University of North Georgia
The Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN) program at the University of North Georgia focuses on preparing students for careers as nurse practitioners. It requires 46 credits through mostly in-person classes that meet one day per week at the Dahlonega campus. You can choose a more intense two-year plan that allows you to finish sooner or a three-year option that allows you to work full-time and/or progress through the program at a slower pace. In addition to coursework and clinical hours, students complete an evidence-based project with a focus on primary care. Students graduating from this program had a 100% pass rate in 2020 for the national certification exam. This program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Key Benefits of Getting an MSN Degree in Georgia
If you already hold an RN or bachelor’s degree in another field, you might be on the fence about enrolling in additional schooling. Will it be worth your time and money? While no one can do the exact calculations for you, in general, MSNs degrees have a great return on investment. From a strong career outlook to increased earning potential, an MSN degree is a big professional asset. Below are the top reasons to consider enrolling in an online MSN program in Georgia.
Career Advancement Opportunities
One of the biggest benefits of earning an MSN degree is the opportunity for professional gain. Many MSN graduates serve in hospital administration leadership roles or specialize in areas like oncology or pediatrics. Additionally, you need an MSN degree as a minimum to work as a nurse practitioner or nurse midwife. Whether you want to further your knowledge, earn more money, or both, an MSN degree is a great way to expand your nursing career.
High Demand for Nurses in Georgia
Nationwide, healthcare systems are struggling to find enough workers. A 2022 report by Definitive Healthcare showed that 20% of hospitals in Georgia are experiencing staffing shortages. As the U.S. population ages, that demand will only grow. This means job security for nurses, especially those with advanced degrees and specialized training. In addition to job security, high demand means nurses have a lot of bargaining power and the ability to earn higher salaries.
Higher Salary Potential
Nurses typically earn well above the national median salary, with the average RN making $77,600 a year. Comparatively, a nurse with an MSN degree and advanced training (e.g., nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, nurse practitioner) can earn $123,780 per year. Because this profession is in such high demand in Georgia, nurses also may be able to ask for benefits like flexible schedules and tuition reimbursement.
What Should I Look for in an MSN Degree Program in Georgia?
As you research MSN programs, the options can feel overwhelming. How do you know what a good school versus a diploma mill is? The right program always depends a bit on personal preferences, but there are also some key characteristics to look out for. As you weigh your options, find programs that are nationally accredited and approved by the state of Georgia, have flexible offerings, and have a reputation for excellent student support.
Types of MSN Programs in Georgia
FAQs About MSN Programs in Georgia
What Jobs Can You Get with an MSN from a Georgia School?
An MSN degree prepares graduates for an array of careers. The most common roles include patient-centric roles like nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists. On the management side, MSN graduates also work in nursing administration, nursing education, forensic nursing, and nursing informatics. This up-and-coming field uses data to improve the healthcare experience. For nurses looking to obtain the highest post-graduate degree, an MSN can also lead to a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (DNP). Georgia has several schools offering specialized tracks, including Kennesaw State University’s Leadership in Nursing MSN and the Post-MSN Doctorate of Nursing Practice at Georgia Southern University.
How Long is an MSN Program in GA?
It takes about two years to earn an MSN in Georgia, but that timeline varies depending on several factors. If you enroll part-time, it takes four to five years, while an accelerated program might take 18-20 months. The type of program you choose also plays a role. A BSN to MSN program, for example, will generally be quicker than an RN to MSN program. In Brenau University’s MSN Family Nurse Practitioner program, for example, full-time students can finish in 20 months, while part-time hybrid students finish in about three years.
How Much Does an MSN program in Georgia Cost?
Costs vary depending on the type of school (public vs. private), the type of MSN program (direct entry vs. standard MSN vs. accelerated), where you live (in-state vs. out-of-state), how long it takes you, and how much financial aid you’ve secured. Online programs are generally less expensive since they often have fewer and sometimes no fees compared to their on-campus counterparts. You might also save money by attending a public university and/or applying for scholarships. Below are examples from three programs to give you an idea of the cost of earning an MSN in Georgia.
Total Credits: 75 credits
University of North Georgia
Total Credits: 35
Georgia College & State University
Total Credits: 45 credits
In Georgia, What are the Admissions Requirements for MSN Programs?
Admission requirements vary depending on the school and the type of program. Some, like the dual degree MA in Bioethics from Emory University, are quite competitive, while others, like the Nursing MS program at Georgia State University, are less so. Programs that assume prior nursing experience (e.g., BSN to MSN and RN to MSN) may also require evidence of an active nursing license.
In general, expect the following admissions requirements for MSN programs:
- A GPA of about 3.0 or above
- College transcripts
- GRE or MAT test scores
- A BSN for a BSN to MSN program
- An ADN for an RN to MSN program
- A bachelor’s degree in an area other than nursing direct entry MSN programs
- Letters of recommendation
- Statement of purpose and/or writing samples
- Application fee
Is There Financial Aid Available to Georgia MSN Students?
Students attending an accredited nursing school are eligible for numerous sources of aid that, include federal and state grants and loans. They also may be eligible for scholarships specific to nursing students. State-specific nursing scholarships include those from Georgia Southern University and the Annie Lou Overton scholarship administered by the Georgia Nurses Association. You can also find potential funding through the resources in this nursing scholarship guide. If you’re ready to begin searching for funding, head to this financial aid guide.
Inside Look at Online MSN Programs in Georgia
In an online or hybrid program, MSN students can expect to take their classes remotely. Classes may be asynchronous with recorded lectures or synchronous, where you attend live lectures. Online MSN programs are common in Georgia, and almost all MSN programs offer some online components. Online learning allows for flexibility, which is especially important if you’re planning on working while earning your MSN.
Online MSN students in Georgia can take most required classes remotely, but clinical hours are completed in person. Additionally, some programs have in-person orientations or special labs that require students to be on campus. For more information on what to expect from remote learning, head to this main page for online MSN programs.
Standout Online MSN Programs in Georgia
Brenau University MSN
The CCNE-accredited MSN program from Brenau University offers a fully online accelerated program that can be completed in 20 months. The school also offers a hybrid program that requires one Saturday a month in person and can be completed in about three years. The direct entry MSN program for students with bachelor’s degrees not in nursing requires 75 credit hours, while the nurse practitioner program requires 50 credit hours. The nursing leadership program has a 39-credit-hour curriculum. The small-class sizes, state-of-the-art patient simulator, and proximity to Northeast Georgia Health System’s hospitals and clinics make this program a good choice for students looking for quality instruction and flexibility.
Georgia Southern University
Georgia Southern University offers two MSN program tracks: MSN in Nursing Education and MSN in Chronic Care Management. Both programs require 36 credit hours and an estimated two years to complete. The programs consist of a mix of synchronous and asynchronous classes, as well as two or three on-campus learning days per semester. The nursing education concentration is particularly attractive since nursing faculty are in high demand, and educator jobs are expected to grow much faster than the national average over the next decade. GSU’s MSN program is CCNE-accredited and offers specialty programming like an 11-day study abroad trip to Italy and numerous school-based scholarships.
Do Employers Accept Graduates from Online MSN Programs in GA?
Yes, regardless of whether your program is fully online, hybrid, or on campus, you’ll receive the same type of degree. The most important thing to look for is an accredited program. Depending on your program and desired career outcome (e.g., nurse midwife), you may also want to make sure you’ll graduate with the right courses and clinical hours.
Georgia MSN Salary and Employment Trends
As healthcare needs continue to grow nationally and in Georgia, expanding your nursing career will pay dividends for decades to come. Nurses of all types, but especially those with advanced degrees and specialty training, are expected to see increased job demand over the next decade. Because of this demand, salaries are also expected to rise.
Are MSN Nurses in High Demand in Georgia?
Georgia has one of the highest levels of healthcare staffing shortages nationwide. Additionally, many colleges are struggling to find nursing faculty for their programs. Whether you’re looking to work with patients as a nurse practitioner or nurse midwife or you’d like to specialize in nursing education or administration, there will be plenty of job opportunities upon graduation. For example, there’s an expected 78% increase in demand (that’s 1,250 job openings) in Georgia through 2030, with nurse practitioner openings annually topping 26,000.
How Much Do Georgia RN to MSN Graduates Earn?
The Atlanta metro area ranks in the top 10 nationally for the highest employment level for nurse practitioners, with an average annual wage of $113,410. This is compared to $80,760 for RNs. Nationwide, nurse practitioners can expect to earn an average of $118,040, while registered nurses earn an average of $77,600 per year. An MSN degree is key to increasing your salary, and most MSN nurses can expect to earn well into the six figures.