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Best MSN Programs in Ohio for 2024: Online & Campus

If you’re looking to expand your nursing career — or possibly switch from another field — here’s a guide to the top MSN programs in Ohio. Below, you’ll find program details, admission requirements, and beyond.

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WRITTEN BY: Taylor Cromwell
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REVIEWED BY: Edumed Editing Staff

Last Updated: 09/06/2023

Editorial Values and Practices

There may never be a more opportune time to earn your Master of Science in Nursing degree in Ohio. The 2021 Health Value Dashboard tells the story most alarmingly through this statistic: Ohio ranks 47 out of 50 states and Washington, DC, on health value, meaning Ohioans live less healthy lives than people in almost every other state.

But while Ohio’s healthcare challenges are significant, this means unparalleled opportunities for degree-holders like you who are looking to advance your careers. So if you want to make an even bigger impact as a nurse practitioner, nurse educator, or in another specialization, read on. We’ve gathered everything you need to know about pursuing an MSN degree in Ohio — including top-rated online and traditional programs, hiring trends, and more.

About the ranking


Base Methodology for EduMed’s Best Online College Rankings for the ’23-’24 school year.

One: Create list of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on data pulled from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which was self-reported by the schools themselves.

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least 1 online component in a program within the ranking-subject area.

Two: Assign Weighting

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of metrics, which were all self-reported by the schools themselves to the U.S. Department of Education and IPEDS.

The metrics are listed below in order of most- to least-heavily weighted.

Online Programs – Number of online programs in the relevant subject area.

Online Student % – Number of total students who are enrolled in at least 1 distance-learning course in the relevant subject area.

Tuition – The average in-state tuition for undergraduate students studying full-time, as self-reported by the school.

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

Career Placement Services – Existence of this service on campus or online.

Student/Faculty Ratio

About Our DataEduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2023

# 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 Ohio University-Main CampusAthens, OH Public $$ 2

Ohio University offers a high-quality MSN program through their Athens, Ohio campus. Designed to be completed in two to three years, students take coursework in a nursing specialty of their choice. MSN concentrations include nurse education and nurse administration. Nurses interested in becoming a nurse practitioner can also choose between adult/gerontology, family nursing, and psychiatric-mental health nursing. For flexibility, most courses are offered online. This makes the program ideal for nurses who work full-time. To apply to any of the MSN specializations, applicants should already be licensed nurses.

Program Highlights:

Master of Science in Nursing

  • Credits: 30-40
  • Length: About 2 years
  • Cost: $505/credit
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Accreditation: CCNE
Faculty Ratio
Student %
2 Xavier UniversityCincinnati, OH Private not-for-profit $$ 2

Registered nurses who want to complete their MSN while working full-time should consider the program from Xavier University. Xavier offers three distinct specializations in nursing: nursing education, forensic, and family nurse practitioner. Students can also choose to dual major with an MSN in forensics and a master's of criminal justice. To apply, applicants should already be licensed nurses and have their BSN. Since most students work full-time while attending classes, most courses are offered in an online format.

Program Highlights:

Master of Science in Nursing

  • Credits: 46
  • Length: 2-3 years
  • Cost: $687/credit
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: CCNE
Faculty Ratio
Student %

Continue your search by checking out the spotlighted popular programs below to see what students just like you care about in a school.

Ohio State University

The Ohio State University provides an opportunity for students with a bachelor’s degree in nursing to earn an MSN. Through coursework, clinical experience, and evidence-based practice, the MSN program prepares graduates for careers in a variety of clinical settings, from private practices and hospitals to governmental agencies. One perk of completing this program is that OSU fosters an active, collaborative relationship between faculty, the Ohio State University Medical Center’s teaching hospitals, and community-based preceptors. This can be both a helpful learning environment for students and a place to create robust career connections for the future.

Kent State University

Kent State’s Master of Science in Nursing is a great option for registered nurses looking for new roles in advanced practice, education, and health care administration. Students in this program develop a foundation for leadership roles, as well as the ability to pursue further post-graduate and doctoral-level study in nursing.

With nine different concentrations, students can pursue a highly specialized path to the nursing career of their choice. The MSN program offers both full- and part-time curriculum plans, allowing flexible scheduling for those who continue working full-time. In addition, most courses are offered online. For concentrations like women’s health nurse practitioner and nurse educator, the coursework is 100% online and can be completed remotely by nurses living in any eligible state.

Students in Kent State’s MSN program have up to six years to complete their programs, with the majority earning their degree within three years.

Key Benefits of Getting an MSN Degree in Ohio

If you’re considering earning your MSN degree in Ohio, you’ll open your career to many possibilities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Ohio has some of the country’s highest employment rates for nurses. For MSN degree holders, this means there is no shortage of job opportunities. Still unsure about whether an MSN is suitable for you? Here are some other top benefits:

Higher Salary Potential

MSN degree-holders typically earn a higher salary than RNs with a bachelor’s degree. The average salary for a family nurse practitioner in Ohio is more than $150,000 and increases for nurses with more than three years of experience. Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland are among the top-paying cities in the state. Additional roles that you can get with an MSN have the potential to earn a higher salary.

Growing Demand for Nurses in Ohio

While demand for nursing roles is growing across the country, Ohio has an exceptional surge in demand. The BLS predicts 49% growth in nurse practitioner roles over the next decade, several points above the national average. The growth in nursing roles also means there will be a growing need for more nurse educators and healthcare leadership positions. By earning an MSN, nurses can ensure job security for the long term and a wealth of job opportunities.

More Patient Responsibility

By earning an MSN, nurses can take on more professional responsibility. Nurse practitioners, for example, work between nurses and physicians. They have more independence than their nurse peers and can often diagnose patients and prescribe medication. You’ll also be able to choose a concentration that you’re passionate about, such as gerontology or neonatal care.

What Should I look for in an MSN Degree Program in Ohio?

When choosing an educational program, you should do your due diligence to ensure that the school and coursework are a good fit for you. You can use several factors to help you narrow down your selection, from the length of the program to the specializations available. However, top MSN programs share some common characteristics and qualities. You’ll want to be sure that whatever program you choose has these features.

Here’s what to look for.

State Approved and Nationally Accredited

Accreditation is one of the most crucial factors for any nursing program. Every school must earn accreditation, which certifies that the program meets a certain standard of quality. For MSN programs, the accrediting bodies approved by the U.S. Department of Education are the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), CCNE, and the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). You can find more information about accredited programs in Ohio from the Ohio Board of Nursing.

NCLEX Pass Rates

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is used by all state boards of nursing, including Ohio. Nursing program graduates must take the exam to become an RN or LPN. Generally, NCLEX scores are a good indicator of the strength and quality of a school’s studies.

Clinical Training Opportunities

MSN programs typically offer clinical training opportunities so students can gain hands-on patient-care experience. Top schools in the state, like Ohio State University and Kent State University, offer clinical experience in a range of settings, from private practices and hospitals to managed care organizations.

Types of MSN Programs in Ohio

Traditional MSN

This is the traditional route for students who have a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) as well as nursing experience. An MSN is designed to build on a student’s established nursing foundation and equip nurses to advance to leadership or more specialized roles, such as family nurse practitioner.

Examples of Ohio Nursing Schools with This Program

Ohio State University

Kent State University

Direct Entry MSN

A direct entry MSN program is for students who have a bachelor’s degree in another area that’s not a BSN and who wish to become a registered nurse. Graduates of these programs can sit for the NCLEX–RN exam and can continue to advanced practice roles, while others decide to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree.

Examples of Ohio Nursing Schools with This Program

Xavier University

University of Toledo

Accelerated MSN

Accelerated MSN programs allow students to complete their MSN degree as quickly as possible. This is helpful for those who are looking to switch career paths and hoping to do so in a short amount of time. Unlike traditional programs, accelerated programs often group classes together in quarters or sections rather than in semesters. These programs run continually and do not typically offer extended breaks between semesters, as you’ll find in traditional programs.

Examples of Ohio Nursing Schools with This Program

University of Cincinnati

Chamberlain University


RN to MSN programs allow students with an associate degree or diploma in nursing who have their RN license to pursue an MSN degree, bypassing a BSN program. This saves time and money for registered nurses who want an advanced degree. Better yet, students in these programs often can earn their master’s degree in nursing while working full-time.

Examples of Ohio Nursing Schools with This Program

Mercy College of Ohio

Ursuline College

Dual Master’s

Dual master’s degree options are great for students who want to extend their expertise in other fields — such as law, business, or theological studies — along with nursing. Combination MSN/JD and MSN/MBA programs, for example, allow you to get master’s degrees in both fields in a shorter period and prepare you for upper-level leadership positions in healthcare.

Examples of Ohio Nursing Schools with This Program

Capital University

Kent State University

Online MSN Programs in Ohio

Online and hybrid options are best for nurses needing a flexible schedule. Maybe you want to continue working full-time while earning your degree, or you have other demands, like family obligations, that take up part of your time. Given the flexibility of these programs, they are commonly offered by Ohio schools.

Nurses from a range of eligible states can earn a degree in the state through online study.

FAQs About MSN Programs in Ohio

What Jobs Can You Get with an MSN from an Ohio School?

An MSN degree can prepare students for a range of careers, including nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists. It can also pave the way for other advanced careers like nursing administration, nurse educators and nursing clinical specialization, forensic nursing, and nursing informatics. At Ohio State University, for example, MSN students can specialize in concentrations like neonatal nurse practitioner and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

Through dual master’s programs, like Capital University’s MSN/MBA program, students can be prepared for healthcare leadership positions. An MSN can also lead to further academic study, such as a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

How Long is an MSN Program in Ohio?

The length of your studies depends on several factors: your specialization, part-time vs. full-time work, clinical hours, and more. In Ohio, you could earn an MSN degree in as little as five semesters in an accelerated program. On average, you should expect programs to take anywhere from 24 to 27 months.

Typically, a BSN to MSN program, like that offered at Ohio State University, will take about four full-time semesters. Meanwhile, an RN to MSN program, like at Mercy College of Ohio, could take up to six full-time semesters.

How Much Does an MSN program in Ohio Cost?

The cost of an MSN program varies depending on the type of school, the type of MSN program (direct entry vs. standard MSN vs. accelerated), where you live, how long it takes you, and how much funding you’ve secured. Below you’ll find tuition data for three online or hybrid MSN programs in Ohio.

What Requirements Do I Need to Apply for Admission to MSN Programs in Ohio?

Individual requirements vary slightly from school to school. However, many of the basic prerequisites and admissions materials are the same. Here’s what you should expect to have when applying to an MSN program in Ohio:

  • A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from a regionally accredited institution (this doesn’t apply to direct entry programs like at Xavier University)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • RN licensure from an approved state
  • Résumé or CV
  • An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher

In addition, each school may have its own requirements, like an application fee or an admission interview. Be sure to check the specific program website for which you intend to apply.

Where Can I Find Financial Aid to Help Pay for My MSN program in Ohio?

MSN students in Ohio have access to a wealth of potential financial aid options, including scholarships, loans, and other programs. One popular option, for example, is the Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program (NEALP), which repays loans for recipients who are employed full-time as registered nurses or licensed practical nurses in the State of Ohio for a minimum of five years after graduation.

You also can find several scholarships and grants awarded by the Ohio Nurses Foundation. These include the Hague Memorial Scholarship, awarded to a graduate nursing student who is an aspiring nurse leader, and the Hayward Memorial Scholarship, awarded to RNs preparing to teach nursing.

For more information on financial aid resources, be sure to check out our nursing scholarship guide and main financial aid guide.

Inside Look at MSN Online Programs in Ohio

Online MSN programs are widely available in Ohio schools, including through large universities like Ohio State University and Kent State University. For these programs, students can reside in any eligible state. Courses are often given in a mix of synchronous and asynchronous work. This gives online and hybrid MSN students a high degree of flexibility in their coursework while also helping to establish a community among fellow students. MSN programs will generally include some in-person clinical work, allowing students to get hands-on experience.

There are several other benefits to completing your MSN degree online in Ohio. One of the biggest perks is being able to continue working during your studies. You’ll also be able to create a schedule that fits into your other personal and family obligations.

For more information about the structure of online MSN programs, check out EduMed’s guide.

University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati offers an online MSN program with concentrations in family nurse practitioner, midwifery, adult-gerontology primary care, and women’s health. This program stands out for its flexibility for online students. Courses are offered in asynchronous format, meaning students can take them at a time that works for them. The courses are also designed for working professionals and don’t require any campus visits for the program. Students can complete the degree in about 24 months.

Ohio University

Ohio University also offers a comprehensive online MSN program. In addition to the programs above, you can choose a track for nurse educator and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. One perk of pursuing an online degree is that Ohio University offers courses in an online format but also has opportunities for hands-on learning experiences. Classes are offered in both synchronous and asynchronous settings so that students have more opportunities to connect with fellow students and faculty.

Do Employers in Ohio Accept Graduates from Online MSN Programs?

Ohio employers are frequently seeking graduates from online MSN programs, especially given the demand for nurses in the state. You’ll want to be sure that your program is accredited by ACEN or CCNE and that you complete the clinical training requirements. Some schools, like Ohio State University, for example, have strong partnerships with teaching hospitals that can help you once you graduate.

MSN Career Outlook for Ohio

Before you embark on your educational journey, you should know about the job outlook in your specific field and area. Here are some common questions about the job demand and salary potential for nurses in Ohio.

Are MSN Nurses in High Demand in Ohio?

Given Ohio’s abysmal health picture and noting that the need for master’s-educated nurses is growing in the U.S., it’s quite obvious that Ohio will see an increasing demand for MSN-educated nurses. The BLS estimates that the state’s employment rate for nurse practitioners will increase by 49% over the next decade, which is faster than the national average.

There’s also a growing demand for nurse educators as the demand for a BSN degree increases. Currently, many schools face a shortage of faculty or clinical instructors. Whether you want to pursue a nurse practitioner role, a nurse educator role, or something else, there will be no shortage of openings in the state in the years to come.

How Much Do MSN Nurses Make in Ohio?

MSN-educated registered nurses in Ohio earn a higher salary than nurses with a bachelor’s degree. The average salary for a family nurse practitioner in Ohio is $104,560 and increases for nurses with more than three years of experience. Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland are among the top-paying cities in the state. Additional roles that you can get with an MSN have the potential to earn a higher salary. Nurse managers in Ohio, for example, make a median pay of $191,396.