RN to MSN Programs in New York: Online & Campus Degree Options

Invest in your nursing career and increase your salary by applying to an on-campus or online RN to MSN program in New York. This guide will help you get started on finding the program that’s right for you.

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Written By

Marcella Ellsworth

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last updated

03/10/2023

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals have been filling up with patients and haven’t had enough nurses to care for them. In New York, the nursing shortage has reached an all-time high, according to a report from The New York Times. Currently, there are more than 9,300 openings for registered nurses within the state.

To close the gap, universities nationwide are expanding their nursing programs, lowering tuition, and offering more flexible options for getting your degree.

New York aims to grow the healthcare workforce by 20 percent over the next five years.

If you’re already an RN, you’ll elevate your nursing practice, increase your salary, and prepare for leadership roles by completing an RN to MSN program in New York. The state boasts lots of outstanding programs; this guide can help you choose the one that’s right for you.

Nursing School Spotlights: Best RN to MSN Programs in New York

Finding the right college or university with the right RN to MSN program in New York takes time and effort. Check out the three schools we’ve spotlighted based on accreditation, affordability, and accessibility.

Roberts Wesleyan University

Roberts Wesleyan University offers an RN to MS program that prepares students to be leaders in healthcare settings. With this program, you’ll earn both your bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 30 months—and save $16,000 in tuition, according to the school’s website.

Students pay $599/credit for bachelor’s level classes and $883/credit for master’s level classes, for a total program cost of just over $43,000. The school offers degrees in nursing education and nursing leadership and administration, all in an online format that allows you to learn from anywhere and at any time. The program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Stony Brook School of Nursing

The state of New York is home to the largest public university system in the country—the State University of New York (SUNY). This network includes 64 institutions that improve student access to higher education. Part of the SUNY system, Stony Brook offers online RN to MSN programs to students in New York. Choose from a variety of nursing programs with specializations, including family health, psychiatric mental health, and nurse-midwifery.

You can choose to complete the lab component of certain courses online, developing real-world clinical skills during a virtual synchronous lab session with a mock patient. However, the school stands out for its commitment to helping place students in clinical settings. The school’s Office of Clinical Placements facilitates the process and works collaboratively with faculty to secure the best clinical experiences for students.

SUNY Polytechnic Institute

Another school in the SUNY system, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, offers an accelerated BS/MSN program for registered nurses interested in becoming family nurse practitioners. Students earn both degrees when they complete the program. Full-time students can finish the program in three years; some BS courses are substituted with accelerated classes.

Registered nurses must have their associate degree and at least one year of work experience before applying to the program. The program is fully accredited by the CCNE and is recognized by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) Office of the Professions.

FAQs About RN to MSN Programs in New York

What Can You Do with an MSN in New York?

The state of New York recognizes four types of nurses: licensed practical nurses (LPN); registered nurses (RN); nurse practitioners (NP), which requires a master’s degree; and clinical nurse specialists (CNS), which requires a master’s or doctorate degree.

As a nurse practitioner, you can work in:

  • Acute care
  • Adult health
  • College health
  • Community health
  • Family health
  • Gerontology
  • Holistic health
  • Neonatology
  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • Oncology
  • Palliative care
  • Pediatrics
  • Perinatology
  • Psychiatry
  • School health
  • Women’s health

Nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives also need an MSN degree to practice.

As a CNS, you can work in adult health, pediatrics, psychiatric and mental health, and oncology. You can also expand into nursing administration, nursing education, forensic nursing, and nursing informatics. If you want to advance your career even further, you can enroll in a Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

Will I Earn My Bachelor’s Degree During My RN to MSN Program?

Some RN to MSN programs in New York allow you to earn your bachelor’s in nursing while you’re working toward your advanced degree. For example, Roberts Wesleyan University offers an online program that allows you to earn your bachelor’s degree and your master’s in nursing education or nursing leadership administration.

Columbia University has an accelerated nursing program designed for students with a bachelor’s degree in a discipline other than nursing who want to earn an MSN. You’ll also need to complete prerequisite coursework—such as psychology, statistics, and anatomy—from an accredited college or university.

How Will an RN to MSN Program in New York Prepare Me for More Opportunities?

The skills you gain from completing your RN to MSN program in New York will vary depending on your specialization or area of concentration. In general, you’ll be ready to take on leadership positions in teaching, clinical consultation, clinical research, and nursing management and administration.

The curriculum at New York University’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing, for example, includes a core of nursing theory, research, statistics, population-focused care and issues and trends within healthcare delivery. According to the school’s website, students learn to make evidence-based decisions related to their advanced role, advocate for universal access to high-quality and cost-effective healthcare and collaborate with members of their professional teams.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an RN to MSN Program in New York?

If you decide you want to be a full-time student in your RN to MSN program in New York, it generally takes up to four semesters to earn your BSN to MSN degree. For example, full-time students complete a 12-month program to earn their BS at the University of Rochester’s School of Nursing. Once they pass the NCLEX-RN, they can then continue on the MS program—which takes another 12 months to complete. Part-time New York RN to MS students usually take three years or six to nine semesters to complete a program.

How Affordable are RN to MSN Programs in New York?

Tuition costs for an RN to MSN program in New York vary depending on student service fees, location, program type, and the number of credits you take each semester. Although tuition can get pricey, especially in an already expensive state, you might find it could pay off later on. Here’s a look at a few schools and tuition costs:

Is There Financial Aid Available to New York RN to MSN Students?

The state of New York offers various grants, scholarships, and loans to help students pay for their RN to MSN program. For example, the Community Health Care Services Foundation offers LPNs and RNs a scholarship of up to $6,000.

The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation also offers financial aid—even to those who are studying part-time. RN to MSN students in New York can apply for loan forgiveness, tuition assistance, and work-study programs.

If you’re currently working in the healthcare field, some employers may also pay for tuition costs if you agree to work for them for a period of time. Get a detailed rundown of options to pay for your RN to MSN program in New York with our nursing scholarship guide and main financial aid guide.

What Are the Admission Requirements for RN to MSN Programs in New York?

Admission requirements vary depending on the program and concentration or specialization you choose. Most programs require students to submit an official transcript showing they obtained an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited school. Here’s a look at a few other common requirements:

  • A GPA of 3.0 from a recent relevant degree
  • Completion of general education courses
  • Completion of basic statistics and research courses
  • RN licensure from the state of New York
  • Clinical experience

What Should I Look for in a Quality RN to MSN Program in New York?

A program’s average NCLEX-RN pass rate gives you a general idea of whether the program adequately prepares students for licensure. Pass rates should be listed on the school’s website. If not, be sure to ask the admissions department. For comparison, in New York state, the average pass rate for all programs (diploma, associate, bachelor’s, and master’s) is 77.5 percent.

The New York RN to MSN program’s accreditation is also important. The New York State Board of Regents is the sole programmatic accrediting body in the state, so any program you consider must have this accreditation. Additionally, check that the college or university you choose is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the CCNE.

Check the NYSED website for a list of accredited schools and programs.

Inside Look at RN to MSN Online Programs in New York

Some RN to MSN programs in New York offer traditional courses, while others have a mix of online and in-person classes. Typically, hybrid programs have in-person components requiring students to visit the school campus, especially for labs and clinicals.

However, some schools in New York have RN to MSN programs you can complete entirely online, such as the one offered at Roberts Wesleyan University. The website lists a set of core courses, depending on which area of concentration you choose. The university’s nursing leadership and administration program requires students to complete 56 credit hours—which takes about 29 months.

For more information on what you can expect from an online RN to MSN program in New York or elsewhere, check out this EduMed guide.

Can I Earn my MSN in New York Completely Online?

Although not as common, some programs can be completed entirely online. Excelsior University’s Master of Science in Nursing Informatics program allows students to earn both their BSN and MSN degrees. Students are required to complete their general education and bachelor’s courses, which include five graduate-level online courses. They then continue to their graduate-level courses. Some students can also receive credit for prior education or experience.

At the end of the program, students take a capstone course that includes practice experience, a scholarly paper, and a project presentation, among other requirements.

Do Employers in New York Accept Graduates from Online RN to MSN Programs?

Online RN to MSN programs in New York carry just as much weight as in-person programs. The most important factors to focus on are the college or university’s accreditation, building a solid work history, and maintaining a clear license to practice nursing. These factors are what most employers focus on when looking to hire new nursing staff.

Here’s another important informational tidbit to remember: By law in New York state, registered nurses must have attained a baccalaureate degree or higher in nursing within 10 years of obtaining their license to maintain licensure in New York. RNs licensed before December 19, 2017, or students who were enrolled or pending acceptance into an associate degree program by that date are exempt.

What is the Path to Becoming an RN with an MSN Degree in New York?

The state of New York requires all licensed nurses to complete an undergraduate nursing program approved by the NYSED State Board of Nursing. Nurses also are required to complete two approved courses: one on infection control and the other on identifying and reporting child abuse.

You may have already taken the NCLEX-RN exam. If you still need to take the exam, with help from your prospective employer, you can apply for a limited permit to work as a nurse. Additionally, you’ll need to:

  • Apply with the New York State Board of Nursing for licensure
  • Pay a $143 license and registration fee
  • Have your nursing license and schooling verified by the NYSED

As a side note, nurse midwives don’t need to have or maintain a nursing license; instead, they need a separate license. For more details, visit NYSED.gov.

RN to MSN Career Outlook for New York

According to the American Nurses Association, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the country faced a significant nursing shortage—mostly because of economic downturns and waves of retiring nurses. In New York, the demand for nurses is rising, and salaries are rising too.

How Much More Can I Make Going from an RN to MSN in New York?

On average, RNs in New York make $77,310 per year. In contrast, nurses with MSN degrees earn an average annual salary of $126,288 as of October 2022.

Depending on your specialty, you could earn more. Nurse midwives in New York earn as much as $153,070, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Nurse practitioner salaries go up to $167,750 a year; the average annual wage for nurse practitioners is $128,220 ($7,540 more than the average in other parts of the country). Topping off the list, in New York, nurse anesthetists earn anywhere from $166,060 to $208,000 a year—$12,390 more than the national average.

What is the Job Outlook for MSN Nurses in New York?

Completing your RN to MSN program in New York will help you take the next step in your career by moving into nursing leadership and management, such as managing healthcare facilities, implementing strategies for better healthcare delivery, or leading a team of nurses. Specializing as a nurse practitioner, a nurse anesthetist, or a nurse midwife, for example, provides even more opportunities to increase your salary and take on new challenges.

The state of New York has one of the highest employment rates for nurse practitioners. According to the Projections Managing Partnership website (funded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), employment for nurse practitioners is expected to grow by 55.6 percent through 2030. Jobs for nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives are expected to grow by 19.5 percent and 15.7 percent, respectively.