On this page

Back to top

RN to MSN Programs in North Carolina: Explore Online & Campus Options

Learn how completing an online or on-campus RN to MSN program in North Carolina can bump up your salary and employment opportunities in a big way. Keep reading for answers to the most frequently asked questions about choosing a program for you.

Find your school in just 60 seconds

Find Your School in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Take our quiz
  2. Match with schools
  3. Connect with favorites
I want my
Drone Aerial of Downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, NC, USA Skyline.

Furthering your education is almost always a good idea, especially in a field as complex and quickly changing as nursing. Gone are the days when earning your nursing license was both the beginning and the end of your education.

RN to MSN programs in North Carolina prove that a nursing license is just the beginning if you want it to be. If you’re among the more than 79,000 working RNs in North Carolina and are looking for a way to change things up, discover how an MSN opens opportunities for career advancement, an increase in salary, and specialized skills and knowledge that make you more marketable in the healthcare field.

Nursing School Spotlights: Best RN to MSN Programs in North Carolina

You’ll discover many options when you start your search for the RN to MSN program in North Carolina that’s right for you. In fact, all of the choices can be overwhelming as you dig into tuition costs, accreditation, curriculum, faculty, housing, and online options. To give you an idea of what to look for, the following spotlights for a few of the top schools in the state will provide you with a head start in making your decision.

University of Mount Olive

The University of Mount Olive has one of the best RN to MSN online programs in North Carolina, allowing licensed nurses to pursue their MSN 100% online. Though MSN programs are meant for students with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, Mount Olive has an option for diploma or associate degree nurses that allows them to seamlessly go from earning their BSN to attending one of the university’s MSN programs.

The curriculum covers communication and collaboration, research methods and application, scientific findings application, and how to use the policy development process to influence health and healthcare. Students can pursue nursing education or nursing administration graduate concentrations (or both). Though the program is online, one on-campus “residency day” is required every semester.

Western Governors University

Western Governors University (WGU) has a bridge program that takes students from a basic nursing certification to being a credentialed MSN professional. The program is available online and accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). In addition to earning an MSN, students can earn a National Association for Healthcare Quality certificate.

Students who have finished an accredited program may transfer up to 90 credits toward earning their bachelor’s degree on their way to the WGU MSN program. As they finish their bachelor’s, students choose one of the three MSN specialties: nurse educator, leadership & management, or nursing informatics. More than 70% of students complete this North Carolina RN to MSN online program in three and a half years or less.

University of North Carolina Pembroke

The RN-MSN pathway from the University of North Carolina (UNC) Pembroke takes students through their undergraduate nursing coursework toward their BSN. In their final semester, students apply for UNC’s MSN program. The application requirements for this RN to MSN program in North Carolina recommend that students have at least one year of nursing experience, a current nursing license, a minimum GPA of 3.0, and required nursing courses completed with a C grade or better. The graduate application also requires three letters of recommendation, a current resume, and a personal statement of purpose. Students study in the classroom and online (hybrid format) to complete the required 157 credits.

Find your school in just 60 seconds

Find Your School in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Take our quiz
  2. Match with schools
  3. Connect with favorites
I want my

FAQs About RN to MSN Programs in North Carolina

While many institutions are starting to require a BSN for employment, choosing to further your education by pursuing an MSN opens the door to leadership opportunities and specializations. These include nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, nurse educators, advanced careers in nursing administration, clinical specialization, forensic nursing, and nursing informatics.

UNC Chapel Hill offers specializations to become a nurse practitioner focused on adult-gerontology primary care, family medicine, pediatric primary care, and psychiatric-mental health. East Carolina University offers specializations in clinical nurse specialist-neonatal, neonatal nurse practitioner, nurse-midwifery, nursing education, psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist adult-gerontology, and health systems leadership. Duke University offers 11 majors that MSN students can choose from, including women’s health nurse practitioner and health informatics.

If your aim is even higher, an RN to MSN program in North Carolina can also be a stepping stone on the path to completing your Doctor of Nursing Practice (commonly called a DNP).

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

While researching the many online and on-campus RN to MSN programs in North Carolina, we found some programs that include the BSN and some that don’t. However, the majority of programs seem to take students through the BSN pathway on their way to completing their MSN.

For example, UNC Pembroke requires 25 credits of upper-level nursing coursework in addition to general education credits and MSN credits. UNC Charlotte and WGU require that all BSN coursework be completed; students graduate with their BSN before starting their MSN. The University of Mount Olive MSN is designed for nurses with a BSN but has an option for nurses without a bachelor’s.

What Additional Nursing Skills and Knowledge Will I Gain in an RN to MSN Program in North Carolina?

You’ll acquire a lot of knowledge and skills when obtaining an MSN degree, making you more useful and marketable in the healthcare field. You’ll learn about advanced research methods, healthcare informatics, management of care and clinics, leadership principles and practice, administration, evaluation of practices and policies, financial management, educational practices and principles, healthcare data implementation, and management. Check out curriculum details and course summaries on most program websites, such as the Queens University of Charlotte.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an RN to MSN Program in North Carolina?

A typical RN to MSN program in North Carolina consists of 37-60 credits and can be completed in two or three years. The length also depends on whether you’re taking courses part time or full time and how quickly you complete the practicum part of the program. Here are a few examples:

How Much Do RN to MSN Programs in North Carolina Cost?

Each university and program has different tuition, but most programs cost between $17,000 and $28,000 to complete. This number changes depending on the school’s tuition, whether you’re a resident of North Carolina, and whether you attend online or on campus. When researching RN to MSN programs in North Carolina, always check the university’s tuition rates and confirm whether you’ll pay regular graduate tuition, online tuition, or another rate. We’ve listed a few examples below to give you an idea of the cost.

Can I Get Financial Aid To Help Pay For My RN to MSN Program in North Carolina?

Yes, you may be eligible for financial aid opportunities if you know where to look. For example, the North Carolina Nurses Association sponsors a number of scholarships. Always check the school you’ll attend for scholarships, as well as state-specific scholarships or scholarships from businesses. Once you complete the FAFSA, you may find you qualify for grants which, like scholarships, do not need to be paid back. Some schools offer work-study programs that allow you to work in exchange for your tuition. And, of course, student loans are available as well. Check out our nursing scholarship guide and main financial aid guide to start your search for financial aid.

What Are the Admission Requirements for RN to MSN Programs in North Carolina?

While each university has different admission requirements for its programs, there are a few similarities among them. Some of the typical admission requirements are:

  • Three references
  • Active nursing license
  • Minimum GPA (usually 3.0 or higher)

However, some programs require more, such as essays or a year of work experience. When looking at individual programs, always check the admission requirements to make sure you have everything you need to apply for that RN to MSN program in North Carolina.

What Should I Look For in a Quality RN to MSN Program in North Carolina?

When looking for quality nursing programs, you should always look for nursing accreditations such as those from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the CCNE. These accreditations prove that the program is up to a certain standard. It’s also important that the program is approved by the North Carolina Board of Nursing. If the program isn’t approved, you won’t be able to obtain a nursing license to work in North Carolina. Additionally, if your program isn’t accredited, a potential employer may choose not to recognize your degree as legitimate.

Inside Look at Online RN to MSN Programs in North Carolina

The typical online or hybrid RN to MSN degree programs in North Carolina function similarly. All coursework, including homework, lectures, etc., is completed online either at your convenience or during scheduled lecture times. Clinicals or practicums will need to be completed in person, of course, but the universities are flexible about where you complete them. This gives students attending the online RN to MSN programs the advantage of convenient class times and not having to travel to campus. For more information, check out EduMed’s listing of top RN to MSN programs around the country to find out what else to expect.

Can I Earn My MSN in North Carolina Completely Online?

It is possible to obtain a degree completely online. However, always check the program requirements. Some programs require an annual campus visit, while others only offer coursework online and require you to complete clinicals and practicums on campus. Most universities allow you to find a location near you to complete any clinical or practical work, including where you may already be working.

Do Employers in North Carolina Accept Graduates from Online RN to MSN Programs?

For the most part, an online degree is treated the same as an in-person degree as long as it is an accredited program. Most online degrees have the same requirements as on-campus degrees, which means you will receive the quality education and experience needed to pass the NCLEX-RN and obtain a license.

How Do I Go from Being an RN to an MSN Nurse in North Carolina?

North Carolina is a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). If you are a resident of one of the NLC member states, you can obtain a multistate license that allows you to practice in the participating states, as well as in North Carolina. To obtain a license to work in one of these states, you must:

  • Graduate from a board-approved education program
  • Pass the NCLEX exam
  • Hold an active license
  • Submit a federal background check
  • Have no legal convictions

When choosing a degree program, there are many things to consider, and it’s important to have as many answers as possible. To help you make the best decision, we’ll quickly cover the salary and employment opportunities below.

How Much More Can I Make Going from an RN to MSN in North Carolina?

Perhaps one of the biggest motivators for earning an MSN degree is the salary increase. RNs in North Carolina make $66,999 per year on average, while nurses with MSN degrees make $99,106 annually (as of October 2022). Depending on your specialty, you can make more. For example, nursing midwives make $89,000 annually, nurse practitioners make $96,000, and nurse anesthetists can make $155,000 each year.

What’s the Job Market Like for MSN Nurses in North Carolina?

The job market for registered nurses with an MSN degree is positive, with growth projected in the future. For nurse midwives and nurse anesthetists, there’s a 12% increase expected by 2030. For nurse practitioners, there’s a 50% increase expected, which is higher than most job opportunities in any other field.