2018 Top Accredited Online Master's in Nursing (MSN) Programs

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These 25 schools offering online master's in nursing (MSN) programs have affordable annual tuitions and high entrance exam scores, making them excellent choices for prospective students. Ranked first on the list is Texas A & M University-College Station with an annual tuition rate of $11,142 and an academic strength score of 73%. The school with the most affordable tuition on the list is University of Central Missouri, ranked 7th, with a low yearly tuition rate of $5,784 and academic strength score of 62%.

View our methodology for more details, learn more about SR Education Group, or browse our comprehensive guide to an online nursing degree.

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Rank School Annual Tuition Academic Strength
#1 #1 Texas A & M University-College Station Annual Tuition $11,142 Academic Strength 73%
#2 #2 Cedarville University Annual Tuition $12,518 Academic Strength 73%
#3 #3 Ohio University-Main Campus Annual Tuition $9,856 Academic Strength 68%
#4 #4 Spring Hill College Annual Tuition $10,355 Academic Strength 68%
#5 #5 The University of Texas at Arlington Annual Tuition $6,500 Academic Strength 63%
#6 #6 Gonzaga University Annual Tuition $16,000 Academic Strength 74%
#7 #7 University of Central Missouri Annual Tuition $5,784 Academic Strength 62%
#8 #8 University of Connecticut Annual Tuition $18,150 Academic Strength 76%
#9 #9 Liberty University Annual Tuition $9,660 Academic Strength 66%
#10 #10 Queens University of Charlotte Annual Tuition $9,690 Academic Strength 65%
#11 #11 Spring Arbor University Online Annual Tuition $13,300 Academic Strength 70%
#12 #12 Baker University Annual Tuition $8,000 Academic Strength 63%
#13 #13 Lamar University Annual Tuition $6,444 Academic Strength 60%
#14 #14 Kennesaw State University Annual Tuition $12,256 Academic Strength 67%
#15 #15 West Texas A & M University Annual Tuition $7,255 Academic Strength 61%
#16 #16 Cleveland State University Annual Tuition $9,062 Academic Strength 63%
#17 #17 Northwest Nazarene University Annual Tuition $10,530 Academic Strength 64%
#18 #18 University of Mary Annual Tuition $11,400 Academic Strength 65%
#19 #19 University of Southern Mississippi Annual Tuition $10,254 Academic Strength 63%
#20 #20 Union University Annual Tuition $17,550 Academic Strength 72%
#21 #21 Marshall University Annual Tuition $5,904 Academic Strength 58%
#22 #22 Western Michigan University Annual Tuition $11,447 Academic Strength 64%
#23 #23 William Carey University Annual Tuition $7,770 Academic Strength 59%
#24 #24 Stevenson University Annual Tuition $11,250 Academic Strength 63%
#25 #25 Middle Georgia State University Annual Tuition $5,610 Academic Strength 56%
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2018 Top Online MSN Program Ranking Details

  • Annual Tuition: $11,142
  • Academic Strength: 73%
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Founded in 1876, Texas A & M University-College Station is a burgeoning research institution that offers its 64,000 students access to a large number of on-campus and online academic programs. The College of Nursing, located within the Health Science Center, offers three online masters degrees: MSN-Family Nurse Practitioner, MSN-Forensic Nursing, and MSN-Nursing Education. The family nurse practitioner program trains students to be primary care providers, and applicants must reside in the state of Texas and have an active, unencumbered RN license. The other two programs do not require Texas residency. 

  • Annual Tuition: $12,518
  • Academic Strength: 73%
  • Accreditation: NCA HLC
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Cedarville University is a Christian school that offers standard and online classes with strong biblical underpinnings. Its online programs offer distance students the same Christian community and biblical integration as offered by its campus programs. Cedarville offers online masters degrees in nursing with concentrations in family nurse practitioner, global public health, and nurse educator. While all MSN programs are primarily online, they each require students to attend campus class for four two-to-three day sessions for purposes of in-person instruction and state-of-the-art simulation experiences which guide students through realistic clinical processes.

  • Annual Tuition: $9,856
  • Academic Strength: 68%
  • Accreditation: NCA HLC
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With over 8,000 online students, Ohio University continues to provide flexible, student-centered environments for professional learners. The web-based Student Knowledge Center is the go-to resource portal, providing easy-access to coursework, online tutoring, and student services. Ohio University offers a fully-online Master's in Nursing with two concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Educator. The program is accredited by both the Commission On Collegiate Nursing Education and the Higher Learning Commission, and does not require GRE or GMAT scores for admission.

  • Annual Tuition: $10,355
  • Academic Strength: 68%
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Jesuit-founded Spring Hill College offers an online masters in nursing degree for just $10,355 per year. This two-year program is divided into 8-week terms and requires 37 credits for completion. The program allows students to study online while completing clinical requirements locally. Applicants must live in the United States and hold an RN license in the state where they practice nursing, have a minimum of one year of clinical experience and currently work in a clinical setting with access to a health care facility. In 2014, Spring Hill College MSN graduates had a 100% job placement rate.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $6,500
  • Academic Strength: 63%
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Diverse and veteran-friendly University of Texas at Arlington prides itself on the number of students that it graduates with low student debt. Its extensive nursing program offers eight accelerated online master's degrees, including a Master of Science in Nursing in Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, a Master of Science in Nursing in Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and a Master of Science in Nursing in Education. These accredited degree programs vary in length from 18 to 36 months and vary from 36 to 46 credit hours. Teaching methods include traditional online class format as well as simulated clinical environments and enhanced technology courses.

  • Annual Tuition: $16,000
  • Academic Strength: 74%
  • Accreditation: NWCCU
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Gonzaga University has a long history of providing a Christian-based education to its 7,500 students. Through its online school, it offers several graduate degrees which are designed to allow working professionals the ability to balance their higher education with the demands of their jobs and families. Gonzaga University offers four different master's of science in nursing degrees, as well as an RN to MSN. The RN to MSN degree program allows registered nurses with associate degrees in nursing to obtain an advanced nursing degree. This program also has an accelerated degree path option called the Health Systems Leadership Option.

  • Annual Tuition: $5,784
  • Academic Strength: 62%
  • Accreditation: NCA HLC
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Military-friendly University of Central Missouri has been educating the public for over 140 years and now proudly hosts an annual enrollment of over 14,000 students. It offers a number of different online degree programs though UCMOnline. These online programs consist of small classes and are taught by regular faculty so as to ensure that distance learners receive the same quality education that traditional students receive. UCMOnline's Master of Science in Nursing program is specifically designed to prepare graduates for a nursing career in rural environments. Students choose to specialize in either the family nurse practitioner or nurse educator track.

  • Annual Tuition: $18,150
  • Academic Strength: 76%
  • Accreditation: NEASC CIHE
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The University of Connecticut offers a range of online graduate and undergraduate degrees and certificates though its regionally accredited eCampus. The eCampus facilitates interaction between campus faculty and distance students via a variety of electronic mediums including e-mail, phone, instant messaging, videoconferencing, virtual office hours, discussion boards and chat rooms. UConn currently offers an online Master of Science in Neonatal Nurse Practitioner degree, a 44-credit hour program that may be pursued either full- or part-time. Graduates of this program will be prepared to work as neonatal nurse practitioners and will be eligible to apply for the neonatal Nurse Practitioner examination.

  • Annual Tuition: $9,660
  • Academic Strength: 66%
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Founded in 1971, Liberty University offers students a Christian education through its 16 schools and colleges. Now in its fifth decade, Liberty offers accredited, 100% online degrees in a wide variety of disciplines. Its online courses are grounded in the same biblical principles as its on-campus classes, and online students have access to Liberty University's online library, writing resources, study aids, and IT support. Seven different master's degrees are offered in nursing, including two dual degree programs, a Master of Science in Nursing / Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Nursing / Master of Science in Healthcare Administration.

  • Annual Tuition: $9,690
  • Academic Strength: 65%
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Queens University of Charlotte brings its longstanding, core value of focusing on students into its state-of-the-art online programs. It utilizes an advanced online learning management system called MyCourses which allows students to access coursework 24/7 from tablets and mobile devices while networking with fellow students and faculty via real time chat and video sessions. Queens offers five different online master's of science in nursing degrees, including clinical nurse leader, nurse administrator and nurse educator specializations. Its accredited online MSN programs allow for completion in as few as 2 years and allow distance students to fulfill clinical requirements at locations convenient to them.

  • Annual Tuition: $13,300
  • Academic Strength: 70%
  • Accreditation: NCA HLC
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Spring Arbor University Online offers 15 different accredited master's degrees in nursing, including masters of science in nursing degrees with multiple options for specialization and several RN to MSN degrees. In addition, SAU offers MSN/MBA dual degrees with concentrations in finance, management, healthcare administration, human resource management, organizational development and strategic leadership. These dual degrees are optimal for individuals interested in pursuing business management roles in the healthcare and nursing fields. The business portion of this curriculum allows for an optional four-day international business summit in New York City.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,000
  • Academic Strength: 63%
  • Accreditation: NCA HLC
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Baker University stands out for its 100% recommendation rate from current students and alumni. Online program offerings at Baker include undergraduate degrees, professional and recertification courses, and graduates degrees. Baker University's online master's of science in nursing has two specialization tracks: nursing education and nursing administration. Requirements for entry into the program include a baccalaureate degree with an upper-division major in nursing from an accredited nursing program, a current unencumbered nursing license and the equivalent of one year of full-time clinical experience (or 1,872 hours) as a registered nurse.

  • Annual Tuition: $6,444
  • Academic Strength: 60%
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Although it has an enrollment of over 15,000 students, Lamar University is renowned for its small class sizes and a low student-to-faculty ratio. Lamar offers online classes and degrees through the Center for Distance Education and also accommodates The Center for Military Services, which provides active duty personnel and veterans with resources, support, and guidance. LU Online offers three accelerated MSN degrees and an RN to MSN degree. The RN to MSN online saves students both time and money by allowing them to earn dual credit for certain courses. Two tracks are offered, an MSN in Administration and an MSN in Education.

  • Annual Tuition: $12,256
  • Academic Strength: 67%
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Regionally accredited Kennesaw State University offers a large selection of fully online degree programs through its Electronic Campus. Its online courses are designed and taught by existing faculty, and rigorously reviewed every three years to keep content fresh. Its Web Learner Program offers distance students access to features such as the KSU Library Online, real-time tutoring and 24-hour support. KSU offers two online nursing master's programs. The 15-month Master of Science in Nursing - Leadership in Nursing prepares graduates for leadership and administrative positions in healthcare. The 40 credit hour Master of Science in Nursing program focuses on issues such as healthcare policy theory, conflict management and global healthcare initiatives.

  • Annual Tuition: $7,255
  • Academic Strength: 61%
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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West Texas A & M University has been committed to educating students in a cohesive community environment since its inception in 1909. It now offers a variety of cutting-edge online degrees to working adults. The Comprehensive M.S.N is a fully online degree with plenty of room for personalization; students can choose from different elective options and their praxis coursework is personalized to fit their professional goals. They will take advanced nursing courses in pathophysiology, pharmacotherapeutics, and advanced assessment and graduate fully prepared to pursue careers working work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, administrative and educator positions and schools of nursing.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $9,062
  • Academic Strength: 63%
  • Accreditation: NCA HLC
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Founded in 1964, Cleveland State University hosts an enrollment of over 17,000 students. Through its online school, it offers a variety of online degree programs including an MSN with four different specializations: specialized populations, nursing education, forensic nursing and clinical nurse leader. The program requirements vary from 31 to 38 credit hours, with classes offered in an asynchronous format designed with the working student in mind. Eligible applicants must have a bachelor's degree in nursing as well as a valid nursing license in the state in which they plan to conduct their practicum.

  • Annual Tuition: $10,530
  • Academic Strength: 64%
  • Accreditation: NWCCU
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Northwest Nazarene University is a small Christian college with 2,000 graduate and undergraduate students and over 6,000 continuing education students. Its 100% online degree program offerings include associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, with the unique option of allowing college-age online students to live on-campus. NNU's online programs foster community among distance students so as to facilitate greater learning and are taught by the same faculty that teach on-campus students. The online MS in Nursing is designed to fit around the schedules of working nurses and allows them to take the 5-to-6 week courses one at a time, sequentially.

  • Annual Tuition: $11,400
  • Academic Strength: 65%
  • Accreditation: NCA HLC
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Christian-based University of Mary offers a variety of accredited online master's degrees, including three in nursing. The BSN to MSN: Nurse Educator online degree program is accelerated, with start dates in spring, summer and fall. Curriculum requirements include 500 hours of practical leadership and educational experience. The BSN to MSN: Nursing Leadership and Management online degree program provides a background in healthcare business concepts and requires student participation in a clinical setting. The ADN to MSN: Nursing Leadership and Management online program allows students with associate degrees in nursing to enhance their careers and education by acquiring an additional set of advanced leadership skills.

  • Annual Tuition: $10,254
  • Academic Strength: 63%
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Founded in 1910, military-friendly University of Southern Mississippi is a public research institution with an enrollment of 15,000. It offers a variety of online degrees and certificates, including an MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner and an MSN - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. The family nurse practitioner degree requires 10 core credit hours and 24-to-33 credit hours in the area of emphasis. The psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner degree requires between 34 and 48 credit hours total and can be completed in as few as six semesters.

  • Annual Tuition: $17,550
  • Academic Strength: 72%
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Union University offers students a Christ-centered academic curriculum at an affordable cost. In addition to traditional campus courses, it also offers top quality online degrees to people who are unable to pursue a Christian education in their own geographic area or who need to manage their education around their own busy work or family schedules. Union University's 100% online degree include a CCNE-accredited Master of Science in Nursing with education, administration and nurse practitioner tracks. These programs combine advanced theory with practical knowledge to assist students in advancing their careers.

  • Annual Tuition: $5,904
  • Academic Strength: 58%
  • Accreditation: NCA HLC
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Marshall University is a public, non-profit educational research institution with a catalog of over 100 degree programs. It offers 100% online, asynchronous courses through its distance education portal, MUOnline, where working adults can obtain an MSN with specializations in nursing administration or nursing education. These 36 credit hour degrees have a three part curriculum consisting of core education, a nursing education component and electives. Admission requirements and information are available via MUOnline.

  • Annual Tuition: $11,447
  • Academic Strength: 64%
  • Accreditation: NCA HLC
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Western Michigan University offers 149 bachelor’s, 75 master’s and 32 doctoral degrees, including online degrees in a variety of disciplines. WMU's online Master of Science in Nursing is an excellent option for individuals with a valid RN license and a BSN. The 36 unit program can be completed in 7 semesters. With classes capped at 20 students and taught by Ph.D-level faculty, the program is designed to be flexible while offering a top-notch educational experience that will further the careers of its graduates.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $7,770
  • Academic Strength: 59%
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Low annual tuition makes regionally-accredited William Carey University a high-value college for scholars seeking a quality education. Ninety percent of its students receive some amount of financial assistance. Online students will find an array of online degree choices including bachelor's, master's and PhD programs. William Carey's school of nursing offers a 53-semester-hour online dual MSN/MBA degree and an online Master of Science in Nursing with specialty areas in case management, clinical nursing education, gerontology, nursing education and nursing administration. Online students have the option to study full-time or part-time.

  • Annual Tuition: $11,250
  • Academic Strength: 63%
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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Founded in 1947, Stevenson University offers several online degrees, including a Master's in Nursing with concentrations in nursing education, nursing leadership/management and population-based care coordination. This online program requires 36 credit hours for completion, along with one on-campus, weekend demonstration experience at the end of the final semester. Stevenson University also offers an RN to MS in Nursing which allows working nurses to earn both a bachelor's and master's degree. This program has 8-week classes, with the exception of NURS 424, which runs for an entire 16-week semester. Courses have multiple start dates per year.

  • Annual Tuition: $5,610
  • Academic Strength: 56%
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Middle Georgia State University offers numerous online degree programs which allow the university to extend its reach to distance learners. The Master Of Science In Nursing: Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program requires students to complete 43 credit hours of coursework, plus two full-day, on-campus immersion sessions per semester. They must also complete 630 clinical practice hours. Successful completion of the program makes graduates eligible to sit for the AGACNP certification exam. This program is designed to be completed in five consecutive semesters.

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Online Master's in Nursing

A Master’s in Nursing is a post-graduate degree program that helps students with a strong professional or academic background in nursing to broaden their knowledge of the field and advance their careers. This level of education is usually undertaken by Registered Nurses (RN) with some years of work experience. It focuses on developing leadership and research skills to prepare students for advanced positions in the workplace and higher levels of responsibility. 

What are the Prerequisites for an Online MSN?

There are three primary types of master's degrees in nursing for aspiring students to consider: RN to MSN programs, BSN to MSN programs, and direct entry MSN programs.

Online RN to MSNs are the most common master's in nursing program and are perfect for individuals who are already Registered Nurses but would like to further advance their knowledge. Applicants will need to hold a valid RN license and an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a nursing diploma. In many cases, RN to MSN programs also confer a BSN upon students once they complete the undergraduate portion of the coursework. These programs allow students to accelerate the process of earning their BSN and MSN degrees, compared to enrolling in separate BSN and MSN programs. Online RN to MSN programs may take up to four years of study and are only for RNs who already possess a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

Online BSN to MSN programs are geared toward students who already have an accredited bachelor's degree in nursing. Applicants to these online programs will need to have a valid RN license in addition to their BSN, and may need to have experience working as a nurse to be eligible. Aspiring nursing master's students with a BSN will want to look for this type of online MSN program.

Online direct entry MSN programs are designed for students who already have an accredited bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing. These degree programs enable students to fast-track their nursing careers by allowing them to skip the process of earning a BSN before enrolling in a graduate nursing program. Direct entry programs are not intended for students with an RN or a BSN-those students should select RN to MSN or BSN to MSN programs depending upon their credentials.

What Classes Will I Take in an Online MSN Program?

The curriculum of the MSN depends on the program specialization; there are a variety of MSN program specializations available online including nursing education, nursing leadership, nursing administration, and nurse informatics. Clinical programs focus on advanced skills for assessing patients, managing cases, and promoting health in patients. Within these clinical programs, students choose a particular focus, such as nurse practitioner, midwife, clinical nurse specialist, or psychiatric nursing. Clinical care MSN degrees always require clinical rounds in a healthcare facility, where nurses practice advanced hands-on care.

What can I do with an Online MSN?

A Registered Nurse with a Master’s in Nursing are referred to as Advanced Practice Registered Nurse and will be eligible for positions such as a Nursing Consultant, Research Nurse, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Administrator, and many other positions. Salary range for an Advanced Practice Registered nurse starts at around $78,286 up to $119,562 a year. 

References

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