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Best Online Master's in Nursing (MSN) Programs for 2024

12 Min Read Published November 8, 2023
Top Online MSN Programs | Nurse.org

There are a lot of reasons to further your nursing education. Better pay, positions, and hours are just a few. While deciding to obtain a master's degree in nursing may be an easy decision, choosing between MSN programs can be really difficult. For nurses looking for a flexible, convenient way to advance their degree, we've rounded up the best online MSN programs for 2024!

10 Best Online MSN Programs for 2024

Online MSN Program Tuition Accreditation
1. Fort Hays State University $2,686.95 per semester  CCNE
2. Johns Hopkins University $52,242 annually CCNE
3. Simmons College $1,235 per credit hour CCNE
4. The University of Alabama $440 per credit hour CCNE
5. Baker University $480 per credit hour CCNE
6. Troy University $475 per credit hour ACEN
7. Xavier University $670 per credit hour CCNE
8. Maryville University of Saint Louis $838 per credit hour CCNE
9. University of South Carolina

$770.25 per credit (resident)

$1,438.00 per credit (non-resident)

CCNE, SASCOC
10. Florida A&M University

$732 per credit hour

 

ACEN

1. Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University offers two MSN degree options: Nurse Administration and Nursing Education. The program requires clinical practicum experiences. So students need to ensure they have clinical sites as the school does not provide coordinated placements. 

  • Tuition: $2686.95 per semester (9 credit hours)
  • Application Deadline: February 1, July 1, and September 1
  • On-Campus Requirement: No
  • Accreditation: Committee on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Contact Information: 785-628-4256

Things to note: Fort Hays State University doesn’t accept applications from the following states: Alabama, California, Colorado, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, or Wyoming

2. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins offers two MSN online programs, including tracks for a Masters of Nursing in Healthcare Organizational Leadership or MSN Healthcare Organizational Leadership/MBA. The university also offers 12 additional online DNP programs as well.

  • Tuition: 
    • MSN Organizational Leadership: $52,242 annually (full-time), or $36,808 annually (part-time)
    • MSN Healthcare Organizational Leadership/MBA: $58,720 annually
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • On-Campus Requirement: No
  • Contact Information: 410-955-7548 or jhuson@jhu.edu

Things to note: Johns Hopkins also offers an MSN entry into the nursing track for those who have earned a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field. 

3. Simmons College

Simmons offers the MSN degree for nurses who wish to become family nurse practitioners (FNPs). Simmons does assist with clinical placements, which is a HUGE draw for this MSN FNP program. As of July 2020, the placement team has helped students secure more than 6,800 clinical placements across more than 14,000 clinical networks. 

  • Tuition: $1,235 per credit hour
  • Application Deadline: Rolling (5 start dates throughout the year)
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • Contact Information: 617-521-2605 or snhs@simmons.edu

Things to note: Simmons offers an online RN-MSN and MSN direct entry program for individuals with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. 

4. The University of Alabama

The University of Alabama offers an MSN in Nurse Administration, Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Dual Psychiatric Mental Health and Family Nurse Practitioner.  In addition, there is a postgraduate certificate program with Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner options.

  • Tuition: $440 per credit hour
  • Application Deadline: March 1, August 1, and December 1
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes. Two on-campus sessions.
  • Contact Information: 800-313-3591 or katarawilson.bama@ua.edu

5. Baker University 

Baker's online MSN programs feature tracks in nursing education and nursing administration. 

  • Tuition: $480 per credit hour 
  • Application Deadline: Rolling (3 start dates throughout the year)
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • On-campus requirements: No
  • Contact Information: 913-270-1307 or graduate.nursing@bakerU.edu

6. Troy University 

The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program prepares nurses for advanced practice roles in Healthcare Informatics, Nurse Leadership, and Family Nurse Practitioners. There is also a Post Masters Nursing Education option. 

7. Xavier University

This completely online program features courses with no set meeting times, making it attractive to the working nurse. There are four MSN tracks, including Forensics, Education, Family Nurse Practitioner, and Criminal Justice.

  • Tuition: $670 per Credit Hour
  • Admission Deadline: Rolling Admission
  • Accreditation: CCNE and Ohio Board of Nursing 
  • On-campus requirements: No
  • Contact Information: 513-745-1006

Things to note: The program is one of only 12 nationwide to receive endorsement from the American Holistic Nurses Certification.

8. Maryville University of Saint Louis

Maryville University offers students five unique concentrations, including Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. 

  • Tuition: $838 per credit hour
  • Admission Deadline: Rolling
  • Accreditation: CCNE 
  • On-campus requirements: No
  • Contact Information: 1-888-266-0574 or admissions@online.maryville.edu 

Things to note: Unlike some graduate programs, there is no GMAT, GRE, or Statistics required for admission, and once your application is accepted, you can start taking classes immediately. 

9. University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina offers several online MSN Nurse Practitioner programs, including Adult Gerontology, Family NP, and Psychiatric Mental Health. In addition, the university offers online MSN programs with specialties in healthcare Leadership, Nursing Education, and Nursing Informatics. 

  • Tuition: $770.25 per credit (resident), $1,438.00 per credit (non-resident)
  • Application Deadline: Rolling (varies per specialty)
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • On-campus requirements: No
  • Contact Information: NURSGRAD@mailbox.sc.edu

10. Florida A&M University

The FAMU School of Nursing offers two specialized online MSN NP programs, including Adult Gerontology and Women’s Health. 

  • Tuition: $732 per credit hour
  • Application Deadline: Rolling Admissions
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • On-campus requirements: No
  • Contact Information: 850-599-3000 or gradadmissions@famu.edu

Things to note: FAMU’s program only requires 42 credits instead of the typical 57 credits,  which allows students to complete the program faster. According to their website, FAMU is not permitted to provide online courses or instruction to students from some states. While their website does not specify the restrictive states, it is important to speak to an admission counselor for clarity.

Why Should I Get My MSN?

1. Earn a Higher Salary

For many nurses, the main appeal of earning your MSN is the chance to make more money. An MSN degree can give you a significant pay bump.  

>> Related: MSN Nurse Salary Guide 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), master’s degree-trained nurses such as nurse practitioners and nurse midwives earned an annual median salary of $125,900 in 2022.

2. More Job Opportunities

Graduating from an MSN program can open the door to many more job opportunities. MSN graduates enjoy a variety of exciting options, including leadership and corporate-level positions.

3. The Ability to Specialize

Many MSN programs have specialized tracks that prepare students for a particular field or specialty in nursing. Some of the types of MSN specialties to choose from include:

Nurse practitioner specialties include:

Non-APRN specialties include:

4. Increased Influence 

An MSN can prepare you to advance to senior-level positions, which may place you in the position to play a more significant role in shaping patient care and policies. 

5. The Option to Teach

Nurse educators work in a variety of settings, including universities, schools, and hospitals. As a nurse educator, you can influence and share your knowledge with nurses on every level.

What Are the Benefits of Online MSN Programs?

Many nurses opt to complete their MSN degree online because online programs are convenient, particularly for working nurses. They offer:

  • Flexibility with scheduling
  • Convenience to take your class from anywhere at any time
  • Freedom to work at your own pace
  • In many cases, a cheaper price tag than on-campus options

Most online MSN programs include in-person clinical rotations. However, there are some online MSN programs without clinicals for students pursuing non-APRN nursing roles. These programs provide even more flexibility than online NP, CNM, or CRNA pathways.

How Do I Pay For My Online MSN Degree?

Scholarships

Scholarships offer monetary value towards studies. There are many scholarships available for nurses in grad school, including merit-based scholarships.

Service-Based Programs

If you commit to working in an underserved area, you may qualify for scholarships in exchange for several years of service.

Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if you qualify for loans. FAFSA gives you access to:

  • Federal student loans
  • School-based aid
  • State aid

>> Related: Pros and Cons of Private Student Loans

What Are the Requirements for Getting Into an Online MSN Program?

The requirements for each program will vary by school. If the program is associated with a traditional brick-and-mortar school, admission requirements will be for both the school and the graduate program. Ultimately, all programs share the same basic requirements.  

  • Registered Nurse license in good standing 
  • Possess an associate's or bachelor's degree from an accredited program
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Criminal background checks 

Other requirements may include:

  • Essays
  • Letters of recommendations
  • Child abuse clearance
  • Drug test
  • Proof of vaccinations
  • Physical examination

The easiest MSN online programs will have more lax or fewer requirements than difficult schools. Most programs that are easy to get into have acceptance rates above 90%.

>> Get Started! Find MSN Programs

Why is it Important to Choose an Accredited Online MSN Program? 

A major consideration that must be taken into account when applying to an online nursing program is accreditation. Accreditation ensures the same standards and criteria for all nursing programs. The accreditation process improves the quality of nursing education and keeps the curriculum up to date on current trends in advances in nursing and healthcare.

There are two main accrediting bodies for nursing programs:

The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) is designed to support nursing education and ensure it is done in a safe, reliable, and consistent manner. 

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is considered the voice of academic nursing in America and contributes to the overall safety of the public's health. This committee supports the continuous self-assessment of national programs to ensure quality education is delivered to all nursing students. 

FAQs

  • Are MSN programs worth it? 

    • An MSN program can be worth the cost, depending on your career goals. An MSN is necessary to advance in many leadership and educational nurse roles. 
  • How long does an MSN program take?

    • MSN programs can take between 1-3 years, depending on the program and if you enroll full or part-time. 
  • What is the average salary for an MSN? 

    • According to ZipRecruiter, MSN-trained nurses in the US earn a median salary of $109,990 annually or $53/hr.
  • How long is an RN to MSN program? 

    • RN-MSN programs are about 2-3 years long. 
  • Can you get an MSN without being an RN? 

    • Yes, it is possible to enter into an RN-MSN program if you have a bachelor’s in another field. 
  • How hard is it to get your MSN? 

    • MSN programs can be rigorous, but they are manageable for most students, even while working full-time.

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Portia Wofford is a nurse, copywriter, content strategist, and nurse consultant. Chosen as a brand ambassador or collaborative partner for various organizations, Wofford strives to empower nurses by offering nurses resources for development--while helping healthcare organizations and entrepreneurs create engaging content that connects and converts. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for her latest. 

Portia Wofford
LPN
Portia Wofford
Nurse.org Contributor

Portia Wofford, known as The Write Nurse, is an award-winning nurse, writer, and content marketer. After dedicating her nursing career to creating content and solutions for employers that affected patient outcomes, these days, Portia empowers brands to increase growth opportunities and promote health equity through diverse, engaging content that connects and converts. Follow her on InstagramLinkedin, and Twitter for her latest. When Portia’s not writing you can find her at sporting events with her son or promoting her platform of health equity as the reigning Ms. Black Alabama USA, 2022.

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