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Top RN to MSN Programs

13 Min Read Published November 7, 2023
Top RN to MSN Programs in 2024 | Nurse.org

RN to MSN programs are designed to facilitate a better-educated nursing workforce. The bridge program provides access to the education necessary to progress in the profession of nursing. 

The program does not circumvent the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) curriculum but provides a foundational bridge to graduate study. RN to MSN programs allow for ADN-prepared nurses to continue their education in a seamless manner.

Graduates of an RN to MSN bridge program can complete the certification to be a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or nurse anesthetist.

Fast Facts About RN to MSN Programs

Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the median pay for a master's prepared nurse practitioner, nurse midwife or nurse anesthetist is $125,900 or $60.53 per hour.

Program Length

Up to 3 years

Requirements

  • Registered nurse license

  • Minimum of one-year clinical experience

  • Minimum GPA between 2.75 and 3.0 (varies on program)

  • Associate’s Degree in Nursing from accredited school

  • Personal Interview (if applicable) 

  • Professional recommendations

  • GRE if applicable

  • TOEFL if applicable

Top RN to MSN Programs

Every ADN to MSN bridge program has its own benefits and features, and the program that is best for one potential attendee may not be the right choice for another. In assembling our list of top programs, we paid particular attention to objective criteria, paying special attention to ensuring that each is accredited and has proven outcomes for its graduates. 

Our selection process considered the following factors:

  • Cost of attendance

  • Program length

  • Admission requirements

  • Variety of available programs

  • Ranking according to U.S. News & World Report

  • Additional accolades that the program has received 

1. Franklin University

Franklin University is an online program that provides a contemporary curriculum offered by seasoned in-field practitioners. 

Students can finish bridge courses and be on their way to their MSN in 12 weeks. The admission process is streamlined and hassle-free. Specific programs include Generalist, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care, and Family nurse practitioner tracks. Franklin does not require the GREs for applicants which can be helpful, especially for students that are not great at standardized tests. 

  • Tuition: $670 per credit

  • Program Length: 16 - 30 months

  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

  • Application Deadline: Rolling

  •  Contact Information: 

    • Email: graduate.admissions@franklin.edu 

    • Phone Number: (614) 797-4700

  • Online Options Available? Yes

2. Baker University

Baker University allows the graduate to progress at their own pace and shortens the time to graduation. This program has start times in January and August. 

All coursework is done online, and practicums take place in your community, so you can earn your degree where you live and work. Applicants are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the bridge program. Students have a minimum of eight years to complete the ADN to MSN program but most complete in a quicker amount of time. 

  •  Tuition: $100 per credit hour 

  • Program Length: 15 -30 months

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Application Deadline:  Rolling

    Contact Information:

     

  • Online Options Available? Yes  

3. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS)

The online bridge program at MCPHS builds on the students’ ADN so they can move into graduate studies seamlessly. This allows the student to earn a Master’s of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner without earning a bachelor's degree first. An added bonus to MCPHS’ program is that this school only awards degrees to students in the medical and health realm. This school specializes in healthcare which means resources are tailored to  nurses. 

The program is designed to meet the needs of busy students with a majority online curriculum with four on-campus meetings. A personal statement is required as part of the admission process. Students complete 540 clinical hours throughout three in-person clinical rotations. 

  • Tuition: $1,110 per credit hour

  • Program Length: 36 months

  • Accreditation:  CCNE

  • Application Deadline: April 1st

  • Contact Information: 

  • Online Options Available? Yes

4. University of Mary

The University of Mary offers an online ADN to MSN with a focus on Nursing Leadership & Management. This degree program allows students to advance their careers while continuing to work full-time. 

This program is best for nurses seeking leadership positions, unit managers, care coordinators, and more.  This program is specifically designed for students who will partner with healthcare organizations and a specific nurse leader to learn the integration of nursing and management theory. 

  • Tuition: $470 per credit

  • Program Length:  as little as 20 months

  • Accreditation:  CCNE

  • Application Deadline: Rolling

  • Contact Information:

5. University of Mississippi

The RN to MSN program at the University of Mississippi offers a flexible plan of study. There are six predominantly online options to choose from including nurse practitioner, nurse educator, and administration. 

  • Tuition: 

    • Resident: $545 per credit

    • Non-Resident: $1,598.67 per credit hour

  • Program Length:  Varies on chosen program

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Application Deadline:  

    • Summer: February 15th

    • Spring: August 31st

  • Contact Information: 

    • Email: (601) 815-0124 

    • Phone Number: admissioncounselor@umc.edu

  • Online Options Available? Yes

6. LaSalle University

The RN to MSN bridge program at LaSalle University provides students with a strong foundation to build a professional nursing career.  Upon acceptance to the program, students will be required to complete four undergraduate courses.

Students must successfully complete four undergraduate courses with a minimum GPA of 3.2 in order to continue to the MSN portion. 

  • Tuition: $880 per credit hour

  • Program Length: 24-36 months

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Application Deadline: April 1st

  • Contact Information: 

  • Online Options Available? Yes

7. Wilkes University

The RN to MSN bridge program at Wilkes University is completely online with three concentrations in Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Adult-Gerontology Primary Care (AGPCNP), and Psychiatric/Mental Health (PMHNP). 

Wilkes University provides engaging clinical placement services that prepare students for success in their future practice. With the exception of clinicals and residencies, the remainder of the coursework is 100% online. 

  • Tuition:  $728 per credit hour

    • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) concentration: $39,312

    • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP) concentration: $37,128

    • Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) concentration: $38,584

  • Program Length:  

    • FNP: 19 courses / 9 terms / 3 years

    • AGPCNP: 17 courses / 8 terms / 2.6 years

    • PMHNP: 18 courses / 9 terms / 3 years

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Application Deadline: May 1st

  • Contact Information:

    • Email: admissions@onlinenursingdegrees.wilkes.edu

    • Phone Number:  (888) 413-5633

  • Online Options Available? Yes

8. Aspen University

The RN to MSN bridge program is an affordable way for registered nurses to return to school and expand their career opportunities. This liberal-arts foundation prepares nurses to assume leadership positions in education, management and clinical practice.

  • The RN to MSN bridge program is an affordable way for registered nurses to return to school and expand their career opportunities. This liberal arts foundation prepares nurses to assume leadership positions in education, management and clinical practice. There are five specializations available including forensic nursing, informatics, nursing education, public health, and administration/management. 

Students enjoy Aspen’s self-paced courses that start every 2 weeks, and flexibility for students that have work or personal commitments. 

  •  Tuition: $18,525 (monthly payment plan $325/month)

  • Program Length:  24-32 months

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Application Deadline: Rolling

  • Contact Phone Number:  (800) 373-7814

  • Online Options Available? Yes

9. Herzing University*

The RN to MSN program at Herzing University provides 100% online coursework. The Herzing Everywhere Classroom offers learning on your schedule and at your own pace from experienced faculty. There are six specializations available including Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Education, and Nursing Leadership and Administration concentrations.

  • Tuition: Tuition Calculator

  •  Program Length:  20-32 months depending on program

  • Accreditation: CCNE

  • Application Deadline:  Rolling

  • Contact Phone Number:  (888) 920-0937

  • Online Options Available? Yes

10. University Texas of Arlington

The RN to MSN program at the University of Texas Arlington Online offers two fast-track options for nurses who want to move straight into a master’s degree program. 

With flexible online courses and expert instructors, students will qualify for the national family nurse practitioner certification exam or be prepared to lead the next generation of professional nurses as nurse educators or nurse administrators.

  • Tuition: $19,500 total cost

  • Program Length: Up to 36 months

  • Accreditation:  CCNE

  • Application Deadline: Rolling

  • Contact Phone Number: (866) 489-2810

  • Online Options Available? Yes 

Types of RN to MSN Bridge Programs

 On-campus

On-campus RN to MSN programs would require you to attend classes in person with your cohort along with clinical experiences. While many students prefer this format, it does require adhering to a specific class schedule.  While this format provides the greatest opportunity for networking, taking advantage of a robust support system, and ensuring that you fully understand the course material, it also makes adhering to a work schedule or fulfilling family responsibilities more challenging. This type of program is rare, as most students need to work and many have families with children.

Online

Online RN to MSN programs are offered via a learning management system that the student must log into regularly to access lectures, and assignments. It also allows students to communicate with faculty and peers. Classes may be held either synchronous or asynchronous. 

Hybrid

A hybrid RN to MSN bridge program requires students to engage both online and in-person. Students may be required to attend class in person on certain days and engage in other course requirements online. This is very common in nursing education. Most programs require students to complete an extensive clinical experience in-person.

Admission Requirements

  • Active and unencumbered RN license

  • Completed school application with the applicable fee

  • CV/resume

  • Original goal statement or personal essay 

  • Official transcripts sent to the school

  • Prerequisite courses 

  • Three personal letters of recommendation, with at least one from a current supervisor 

  • In-person or phone interview may be required

  • Additional testing may be required for international students 

Program Length

The program length for the majority of RN to MSN programs is up to 36 months. If the program is completed on a part-time basis it can take longer to complete.  Some programs can be completed in as little as 16 months. It’s important to speak to an admissions counselor to determine the exact length of the program.

If you need to earn your MSN as fast as possible, you might consider attending the shortest RN to MSN online programs. Depending on the school, you can earn an MSN in as little as 14 months!

Program Cost

The program cost for RN to MSN programs varies significantly from institution to institution. Students should take time to compare different programs to determine which tuition plan best meets their financial needs. Variables include, 

  • Reputation of the program 

  • Quality of the faculty

  • Number of specialty tracks offered

  • Program is offered by a private or public institution

  • Online versus hybrid versus in-person instruction

  • Full-time or part-time attendance

Classes

Students in an RN to MSN bridge program will first be required to take courses at the undergraduate level. 

These courses include physical assessment, pharmacology, and pathophysiology along with other courses as determined by the institution. Once the student transitions to the graduate program they will determine what track of the MSN program they prefer to pursue.  

Other classes include:

  • Community Health Nursing

  • Advanced Pharmacology

  • Advanced Pathophysiology

  • Advanced Physical Assessment

  • Evidence-Based Practice

  • Professional Practice

  • Health Policy and Promotion

  • Global and Population Health

  • Research

  • Leadership and Management in Advanced Practice

  • Ethics

FAQs About ADN to MSN Bridge Programs

  • How long does it take to bridge from RN to MSN?

    • The bridge process generally takes about 1 to 2 semesters in order to meet the bachelor's degree requirements.
  • Are RN to MSN programs worth it?

    • Yes, RN to MSN programs are worth it. They are designed for nurses who have been in clinical practice and are ready to take the next step in their professional careers. 
  • Is MSN the same as NP?

    • No, MSN and NP are not synonymous. One must complete an MSN degree in preparation for the NP certification exam. A graduate with an MSN degree can choose to pursue a career as a nurse educator, nurse anesthetist, or nurse administrator.

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