2020 Most Affordable Online MSN Programs

By the OnlineU team | Updated 3/8/2021
2020 Most Affordable Nursing Masters Degrees Badge
By the OnlineU team | Updated 3/8/2021

Our list below highlights the most affordable online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degrees, with annual tuition rates under $7,000. MSN students can choose from several specialties, including nurse practitioner (NP), nurse educator, or nurse administrator. MSN graduates have a high salary potential and are prepared to enter in-demand careers as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN). The BLS reports that nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners earned a median annual salary of $115,800 in 2019, and demand for these positions is projected to increase by a staggering 45% in the next decade. On this page, we've included information about getting an MSN degree online, the cost of an online program, and whether a degree in this field will be worth it for you.

You can read more about our ranked schools below or browse our rankings of the most affordable online bachelor's in nursing degrees. View our methodology or learn more about OnlineU.

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All tuition numbers were manually collected and verified
Rank School Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 Northeastern State University $4,048
# 2 #2 Tennessee State University $4,294
# 3 #3 Drexel University $4,428
# 4 #4 Fitchburg State University $4,700
# 5 #5 American Public University System $4,900
# 6 #6 Georgia Southern University $4,986
# 7 #7 University of Southern Indiana $5,105
# 8 #8 Fort Hays State University $5,179
# 9 #9 Middle Georgia State University $5,610
# 10 #10 Wichita State University $5,736
# 11 #11 Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville $5,776
# 12 #12 Lamar University $5,806
# 13 #13 South Dakota State University $6,055
# 14 #14 Stephen F. Austin State University $6,060
# 15 #15 University of Central Missouri $6,220
# 16 #16 West Texas A&M University $6,297
# 17 (tie) #17 (tie) Purdue University Global $6,300
# 17 (tie) #17 (tie) University of Arkansas Grantham $6,300
# 19 #19 University of Missouri $6,438
# 20 #20 Central Methodist University $6,460
# 21 #21 The University of Texas at Arlington $6,500
# 22 (tie) #22 (tie) Fairleigh Dickinson University $6,600
# 22 (tie) #22 (tie) William Carey University $6,600
# 24 #24 Pittsburg State University $6,630
# 25 #25 American Sentinel University $6,755
#1
#1
Annual Tuition: $4,048
Annual Tuition: $4,048
Annual Tuition: $4,048

Northeastern State University (NSU) offers a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Education and Nursing Informatics. Both accelerated online programs require 32 credit hours (11 courses) and can be completed in 12 months. The curriculum includes 18 credits of core courses that focus on advanced research and evidence-based practice, a two-credit practicum, and 12 credits of Nursing Informatics or Nursing Education courses. To graduate, students in both tracks complete a 120-hour practicum... in the field with a mentor and a capstone master's project or thesis. Coursework for Nursing Informatics aligns with the American Organization of Nurse Executives' standards, and the Nursing Education option aligns with the standards set by the National League for Nursing.

Online coursework is delivered through the Blackboard learning management system. Online courses have assignment deadlines, course attendance requirements, and group collaboration. NSU offers a pay-by-the-course tuition model for the online MSN program. Distance learners have access to electronic library resources, research and clinical databases, veteran services, tutoring, technical support, academic advising, and financial and career services.

To be considered, students must have a current RN license and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Applicants must submit a completed application, official transcripts, required credentials, and supplemental information.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 33%
  • Acceptance Rate: 96%
  • Average SATs: 896 -1100
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,241
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 412
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • M.S.N.
  • M.S.N. - Administrative Leadership in Nursing
  • M.S.N. - Nursing Education
  • M.S.N. - Nursing Informatics
#2
#2
Annual Tuition: $4,294
Annual Tuition: $4,294
Annual Tuition: $4,294

Tennessee State University (TSU) offers an online Master of Science in Nursing with concentrations in Family Nurse Practitioner and Holistic Nursing. Both programs require 45 credit hours and a senior project or thesis to graduate. The Nursing Practitioner option leads to certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and requires 600 clinical hours. The curriculum for this track prepares students to work with individuals of all ages by conducting client examinations and diagnosing and treating... illnesses. The Holistic Nursing track meets eligibility criteria for certification in the field and requires 500 clinical hours. Students in this concentration can take courses in aromatherapy, homeopathy, acupuncture, massage therapy, and more. The MSN program may be completed on a full-time or part-time basis, and students can graduate in six or nine semesters, respectively.

Online coursework may include both synchronous and asynchronous elements. TSU offers a reduced tuition "e-rate" for out-of-state students enrolled in online courses or programs. Additionally, various Tennessee State scholarships are available. Online students have access to admission information, academic advisement, financial aid, and more through the Adult and Distance Learners Information Portal.

Prospective students must have a current RN license and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Applicants must submit an online application and official transcripts.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 32%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 200
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 256
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner (Hybrid)
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Holistic Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing (Hybrid)
#3
#3

Drexel University

Philadelphia (PA)
Annual Tuition: $4,428
Annual Tuition: $4,428
Annual Tuition: $4,428

Drexel University offers a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with various concentrations, including Clinical Leader, Leadership in Health Systems Management, Nursing Education, Public Health Nursing, Healthcare Quality, Patient Safety, and Risk Management. Additionally, an RN to MSN Bridge and RN-BSN-MSN program are available. Classes follow a 10-week quarter format; Students who take two courses per quarter can graduate in two years. Students in the Nurse Educator track must complete a three-day,... on-campus residency and are prepared to take the Certified Nursing Educator Exam. The Clinical Nurse Leader track requires that students complete a clinical practicum. Students in the remaining tracks complete a capstone course.

Online classes are synchronous with live, online lectures. Coursework is hosted on Blackboard, where students have access to assignments, discussion boards, and tests. Tuition for online programs is ten percent less than on-campus tuition rates. Drexel also offers a tuition lock for students who complete the MSN program in three years. Additionally, reduced tuition rates are available to alumni, military, and members of Drexel's partner organizations.

Prospective students must have an accredited Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a minimum GPA of 3.0, and a current RN license. Students with a non-nursing bachelor's degree may apply to the RN-BSN-MSN or RN to MSN Bridge programs. Other required documents include an application, official transcripts, personal statement, resume, and copy of RN license.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Graduation Rate: 69%
  • Acceptance Rate: 79%
  • Average SATs: 1190 -1390
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,492
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 3,697
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE

Online Master's Degrees

  • Dual Master of Business Administration/Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Concentration in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Concentration in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Concentration in Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Concentration in Dual Pediatric Primary Care and Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
#4
#4
Annual Tuition: $4,700
Annual Tuition: $4,700
Annual Tuition: $4,700
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 58%
  • Acceptance Rate: 80%
  • Average SATs: 990 -1150
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 385
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,402
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: NECHE

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Specialization in Forensic Nursing
#5
#5
Annual Tuition: $4,900
Annual Tuition: $4,900
Annual Tuition: $4,900
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Graduation Rate: 40%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 37,335
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 7,914
  • School Type: For-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Concentration in Community and Public Health Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Concentration in Nurse Educator
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Concentration in Nurse Leader
  • Master of Science in Nursing (RN to MSN)
  • Master of Science in Nursing (RN to MSN) - Concentration in Community and Public Health Nursing
#6
#6

Georgia Southern University

Statesboro (GA)
Annual Tuition: $4,986
Annual Tuition: $4,986
Annual Tuition: $4,986
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Acceptance Rate: 68%
  • Average SATs: 1050 -1200
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,088
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,619
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Concentration in Chronic Care Management
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Concentration in Nursing Education
#7
#7
Annual Tuition: $5,105
Annual Tuition: $5,105
Annual Tuition: $5,105
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 92%
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Acceptance Rate: 94%
  • Average SATs: 980 -1170
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 636
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,295
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitiioner
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
#8
#8
Annual Tuition: $5,179
Annual Tuition: $5,179
Annual Tuition: $5,179
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 96%
  • Graduation Rate: 43%
  • Acceptance Rate: 89%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 4,411
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,453
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nurse Administrators
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Education
#9
#9
Annual Tuition: $5,610
Annual Tuition: $5,610
Annual Tuition: $5,610
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 23%
  • Acceptance Rate: 94%
  • Average SATs: 880 -1090
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,852
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 268
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Online Master's Degrees

  • MS in Nursing - Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
#10
#10
Annual Tuition: $5,736
Annual Tuition: $5,736
Annual Tuition: $5,736
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 89%
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Acceptance Rate: 94%
  • Average SATs: 1030 -1270
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 2,272
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 632
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Education
#11
#11
Annual Tuition: $5,776
Annual Tuition: $5,776
Annual Tuition: $5,776
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 51%
  • Acceptance Rate: 90%
  • Average SATs: 1020 -1220
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 622
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 647
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Science in Healthcare and Nursing Administration and Healthcare Informatics
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Healthcare & Nursing Administration
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nurse Educator
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nurse Educator (Hybrid)
#12
#12

Lamar University

Beaumont (TX)
Annual Tuition: $5,806
Annual Tuition: $5,806
Annual Tuition: $5,806
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 82%
  • Graduation Rate: 34%
  • Acceptance Rate: 82%
  • Average SATs: 960 -1140
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 2,222
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 6,150
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Dual Master of Science Nursing and Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Administration Track
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Education Track
  • Master of Science in Nursing (Registered Nurse to Master of Science in Nursing)
#13
#13
Annual Tuition: $6,055
Annual Tuition: $6,055
Annual Tuition: $6,055
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 56%
  • Acceptance Rate: 91%
  • Average SATs: 1050 -1260
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,221
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 314
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner (Hybrid)
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Specialization in Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Specialization in Nurse Administrator
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Specialization in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Specialization Nurse Educator
#14
#14
Annual Tuition: $6,060
Annual Tuition: $6,060
Annual Tuition: $6,060
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 52%
  • Acceptance Rate: 65%
  • Average SATs: 990 -1180
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,040
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 574
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Education
#15
#15
Annual Tuition: $6,220
Annual Tuition: $6,220
Annual Tuition: $6,220
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 51%
  • Acceptance Rate: 84%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 449
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 728
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nurse Educator
#16
#16
Annual Tuition: $6,297
Annual Tuition: $6,297
Annual Tuition: $6,297
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Acceptance Rate: 61%
  • Average SATs: 940 -1140
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,356
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,039
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Science in Nursing - Comprehensive
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner (Hybrid)
#17
#17

Purdue University Global

Indianapolis (IN)
Annual Tuition: $6,300
Annual Tuition: $6,300
Annual Tuition: $6,300
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 76%
  • Graduation Rate: 27%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 28,447
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 9,331
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • ExcelTrack MS in Nursing
  • MSN
  • MSN - DNP Path Nurse Educator
  • MSN - Dual Degree Option MSN/MBA
  • MSN - Executive Leader
  • MSN - Nurse Educator
#17
#17
Annual Tuition: $6,300
Annual Tuition: $6,300
Annual Tuition: $6,300
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Graduation Rate: 22%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 5,896
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,183
  • School Type: For-Profit
  • School Accreditation: DEAC

Online Master's Degrees

  • MS in Nursing
#19
#19

University of Missouri

Columbia (MO)
Annual Tuition: $6,438
Annual Tuition: $6,438
Annual Tuition: $6,438
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 89%
  • Graduation Rate: 71%
  • Acceptance Rate: 78%
  • Average SATs: 1120 -1340
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 835
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,423
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Science in Nursing - Emphasis in Nurse Educator (Hybrid)
#20
#20
Annual Tuition: $6,460
Annual Tuition: $6,460
Annual Tuition: $6,460
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Acceptance Rate: 71%
  • Average SATs: 930 -1100
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,734
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 159
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing: Clinical Nurse Leader Program
  • Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Educator Program
#21
#21
Annual Tuition: $6,500
Annual Tuition: $6,500
Annual Tuition: $6,500
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 51%
  • Acceptance Rate: 71%
  • Average SATs: 1040 -1250
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 11,115
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 7,709
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Master of Science Nursing (MSN)
  • MSN - Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • MSN - Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner
  • MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner (RN to MSN)
  • MSN - Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
#22
#22
Annual Tuition: $6,600
Annual Tuition: $6,600
Annual Tuition: $6,600
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Graduation Rate: 49%
  • Acceptance Rate: 88%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 240
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 345
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: MSCHE

Online Master's Degrees

  • MSN - Nursing Education
  • MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner
#22
#22

William Carey University

Hattiesburg (MS)
Annual Tuition: $6,600
Annual Tuition: $6,600
Annual Tuition: $6,600
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Acceptance Rate: 49%
  • Average SATs: 950 -1180
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 312
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 843
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Online Master's Degrees

  • Dual Degree Master of Science in Nursing/Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Science in Nursing
#24
#24
Annual Tuition: $6,630
Annual Tuition: $6,630
Annual Tuition: $6,630
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 52%
  • Acceptance Rate: 87%
  • Average SATs: 916 -1185
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 170
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 850
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Master's Degrees

  • MSN - Education
#25
#25
Annual Tuition: $6,755
Annual Tuition: $6,755
Annual Tuition: $6,755
  • Graduation Rate: 0%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,420
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,304
  • School Type: For-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Master of Science - Specialization in Infection Prevention and Control (Competency-Based)
  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Master of Science - Specialization in Nursing Education (Competency-Based)
  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Master of Science in Nursing (Competency-Based)
  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Master of Science in Nursing (Term-Based)
  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Master of Science Nursing - Specialization in Case Management (Term-Based)
  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Master of Science Nursing - Specialization in Infection Prevention and Control (Term-Based)

Online Master's Degrees

  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Master of Science - Specialization in Infection Prevention and Control (Competency-Based)
  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Master of Science - Specialization in Nursing Education (Competency-Based)
  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Master of Science in Nursing (Competency-Based)
  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Master of Science in Nursing (Term-Based)
  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Master of Science Nursing - Specialization in Case Management (Term-Based)
  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Master of Science Nursing - Specialization in Infection Prevention and Control (Term-Based)

Getting an Online MSN Degree


An online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree prepares registered nurses to become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) or enter into administration or education roles within the field. Students can earn an MSN degree in 12-24 months, depending on their academic credentials before entering the program. Below are two common types of online MSN programs:

  • BSN to MSN: These programs require registered nurses to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to apply. Nurses can choose accelerated BSN to MSN bridge programs to earn their master’s degrees in 12 months.
  • RN to MSN: Students must have a registered nursing license, an associate degree or diploma in the field, and one to two years of full-time nursing experience. Students can typically complete an RN to MSN program in two years.

Regardless of the MSN program, students will take advanced clinical courses and select a nursing specialty, like nurse education, administrative leadership, nurse practitioner, or nursing informatics. While most of the coursework is facilitated online, students must also complete supervised clinical hours (ranging from 200-600 hours) at an approved healthcare facility in their area.


Why Accreditation is Important

Before enrolling in an online MSN program, students should determine that the school is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Nursing programs that have passed more rigorous reviews of standards and quality are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Accreditation is important to ensure that students can find employment after graduation and be eligible sit for advanced certification exams, such as the Family Nurse Practitioner Certification (FNP), Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Certification (A-GNP), or Emergency Nurse Practitioner Certification (ENP).


Common Online MSN Courses

An online MSN program will typically include a core curriculum and nursing specialization courses. Below is a list of standard MSN core courses and a description of what students will learn in each class:

  • Advanced Health Assessment: Students learn how to conduct comprehensive health assessments on patients across their lifespan. Other topics covered include health promotion strategies, risk assessment, and diagnostic reasoning. Students may also be required to complete a clinical practicum in this course.
  • Advanced Pathophysiology: This course examines advanced concepts in how the body responds to disease. Students explore various conditions and how organ systems function. Students also learn how to diagnose and develop treatment plans for patients.
  • Advanced Pharmacology: Students learn the principles of drug therapy in response to various diseases. This course also covers how to prescribe pharmaceutical treatments to patients in a clinical setting. Other topics covered include adverse drug reactions, ethical implications, and patient education.
  • Organizational/Nursing Leadership: This course emphasizes leadership and communication strategies within the healthcare environment. Students will learn how to build collaborative teams to facilitate better patient outcomes. They will also develop skills in listening, training, and motivating, other employees.
  • Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing: Students learn how to apply best practices in patient care and make informed decisions based on evidence. In this course, students will analyze and evaluate current nursing knowledge for scientific merit. Students will also explore the ethical and cultural issues or barriers in evidence-based research.

Can I Get My MSN Without a BSN?

Registered nurses with an associate degree or diploma can apply to an RN to MSN bridge program without having a BSN. They are usually required to have one to two years of full-time experience. The schools on our most affordable MSN degree list that offer RN to MSN bridge programs are Drexel University, Lamar University, and American Public University System.


Cost of an Online MSN Degree

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that the average cost of graduate tuition was $19,214 per year in 2018-2019. In comparison, the schools on our list of most affordable online MSN programs have significantly lower annual tuition rates between $4,048 - $6,755. These rates do not include other college-related costs, such as textbooks and technology fees. Students rarely pay the full sticker price for a degree by applying for financial aid, scholarships, or other funding sources outlined below.


Funding an Online MSN Degree

Once accepted into an MSN program, students should submit a FAFSA application for federal financial aid. Most students who apply receive some form of financial award, ranging from federal loans to grants. Beyond the FAFSA, some healthcare employers may offer tuition benefits to RNs pursuing graduate degrees in the field. Students may also be eligible for loans, programs, or scholarships to help offset the cost of an online MSN program:

  • Nursing Student Loans (NSL): The Health Resources & Service Administration (HRSA) offers long-term and low-interest loans to nursing students enrolled full-time in a graduate program.
  • Nurse Corps Scholarship Program: This scholarship program is offered by the HRSA to students in graduate-level nurse practitioner programs or bridge programs. In exchange for receiving funding, graduates must complete a two-year service commitment in a critical shortage facility.
  • Scholarships: Students should contact their university to determine whether any graduate scholarship opportunities are available. Professional nursing organizations also offer scholarships to MSN students in various specialties. For example, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) has a scholarship for students in a nurse practitioner program. The Oncology Nursing Foundation also offers master’s degree scholarships for students at an accredited nursing school interested in oncology.

Is Getting an MSN Degree Worth It?

Students may wonder whether pursuing higher education will be worth the investment in terms of time and money. While this decision is personal to every individual and will vary based on a student's circumstances, below are a few metrics students might use to determine whether their investment will be beneficial in the long term. Considerations include future salary potential, job opportunities, access to roles with greater responsibility, and the opportunity to specialize in an area of interest within the field.

  • Salary: MSN graduates earn higher salaries and have more career advancement opportunities than RNs with only a BSN. The BLS reports that APRNs earned an average median salary of $115,800 in 2019, while RNs earned $73,330.
  • Job Growth & Career Advancement: The demand for APRNs is expected to grow by an unprecedented rate of 45% in the next decade, compared to 7% for RNs. In addition to providing patient care, APRNs have additional responsibilities that include working with providers to develop a patient care plan and, in some states, administer medication.
  • Specialization: Nurses with an MSN degree have the opportunity to specialize within the field. For example, APRNs can hold titles such as nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, nurse practitioner, or clinical nurse specialists (pediatrics, geriatrics, oncology, etc.). Graduates can also work as nurse educators or nurse administrators.

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