The Best ADN-to-MSN (RN to NP) Bridge Programs of 2022

February 25, 2022 , Modified on May 9, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Advancing from registered nurse to nurse practitioner means a higher salary, more autonomy, and even better career prospects. Find the right RN-to-NP program for you.

mini logo
NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

The Best ADN-to-MSN (RN to NP) Bridge Programs of 2022
Credit: sturti / E+ / Getty Images

If you have an associate degree in nursing (ADN) and seek a higher salary, more autonomy, or the chance to operate your own nursing practice, earning a master's degree might be the right choice for you.

You can choose to pursue a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) followed by a master of science in nursing (MSN) or opt for an ADN-to-MSN bridge program. This guide can help you find the best RN-to-MSN programs that lead to a career as a nurse practitioner (NP).

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best ADN-to-MSN bridge programs, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including: academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

Keep reading to learn more about ADN-to-MSN bridge programs, or go straight to our list of the best ADN-to-MSN bridge programs.

What Can You Do With an MSN Degree?

Most nurses earn an MSN to go from an RN to an NP, as advanced practice nursing programs can lead to higher salaries. Earning an MSN can prepare you for other nursing careers, such as nursing education, nursing research, or nursing administration.

msn or dnp Required
High Demand

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners can act as primary care providers or as specialists in fields like pediatrics or adult/gerontology. The median salary for NPs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is $111,680.
Salary $111,680*
Job Outlook 52% growth from 2020-30
Learn More About Nurse Practitioners
msn Required

Nurse Anesthetist

Nurse anesthetists are the highest-paid advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), earning a median salary of $183,580. Nurse anesthetists primarily work in hospitals on scheduled surgeries or in the emergency department. They also administer anesthesia for routine procedures, such as colonoscopies.
Salary $183,580*
Job Outlook 45% increase from 2020-2030
Learn More About Nurse Anesthetists
msn or dnp Required
High Demand

Nurse Midwife

Nurse midwives supervise labor and delivery, though they may also work with a physician, especially in more complicated births. They provide care for the mother before and immediately after the birth. Nurse midwives earn a median annual salary of $111,130.
Salary $111,130*
Job Outlook 11% increase from 2020-2030
Learn More About Nurse Midwives
*SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Top Online MSN Programs

What to Look For in an RN to NP Bridge Program

Completing an ADN-to-MSN program may require a significant investment of time and money. When choosing the right program, you should consider how well the school meets your needs as a student and your future career goals, weighed against cost and time requirements.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements explain what you need to provide when applying to an ADN-to-MSN (RN-to-NP) program and give you an indication of how likely you are to gain admittance.

Program Curriculum

The program curriculum tells you what topics each class covers. If you are not sure what you want to do with your MSN, you may choose a broader curriculum with more electives while you explore your options.

Clinical Experience

Consider the number of clinical hours the program requires and when they occur during the school year. If you live in a rural area with few healthcare facilities, make sure your school can help arrange local placements.

Accreditation

Accreditation is an ADN-to-MSN program's seal of quality for both students and future employers. An unaccredited program may waste your time and money and leave you with nothing to show for it.

School NCLEX Pass Rate

The school NCLEX-RN pass rate tells you how many of the school's graduates passed the NCLEX examination. A high pass rate is good, but a high pass rate combined with a high dropout rate can be a warning sign.

While the NCLEX-RN prepares students to become RNs, the pass rate can still be relevant in considering a nursing program's overall quality, including its advanced degree programs.


Applying to an ADN-to-MSN Bridge Program

To apply to an ADN-to-MSN program, you need copies of your transcripts, contact information for at least two professional and/or academic references, and a current and unencumbered RN license.

Admission Requirements: Schools typically ask for an essay or personal statement, at least two professional or academic references (preferably from a supervisor or teacher), academic transcript(s), a current RN license, and at least 1-3 years of work experience. Program Length: Most ADN to MSN programs take 30-36 months. This depends on your schedule, whether you have any other college credits that can transfer, and the individual program. Clinical Requirements: Clinical hour requirements vary based on the program and specialty. Most schools help with, but do not guarantee, clinical placement in your community. Check to see if they have placed students near you. GPA Requirement: Most RN-to-NP programs require or strongly prefer at least a 3.0 GPA. Some schools require at least a 3.25 GPA. However, strong test scores, successful work history, and an otherwise compelling application may offset a low GPA.

Why Is RN-to-NP Bridge Program Accreditation Important?

Graduating from an accredited program can be valuable for the following reasons:

  • An accredited program's curriculum has been shown to teach best practices for nursing care and related responsibilities.
  • Accreditation is an objective measure of quality, overseen by experts.
  • Employers and higher education institutions strongly prefer graduates of accredited programs. Some employers may not hire graduates of unaccredited ADN-to-MSN bridge programs.
  • Federal financial aid is generally available only to students at accredited programs.
  • Accredited programs have better-placed alumni networks.

Who Accredits RN to NP Bridge Programs?

Programs and institutions are accredited by different accreditation bodies. The following are key accrediting bodies for nursing programs and institutions:

How Do I Know an ADN-to-MSN Bridge Program Is Accredited?

Accredited schools and programs list their credentials on their websites. Make sure your choice of ADN-to-MSN program has been accredited by one of the above agencies. If the school's website hides or is unclear about its accreditation status, this may be a warning sign.

Please note that all the schools listed on this page or elsewhere on NurseJournal.org are accredited.

Paying for RN to NP Bridge Programs

Tuition is the most expensive part of an RN-to-MSN program, but as you consider your budget, be sure to include whether you can work while attending school, whether there are any travel expenses for on-campus programs or clinical hours, and your future earning ability with your degree.

Options for financial aid include scholarships, grants, or loans from the school, foundations, banks, or the government. You can also explore work-study programs and tuition assistance from some healthcare employers.

Learn More About the Top ADN to MSN Bridge Programs and Schools

  1. Vanderbilt University
    Location

    Nashville, TN

    Description:

    Competitive applicants to Vanderbilt University's RN-to-nurse practitioner program should have a minimum 3.0 GPA. The master of science in nursing program offers 13 advanced practice specialties, including family nurse practitioner, nurse-midwifery, and pediatric nurse practitioner. The university's faculty practice network provides opportunities for students to gain clinical experience.

    Details:

    • Program(s): Master of science in nursing
    • Campus: Nashville, TN
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $1,793/credit
    • Admission Requirements: BSN or RN with a bachelor's degree in another field, RN license, completion of prerequisite courses, minimum 3.0 GPA (preferred)
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95%
  2. Yale University
    Location

    New Haven, CT

    Description:

    Like many RN-to-NP programs, Yale University's offering provides specialty options, including adult/gerontology primary care, adult/gerontology acute care, and family nurse practitioner. Students can also add a concentration, such as diabetes care, gender and sexuality health justice, oncology, or research.

    The MSN curriculum incorporates advanced nursing practice and clinical practice. Students also receive scholarship and leadership opportunities.

    Details:

    • Program(s): Master of science in nursing
    • Campus: New Haven, CT
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $47,114/year
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree, RN license, GRE for applicants without a minimum 3.0 GPA
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  3. University of Virginia-Main Campus
    Location

    Charlottesville, VA

    Tuition

    $17579

    Description:

    The University of Virginia's RN-to-nurse practitioner program offers tracks in psychiatric-mental health, neonatal care, adult-gerontology acute care, and pediatric primary care. Some tracks require professional experience.

    Students may receive scholarships directly from the School of Nursing. UVA partners with dozens of hospitals and clinics throughout Virginia to help nursing students obtain clinical experience.

    Details:

    • Program(s): Master of science in nursing
    • Campus: Charlottesville, VA
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $19,168/year (in state), $31,298/year (out of state)
    • Admission Requirements: BSN, RN license, clinical certification
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $89,869
  4. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Description:

    Johns Hopkins University offers an interdisciplinary MSN in healthcare organizational leadership. The RN-to-NP program prepares students to address changes in healthcare needs.

    Full-time learners complete the online program in two years. Students complete clinical hours. Coursework explores topics including the research process, evidence-based practice, and healthcare economics.

    Details:

    • Program(s): MSN healthcare organizational leadership track
    • Campus: Blatimore, MD
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $52,342/year
    • Admission Requirements: BSN, minimum 3.0 GPA, RN license
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: No
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 97.5%
    • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $95,359
  5. University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Description:

    The University of Pennsylvania's RN-to-NP program features classes such as advanced physical assessment and clinical decision-making. Degree-seekers explore nurse practitioners' professional roles.

    Students choose from tracks in adult gerontology acute care, neonatal care, and pediatric acute care. Full-time nursing students can apply for an endowed scholarship or Penn Nursing grants.

    Details:

    • Program(s): Master of science in nursing
    • Campus: Philadelphia, PA
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $52,508/year
    • Admission Requirements: BSN, active RN license, professional experience (requirements vary by track), minimum 3.0 GPA preferred
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.8%
    • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $109,193
  6. University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $11617

    Description:

    The University of Central Florida's online MSN program features tracks in healthcare simulation, nurse educator, and leadership and management. Founded in 1979, the College of Nursing employs more than 60 faculty members.

    MSN degree-seekers gain clinical experience and complete an evidence-based practice project. Students learn about nursing leadership strategies, how to improve systems of care, and nursing research methods.

    Details:

    • Program(s): Master of science in nursing
    • Campus: Orlando, FL
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $370/credit (in state), $1,194/credit (out of state)
    • Admission Requirements: BSN, RN license, undergraduate statistics course, minimum 3.0 GPA, BSN or three prerequisite courses with an unrelated bachelor's degree, an AS, or a diploma in nursing
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 24-36 months
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.6%
    • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $91,363
  7. California State University-Fullerton
    Location

    Fullerton, CA

    Tuition

    $8294

    Description:

    The RN-to-nurse practitioner program at Cal State Fullerton offers tracks in leadership, nurse educator, women's healthcare, and school nursing. Learners can pursue some tracks fully online. Course topics explore nursing research, advanced pathophysiology, advanced pharmacology, and advanced health assessment.

    Details:

    • Program(s): Master of science in nursing
    • Campus: Fullerton, CA
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $4,207/semester (in state), $4,207 $396/credit (out of state)
    • Admission Requirements: California RN license, BSN or bachelor's in a related field, minimum 3.0 GPA, work experience (requirement varies by concentration)
    • Minimum Time Commitment: Varies by concentration
    • On-Campus Requirements: Varies by concentration
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.6%
    • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $114,595
  8. California State University-Long Beach
    Location

    Long Beach, CA

    Tuition

    $9903

    Description:

    CSULB offers an RN-to-NP program with tracks in family nurse practitioner, pediatric primary care nurse practitioner, and psychiatric-mental health. Core coursework examines research and health assessment for advanced nursing practice. Degree-seekers learn about human diversity and psychosocial issues in healthcare.

    Details:

    • Program(s): Master of science in nursing
    • Campus: Long Beach, CA
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $8,280/year (in state), $7,128/year (out of state)
    • Admission Requirements: BSN; California RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA; prerequisites in statistics, pathophysiology, physical/health assessment
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 99.3%
    • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $118,210
  9. University of South Florida-Main Campus
    Location

    Tampa, FL

    Tuition

    $9787

    Description:

    USF students can pursue an RN-to-nurse practitioner program designed for working professionals. Concentration options include adult/gerontology primary care, family health nursing, pediatric health nursing, and adult/gerontology acute care nursing. The MSN curriculum emphasizes clinical prevention, nursing education, acute care, and health management.

    Details:

    • Program(s): Master of science in nursing
    • Campus: Tampa, FL
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $431/credit (in state), $877/credit (out of state)
    • Admission Requirements: BSN or a bachelor's in a relevant field, RN license
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94%
    • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $97,850
  10. University of Rochester
    Location

    Rochester, NY

    Description:

    Rochester's RN-to-NP program features six concentrations. Learners can specialize in pediatric nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, or family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Loretta Ford, the School of Nursing's founding dean, contributed to the creation of the nurse practitioner role.

    Details:

    • Program(s): Master of science in nursing
    • Campus: Rochester, NY
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $1,640/credit
    • Admission Requirements: BSN, minimum 3.0 GPA, New York RN license, statistics course, clinical experience (for some specialties)
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 2-3 years
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95.1%
    • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $95,073

Helpful ADN-to-MSN Bridge Program FAQs


Can you bridge from ADN-to-MSN?

Many MSN programs offer a bridge RN-to-NP option if you already hold an ADN but not a BSN, or if you hold a bachelor's degree in another field. Most RN to nurse practitioner programs require at least two years of experience as an RN. These bridge RN-to-NP programs typically take 3-4 years to complete, compared to two years for a regular MSN program.

How long does it take from ADN-to-MSN?

The length of an ADN-to-MSN (RN-to-NP) program depends on the program requirements and whether you attend as a full- or part-time student. For full-time students, it typically takes three years for completion, though some RN-to-NP programs take longer. Part-time learners typically need four years to complete the degree.

What is an ADN-to-MSN bridge program?

ADN-to-MSN bridge programs are an option for nurses with an ADN who want to enter a master's program. Most of these are RN-to-NP programs, though there are also bridge programs for other master's degrees. These programs take longer than traditional MSN programs, but typically less time than ADN-to-BSN-to-MSN options, which is why they're called accelerated NP programs.

Is RN-to-MSN worth it?

Financially, earning an MSN is an excellent investment, especially if you go from RN to nurse practitioner . The median salary for an APRN, according to the BLS, is $117,670. However, whether it's worth it for you depends on your career goals and academic and career strengths. Consider talking to a mentor or colleague who went through an RN-to-NP program for advice, and explore more resources on this site.

Popular Nursing Resources

Resources and articles written by professionals and other nurses like you.