The Best ADN-to-MSN (RN-to-NP) Bridge Programs 2024

Charmaine Robinson, MSN-Ed, BSN, RN
Updated April 16, 2024
Edited by
ADN-to-MSN bridge programs allow RNs to bypass BSN programs and earn a graduate degree. Discover the top ADN-to-MSN programs.
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Many nursing schools offer bridge programs to help registered nurses (RN) with associate degrees in nursing (ADN) quickly earn a master’s degree in nursing (MSN). ADN-to-MSN programs are similar to programs designed to train nurse practitioners (NP). Explore the top ADN-to-MSN programs to learn more.

Popular Online MSN Programs

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

#1 The Best ADN-to-MSN (RN-to-NP) Bridge Programs 2024

Carlow University

  • Location-markerPittsburgh, PA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$31,458
  • Out-of-state$31,458
  • Retention Rate76%
  • Acceptance Rate92%
  • Students Enrolled1,984
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment87%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 The Best ADN-to-MSN (RN-to-NP) Bridge Programs 2024

Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi

  • Location-markerCorpus Christi, TX
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,913
  • Out-of-state$15,299
  • Retention Rate55%
  • Acceptance Rate91%
  • Students Enrolled10,762
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment59%
  • AccreditationYes

Why Is ADN-to-MSN (RN-to-NP) Bridge Program Accreditation Important?

Nursing school accreditation helps certify that a program meets quality standards. Nursing programs, including MSN and bridge programs, must apply for accreditation and complete a rigorous peer-review process that can last several years. Accredited nursing programs follow specific guidelines outlined by the accrediting agency.

Accrediting agencies, including the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), only provide accreditation to programs that can appropriately prepare students to become nurses.

How Online ADN-to-MSN (RN-to-NP) Bridge Programs Work

Online ADN-to-MSN bridge programs provide various benefits to nurses looking to earn their MSNs without enrolling in an in-person program. When deciding between an in-person vs. online program, consider what format best fits your needs.

Programs may offer a variety of learning formats, including online discussion groups, asynchronous and synchronous learning, video lectures, podcasts, and digital tools that connect students with their instructors.

While many online programs allow you to attend classes from the comfort of your home, you must complete your clinical experience in person. Since nurses enrolled in an ADN-to-MSN program have their RN license, some schools require them to find their clinical site.

Applying to an ADN-to-MSN (RN-to-NP) Bridge Program

ADN-to-MSN bridge programs can help you earn an MSN without completing a BSN program first. These programs include both BSN and MSN coursework, allowing students to graduate sooner than if they had completed the programs separately. To apply for an ADN-to-MSN bridge program, applicants must have an ADN degree and an RN license.

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    Admission Materials

    Although requirements vary by program, applicants generally submit a resume, verified RN license, ADN program transcript, essay, and letter or letters of recommendation. Generally, applicants must also show proof of 108-135 completed undergraduate credits (72-90 semester credits).

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    GPA Requirement

    Applicants typically should have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, but some schools accept a 2.8.

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    Other Requirement

    Many schools require an application fee. Some schools also require clinical experience. International applicants must pass an English proficiency test.

Paying for ADN-to-MSN (RN-to-NP) Bridge Programs

Program cost plays a significant role in choosing an ADN-to-MSN bridge program. Students who enroll in an online program can often avoid the costs associated with on-campus programs (e.g., room and board, transportation fees, etc.).

Tuition can also vary based on school reputation, public or private institution status, program length, and full- or part-time enrollment.

Financial aid can lower costs or help pay for your nursing program. You can apply for scholarships, loans, and grants to help reduce out-of-pocket expenses.

Scholarships and grants often provide funds based on merit, need, or academic performance. Loans consist of borrowed money you must pay back upon program completion.

Using Our Rankings: What to Look for in an ADN-to-MSN (RN-to-NP) Bridge Program

When looking to enroll in an ADN-to-MSN bridge program, pay close attention to components, such as a program’s prerequisites, curriculum, accreditation, and length, to make sure it fits your academic and professional goals.

Admission Requirements

Reviewing a program’s admission requirements before applying is crucial in determining whether you meet the prerequisites for acceptance.


NP programs require students to select a specialty or focus, so confirm that your specialization is available through the school.

Program Curriculum

Familiarity with a school’s curriculum can help you identify the program’s subject matter. You can then choose a program with a broad curriculum to help you explore your options or a specific focus.

Clinical Experience

Identify clinical experience requirements, such as when to complete your hours, available locations, and length.


Accreditation indicates that a program successfully prepares students for a career in nursing. Most employers only hire graduates from accredited programs.

Program Length

Completing an ADN-to-MSN bridge program can take 24-36 months of full-time study. However, graduation timelines may vary according to the student’s enrollment status and the program’s structure.

School NCLEX Pass Rate

While applicants of ADN-to-MSN bridge programs have already passed the NCLEX, identifying the school’s pass rate still offers insight into its ability to prepare its students, showcasing the program’s strength overall.

School Graduation Rate

A school’s graduation rate demonstrates the percentage of students who complete their program and finish it on time. A low graduation rate may indicate a lack of academic support or a poorly organized program.

Online Learning Format and Requirements

Online programs often provide more flexibility than in-person ones by offering synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous formats. Other programs may provide a hybrid option of online and in-person courses. The best format depends on your needs and preferred learning style.

What Can You Do With a Degree from an ADN-to-MSN Program?

After completing an ADN-to-MSN program, you must pass a national board certification exam based on your chosen specialty to become a licensed NP. Specializations include areas such as family, adult gerontology, and psychiatric mental health.

While all NPs share similar responsibilities, such as evaluating patients, ordering and interpreting diagnostics screenings, and diagnosing/treating chronic and acute conditions, their autonomy differs among states, especially in prescribing medication.

NPs in full-practice states can prescribe medication and controlled substances without physician oversight. Those in reduced-practice states can prescribe certain medications under the supervision of a physician. NPs in restricted-practice states work entirely under a physician’s supervision.

Frequently Asked Questions About ADN-to-MSN (RN-to-NP) Bridge Programs

To become an NP, you need to earn at least an MSN. Enroll in an ADN-to-MSN program and choose your specialty (family practice, adult gerontology, psychiatric mental health, etc.). After graduation, you must take a state exam to receive a license to practice as an NP in your state.

Are You Ready to Earn Your Online Nursing Degree?

Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.