The Best ADN-to-MSN (RN-to-NP) Bridge Programs 2023


Updated July 24, 2023

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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.

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Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

The Best ADN-to-MSN (RN-to-NP) Bridge Programs 2023
Credit: sturti / E+ / Getty Images

Bridge programs allow nurses to earn a more advanced degree on an accelerated timeline. Those with an associate degree in nursing (ADN) can enroll in a bridge program to earn their master's degree in nursing (MSN).

ADN to MSN bridge programs let you become a licensed nurse practitioner (NP) in significantly less time than earning your bachelor's degree first.

Keep reading to learn more about the best ADN-to-MSN (RN to NP) programs and what to consider when choosing the right one for you.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best ADN-to-MSN (RN to NP) 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.

At a Glance: The Top 2 ADN-to-MSN (RN to NP) Bridge Programs

  1. Carlow University
  2. Barry University

Keep reading to learn more about the key factors to consider when choosing a program, or go straight to our ranking of the best ADN-to-MSN (RN to NP) bridge programs.

Featured Online MSN Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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

Choosing to attend a school with an accredited program provides the following advantages:

  • Accreditation indicates the program meets quality standards. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and/or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education only provide accreditation to programs that can appropriately prepare students for their role as nurses.
  • Credits earned in unaccredited programs may not transfer to accredited ones.
  • Students who attend unaccredited programs may be ineligible to receive federal financial aid.
  • Most employers prefer to hire graduates of accredited programs.

Learn More About the Best ADN-to-MSN (RN to NP) Bridge Programs & Schools

See our methodology to learn more about how we create our rankings.

#1 The Best ADN-to-MSN (RN-to-NP) Bridge Programs 2023

Carlow University

  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Carlow University offers an ADN-to-MSN program for future family nurse practitioners (FNPs). The program has a 97% American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and a 100% American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certification exam pass rate. 

Classes take place primarily online, with two on-campus evening classes each month. The curriculum also includes 600 clinical hours. 

Students can attend on a full- or part-time basis. The program emphasizes collaboration and teamwork, encouraging students to develop their peer networks early. 

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing: family nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $918 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: 3.0 GPA (students with a lower GPA may be eligible for provisional admission); two references; essay; transcripts from all degree-granting programs; resume or CV
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 28 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 92.78% 2021-2022
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $91,798 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Undergrad Tuition
Average Graduate Tuition
Retention Rate
Admission Rate
Students Enrolled
Institution Type
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#2 The Best ADN-to-MSN (RN-to-NP) Bridge Programs 2023

Barry University

  • Miami, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Barry University's RN-to-NP program offers specialties in family nursing (FNP) and in adult-gerontology acute care (AGACNP). Nursing students receive a 25% discount on the standard tuition fee. 

For clinical placement, students receive a list of approved preceptors, but must make the arrangements themselves. Except for the first term, which requires three classes, students take only two courses at a time. 

As of 2020, the board pass rate for FNPs was 96.88% and for 93.55% for AGACNPs.

  • Program: Master of science in nursing – family nurse practitioner, adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Miami, Florida
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $990 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: Florida RN license; at least one year of experience as an RN; 3.0 GPA or higher; "B" or higher in undergraduate nursing research and statistics, with the statistics course within the last five years
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 28 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021/2022): 77.1%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $113,889 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Undergrad Tuition
Average Graduate Tuition
Retention Rate
Admission Rate
Students Enrolled
Institution Type
Percent Online Enrollment
23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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 MSN without enrolling in an in-person program. When deciding between anin-person vs. online program, consider the format that works best for you.

Online programs are eligible for accreditation and, therefore, can provide the same quality education as their in-person counterparts. They also provide the flexibility that working nurses need to take their classes and continue their professional work.

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 need to 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 own clinical site.

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

Before applying to an ADN-to-MSN program, determine if you meet the conditions for acceptance. While specific prerequisites may vary from one institution to the next, many programs accept applicants who fulfill the same general requirements.

  • Admission Requirements

    Applicants need an unencumbered RN license and an ADN from an accredited program.
  • Admission Materials

    General admission materials include your resume, transcripts from your ADN program, and letters of recommendation.
  • GPA Requirement

    3.0 GPA or higher

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 choose to 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.

You have numerousfinancial aid options available to lower costs or get helppaying for your nursing program. You can apply for scholarships, loans, and/or grants to help reduce your 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 like a program’s prerequisites, curriculum, accreditation, and length to make sure it is appropriate for 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.


Because NP programs require students to select a specialty or focus, you should confirm that the specialization you want to focus on is an available option at the school.

Program Curriculum

Being familiar with a school's curriculum can help you identify the program's subject matter. You can then choose a program with either a broad curriculum to help you explore your options, or one with a specific focus.

Clinical Experience

Identify clinical experience requirements such as when you need to complete your hours, available locations, and how long the clinicals last.


Accreditation indicates that a program provides the curriculum and experiences necessary to successfully prepare students for a career in nursing. Most employers will hire graduates from accredited programs only.

Program Length

It can take 24-36 months of full-time study to complete an ADN-to-MSN bridge program. 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 strength of the program overall.

School Graduation Rate

A school's graduation rate indicates the percentage of students who not only complete their program but 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 their in-person counterparts by offering synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous (student’s own time) formats. Other programs may provide a hybrid option, which consists 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 anADN-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 when it comes to prescribing medication.

NPs in full-practice states can prescribe medication and controlled substances without physician oversight; NPs 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.

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

FNPs provide primary care to patients of all ages. Their responsibilities include performing physical exams, providing preventative care, and conducting check-ups. As of 2020, the AANP reports median annual salaries of $110,000 for FNPs.

Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP)

AGNPs focus on treating adult and elderly populations by providing either acute or chronic care. Acute care AGNPs treat patients with brief but severe medical conditions, whereas chronic care AGNPs treat patients with long-term issues. As of 2020, the AANP reports a median annual salary of $110,000 for AGNPs.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)

PMHNPs assess, diagnose, and treat people, families, or groups living with mental health conditions. They often work in psychiatric facilities, substance use programs, and outpatient clinics. As of 2020, the AANP reports a median annual salary of $129,000 for PMHNPs.

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

How long does it take to go from RN to MSN?

Full-time students enrolled in an ADN-to-MSN bridge program can complete it in as little as 24-36 months. However, the length can vary depending on the specific institution or if the program is part-time.

Does an ADN-to-MSN program award a BSN?

Some ADN-to-MSN programs award students a BSN once the specific requirements to earn one have been met. Others may provide both a BSN and MSN upon completion of the program in its entirety.

What are the pros and cons of an ADN-to-MSN bridge program?

Nursing bridge programs allow nurses to earn their master’s in as little as half the time it would take to earn an MSN traditionally. The shorter length of the program and the ability for students to work while pursuing their degree helps make this route more affordable.

While bridge programs are shorter, they still cover the same material provided in traditional BSN and MSN programs. Therefore, some students may struggle with the fast-paced nature of the coursework.

Is an RN-to-MSN program worth it?

Nurses with an MSN benefit from a higher earning potential and increased employment opportunities when compared to RNs with an ADN or BSN. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics,RNs earn an average yearly salary of $77,600 with a 6% projected increase in employment, whileNPs earn $120,680 with a 46% projected increase in employment.

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Page last reviewed October 10, 2022. The ranking list and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by our Rankings Team.

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