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

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Updated November 22, 2022

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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 of 2022
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.




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 Nursing Programs

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 of 2022

Vanderbilt University

  • Nashville, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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%
Average Tuition
In-state
$50,800
Out-of-state
$50,800
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
9%
Students Enrolled
13,131
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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

Yale University

  • New Haven, CT
  • 4 years
  • Campus

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
Average Tuition
In-state
$55,500
Out-of-state
$55,500
Retention Rate
99%
Admission Rate
6%
Students Enrolled
13,609
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
0% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

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

University of Virginia-Main Campus

  • Charlottesville, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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
Average Tuition
In-state
$14,970
Out-of-state
$47,833
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
24%
Students Enrolled
25,012
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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

Johns Hopkins University

  • Baltimore, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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
Average Tuition
In-state
$55,350
Out-of-state
$55,350
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
11%
Students Enrolled
27,079
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

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

University of Pennsylvania

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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
Average Tuition
In-state
$51,156
Out-of-state
$51,156
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
8%
Students Enrolled
26,675
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

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

University of Central Florida

  • Orlando, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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
Average Tuition
In-state
$4,478
Out-of-state
$19,810
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
44%
Students Enrolled
69,402
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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

California State University-Fullerton

  • Fullerton, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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
Average Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
53%
Students Enrolled
40,445
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

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

California State University-Long Beach

  • Long Beach, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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
Average Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
39%
Students Enrolled
38,674
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

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

University of South Florida-Main Campus

  • Tampa, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

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
Average Tuition
In-state
$4,559
Out-of-state
$15,473
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
48%
Students Enrolled
44,246
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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

University of Rochester

  • Rochester, NY
  • 4 years
  • Campus

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
Average Tuition
In-state
$55,040
Out-of-state
$55,040
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
30%
Students Enrolled
12,233
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
7% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

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.

1. Admission Requirements

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

2. Admission Materials

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

3. 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.

1. Admission Requirements

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

2. Specializations

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.

3. 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.

4. Clinical Experience

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

5. Accreditation

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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.


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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