The Best RN-to-MSN Programs (No BSN Required) of 2022

February 25, 2022 , Modified on June 23, 2022 · 6 Min Read

An advanced degree in medicine can open doors to various professional opportunities. Review a breakdown of how to earn an MSN without first needing a BSN.

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 RN-to-MSN Programs (No BSN Required) of 2022
Credit: sturti / E+ / Getty Images

If you are a registered nurse (RN), you may be interested in advancing your career by earning a master of science in nursing (MSN). There are many benefits to earning a graduate nursing degree. For example, the potential job growth rate for nurses who have earned their MSN is 45%, much greater than most other careers.

This guide covers some of the best RN-to-MSN programs that do not require a BSN. We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best RN-to-MSN 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 RN-to-MSN programs (with no BSN required), or go straight to our list of the best RN-to-MSN programs.

What Can You Do With an MSN?

Earning an MSN degree opens up a variety of professional opportunities for nurses. After completing the program, nurses benefit from an increase in salary and can hold higher positions in advanced specialties.

msn or dnp Required
High Demand

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners (NP) perform many of the same duties as licensed physicians. They diagnose and treat patients as well as prescribe medication.

The role of an NP is to counsel patients on their health needs, monitor recovery and treatment, prescribe medication, and diagnose injuries and illnesses.

NPs should communicate effectively, exhibit patience, analyze medical situations, and possess leadership skills.

Salary $99,060*
Job Outlook 45% growth from 2020 to 2030
Learn More About Nurse Practitioners
msn Required

Nurse Anesthetist

Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA) administer certain medications during surgery.

Specifically, CRNAs help prepare patients for surgery, administer anesthesia during the procedure, and oversee recovery from the medication.

CRNAs should typically have strong communication skills, compassion, and the ability to manage stress in high-pressure situations.

Certification Required

Salary $161,420*
Job Outlook 45% growth from 2020 to 2030
Learn More About Nurse Anesthetists
msn Required

Nurse Midwife

A certified nurse midwife (CNM) not only assists women through pregnancy and childbirth, but they also provide care to women throughout their entire lives.

Working in hospitals, schools, and private practices, CNMs practice in fetal development, pregnancy, newborn care, and family planning.

CNMs should be able to show empathy and concern for their patients, handle stress in intense medical situations, and communicate effectively.

Certification Required

Salary $97,790*
Job Outlook 45% growth from 2020 to 2030
Learn More About Nurse Midwives
*SOURCE: PayScale

Featured Online MSN Programs

Learn More About the Top RN-to-MSN (With No BSN Requirements) Programs and Schools

  1. Vanderbilt University
    Location

    Nashville, TN

    Vanderbilt's RN-to-MSN program prepares students for advanced-practice specialties in 14 areas. Applicants with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing major must complete 11 credits in natural science prerequisites. The program uses a hybrid format. Students attend some in-person classes with online components scheduled in concentrated blocks.

    • Program: MSN
    • Campus: Nashville, TN
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $1,793 per credit
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited university; associate degree in nursing or a diploma in nursing from an accredited program; current RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 2 years
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  2. Yale University
    Location

    New Haven, CT

    Yale's RN-to-MSN program prepares students for advanced practitioner and nursing leadership roles. The curriculum offers seven specialties. Learners can enroll full time or part time. ​​In their final year, enrollees can pursue one of four clinical concentrations that lead to certification. These include diabetes care, oncology, gender and sexuality health justice, and research.

    • Program: RN-to-MSN program
    • Campus: New Haven, CT
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $47,114 per year
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited university; associate degree in nursing or a diploma in nursing from an accredited program; current RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 2 years
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  3. University of Virginia-Main Campus
    Location

    Charlottesville, VA

    Tuition

    $17579

    One of the nation's top-ranked nursing schools, UVA offers an RN-to-CNL program for nurses interested in healthcare administration, nursing leadership, and policy. This accelerated part-time program requires 43 credits. Learners complete courses over two semesters. In their final semester, students complete a practicum followed by a clinical nurse leader (CNL) residency.

    • Program: RN-to-CNL program
    • Campus: Charlottesville, VA
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $871 per credit for Virginia residents; $1,432 for out-of-state-students
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited university; associate degree in nursing or a diploma in nursing from an accredited program; current RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 2 years
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $93,178 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
  4. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Johns Hopkins offers an accelerated MSN program that emphasizes leadership and global impact. Applicants with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field must take 17-21 prerequisite credits. Enrollees can complete prerequisites fully online. The curriculum covers topics such as pathophysiology, child health, and leadership for professional nursing.

    • Program: MSN (entry into nursing) program
    • Campus: Baltimore, MD
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $1,790 per credit
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited university in a non-nursing major; minimum 3.0 GPA
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 5 semesters
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 97.5% first-time pass rate
    • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $95,359 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
  5. University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $11617

    UCF's RN-to-MSN program is designed for licensed RNs with non-nursing bachelor degrees. The program runs fully online and features three tracks. These include nursing and healthcare simulation, nurse educator, and nursing leadership and management. Enrollees complete nine credits in upper-division nursing prerequisites before moving into graduate-level coursework. This program requires 31-36 credits, including clinical hours.

    • Program: RN-to-MSN program
    • Campus: Orlando, FL
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $370 per credit for Florida residents; $1,194 per credit for out-of-state students
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited university; associate degree in nursing or a diploma in nursing from an accredited program; current RN license
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 5 semesters
    • On-Campus Requirements: No
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.6% first-time pass rate
    • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $91,363 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
  6. California State University-Fullerton
    Location

    Fullerton, CA

    Tuition

    $8294

    One of 23 schools in the California State University system, CSUF offers an MSN in nursing leadership. The program runs fully online. However, enrollees must complete an in-person clinical practicum. Applicants with a non-nursing degree must pass a prerequisite course in community health nursing. They need a grade of "C" or better.

    • Program: MSN in nursing leadership
    • Campus: Fullerton, CA
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $2,082 for 6 credits or less; $3,588 for over 6 credits
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's in nursing or a related field from an accredited university; current RN license; at least one year of full-time nursing experience; minimum 3.0 GPA
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 2 years
    • On-Campus Requirements: No
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.6% first-time pass rate
    • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $114,595 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
  7. California State University-Long Beach
    Location

    Long Beach, CA

    Tuition

    $9903

    CSULB's master's-level nursing programs train learners for careers as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse educators. Graduates may also work as nurse executives or leaders in public health nursing. Students pursuing an RN-to-MSN degree can choose from several nurse practitioner specialties. They can also choose a concentration in nursing and health systems executive management.

    • Program: MSN
    • Campus: Long Beach, CA
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $2,082 for 6 credits or less; $3,588 for over 6 credits
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's from an accredited university in nursing or a related field; current RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 2 years
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 99.3% first-time pass rate
    • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $118,210 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
  8. University of Rochester
    Location

    Rochester, NY

    Rochester's accelerated RN-to-BS-to-MS program includes both online and in-person evening classes. Consistently ranked among the top nursing schools, Rochester boasts a 100% employment rate for its master's students within a year of graduation. RNs interested in careers as nurse educators, clinical nurse leaders, and healthcare systems leaders may apply.

    • Program: RN-to-BS-to-MS program
    • Campus: Rochester, NY
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $1,640 per credit
    • Admission Requirements: Associate degree in nursing or a diploma in nursing from an accredited program; current RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA
    • Minimum Time Commitment: Two years
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95% first-time pass rate
  9. Northeastern University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Northeastern offers a family nurse practitioner MS that admits RNs with at least one year of nursing experience. Students can enroll full time or part time. The 58-credit program uses a hybrid course delivery format. Online learners must attend on-campus meetings twice each semester.

    • Program: Family nurse practitioner MS
    • Campus: Boston, MA
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $1,685 per credit
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's from an accredited university in a non-nursing field with approval; current RN license; at least one year of full-time nursing experience; minimum 3.0 GPA
    • Minimum Time Commitment: Two years
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 85% first-time pass rate
    • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $110,878 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
  10. San Diego State University
    Location

    San Diego, CA

    Tuition

    $14499

    SDSU's master of science in nursing requires a minimum of 36 credits. Learners can enroll full time or part time. RNs with a non-nursing bachelor's degree must enroll in designated courses to fulfill upper-division prerequisites. They can then advance to graduate-level courses.

    • Program: MSN
    • Campus: San Diego, CA
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $3,071 for 6 credits or less; $4,577 for over 6 credits
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's from an accredited university in a non-nursing field with approval; current RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA
    • Minimum Time Commitment: Two years
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93.9% first-time pass rate
    • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $104,192 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard

What to Look For in an RN-to-MSN (With No BSN Requirements) Program

Choosing between RN-to-MSN programs is a personal decision. Certain metrics can provide an objective baseline for comparing programs, such as academic rigor, requirements for admission and completion, and graduation outcomes.

Consider the following factors.

Admission Requirements

These are the minimum qualifications you need to apply, including nursing license status, work experience, essays and letters of recommendation, and test scores. Checking the school's admission requirements ensures you are eligible for the program.

Program Curriculum

To get the most from an MSN program, the curriculum should match your career goals and provide the training and education you need to achieve them. Look at individual course requirements, program tracks, and the availability of your desired specialization.

Clinical Experience

Many MSN programs require clinical rotations as part of the curriculum. An in-person clinical rotation is a requirement for online programs to be accredited. Some schools require students to complete their clinical hours in specific facilities, while others allow students to work in a facility of their choice close to home. Consider how the clinical requirements will coincide with your other responsibilities or employment.

Accreditation

Nurses must graduate from an accredited nursing program to qualify for certification exams and licensure. Accreditation ensures that the program adheres to the standards and expectations of state licensing boards, so choosing a school accredited in your state is vital to your career.

School NCLEX Pass Rate

All nursing programs prepare nurses for the NCLEX-RN exam for licensure with varying degrees of success. The higher the pass rate, the better prepared students are to take the test and deliver high-quality patient care.

While the NCLEX-RN is most relevant to those pursuing an RN license, it remains a good indicator of the nursing program's quality, even for advanced nursing programs.


Applying to an RN-to-MSN (With No BSN Requirements) Program

RN-to-MSN programs are bridge programs that allow RNs who do not have a bachelor's degree to work on a graduate and a bachelor's degree at the same time. With that in mind, applicants must have a background in nursing with a valid nursing license in the state where they wish to complete their practicum hours and meet the following requirements.

Admission Requirements: Associate degree or diploma in nursing; active RN license; recommendations; personal statement or essay Program Length: 2-3 years Clinical Requirements: Typically 1-2 years of nursing experience GPA Requirement: Typically 2.5 or above Other Requirements: Some programs require GRE scores, criminal background checks, or personal interviews.

Why Is Program Accreditation Important?

Choosing an accredited school for your RN-to-MSN is important for your education and career prospects for several reasons:

  • Some states only license nurses who graduate from accredited programs.
  • Accreditation ensures your education meets quality standards.
  • Credits earned at unaccredited schools may not transfer if you decide to change programs.
  • Employers may not hire nurses who graduate from unaccredited programs.
  • An MSN from an accredited program is a requirement for applying to doctor of nursing practice programs.
  • You may not be eligible for federal financial aid if you attend a nonaccredited school.

Who Accredits RN-to-MSN (With No BSN Requirements) Programs?

How Do I Know an RN-to-MSN (With No BSN Requirements) Is Accredited?

You can confirm an RN-to-MSN program's accreditation by checking with the specific accrediting organizations. All accrediting bodies listed above maintain up-to-date lists of approved programs.

Nursing programs also detail their accreditation status on their website or program information page.

Any program listed on this page, or any NurseJournal.org list or page, is accredited.

Paying for RN-to-MSN (With No BSN Requirements) Programs

Paying for any graduate program depends on many factors. Costs for RN-to-MSN programs vary based on the number of credits required, whether you qualify for in-state tuition at public universities, and whether you can continue to work while attending classes.

Tuition is not the only expense to consider. Some schools have a residency requirement as well, which can add to overall costs. Books, supplies, and lab fees can also increase your bill.

There are many financial aid options available at this level, however. In addition to student loans, you may qualify for scholarships and grants from schools, private organizations, and businesses. Many employers also offer tuition assistance or tuition reimbursement programs for qualified employees, which can significantly reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.

Helpful RN-to-MSN Program (No BSN Requirements) FAQs


Can you go straight from RN-to-MSN?

It is possible to go straight from an RN to an MSN without a BSN. Programs that offer this option typically take less time to complete. These programs provide RNs with the opportunity to become an advanced practice nurse in a short amount of time, opening up the ability to hold more advanced positions sooner.

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

RN-to-MSN programs typically take 2-3 years to complete for a full-time student. The exact length can vary from one institution to the next. Shorter programs can take around 15 months, while longer programs can take up to 30 months to complete. Part-time learners may require more time to graduate.

What is an RN BSN-to-MSN program?

An RN-to-MSN program is designed for RNs who want to pursue advanced nurse practitioner careers. Within these accelerated MSN bridge programs, nurses earn their BSN and MSN at the same time. Being able to complete both degrees simultaneously allows nurses to finish the program in less time than it would take to earn the BSN and MSN individually.

Can you get an MSN in one year?

There are some MSN programs that students can complete in a year, which are usually offered online. These programs allow students to save money and enter the workforce faster. Nurses are also able to focus on a specialization of their choosing. Considering the current nursing shortage, enrolling in an accelerated MSN program allows nurses to alleviate the burden on the healthcare system more quickly.

Popular Nursing Resources

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