The Best RN-to-MSN Programs (No BSN Required) of 2022
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.
Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Featured Online MSN Programs
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
- Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
- Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs
- Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education
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.
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