Most Affordable Online MSN Programs

February 21, 2022 , Modified on May 11, 2022 · 3 Min Read

Earning an MSN can lead to a great career as an APRN or other specialty. Explore the best affordable online MSN programs and how to apply.

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Most Affordable Online MSN Programs

Earning a master of science in nursing (MSN) is a great career investment. Advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) or other high-level nursing jobs offer professional autonomy, a chance to impact lives, and high salaries. Prospective students can find many affordable online MSN programs.

This guide explores how to find a high-quality program within your budget. Keep reading to learn about the best options for you.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the most affordable online 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.

Find out more about the most affordable online MSN programs, or go straight to our list of the most affordable online MSN programs.

How Do Online MSN Programs Work?

Online MSN programs give you the same diploma as on-campus programs, and you can save on room, board, and travel. You may even be able to work part time while earning your MSN.

MSN programs typically take two years to complete. Going part time or registered nurse (RN)-to-MSN programs can take longer, and accelerated nursing programs take less time.

The curriculum covers advanced topics in nursing, including anatomy and physiology. It also explores topics not covered in the RN curriculum, such as assessment and pharmacology. These classes prepare you to diagnose conditions and prescribe medications.

If you are studying for a nurse practitioner (NP) program, you can specialize in a particular population, such as adult-geriatric care or pediatrics. Students also participate in clinical hours, so ask if the program offers clinical placement near you.

Featured Online MSN Programs

Applying to an Online MSN Program

While admission criteria differ by online MSN program, students can expect a minimum 3.0 GPA requirement. Colleges and universities may accept a lower GPA if candidates possess substantial work experience or high test scores.

Schools that offer distance education increasingly exclude standardized testing. However, many schools still require GRE results. Prospective graduate students also need to complete prerequisite undergraduate coursework. Topics include statistics, biology, human anatomy, developmental psychology, nutrition, and human physiology.

Because graduate programs build on established skills, students generally need relevant work experience detailed in a personal statement, resume/CV, and professional recommendations. Graduate programs exist for diverse students, including RNs with their bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), nurses without a BSN, and professionals with undergraduate degrees in another field.

Why Is Online MSN Program Accreditation Important?

Some institutions promise an affordable online MSN program but lack accreditation. However, unaccredited programs are an unnecessary risk to your time and money. Nursing school accreditation means that an impartial group of assessors, both academics and professionals, have evaluated the program to determine if it prepares students to practice safely.

Because unaccredited programs don't have this assurance of quality, certification boards require that applicants earn their degree from an accredited school. Even if you don't need certification to practice, few employers consider graduates of unaccredited programs.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Affordable Online MSN Programs

Are MSN programs worth it?

MSN programs prepare you for careers that pay well, put your skill set in demand, and give you high levels of professional autonomy and satisfaction. These include NP, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist, clinical nurse specialist, nurse informatics, and nurse administrator roles.

How fast can I get my MSN?

If you have a BSN, an MSN program can take two years of full-time study. If you have an associate degree in nursing, a nursing license or a bachelor's degree in another subject, and all prerequisite coursework completed, many affordable online MSN programs offer bridge or accelerated programs.

What is the future outlook for a nurse practitioner?

NP jobs are among the fastest-growing in the United States. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 52% job growth for NPs between 2020 and 2030. The median salary for an NP is $111,680. Affordable online MSN programs can put this career within your reach.

What is the highest-paying nursing specialty?

The highest-paying nursing job is nurse anesthetist, but there are many high-paying MSN jobs. Careers like nurse anesthetist and NP require APRN licenses. Other titles, such as nurse administrator, do not require additional licensing.

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