The Most Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

Alexa Davidson, MSN, RN
Updated April 9, 2024
Edited by
Reviewed by
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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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Earning a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree can prepare you for an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) career as a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or nurse educator. However, earning this degree also requires a significant investment of time and money.

This guide to the cheapest online MSN programs can help you find the right program for your budget. Explore these affordable and accredited programs to take the next step in your nursing career.

Popular Online MSN Programs

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

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The Most Affordable Online MSN Programs

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

#1 The Most Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

Western Governors University

  • Location-markerSalt Lake City, UT
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,162
  • Out-of-state$7,162
  • Retention Rate63%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled150,116
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment0%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 The Most Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

Vanderbilt University

  • Location-markerNashville, TN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$54,840
  • Out-of-state$54,840
  • Retention Rate97%
  • Acceptance Rate7%
  • Students Enrolled13,796
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment11%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 The Most Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

University of Rochester

  • Location-markerRochester, NY
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$58,276
  • Out-of-state$58,276
  • Retention Rate91%
  • Acceptance Rate41%
  • Students Enrolled12,039
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment14%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 The Most Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

Stony Brook University

  • Location-markerStony Brook, NY
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,070
  • Out-of-state$24,990
  • Retention Rate89%
  • Acceptance Rate48%
  • Students Enrolled26,608
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment66%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 The Most Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

Cedarville University

  • Location-markerCedarville, OH
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$33,174
  • Out-of-state$33,174
  • Retention Rate86%
  • Acceptance Rate62%
  • Students Enrolled4,643
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment39%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 The Most Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

Ramapo College of New Jersey

  • Location-markerMahwah, NJ
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$14,952
  • Out-of-state$24,694
  • Retention Rate87%
  • Acceptance Rate70%
  • Students Enrolled5,732
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment85%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 The Most Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

Texas A & M University-College Station

  • Location-markerCollege Station, TX
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$8,578
  • Out-of-state$35,378
  • Retention Rate93%
  • Acceptance Rate64%
  • Students Enrolled72,530
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment38%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 The Most Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

Samford University

  • Location-markerBirmingham, AL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$34,410
  • Out-of-state$34,410
  • Retention Rate89%
  • Acceptance Rate84%
  • Students Enrolled5,758
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment29%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 The Most Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

CUNY Graduate School and University Center

  • Location-markerNew York, NY
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$6,930
  • Out-of-state$14,880
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled9,017
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment93%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 The Most Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

Northeastern State University

  • Location-markerTahlequah, OK
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$6,000
  • Out-of-state$14,640
  • Retention Rate61%
  • Acceptance Rate99%
  • Students Enrolled7,025
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment78%
  • AccreditationYes

How do Affordable Online MSN Programs Work?

A master’s degree in nursing allows registered nurses (RNs) to broaden their nursing practice by specializing in their area of choice. In an MSN program, enrollees can learn about healthcare systems, technology, and health assessments.

Online MSN programs allow nurses to pursue degrees on a timeline that suits their schedules. They typically offer a flexible school schedule to accommodate nurses working in a clinical setting.

An MSN can take eighteen months to three years to complete, depending on the nursing school. If you enroll in a self-paced program, you can often add more classes to a term as you complete them, allowing you to earn your degree faster and save on tuition costs.

One of the biggest challenges of an online MSN program is getting used to a virtual learning platform. If you’ve been out of school for a while, don’t let this intimidate you — you’ll have plenty of resources, such as mentors or nursing professors, to help you get through the learning curve.

To be successful in an online program, you should have skills such as

  • Resourcefulness. Don’t be afraid to contact professors or instructors with coursework questions. They maintain virtual office hours to be available for questions or clarification about learning objectives.
  • Organization. Staying organized while managing online coursework and a personal life is crucial. Try to keep a system — like folders on your computer or within the learning portal — to stay on top of assignments and deadlines.
  • Persistence. Nursing school is hard work, but remember, it’s only temporary. Always keep your long-term goals in mind as you work toward them.

Courses Taken

  • Informatics
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Organizational leadership
  • Comprehensive health assessment
  • Policy, politics, and global health trends


  • Family nurse practitioner
  • Adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner
  • Nursing education
  • Nursing informatics
  • Nursing leadership and administration
  • Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
  • Pediatric nurse practitioner

Skills Learned

In an online program, you can gain the skills that set you up for success in an advanced nursing role. Your coursework provides a broader perspective of health systems and healthcare administration. Examples of skills you can develop include:

  • Advanced health assessments
  • Ethical decision-making
  • Advanced technology application
  • Determining levels of evidence in research

Applying to an Affordable Online MSN Program

Almost all MSN programs require at least one year of nursing experience. You must also have a current and unencumbered RN license. Other typical requirements are a bachelor’s degree, a clean background check, and a 3.0 undergraduate GPA.

Some schools accept applications during certain times of the year, while others allow for year-round admission. Give yourself ample time to prepare your application, write your essay, and organize your recommendations.

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    Admission Materials

    Programs typically request a BSN degree, RN licensure, and clinical nursing experience. Schools may also require an admission fee and a background check.

    You may need to submit transcripts from your undergraduate nursing program. These documents are often sent directly from your nursing school, so check with your undergrad program for assistance. Most MSN programs require the completion of a statistics course with a C or higher.

  • chevron-right

    GPA Requirement

    You’ll usually need a 3.0 grade point average from an undergraduate nursing degree to apply for an online MSN program.

Why is Affordable Online MSN Program Accreditation Important?

You’re putting your hard work and money into an advanced nursing degree, so you want to know your program is valid. Before applying for a program, ensure it has received accreditation, a status that indicates experts have determined that the school meets rigorous quality standards.

In other words, when you graduate, you’ll be prepared to practice nursing safely and effectively. All programs in our ranking of the cheapest MSN programs are accredited.

Frequently Asked Questions About Affordable Online MSN Programs

Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by Page last reviewed on March 10, 2024.