Most Affordable Online MSN Programs

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Updated December 6, 2022

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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Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

A young Caucasian female nursing student is taking notes during her professor's lecture. She is sitting down at a desk and wearing light blue scrubs. Her classmates are pictured behind her taking notes. Credit: SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images

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.

Learn More About the Most Affordable Online MSN Programs and Schools

#1 Most Affordable Online MSN Programs

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

  • Edinburg, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley features fully online MSN degrees in nursing education and nursing administration.

Nursing students complete 36 credits. One of the most affordable online MSN programs available, this degree requires core courses in theoretical foundations of nursing, research, statistics, nursing informatics, advanced leadership, holistic approach to chronic disorders, and evidence-based nursing practice. 

Degree-seekers get hands-on nursing experience through a clinical practicum or capstone course. Applicants must apply by August 1. 

  • Program: Master of science in nursing degree - nursing administration
  • Campus: Brownsville, TX
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $528 per credit for Texas residents; $936 per credit for out-of-state residents
  • Admission Requirements: BSN degree; complete undergraduate statistics course; short essay; RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA; proof of immunizations
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 92.5% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $106,421 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$6,664
Out-of-state
$16,792
Retention Rate
76%
Admission Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
29,113
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
51% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Most Affordable Online MSN Programs

The University of West Florida

  • Pensacola, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of West Florida, with some of the most affordable online MSN programs, prepares students to become family nurse practitioners in 27-30 months. 

The 45-credit MSN degree gives students 600 practicum experience hours. Courses provide specialized training in care of adults, children and families, and women's health with accompanying practicums.

Students must study full time. They have the option of taking a summer immersion workshop for a fee to learn basic nursing skills, such as skin biopsies and wound closures.

UWF, which accepts up to nine transfer credits, also features MSN concentrations in nurse educators and nurse executives. 

  • Program: Master of science in nursing degree - family nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Pensacola, FL
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $500 per credit for MSN students
  • Admission Requirements: BSN degree from an accredited nursing school; RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA; completed undergraduate statistics course
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 27 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 91.5% first-time pass rate
Average Tuition
In-state
$3,735
Out-of-state
$16,004
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
31%
Students Enrolled
12,557
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
66% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 Most Affordable Online MSN Programs

Texas A & M International University

  • Laredo, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Texas A&M International University features one of the most affordable online MSN programs that students can complete in as few as 10 months. 

TAMIU's fully online MSN degree trains students for nursing administration careers with a curriculum that incorporates finance, organizational behavior, research methods, policy and social justice, and leadership. 

The program includes 31 credits, or 10 courses, that students take in shortened seven-week semesters. Students also complete 180 clinical hours.

  • Program: Master of science in nursing degree - nursing administration
  • Campus: Laredo, TX
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $11,377 total tuition for Texas residents; $31,930 total tuition for out-of-state residents
  • Admission Requirements: BSN degree from an accredited school; minimum 3.0 GPA; RN license; one year of nursing experience; complete undergraduate statistics course
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 10 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95.8% first-time pass rate
Average Tuition
In-state
$3,818
Out-of-state
$13,946
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
54%
Students Enrolled
8,305
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Most Affordable Online MSN Programs

Johns Hopkins University

  • Baltimore, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Johns Hopkins University features one of the most affordable online MSN programs that trains students for careers in organizational leadership.

The 35-credit MSN degree, with a track in organizational leadership, requires 504 clinical hours. Students learn health finance, leadership, healthcare quality and safety, and an organizational leadership practice. 

Johns Hopkins also offers an on-campus pre-licensure MSN degree that emphasizes a generalist education and a dual master of business administration degree. MSN degrees require 35-67 credits, which take about 16-30 months.

  • Program: Master of science in nursing degree - healthcare organizational leadership
  • Campus: Baltimore, MD
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $21,480 per year for full-time MSN students; $10,740 per year for part-time students
  • Admission Requirements: BSN degree or master's degree from an accredited school; minimum 3.0 GPA; official transcripts; three letters of recommendation; goal statement; resume; complete an interview with a faculty member; current RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 16 months
  • 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
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 Most Affordable Online MSN Programs

California State University-Dominguez Hills

  • Carson, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

California State University-Dominguez Hills offers one of the most affordable online MSN programs with concentrations to train graduates to become administrators, educators, family nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists.

Graduate students complete 32 credits that include core coursework in advanced nursing roles, healthcare policy and economics, health promotion, research, and nursing ethics.

CSUDH also offers an MSN degree for clinical nurses specialists with tracks in adult gerontology and pediatrics.

  • Program: Master of science in nursing degree
  • Campus: Carson, CA
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $5,742 per year for California residents; $396 per credit for out-of-state residents
  • Admission Requirements: BSN degree from an accredited school; minimum 3.0 GPA; current RN license; complete prerequisites; resume and letter of intent
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $117,274 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Retention Rate
77%
Admission Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
17,977
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
51% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#6 Most Affordable Online MSN Programs

University of Central Florida

  • Orlando, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Central Florida's MSN degree educates current registered nurses who have a non-nursing bachelor's degree.

Degree-seekers choose from three tracks in nursing and healthcare simulation, nurse educator, and nursing leadership and management. Students complete 31-36 credits, depending on their chosen specialty. 

UFC, with some of the most affordable online MSN programs, allows students to study part time or full time. Full-time students can apply for fellowships and graduate assistantships. All online learners benefit from fee waivers for athletic, technology, health, transportation, and activity fees.

  • Program: Master of science in nursing degree - nursing and healthcare simulation, nurse educator, nursing leadership and management
  • Campus: Orlando, FL
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $327 per credit for MSN students
  • Admission Requirements: RNs need a bachelor's degree and an associate in nursing degree or diploma; complete prerequisites; transcripts; resume; three references
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • 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
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 Most Affordable Online MSN Programs

Vanderbilt University

  • Nashville, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Vanderbilt University's MSN degree prepares current RNs to work in an emergency care facility with an optional part-time format.

One of the most affordable online MSN programs, this degree admits students who work as RNs and hold an associate in nursing degree or diploma. Students benefit from small classes of no more than 12 students.

Vanderbilt requires nursing students to attend class on campus nine times a year to take labs, attend lectures, and practice in simulated clinics. Degree-seekers also complete 1,190 clinical rotations at emergency departments, outpatient clients, and urgent care clinics. 

  • Program: Master of science in nursing degree - emergency nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Nashville, TN
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $1,793 per credit for MSN students
  • Admission Requirements: RN license; two years of RN working experience; one year experience in an emergency department; trauma nurse course certification,  advanced cardiovascular life support certification, and pediatric advanced life support course
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
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

#8 Most Affordable Online MSN Programs

Appalachian State University

  • Boone, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Appalachian State University features an MSN degree that offers a part-time option for working nurses and a concentration in nursing education that students can complete 24 months. 

Online learners complete 39 credits by taking about 6-7 credits each semester. Courses cover theories of advanced nursing practice, health assessments for adults, pathophysiology, nursing research, and pharmacology. Degree-seekers complete two practicums during the summer semester; one with a clinical focus and another in nursing education. 

App State accepts applications through April 1. The MSN degree, one of the most affordable nursing programs, accepts up to nine transfer credits.

  • Program: Master of science in nursing degree
  • Campus: Boone, NC
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $3,651 per year for North Carolina residents; $13,657 per year for out-of-state residents
  • Admission Requirements: BSN degree from an accredited school; minimum 3.5 GPA; GRE or MAT scores; prerequisites; RN license; three letters of recommendation; one year of nursing experience
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100% first-time pass rate
Average Tuition
In-state
$4,242
Out-of-state
$19,049
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
19,280
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#9 Most Affordable Online MSN Programs

Georgetown University

  • Washington, DC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Georgetown University offers an MSN degree with a concentration in adult gerontology acute care that students can complete in less than two years. 

Degree-seekers complete 40 credits in 23 months. The program includes three clinical intensives that teach students nursing techniques, such as rapid sequence intubation and central line insertion on campus. The program also includes 600 clinical hours in which nursing students care for adult and geriatric patients. 

Georgetown also offers MSN degrees with concentrations in family nursing, women's health and nurse-midwifery, and women's health. With rolling admissions, Georgetown accepts new students throughout the year. 

  • Program: Master of science in nursing degree - adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, women's health, women's health and nurse-midwifery
  • Campus: Washington, D.C.
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $2,358 per credit for MSN students
  • Admission Requirements: BSN degree or MSN degree from an accredited school; U.S. citizen or permanent resident; current RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA; completes undergraduate statistics course; one year of full-time nursing experience; resume, official transcripts; admissions interview; resume; 1-2 page personal statement; three letters of recommendation
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 23 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $100,876 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$55,440
Out-of-state
$55,440
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
14%
Students Enrolled
19,593
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#10 Most Affordable Online MSN Programs

Stony Brook University

  • Stony Brook, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Stony Brook University's MSN degree trains students to become nurse educators in hospitals and schools. 

The MSN degree, among the most affordable online MSN programs, requires 45 credits. Students take specialty courses in facilitating adult learning, curriculum design, teaching strategies, and theory and practice in nursing education. 

Stony Brook also features MSN degrees with concentrations in nursing leadership and nurse practitioner and nurse-midwifery. 

  • Program: Master of science in nursing degree - nursing leadership, nurse practitioner, nurse-midwifery
  • Campus: Stony Brook, NY
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $471 per credit for New York residents; $963 per credit for out-of-state residents
  • Admission Requirements: BSN degree; one year nursing experience; college transcripts; minimum 3.0 GPA; resume; current RN license; three letters of recommendation; complete undergraduate courses in health assessment and statistics
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $105,661 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$7,070
Out-of-state
$24,740
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
44%
Students Enrolled
26,814
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

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.


Explore Other MSN Programs

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