Best Online MSN Programs

By Steve Bailey



Students interested in pursuing a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree can review this page to learn more about the discipline and available opportunities in the field. Readers can explore information on the best online MSN programs, online RN-to-MSN program options, career paths, admission requirements, and salary information for master of science graduates.

Our guide also provides information on online MSN programs, such as program length, sample curriculum, relevant skills, specialization opportunities, and in-person requirements for online MSN students.

Table of Contents


Best Master's in Nursing (MSN) Online Programs in 2020

Rank University Degree Program
1 Johns Hopkins University - MD MSN
2 Simmons College - MA MSN
3 University of Southern California - CA MSN
4 Baker University - KS MSN
5 University of St Francis - IL MSN
6 Drexel University - PA MSN
7 Regis University - CO MSN
8 George Washington University - DC MSN
9 Gonzaga University - WA MSN
10 Lewis University - IL MSN
11 See More Top Universities MSN

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins offers a variety of MSN online programs, including specializations in health systems management, public health nursing, advanced nursing practice, and entry into nursing. Students take classes on health assessment, healthcare leadership and management, health systems management, pathophysiology, and integrated clinical management before moving on to more specialized coursework.

While all MSN coursework is available online, students may choose to attend some in-person classes.

Johns Hopkins is a private institution located in Baltimore and is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The university offers tutoring, academic workshops, writing assistance, and course primers for distance learners.

Campus Baltimore, Maryland
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $40,512 per year
Admission Requirements •   BSN degree
•   Minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA
Minimum Time Commitment 24 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Programs •   MSN, Health Systems Management
•   MSN, Public Health Nursing
•   MSN, Advanced Nursing Practice
•   MSN, Entry into Nursing
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Simmons College

Located in Boston, this private, women-focused college offers a 48-credit online MSN program for students who wish to become family nurse practitioners. The curriculum includes core classes on health assessment, pharmacology, and pathophysiology. Students also use qualitative and quantitative research methods to develop a final quality improvement plan proposal.

Full-time students take six 14-week terms, and complete the MSN online program in 24 months. Graduates boast a firm understanding of human health and function, patient assessment, research interpretation, and other critical advanced nursing practice skills.

Simmons University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Campus Boston, Massachusetts
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $1,410 per credit hour
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Unencumbered RN license
•   Personal statement
•   3 letters of recommendation
•   Successful completion of statistics and health assessment
Minimum Time Commitment 24 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Program MSN, Family Nurse Practitioner
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

University of Southern California

One of the nation's top MSN online programs, USC's MSN curriculum teaches students to diagnose and treat a variety of illnesses, prescribe medication, interpret lab results, and deliver sound patient education. Students take courses on community-based research, pathophysiology, pharmacology, policy and management, and healthcare technology. Throughout the 21- to 36-month experience, candidates regularly collaborate with faculty and their fellow distance learners.

The MSN program supplements online courses with two in-person intensive units held at USC's Los Angeles campus. These sessions take place at the end of the first and third terms.

USC is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Campus Los Angeles, California
Type Private
Accreditations •   Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
•   California Board of Registered Nursing
Tuition $38,560 per year
Admission Requirements •   BSN or MSN degree
•   Minimum 3.0 GPA
•   Completion of statistics course
•   Current RN license in United States
•   One year of clinical experience
Minimum Time Commitment 21 months
On-Campus Requirements Yes
Program MSN, Family Nurse Practitioner
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Baker University

Located in Baldwin City, Kansas, Baker is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Baker's online MSN programs feature tracks in nursing education and nursing administration. The education track prepares students to serve in academic or staff development roles, while the administration track imparts the skills necessary to become a leader in healthcare settings.

Core classes include healthcare policy, epidemiology, advanced nursing leadership, healthcare informatics, and applied theories for advancing care. Students also take part in a transitional care practicum and complete a graduate scholarly synthesis project before graduation.

The school provides online learners with peer tutoring, technology assistance, writing support, and accessibility services.

Campus Baldwin City, Kansas
Type Private
Accreditations •   Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
•   Kansas State Board of Nursing
Tuition $450 per credit hour
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Current unencumbered RN license
•   Minimum 3.0 GPA
•   Undergraduate coursework in health assessment, pathophysiology, and research
•   One year of full-time clinical experience
Minimum Time Commitment 24 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Programs •   MSN, Nursing Education
•   MSN, Nursing Administration
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

University of St Francis

The St. Francis Leach School of Nursing offers four MSN online programs: nursing administration, nursing education, psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, and family nurse practitioner tracks. The core curriculum focuses on health promotion, maintenance, and restoration. Nurses gain the skills and knowledge they need to effectively advise patients and take on leadership roles within healthcare organizations.

While students may take all FNP and nursing education courses online, the nursing administration and psychiatric-mental health NP tracks feature some in-person classes.

St. Francis is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Campus Joliet, Illinois
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $775 per credit
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA
•   Two years of clinical nursing practice
•   Valid nursing license
Minimum Time Commitment 24 months
On-Campus Requirements Yes
Programs •   MSN, Nursing Administration
•   MSN, Nursing Education
•   MSN, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Family Nurse Practitioner
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Drexel University

Located in Philadelphia, Drexel offers an online MSN program with four tracks: clinical nurse leader; health systems management leadership; nursing education; and quality, safety, and risk management in healthcare. Core classes include health research evaluation, contemporary issues in healthcare, and advanced ethical decision making while delivering care.

The private liberal arts institution features a three-year tuition lock, ensuring candidates do not experience increased costs as they study. Although all coursework takes place online, the program's format encourages interaction and participation among students and faculty.

Drexel is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Campus Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $1,303 per credit hour
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Minimum 3.0 GPA
•   Current unencumbered RN license in the United States
Minimum Time Commitment 24 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Programs •   MSN, Clinical Nurse Leader
•   MSN, Health Systems Management Leadership
•   MSN, Nursing Education
•   MSN, Quality, Safety & Risk Management in Healthcare
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Regis University

Located in Denver, Regis University offers an online MSN in nursing leadership that focuses on systems leadership, quality improvement, health policy, advanced nursing practice, and clinical prevention and population health. Graduates are prepared to take on a variety of management roles within healthcare organizations.

Students may choose between all-online and hybrid degree options, along with certificates in healthcare informatics, business management, informatics, and quality and patient safety. Full-time students typically fulfill the MSN online program's requirements -- including a minimum of 210 clinical hours -- within a year and a half.

A private Jesuit institution, Regis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Campus Denver, Colorado
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $700 per credit hour
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA
•   Unencumbered RN license
•   Two years of RN clinical experience
Minimum Time Commitment 18 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Program Master of Science in Nursing Leadership
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

George Washington University

GWU is a private research institution located in Washington, D.C. The university offers several MSN programs online and in a hybrid format, including adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, nursing leadership and management, nurse midwifery, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner tracks. The hybrid programs combine online classes with at least two on-campus sessions each semester.

The school places students with preceptors to complete their 700 hours of required clinical experience. The MSN online program accepts applications on a rolling basis and students can start their studies in the fall or spring.

GWU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Campus Washington, DC
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $1,395 per credit
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Current unencumbered RN license
•   Minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA
Minimum Time Commitment 24 months
On-Campus Requirements Yes
Programs •   MSN, Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Family Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Nursing Leadership and Management
•   MSN, Nurse Midwifery
•   MSN, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Gonzaga University

Gonzaga's MSN online programs allow students to pursue careers as family nurse practitioners, psychiatric-mental health family nurse practitioners, and nursing leaders and administrators.

Regardless of their specialization, all students take classes on healthcare improvement, information technology in healthcare, issues in the contemporary healthcare environment, and clinical prevention for diverse populations. The 47-credit program features online courses combined with five to six on-campus immersion sessions. Students also must complete at least 660 clinical hours before graduation.

Gonzaga is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Campus Spokane, Washington
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $16,697 per year
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Minimum 3.0 GPA
•   Unencumbered RN license
Minimum Time Commitment 24 months
On-Campus Requirements Yes
Programs •   MSN, Family Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Nursing Leadership in Healthcare
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Lewis University

Lewis University's MSN programs online focus on skills and topics like population health, healthcare informatics, advanced nursing practice, and systems and policy within healthcare systems.

The online MSN program offers specializations in nursing education, healthcare systems leadership, adult gerontology nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, and school nursing. The school also offers accelerated options for practicing registered nurses.

Prior to graduation, all nurse practitioner students must complete 630 clinical hours. The nursing education and school nursing tracks do not include clinical requirements.

Lewis is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Campus Romeoville, Illinois
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $810 per credit
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Minimum 3.0 GPA
•   Current RN license
•   Completion of statistics and nursing research courses
Minimum Time Commitment 18 months
On-Campus Requirements Yes
Programs •   MSN, Nursing Education
•   MSN, Healthcare Systems Leadership
•   MSN, Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Family Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, School Nursing
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Xavier University

Xavier's completely online MSN program features asynchronous courses with no set meeting times, making it an ideal option for working professionals. Students take one class in each eight-week term, with most graduating in two to three years.

The MSN online program's curriculum includes courses on healthcare informatics, nursing research, healthcare policy, nursing leadership and management, and epidemiology. Students may also specialize in education, forensics, or general studies.

Based in Cincinnati, Xavier is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school's MSN program is one of only 12 nationwide to receive endorsement from the American Holistic Nurses Certification.

Campus Cincinnati, Ohio
Type Private
Accreditations •   Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
•   Ohio Board of Nursing
Tuition $670 per credit
Admission Requirements •   BSN degree
•   Unencumbered RN license
Minimum Time Commitment 24 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Program Master of Science in Nursing
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Maryville University of Saint Louis

Maryville permits students to specialize their MSN online degree to pursue careers as adult-gerontology primary care or acute care nurse practitioners, along with family, pediatric, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. The program also offers a nursing leadership track.

The fully online MSN program features asynchronous classes, and students can complete clinical requirements at locations close to where they live. The core curriculum includes classes on healthcare policy, professional role development, advanced pathophysiology, health promotion, and health assessment.

Maryville is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Campus St. Louis, Missouri
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $813 per credit hour
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Current RN license
Minimum Time Commitment 24 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Programs •   MSN, Family Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Nursing Leadership
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Norwich University

Norwich offers an online MSN program that takes an average of 18 months to complete, with nearly all courses available online.

Students begin the program with core classes on advanced nursing, translating and integrating scholarship into practice, and quality improvement in delivering care. Each 11-week core course incorporates 100 hours of mentored clinical practice. Students then complete 58 additional credits focused on nursing education, nursing informatics, and healthcare systems leadership.

In addition to online learning, students engage in a one-week residency at the school's campus in Northfield, Vermont.

Norwich is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Campus Northfield, Vermont
Type Private
Accreditations •   Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
•   Vermont State Board of Nursing
Tuition $676 per credit
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Active RN license
•   Minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA
Minimum Time Commitment 18 months
On-Campus Requirements Yes
Program Master of Science in Nursing
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health

A private, faith-based university, NMC offers MSN online programs for prospective nurse educators, executives, or healthcare informatics professionals. The school provides both conventional and RN-to-MSN options. Most full-time students can complete the program in about 21-30 months.

Combining nursing and business courses, the nurse executive track prepares candidates to lead healthcare organizations. The nurse educator track gives students the knowledge and experience they need to teach the next generation of nurses. Learners who pursue the healthcare informatics track focus on using data to continuously improve healthcare outcomes.

NMC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Campus Omaha, Nebraska
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $565 per credit hour
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor’s degree in nursing
•   Minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA
•   Unencumbered RN license
Minimum Time Commitment 21 months
On-Campus Requirements Yes
Programs •   MSN, Nurse Educator
•   MSN, Nurse Executive
•   MSN, Nursing Informatics
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Saint Louis University

SLU's Valentine School of Nursing offers an accelerated MSN degree, along with nurse practitioner and clinical nurse leader MSN programs online. Core classes cover subjects like advanced pharmacology, pathophysiology, practice management, health promotion, and healthcare ethics. The program features both full-time and part-time curriculum plans.

Students on the NP track can specialize in adult-gerontological acute care, family nursing, pediatric primary care, or family psychiatric-mental healthcare.

Distance learners may access an online library and writing center, or work with faculty advisors who help mentor them through the program. SLU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Campus St. Louis, Missouri
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $1,090 per credit
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Minimum 3.25 undergraduate GPA
•   Unencumbered RN license
•   Current CPR certification
Minimum Time Commitment 48 months
On-Campus Requirements Yes
Programs •   Accelerated MSN
•   MSN, Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Clinical Nurse Leader
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Azusa Pacific University

Students in APU's MSN online programs may specialize in healthcare administration, family nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner, and clinical nursing. The school also offers a school nurse services credential.

Most specialities address core topics in healthcare policy and bioethics, graduate-level statistics, spiritual concept analysis in healthcare, and healthcare research and theory. Students also learn about quality assurance, strategic planning, leadership styles, communication, and change management. The MSN programs feature interdisciplinary study opportunities presented in conjunction with the APU School of Business and Management.

Located in southern California, APU is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Campus Azusa, California
Type Private
Accreditation •   Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
•   California Board of Registered Nursing
Tuition $752 per credit hour
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Current RN license
Minimum Time Commitment 24 months
On-Campus Requirements Yes
Programs •   MSN in Healthcare Administration and Leadership
•   MSN in Nursing Education
•   MSN with CNS Specialties
•   MSN with NP Specialties
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Samford University

Located in Birmingham, Alabama, Samford's online MSN prepares students to become family nurse practitioners. Featuring mostly online coursework, the program requires only three on-campus experiences. Students can begin their studies in the fall or spring semesters and complete their clinical requirements at approved locations across the United States.

The MSN online program's coursework emphasizes concepts in advanced physiology and pathophysiology, pharmacotherapeutics, physical assessment, and population health and policy. Graduates can immediately enter the university's doctor of nursing practice program without reapplying.

Samford is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Campus Birmingham, Alabama
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $862 per credit
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Unencumbered RN license
•   Undergraduate courses in nursing research and health assessment
•   Minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA
Minimum Time Commitment 21 months
On-Campus Requirements Yes
Program MSN, Family Nurse Practitioner
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Duquesne University

Located in Pittsburgh, Duquesne University delivers an online MSN program with three start dates occurring throughout the year. Students may concentrate their studies to become family nurse practitioners, forensic nurses, or nurse educators.

The curriculum focuses on transcultural care, improving healthcare systems, serving as patient advocates, promoting collaboration, and enhancing clinical judgement in practice. In total, students take 12 courses and 36-42 credits.

Distance learners enjoy access to an online library, writing support, research assistance, academic advising, and a nursing faculty mentor. Duquesne is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Campus Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $1,509 per credit
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Unencumbered RN license
•   At least one year RN experience
•   Undergraduate-level statistics course
Minimum Time Commitment 21 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Programs •   MSN, Family Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Forensic Nursing
•   MSN, Nursing Education and Faculty Role
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

University of Mary

Located in Bismarck, North Dakota, the University of Mary offers healthcare administration, nursing leadership and management, nurse educator, and nursing informatics online MSN programs. Candidates can prepare themselves for management roles within healthcare organizations, or to serve as professors or consultants who help shape the next generation of nursing professionals.

The MSN program's online courses run asynchronously, allowing students to complete assignments and take part in discussions largely on their own schedule. Distance learners can access academic advising, counseling services, digital library services, tutoring, and military/veteran support.

The University of Mary is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Campus Bismarck, North Dakota
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $450 per credit
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree with minimum 2.75 GPA
•   Current unencumbered RN license
Minimum Time Commitment 16 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Programs •   MSN, Healthcare Administration
•   MSN, Nursing Leadership & Management
•   MSN, Nurse Educator
•   MSN, Nursing Informatics
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

SUNY Polytechnic Institute

SUNY Poly's 39-credit online MSN in nursing education program prepares healthcare professionals to serve in administrative or faculty roles. Students take courses on leadership and health policy, legal and regulatory issues, curriculum development, measurement and assessment, and pathophysiology and pharmacology.

While distance learners can study part time or full time, they must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA to graduate. The program includes a 150-hour internship, during which students learn directly from established nurse educators. Most individuals graduate in 4-6 semesters.

SUNY Poly is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Campus Albany, New York
Type Public
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $17,334 per year
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Undergraduate statistics course
Minimum Time Commitment 21 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Program Master of Science in Nursing Education
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

University of Iowa

The University of Iowa's 39-credit MSN program focuses on clinical nurse leadership. Students take courses on quality and safety, clinical education, nursing leadership, applied epidemiology, and healthcare informatics. MSN students take these classes alongside those enrolled in the College of Nursing's doctoral program.

Students must maintain at least a 2.75 GPA throughout the MSN program to graduate. They also complete an immersive capstone experience through which they learn directly from experienced healthcare leaders. The program offers two-year and three-year plans.

Located in Iowa City, UI is a public institution regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Campus Iowa City, Iowa
Type Public
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition •   $11,890 per year for Iowa residents
•   $30,837 per year for out-of-state residents
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Legally qualified to practice nursing in Iowa
•   Completion of upper-level statistics course
Minimum Time Commitment 21 months
On-Campus Requirements Yes
Programs Master of Science in Nursing
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Georgetown University

Georgetown's MSN online programs feature family nurse, women's health, nurse-midwifery, and adult gerontology nurse practitioner tracks.

The MSN programs consist of mostly online, asynchronous classes, along with two on-campus intensive sessions in Washington, D.C. Full-time students can complete the program in as little as 19 months, while part-time students usually take about 27 months to graduate. All students must complete 650 clinical hours.

Distance learners benefit from clinical placement, academic and technical support, faculty advising, and professional development opportunities. Georgetown is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Campus Washington, D.C.
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $2,139 per credit hour
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Current RN license
•   Minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA
•   Completion of three-credit statistics course
Minimum Time Commitment 19 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Programs •   MSN, Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Family Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Nurse-Midwifery/Women's Health Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Women's Health Nurse Practitioner
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Saint Joseph's College of Maine

Located in Standish, Maine, St. Joseph's College offers an online MSN program with specialities in nursing administration and nursing education. Students can also pursue family and adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner tracks.

Students may attend full time or part time, as long as they graduate within five years. They may also engage in a dual-degree option, pursuing a master's degree in health administration or business administration at the same time they complete their MSN requirements.

Saint Joseph’s College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education.

Campus Standish, Maine
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $664 per credit hour
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA
•   Unencumbered RN license
Minimum Time Commitment 21 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Program Master of Science in Nursing
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Loyola University New Orleans

Loyola University's online MSN degree offers three career-focused tracks: family nurse practitioner, healthcare systems administration, and nurse educator. Students in the FNP track take 48 credits and complete 720 clinical hours. Both the healthcare systems administration and nurse educator concentrations include an 180-hour practicum.

The program features all online coursework, with core classes covering subjects like population health management, advanced pathophysiology, health assessment, and healthcare informatics and finance. Most students can graduate within two years. The university offers online students resources like tutoring, academic advising, and career coaching.

Loyola is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Campus New Orleans, Louisiana
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $818 per credit hour
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Unencumbered RN license
•   Minimum of 1,800 hours of nursing practice
Minimum Time Commitment 21 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Program Master of Science in Nursing
School Site Tuition | Financial aid

Thomas Jefferson University

Students in Thomas Jefferson University's MSN online programs can choose from eight specialities, focusing their studies and future careers on adult-gerontology care, nursing informatics, neonatal nursing, women's health, pediatric care, family care, or community systems administration.

The core curriculum includes classes on advanced nursing practice, ethical and policy issues in nursing practice, epidemiology, and healthcare informatics. All MSN programs consist of 36 credits. While most learning takes place online, students may need to visit the university's Philadelphia campus for select in-person experiences.

Jefferson is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Campus Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Type Private
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition $1,194 per credit hour
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's degree in nursing
•   Minimum 3.0 GPA
•   Unencumbered RN license
•   Undergraduate courses in statistics, physical assessment, and nursing research
Minimum Time Commitment 15 months
On-Campus Requirements Yes
Programs •   MSN, Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Community Systems Administration
•   MSN, Family/Individual Across the Lifespan
•   MSN, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Nursing Informatics
•   MSN, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
•   MSN, Women’s Health Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner
School Site Tuition | Financial aid


Career Paths and Salaries for MSN Graduates

Earning an online MSN allows professionals to consider many diverse and lucrative career paths. In the section below, readers can learn more about available career opportunities, common employers in the field, and salary data.


Career Paths

  • Nurse Practitioner

    NPs are similar to physicians in that they diagnose and treat conditions, in addition to prescribing medications. In some situations, they may also serve as primary care providers. Aspiring NPs should start by obtaining master's degrees in nursing, such as an online MSN, and consider selecting specializations.

  • Family Nurse Practitioner

    FNPs work with a wide age range, from infants to geriatric patients. They often act as the patient's first point of contact and order medical tests or provide referrals to specialists. FNPs make up more than 60% of all NPs and usually work in private group practice. This profession requires each candidate to earn an MSN, and some FNPs also obtain doctoral degrees.

  • Urgent Care Nurse Practitioner

    These specialized NPs usually work in urgent care facilities, treating patients who need urgent attention but not an emergency room visit. Urgent care work might call for irregular hours, and these NPs treat all types of patients and ailments. NP requirements vary by state, but most include at least a master's in nursing.

  • Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

    More than 33% of ACNPs work in hospital inpatient clinics, while others work in nursing homes and doctor's offices. Job duties include assessing patients' conditions and prescribing treatments. The role requires a master's degree.

  • Nurse-Midwife

    Nurse-midwives work in gynecologist and obstetrician offices, hospitals, public health departments, and schools. These professionals administer female healthcare, including prenatal care, baby delivery, and gynecological exams. The American College of Nurse-Midwives mandates that all nurse-midwives complete MSNs.

Common Employers for Professionals with an MSN

Hospitals

Hospitals commonly employ MSN graduates, including those who received an online MSN. MSN graduates may work as nurses in emergency rooms or surgical wards, or as nurse administrators in a hospital. Hospitals employ 27% of nurse-midwives, NPs, and nurse anesthetists.

Long-Term Care Clinics

Long-term care clinics may include assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospices, or nursing facilities. Long-term care clinics usually focus on geriatric patients, but some concentrate on other populations, such as children. Graduates of online MSN programs interested in providing long-term care can also work in patients' homes.

Private Practice

MSN degree-holders may consider working in private practice, owned by one or more physicians, or an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). NPs may also have their own private practice in states where they have full practice status without physician supervision. Private practice positions may allow for better work hours than those in a hospital or clinic.

x
Median Salaries by Experience for Nurses with an MSN
  Entry-Level
(1-4 Years)
Mid-Career
(5-9 Years)
Experienced
(10-19 Years)
Late-Career
(20+ Years)
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner $99,000 $106,000$111,000 $112,000
Certified Nurse Midwife $91,000 $93,000 $99,000 $106,000
Family Nurse Practitioner $94,000 $99,000 $100,000 $101,000
Nurse Practitioner $92,000 $98,000 $102,000 $104,000
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner $98,000 $101,000 $108,000 $123,000

Source: PayScale

Online MSN Admission Requirements

Across colleges and universities, online MSN programs feature different admission requirements. While requirements can differ depending on the institution, students can expect to encounter some similarities. Many nursing programs at the master's level require each degree-seeker to hold an active, current registered nurse (RN) program and a degree from a regionally accredited college or university.

For consideration in a master's program, each applicant must hold a bachelor's degree. Almost all nursing programs at the master's level require applicants' bachelor's degrees to include a focus in nursing. Some institutions offer bridge program opportunities, allowing applicants who hold associate degrees in nursing to pursue a master's degree, thereby satisfying bachelor's-level requirements as part of their graduate program.

Online MSN Program Overview

Before enrolling in an online MSN, students should explore different aspects of the discipline to gain a complete understanding of the field, including average program length, sample curriculum, course content delivery types, relevant skills, and common specialization opportunities.

Online MSN Program Length

One of the most significant variances for online MSN program length is whether learners enroll part time or full time, with part-time students taking longer to earn their degrees. The program format can also affect the length. Some institutions offer asynchronous programs, while others feature cohort options, in which students begin and end their program with the same group of students.

Typically, students earn their online MSN in 2-3 years. Educational and professional background can sometimes shorten the length of time it takes to fulfill degree requirements, with learners who already hold their RN license and bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree able to finish sooner than the average length of time expected.

Curriculum for an Online MSN Program

Health Policy
During the health policy course, degree-seekers review administrative and other advanced occupations in the healthcare field. Throughout the course, students learn how to analyze the laws and rules of the healthcare system to improve healthcare across settings and populations.
Advanced Nursing
Enrollees learn how to function as effective leaders in management positions, along with clinical and educational nursing environments. Course topics include planning, leadership, and evaluation. Students who complete the course develop the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in supervisory and administrative positions.
Health Promotion and Epidemiology
Students learn how to make use of tools that allow them to plan, implement, and evaluate health programs to improve patient outcomes.
Advanced Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics
Learners develop knowledge of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacology across the lifespan, preparing them to pursue careers as APRNs, including ethical, regulatory, and legal practices.
Advanced Health Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning:
Students review the practical application and theoretical principles of advanced physical assessment across the lifespan, reviewing the connections between physiology, pathophysiology, and assessment findings.

Delivery of Course Content for Online MSN Students

Students pursuing MSNs can explore on-campus and online program formats. On-campus programs require students to maintain a strict schedule, while online opportunities afford additional flexibility.

  • Asynchronous Instruction

    Asynchronous instruction allows degree-seekers to complete their course requirements from any location at any time. Many students enjoy the flexibility and convenience of asynchronous delivery, which allows them to continue to tend to familial or professional needs while pursuing their degrees.

  • Synchronous Instruction

    Students enrolled in online programs with synchronous instruction must maintain a presence online at certain times throughout the day and week. These programs follow a heavily structured format, so students who function best in organized formats benefit greatly from synchronous learning.

Skills Gained in an Online MSN Program

Students enrolled in an online MSN build upon their skills and knowledge to prepare for advanced nursing careers. During their master's program, learners develop the ability to communicate effectively, think critically, pay close attention to detail, understand how to navigate computers and technology, and practice patience throughout stressful situations in their day-to-day responsibilities. Students at the master's level build upon the foundation of skills and knowledge they develop during their BSN.

  • Critical Thinking

    During MSN programs, students develop their critical-thinking skills, cultivating their ability to analyze a particular issue or problem to derive the most effective, sensible solution.

  • Communication

    Students can develop their communication skills in MSN programs by learning how to communicate with patients and other care professionals to provide the highest quality of healthcare across settings.

  • Attention to Detail

    MSN students build upon their ability to pay close attention to detail, learning how to keep a close eye on patients as they describe their symptoms, recording information to provide accurate diagnoses.

  • Technological Savvy

    Degree-seekers enrolled in an online MSN program must cultivate computer and technology skills, understanding how to manage electronic healthcare records and maneuver healthcare informatics.

  • Patience

    Master's students pursuing degrees in nursing cultivate the ability to maintain patience in high-pressure situations. Nurses must often make difficult medical decisions, requiring patience and thoughtfulness.

Common MSN Specializations

Students pursuing online MSN programs can typically take advantage of specialization opportunities, allowing them to tailor their degree to fit their interests and professional goals. Below, readers can review some of the most common specializations for students pursuing online MSNs.

Clinical Nurse Specialist

This specialization provides students with opportunities for course focus, including obstetrics, pediatrics, and preventative and wellness care.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Learners focus on topics related to mental health, such as treating mental illnesses and prescribing medication.

Orthopedics

Degree-seekers focus on providing healthcare to patients dealing with arthritis, along with those who experience broken bones and repetitive stress injuries.

Family Nurse Practitioner

Students explore coursework that focuses on how to analyze symptoms, administer treatment, and run tests on patients across the lifespan.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Learners focus on how to provide care for infants, covering premature births, feeding babies, and chemical dependency.

Midwifery

Students explore how to work closely with OB/GYN physicians and help patients with pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum care for both women and infants.

Gerontology

This specialization focuses on providing healthcare to adult and elderly patients, preparing students with the skills and knowledge they need to understand the social aspects associated with old age.

Nurse Anesthetist

Degree-seekers examine how to prepare patients for surgery and administer anesthesia. During their coursework, students learn to work in settings where surgery is performed, including emergency rooms.

Acute Care Nursing

Learners focus on how to care for patients with brief, but severe, illnesses, exploring how to provide immediate medical treatment for patients in need.

Nurse Administration

Students learn to understand the executive, leadership, and management roles present in the healthcare industry, building their communication and leadership skills.

100+ Nursing Specializations

Nursing students can explore many specialization opportunities at the master's level, allowing them to cultivate their degrees to fit their interests and career goals. Readers can look to the following page to learn more about nursing specializations.


In-Person Requirements for Online MSN Students

While students can explore online programs in nursing, they must still satisfy in-person requirements. Most graduate nursing programs require degree-seekers to complete clinical hours under the supervision of a licensed advanced practitioner at an approved location. Clinical requirements vary depending on the state, but most states require nursing students to satisfy a minimum of 500 clinical hours.

Different nursing specialties maintain distinct clinical hours requirements. Most colleges and universities require over 600 clinical hours for pediatric nurse practitioners and more than 2,000 clinical hours of general nursing practice. Nurse anesthetists must obtain 600 clinical hours in anesthetics.

Accreditation for Online MSN Programs

Prospective students should ensure that their online MSN program holds accreditation. Accreditation confirms that programs meet certain quality standards. Independent accrediting bodies award the status at both the national and regional levels, with regional accreditation holding more esteem.

Two primary agencies accredit nursing programs. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), as a national, autonomous accrediting agency, ensures the quality of bachelor's, master's, and residency nursing programs. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) works to improve nursing education by accrediting degree, certificate, and diploma programs that meet or exceed set standards. Prospective students can search for CCNE-accredited bachelor's and master's programs and ACEN-accredited nursing programs.

Prospective MSN students considering doctor of nursing practice degrees should make sure their MSNs come from accredited programs. Both online and on-campus programs can receive accreditation, and students should also confirm that their program is approved by the state board of nursing.