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The Best Colorado RN-to-MSN Programs

Kasia Kovacs, MSNurseJournal Rankings Team
Updated August 1, 2023
RN-to-MSN programs are a popular choice for nurses with an ADN who want to advance their career. Learn about the best Colorado RN-to-MSN programs today.
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Nurses have many opportunities to advance in their careers and earn higher salaries. For example, registered nurses (RNs) can earn qualifications as nurse practitioners (NPs), which allows them to practice nursing with greater independence and responsibility.

In Colorado, NPs need a master of science in nursing (MSN) to qualify for this role. RNs with an associate degree can bypass the bachelor’s degree by enrolling in an RN-to-MSN program, which offers nurses advanced education and training.

This guide outlines the best RN-to-MSN programs in Colorado and offers information about what to expect and how to apply.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best Colorado 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.

At a Glance: The Top Colorado RN-to-MSN Programs

  1. University of Northern Colorado
  2. Regis University
  3. Colorado Mesa University
  4. Colorado State University-Pueblo

Learn more about the key factors to consider when choosing a program, or go straight to our full ranking of the best Colorado RN-to-MSN programs.

How Do Colorado RN-to-MSN Programs Work?

RN-to-MSN programs in Colorado bridge the gap between an ADN to a master’s degree. Therefore, these programs comprise advanced nursing coursework and a demanding curriculum.

Schools may offer both full-time and part-time programs, with the time commitment ranging from 24-48 months. Students can also find online, on-campus, or hybrid programs to fit into their schedules.

Master’s candidates choose specializations, including family nurse practitioner, nurse educator, and adult-gerontology nurse practitioner. The curriculum covers both bachelor’s- and master’s- level coursework, with subjects that include nursing theory and research. All students must complete supervised clinical hours that comply with state requirements.

Featured Online RN-to-MSN in Nursing Programs

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

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Applying to a Colorado RN-to-MSN Program

To apply to an RN-to-MSN program in Colorado, your previous academic and career experience should show your capability to handle higher-level coursework. Each program lists different requirements for admission, but generally applicants need an ADN and RN license.

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    Admission Materials

    Official transcript from an accredited ADN program; current and unencumbered RN license; usually at least two letters of recommendation; a personal statement or essay
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    GPA Requirement

    Typically a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate coursework, although some schools may accept a 2.5-2.75 GPA. Some schools require a minimum grade for specific courses in science or statistics as well.
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    Other Requirement

    Some programs require at least one year of work experience. International students often must send English language test scores.

Why Is Colorado RN-to-MSN Program Accreditation Important?

When choosing an RN-to-MSN program in Colorado, accreditation is essential. The accreditation process ensures that schools and academic programs deliver a quality education. As unbiased stakeholders, accreditation agencies independently evaluate programs and grant accreditation status to programs that adequately prepare students for their careers.

Because of this, many state boards only allow nursing candidates to become qualified if they attended an accredited program. Plus, employers usually only consider applicants with accredited degrees. If you want to transfer schools or pursue a doctorate, graduate schools list accredited programs in previous education requirements.

If a program does not hold accreditation, this is a red flag. That’s why all RN-to-MSN programs in this ranking are accredited.

Learn More About the Best Colorado RN-to-MSN Programs and Schools

See our methodology to learn more about how we create our rankings.
#1 The Best Colorado RN-to-MSN Programs

University of Northern Colorado

  • Location-markerGreeley, CO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,596
  • Out-of-state$19,854
  • Retention Rate70%
  • Acceptance Rate88%
  • Students Enrolled11,460
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment83%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 The Best Colorado RN-to-MSN Programs

Regis University

  • Location-markerDenver, CO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$38,208
  • Out-of-state$38,208
  • Retention Rate73%
  • Acceptance Rate78%
  • Students Enrolled6,310
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment66%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 The Best Colorado RN-to-MSN Programs

Colorado Mesa University

  • Location-markerGrand Junction, CO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,787
  • Out-of-state$21,336
  • Retention Rate75%
  • Acceptance Rate75%
  • Students Enrolled9,110
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment62%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 The Best Colorado RN-to-MSN Programs

Colorado State University-Pueblo

  • Location-markerPueblo, CO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$6,349
  • Out-of-state$12,907
  • Retention Rate68%
  • Acceptance Rate94%
  • Students Enrolled5,925
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment89%
  • AccreditationYes

Frequently Asked Questions About Colorado RN-to-MSN Programs

How long does it take to go from an RN to MSN in Colorado?

The pace of an RN-to-MSN program depends on several factors — those factors include whether the school offers part-time, full-time, accelerated, online, or on-campus options. Students can graduate in 24-27 months, although often full programs take four years to complete.

Is completing an RN-to-MSN worth it in Colorado?

The nursing industry is growing in the U.S., and that includes Colorado. In fact, labor market figures from Projections Central show that the NP profession could increase by 43% from 2020 to 2030. For nurses who want more opportunities and the chance to make a higher income, completing an RN-to-MSN is worth it in Colorado.

How much do MSN nurses make in Colorado?

Nurse practitioners earned an average annual salary of $112,580, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. NPs in larger cities tend to make a higher income. In the metro areas of Boulder, Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, and Pueblo, all made average salaries that surpassed $114,000.

What can nurses do with an MSN in Colorado?

Nurses who earn an MSN in Colorado become advanced practice nurses, or nurse practitioners. These professionals carry out their nursing duties with greater autonomy than their RN colleagues. An MSN can also lead to jobs in nursing education or leadership. Finally, some master’s graduates go on to earn a doctorate in nursing.

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