Colorado RN-to-MSN Programs

Updated August 19, 2022 · 6 Min Read

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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Colorado RN-to-MSN Programs
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Colorado has the second fastest job growth rate for nurse practitioners (NPs). Colorado is also one of the fastest growing states for population, especially in the Denver and Boulder metropolitan areas. The state offers NPs full-practice authority, as well. Therefore, if you become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), you can enjoy a high level of professional autonomy.

Explore top registered nurse (RN)-to-master of science in nursing (MSN) programs in Colorado 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.

Discover more about Colorado RN-to-MSN programs, or go straight to our list of the best Colorado RN-to-MSN programs.

How Do Colorado RN-to-MSN Programs Work?

RN-to-MSN programs let learners with an associate degree in nursing (ADN) earn an MSN without having to first get a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). These programs build on the skills and experience learned in an ADN program.

Like traditional MSN programs, RN-to-MSN options include clinical hours and advanced core topics in evidence-based practice, theory, informatics, nursing research, communications, and leadership. APRN programs include health assessment and pharmacology and advanced physiology and anatomy. Other MSN programs, such as nurse informatics or nurse education, offer additional advanced classes.

Applying to a Colorado RN-to-MSN Program

RN-to-MSN admission requirements emphasize your academic and leadership abilities since MSN students demonstrate higher authority and responsibility. You must have good references and a solid GPA for admission.

1. Admission Materials

ADN from an accredited program, current and unencumbered RN license in the state where you will perform your clinical hours, criminal background check with fingerprints, an application that includes an essay or personal statement, at least two references

2. GPA Requirement

Most MSN programs require at least a 3.0 GPA, many require at least a 3.2.

3. Other Requirements

Most programs require at least two years of experience as an RN. A history of increased responsibility or promotion is very helpful.

Featured Online MSN Programs

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

Nursing program accreditation is an objective assessment of a nursing program's effectiveness in preparing students to practice nursing. Accreditation consists of a thorough review of all factors that affect program quality. These reviews cover student outcomes (such as grades and board certification pass rates), faculty and staff qualifications, teaching methods, organizational processes (such as academic discipline), and learning facilities (such as libraries, labs, and technology).

Employers rarely consider applications from graduates of unaccredited programs, and almost all board certifications only accept applicants from accredited programs. This guide only lists accredited programs.

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

#1

University of Northern Colorado

School Information
Location Greeley, Colorado
Admission Rate 91%
Graduation Rate 52%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

The University of Northern Colorado's family nurse practitioner program does not require a bachelor of science in nursing or an RN license, though students without these can earn the equivalent during their studies. Applicants must have an undergraduate research and physical assessment course, so this is not an entry-level program. The hybrid format allows students to take coursework mostly online, with some on-campus components. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the program.

Details:

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Greeley, CO
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $649 per credit hour for Colorado residents; $1,217 per credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA (if the student has at least 18 graduate credits, a 3.0 in graduate studies); two references 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes 
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 92.2%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $93,076 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#2

Regis University

School Information
Location Denver, Colorado
Admission Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 64%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 60% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

One of the top RN-to-MSN programs in Colorado, Regis University's family nurse practitioner program is designed for working students, with classes held all day, one day per week. Regis offers an on-campus class or an out-of-state option with synchronous online classes that emphasize rural and underserved populations. Students in Oregon, Louisiana, New York, or North Dakota are not eligible for this format. Students in Colorado's Front Range region must take clinical experiences at designated locations. The program requires 48 credits and 630 clinical hours for completion.

Details:

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Denver, CO
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $910 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor of science in nursing with 2.75 GPA; undergraduate statistics class; current and unencumbered RN license; AHA Basic Life Support (BLS) certification; two years of RN experience recommended; three references
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.2%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $86,621 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#3

Colorado Mesa University

School Information
Location Grand Junction, Colorado
Admission Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 34%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

Colorado Mesa University's master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner and nurse educator programs are primarily online, with some in-person intensive sessions, to accommodate working students. Learners must maintain a 3.0 GPA. Coursework with lower than a 3.0 GPA do not count toward the 47 required credits. Students are also expected to participate in Goals-Needs-Objectives-Methods-Evaluation (GNOME) service learning projects, in collaboration with a community organization. Family nurse practitioner students complete 700 clinical hours and a capstone project, while nurse education students complete 250 clinical hours and 36 credit hours. 

Details:

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner; master of science in nursing - nurse education
  • Campus: Grand Junction, CO
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $618 per credit for Colorado residents and online learners; $927 per credit for all other students
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor of science in nursing with a 3.0 GPA; current and unencumbered RN license; three references; professional writing sample, such as a published manuscript, grant application, or scholarly paper
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 27 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 80.5%
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#4

Colorado State University-Pueblo

School Information
Location Pueblo, Colorado
Admission Rate 93%
Graduation Rate 36%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 16% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Description:

Colorado State University-Pueblo's nursing school provides both nurse practitioner and nurse educator programs. The nurse practitioner programs offer three options: adult-gerontology acute care, adult-gerontology acute care/family, and psychiatric mental health. Students from southern Colorado and CSU graduates receive admission preference. The nurse practitioner program takes place in a hybrid format, with some on-campus components, but the nurse educator program is online only. To graduate, students must pass a comprehensive oral examination or complete a research thesis. Note that while the MSN is accredited, the doctor of nursing practice program is still a candidate for accreditation, a consideration if you want to earn a doctorate immediately after graduating.

Details:

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing (MSN) - adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner; MSN - adult-gerontology acute care family nurse practitioner; MSN - psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Pueblo, CO
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $479 per credit hour for Colorado residents; $1117 per credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor of science in nursing with 3.0 GPA; undergraduate courses in statistics, chemistry, and microbiology with a "C" grade; ability to obtain a current and unencumbered Colorado RN license by the end of the first semester; three references; healthcare provider CPR certification; one year of experience as an RN preferred 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 27 months 
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 91.9%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $96,539 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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Frequently Asked Questions About Colorado RN-to-MSN Programs


Can I get my MSN right after my BSN?

Only a few MSN programs, and almost no APRN programs, accept students who do not have at least one year of experience as an RN, and many require or strongly prefer at least two years. This helps ensure you can succeed as a nurse.

Does an MSN make more than a BSN?

While both earn good salaries, MSNs make much more than BSNs. APRNs earn a median $123,780 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), while RNs earn a median $77,600. In addition, MSNs enjoy more professional autonomy and a broader scope of practice.

Is MEPN the same as MSN?

Master of science for entry to the profession of nursing (MEPN) programs are designed for students who have at least a bachelor's degree in another discipline, while MSNs are designed for students with a nursing degree. MEPNs require certain prerequisite courses that cover much of the same ground as BSN courses.

Can I skip my BSN and get my MSN?

You can earn an MSN through an RN-to-MSN program without getting a BSN. These programs are very demanding because they cover the equivalent of two years of a BSN program in one year. Most require at least one year of experience as an RN, and many require or strongly prefer at least two years.

Is getting an MSN worth it?

The answer depends on your career and financial goals. APRNs are in high demand. In fact, the number of APRN jobs could grow 45% between 2020 and 2030, according to the BLS, and APRNs earn six figure salaries. MSNs are also excellent preparation for careers as medical and health services managers, which pay a median $101,340.


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