The Top RN-to-MSN Programs in Massachusetts

October 6, 2021 , Modified on May 26, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Looking for your next RN career move? Learn about the many RN-to-MSN programs Massachusetts offers and how to apply and pay for your MSN.

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The Top RN-to-MSN Programs in Massachusetts
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If you are a registered nurse (RN) with an associate degree in nursing (ADN) looking for new challenges, greater responsibility, and a higher salary, earning a master of science in nursing (MSN) might be the right step for you. This guide outlines the best nurse practitioner (NP) programs in MA and how to apply for the top RN-to-MSN programs Massachusetts offers.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the top RN-to-MSN programs in Massachusetts, 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.

Keep reading to learn more about the top RN-to-MSN programs in Massachusetts, or go straight to our list of the top RN-to-MSN programs in Massachusetts.

What Can You Do With an MSN?

While RNs have exceptional job growth and high salaries, those with an MSN have even more opportunities, such as becoming a nurse practitioner (NP), a nurse midwife, a nurse administrator, a nurse educator, or a clinical nurse specialist. These advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) also earn considerably more, mostly in the six figures (especially in Massachusetts).

Most MSN graduates also hold a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). For those with an ADN only, many schools offer RN-to-MSN bridge programs that let students go from an ADN to an MSN more quickly.

MSN or DNP Required

Nurse Anesthetist

Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia to patients and provide pain treatment before, during, and after medical procedures. They may work independently or as part of a medical team in hospitals or other healthcare facilities. This is the highest-paying nursing specialty.
msn Required

Nurse Midwife

Nurse midwives provide nursing care to pregnant women before, during, and immediately after birth. This typically includes educating patients and their families about health during pregnancy and birth and caring for newborns. They are also licensed to oversee births.
msn Required

Nurse Administrator

Nurse administrators are responsible for nursing quality in hospitals and other healthcare settings. They supervise nursing staff, manage policies and procedures, handle budgeting, and represent nursing in administration meetings.
*SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Featured Online RN-to-MSN Programs

What To Look For in an RN-to-MSN Program

When picking from the many RN-to-MSN program options in Massachusetts, factors to consider include cost (tuition, fees, travel expenses for clinical experiences, and on-campus requirements); program quality and reputation; the logistics for clinicals; and the class size. Other factors that are more personal preferences include private or public institutions, school size, and location.

Admission requirements tell you how likely you are to be admitted. They also tell you what the school considers most important for students and what kind of background your fellow students will have.

Some schools offer just one or two MSN options, while others offer several. If you aren't sure, especially about an NP program, a school with multiple NP options will make it easier to transfer if you change your mind.

For all RN-to-MSN programs, Massachusetts requires clinical hours. However, schools vary in the availability of placement and how much assistance they can provide, especially for online students.

Accreditation is vital to graduate's career success. Therefore, this guide lists only accredited programs.

While RN-to-MSN programs in Massachusetts take approximately three years to complete, the pace and number of classes students take at a time vary. Some programs may fit better around your schedule than others.

The NCLEX-RN pass rate is a strong indicator of a school's overall quality and its reputation among employers, so it's worth considering. Keep in mind that the scores are most meaningful for medium or larger schools.

The graduation rate, especially combined with the applicable board pass rates, indicates how successful students are and how satisfied they are with the program.

Applying to an RN-to-MSN Program

Give yourself plenty of time to apply. Talk with a mentor or recent graduate about how to best demonstrate your potential. Ask a person you trust to review your application, especially your essay.

Typical admission requirements include:

Current and unencumbered RN license; college transcript(s); 2-3 professional references; completed application with an essay or personal statement

Most schools require a 3.0 GPA, but there may be some leeway if you have a borderline GPA. Talk to an admissions counselor about your individual case and qualifications.

Most schools require or strongly prefer at least one year of RN experience.

Why Is RN-to-MSN Program Accreditation Important?

Accreditation is a guarantee of program quality. The accreditation process examines every aspect of a program to ensure it meets the highest standards.

  • States do not license graduates of non-accredited schools.
  • Boards do not allow graduates of non-accredited schools to apply for certification.
  • Most accredited schools do not accept transfers from non-accredited schools.
  • Most federal loans are only available for students of accredited programs.
  • With so many excellent accredited NP programs in Massachusetts, there's no reason to risk your money and time on a non-accredited program.

Paying for RN-to-MSN Programs in Massachusetts

Paying for an MSN is a big investment, especially if you are attending a private school or paying out-of-state costs. On top of tuition and fees, you must pay for books and possibly travel for on-campus requirements.

In addition to your school's financial aid services, demand for MSNs is so high that there are several federal government scholarships or loan forgiveness programs that can cover all of your costs. The most substantial programs require working in underserved areas, for the military, or for the Indian Health Service after graduation.

You can also apply for grants and scholarships from state and local governments, foundations, associations, other nonprofits, and corporations.

Learn More About the Top RN-to-MSN Programs and Schools in Massachusetts

  1. Boston College

    Chestnut Hill, Brighton and Newton Center, MA

    Boston College hosts the Conell School of Nursing, where students can become nurse leaders and advanced practice nurses. Students are taught that it is important for a nurse leader to be able to have the wisdom to step back when required and to make clinical decisions when these are needed. They must also be able to apply these to a variety of health care settings. Additionally, they must be patient advocates and have the ability to exert true clinical judgment. Graduates must have shown a true commitment to ensuring their profession develops in such a way that they can have the greatest positive impact.

    • Campus: Chestnut Hill, Brighton and Newton Center, MA
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation: ANCCCA
    • Tuition: $1,200 per credit
    • Minimum time commitment: 72 credits
    • Online availability: No
    • Degree requirements: BSN, GPA of B or more, statistics course, RN
    • Programs: MSN Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Anesthesia, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, Forensic Nursing, Palliative Care
    • School Site:  Tuition and Financial Aid
  2. Curry College

    Milton, MA

    At Curry College, MSN graduates can become valuable health care employees because they will have the abilities that are needed to make a positive difference in the quality of health care. Additionally, they will be able to lower costs while increasing patient satisfaction. This is taught under the Clinical Nurse Leader curriculum. Some of the core elements of the curriculum include outcomes measurement, risk assessment, patient safety and improving quality.

    • Campus: Milton, MA
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation: AACN
    • Tuition: $972 per credit
    • Minimum time commitment: 37 credits
    • Online availability: No
    • Degree requirements: BSN, GPA of 3.0, statistics course, interview, resume, one letter of recommendation, personal statement, RN license
    • Programs: MSN Clinical Nurse Leader
    • School Site:  Tuition and Financial Aid
  3. Elms College

    Chicopee, MA

    Elms College’s School or Nursing wants to make sure that graduates become the best nurse educators and scholars in the country. This mission is delivered by offering a learning community that is supportive and that challenges the students to make sure they are able to adapt to change without forgetting their own ethics. The MSN is one of the most esteemed degree programs in the state, mainly because their focus is strongly on the welfare of individual students.

    • Campus: Chicopee, MA
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation: CCNE
    • Tuition: $29,728 per year
    • Minimum time commitment: 2 years
    • Online availability: No
    • Degree requirements: Two letters of recommendation, transcripts, statistics course, resume, personal statement, RN license, interview
    • Programs: MSN Nursing and Health Services Management, Nursing Education, Dual Degree MSN/MBA
    • School Site:  Tuition and Financial Aid
  4. Emmanuel College

    Boston, MA

    At Emmanuel College, MSN students undergo rigorous training programs in a variety of different formats. The programs are designed for those who are passionate about helping other people, but who feel like they could do more. The degree gives them the advanced skills and knowledge they require. There are two tracks available – nursing management and nursing education – which ensure students are able to perform evidence-based practice. The foundations are based on ethics, theory, diversity, research, health care policy and IT. Additionally, students must choose four specialty courses.

    • Campus: Boston, MA
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation: CCNE
    • Tuition: $2,581 per course
    • Minimum time commitment: 36 credits
    • Online availability: Yes
    • Degree requirements: BSN, transcripts, GPA of 2.5 or more, two letters of recommendation, essay, resume, RN license, interview
    • Programs: MSN Nursing Education and Nursing Management
    • School Site:  Tuition and Financial Aid
  5. Fitchburg State University

    Fitchburg, MA

    Registered Nurses can take part in an MSN degree program at Fitchburg State University. Graduates become advanced leaders who play a meaningful role in the health of the communities in which they work. Graduates will be at the forefront of developing the quality of health care and then later to study towards a doctorate degree.

    • Campus: Fitchburg, MA
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: CCNE
    • Tuition: $304 per credit
    • Minimum time commitment: 36 semester hours
    • Online availability: Yes
    • Degree requirements: Transcript, BSN, GRE, CORI, essay
    • Programs: MSN Forensic Nursing
    • School Site:  Tuition and Financial Aid
  6. MCPHS University

    Boston, Worcester and Manchester, MA

    At MCPHS, those who currently hold a BSN degree are welcome to study towards becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner. The program is fully online and is known to be one of the most innovative programs in the state. Only minimal campus visits are required in order to complete the program itself.

    • Campus: Boston, Worcester and Manchester, MA
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation: CCNE
    • Tuition: $860 per credit hour
    • Minimum time commitment: Two years
    • Online availability: Yes
    • Degree requirements: BSN, RN license, one year’s work experience, TOEFL if applicable, GPA of 3.0 minimum
    • Programs: MSN Family Nurse Practitioner, Teaching and Learning
    • School Site:  Tuition and Financial Aid 
  7. Framingham State University

    Framingham, MA

    MSN courses at Framingham are delivered in a hybrid format. This means that some on campus studying will be required, but much of the curriculum is delivered online. Each semester, a student must take part in two courses. This means a student only needs to be on campus once a week in the evenings. The school ensures that the same cohort stays together for the duration of the course. The MSN is designed for those who already have a lot of nursing theory and those who want to become even better in areas, such as ethics, healthcare policy, IT, cultural competency and practice expertise. As such, they can choose from two programs, for becoming a nurse leader or nurse educator.

    • Campus: Framingham, MA
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: CCNE
    • Tuition: $1,270 per course
    • Minimum time commitment: Two years
    • Online availability: Partially
    • Degree requirements: RN license, BSN, QPA of 3.0 minimum, statistics course, personal interview, two letters of recommendation, personal statement
    • Programs: MSN Nursing Education, Nursing Leadership
    • School Site:  Tuition and Financial Aid

Frequently Asked Questions About RN-to-MSN Programs

Is an RN-to-MSN program worth it?

The answer depends on your priorities, but MSNs have considerably higher salary prospects, more job autonomy, and the opportunity to change lives by diagnosing and prescribing treatments for health conditions. For many, this makes the cost and effort worth it.

How long does it take to bridge from RN to MSN?

Most RN-to-MSN programs take approximately three years to complete, depending on the number of credits and program pace. The right speed for you depends on your background and other responsibilities.

What's the highest paid type of nurse in Massachusetts?

Nurse anesthetists earn an average $219,680 in Massachusetts, according to the BLS. This is more than twice the average RN salary of $96,630, and well above the average NP salary of $120,680. These salaries are also higher than national averages, largely because of the higher cost of living.

Can I get my MSN right after my BSN?

Relatively few MSN programs encourage students to apply directly from a BSN program; most require or strongly prefer at least one year of full-time work as an RN. This ensures that nursing is right for you and that you have had the chance to learn on the job.

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