The Top RN-to-MSN Programs in Massachusetts

Updated November 18, 2022

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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Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Credit: Tomasz Szulczewski | Moment | Getty Images

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.

  1. 1

    Admission Requirements

    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.

  2. 2

    Program Curriculum

    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.

  3. 3

    Clinical Experience

    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.

  4. 4

    Accreditation

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

  5. 5

    Program Length

    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.

  6. 6

    School NCLEX Pass Rate

    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.

  7. 7

    School Graduation Rate

    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:

  1. 1

    Admission Materials

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

  2. 2

    GPA Requirement

    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.

  3. 3

    Other Requirement

    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 The Top RN-to-MSN Programs in Massachusetts

College of Our Lady of the Elms

  • Chicopee, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

With a bachelor's degree in nursing, degree-seekers can affordably earn a master's degree at College of Our Lady of the Elms. The master of science in nursing program, delivered on campus in Chicopee, Massachusetts, is well-suited for those interested in assuming higher-level positions in their field. Many financial assistance offerings are available to help make the degree even more financially accessible.

The graduate tuition for Massachusetts’s students is about $14,814 per year. According to the school, 100% of degree-seekers receive grant and scholarship awards to help make programs more affordable. Loans are another option accepted by 81% of enrollees.

A master’s degree builds on bachelor’s-level knowledge, producing more advanced professionals in the nursing field. Degree completers leave the program with a credential that can lead to managerial and leadership jobs. A terminal degree like a doctorate is one avenue that graduates may pursue.

Average Tuition
In-state
$35,270
Out-of-state
$35,270
Retention Rate
82%
Admission Rate
75%
Students Enrolled
1,495
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#2 The Top RN-to-MSN Programs in Massachusetts

Regis College

  • Weston, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

At Regis College, degree-seekers receive an affordable top-notch education in a variety of disciplines. The Weston, Massachusetts-based college offers a master of science in nursing program that prepares students for high-level jobs in their field. Financial aid programs can help make this degree more affordable.

Students can expect to pay $38,280 per year in graduate tuition if they live in Massachusetts. According to the institution, 100% of degree-seekers receive aid awards that include scholarships that they do not pay back. Loans provide another option for 68% of enrollees.

A master’s degree builds on bachelor’s-level knowledge, producing highly skilled nursing professionals. Graduates can pursue leadership roles, and some may choose a research-related profession. Another option is a Ph.D. or other terminal degree.

Average Tuition
In-state
$42,650
Out-of-state
$42,650
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
3,194
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
42% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#3 The Top RN-to-MSN Programs in Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts-Lowell

  • Lowell, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Massachusetts-Lowell, a public college, is located in Lowell, Massachusetts, and manages a comprehensive graduate school. The graduate school offers 48 master's programs that give bachelor’s degree-holders the opportunity to enhance their education and skills in various fields. These programs provide instruction from qualified faculty, all of whom dedicate their careers to student success.

For people interested in the nursing field, the school offers a top-ranked master of science in nursing program on campus. The curriculum prepares enrollees for advanced careers in areas like management and research. Studying on campus introduces degree-seekers to a much richer educational experience.

The school charges a tuition rate of $14,590 a year for enrollees who live in the state, and $26,370 if they live elsewhere. Degree-seekers can receive monetary awards to help foot their tuition bill, as the school awards loans, scholarships, and other forms of financial aid to 90% of learners. Once people enroll in the college, about 66% of them complete their degrees.

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,078
Out-of-state
$33,004
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
73%
Students Enrolled
18,352
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#4 The Top RN-to-MSN Programs in Massachusetts

Simmons University

  • Boston, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Simmons University's MSN program attracts learners who hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing, preparing them for enhanced career opportunities. The school is well-established as a leader in graduate education, offering 41 master's degrees among programs. The master of science in nursing program enrolls BSN-holders.

Qualified professors teach the curriculum and can serve as mentors. It examines the subject from a variety of perspectives, combining practical and theoretical instruction to build a significant understanding of the field. Graduates qualify to pursue a variety of high-level positions, change careers, or pursue a terminal degree.

Graduate students can expect to pay an average $21,654 per year if they live in Massachusetts or elsewhere. School staff can help learners explore financial aid opportunities like scholarships, grants, and loans to help fund their degree. Degree-seekers have access to support services and a strong campus community of like-minded peers.

Average Tuition
In-state
$40,850
Out-of-state
$40,850
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
73%
Students Enrolled
6,535
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#5 The Top RN-to-MSN Programs in Massachusetts

Northeastern University

  • Boston, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

People with a bachelor’s degree in nursing who want to remain competitive in the job market should consider attending Northeastern University. The school counts top-ranked degrees among 47 master's programs and is considered a leader in graduate education. The direct entry nursing program is an on-campus option for nursing students with a bachelor's.

Faculty have a lot of experience teaching the program and helping students succeed. The curriculum covers high-level concepts while giving learners practical experience that might include research opportunities. This education prepares degree-seekers to pursue advanced careers in nursing or to go on to terminal degree programs.

The cost of tuition is about $24,933 per year, regardless of residency. Financial aid opportunities like scholarships, grants, and loans make this degree more affordable. In addition to academic support from faculty, enrollees benefit from support services like tutoring and professional development events.

Average Tuition
In-state
$29,298
Out-of-state
$29,298
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
11,857
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
52% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

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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