The Best RN-to-MSN Programs in Minnesota

November 12, 2021 , Modified on May 18, 2022 · 6 Min Read

If you're an RN looking for a higher salary and more autonomy, an RN-to-MSN program can get you there. Learn about the best RN-to-nurse practitioner programs in Minnesota.

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The Best RN-to-MSN Programs in Minnesota

If you're a registered nurse (RN) looking for more autonomy and a higher salary, becoming a nurse practitioner (NP) can help you achieve your goals. Minnesota NPs hold full practice authority, allowing you to open an independent practice if you choose.

This guide explores NP programs in Minnesota that offer an RN-to-MSN option. These programs let you complete the equivalent of a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and a master of science in nursing (MSN) in approximately three years.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best RN-to-MSN programs in Minnesota, 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 best RN-to-MSN programs in Minnesota, or go straight to our list of the best RN-to-MSN programs in Minnesota.

What Can You Do With an MSN?

Most MSN graduates become NPs, but there are many other careers for MSN graduates, such as nurse administrator, nurse educator, nurse midwife, or clinical nurse specialist.

Many MSN programs require a BSN, but RN-to-MSN programs combine both degrees. RN-to-MSN programs, including many NP programs in Minnesota, build on your associate degree in nursing (ADN) to help you earn an MSN in approximately three years, depending on the program.

msn Required

Nurse Practitioner

NPs are between physicians and RNs in terms of authority and length of education. Like physicians, they are authorized to order tests, diagnose conditions, and prescribe treatments. Most are family nurse practitioners who provide primary care, but they can also specialize in psychiatric mental health, pediatric, women's health, or adult-gerontology care.
Salary $117,953*
Job Outlook 52% growth from 2020-30
Learn More About Advanced Nurse Practitioners
msn or dnp Required

Nurse Consultant

Nurse consultants can work in a variety of settings, such as law firms, healthcare organizations, insurance firms, or government agencies. They provide expertise on nursing practice, public health, infection prevention, and health communications. Legal nurse consultants may help clients navigate disability claims, advise law firms on standard nursing practice, and act as expert witnesses during trials.
Salary $90,000*
Job Outlook 32% from 2020-2030
Learn More About Nurse Consultants
msn or dnp Required

Research Nurse

Research nurses conduct and publish research on evidence-based practice in nursing or related nursing topics. Most work for research universities, other healthcare research organizations, government offices, or academic publishers.
Salary $66,370-87,650*
Job Outlook 17% from 2020-2030
Learn More About Research Nurses
*SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale,

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

When choosing from the different NP programs in Minnesota, consider price (tuition and other costs), the school and class sizes, the program's reputation, board pass rates, and clinical placement logistics.

Admission requirements not only tell you how likely you are to be accepted, but what your classmates will be like and the school's culture.

Unlike medical schools, NP programs specialize in a particular population, such as geriatrics, pediatrics, or family. If you aren't sure about your preferred population, attending a school that offers multiple NP specialties gives you more flexibility.

If you live near the school campus, typically clinical placement is very straightforward. However, if you're attending an online NP program in Minnesota, see if you can get clinical placement in your community.

Accreditation is an external, objective assessment of a program's quality and how well it prepares students to practice safely as nurses. Accreditation is the top indicator of program quality. This guide only lists accredited MSN and other NP programs in Minnesota.

Some programs offer part-time options or otherwise accommodate working students, while others assume full-time schedules. The number of credits may affect program cost, especially if you are a part-time student.

The NCLEX-RN pass rate is a good indicator of general nursing school quality for both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Board pass rates are another valuable indicator. However, pass rates for medium and larger programs prove more helpful, since one or two students can skew the numbers in a smaller program.

The graduation rate tells you how likely enrolled students are to succeed in the program. Again, this number isn't necessarily as valuable for smaller programs. Consider the graduation rate, along with the examination pass rates, since a school with a high dropout rate might have an artificially high pass rate.

Applying to an RN-to-MSN Program

Because the pace of RN-to-MSN programs can be grueling — especially since you're taking one year to complete the equivalent of two years of a BSN program — schools need to see your commitment and potential in your application. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to collect materials, write your essays or personal statements, and find someone you trust to review them.

Current and unencumbered RN license; two to three professional references (some schools prefer at least one reference from an NP or a physician); completed application with essay or personal statement; resume/CV; ADN transcript (some schools accept a copy with your application and an official and sealed transcript after acceptance)

Most schools require at least a 3.0 GPA in your undergraduate work. If your GPA is borderline, talk to an admissions counselor, as you may have other qualifications to offset the lower GPA. Some schools offer provisional admission for students with a GPA slightly under their usual requirement.

Most programs require or strongly prefer at least one year of experience as an RN.

Why Is RN-to-MSN Program Accreditation Important?

During accreditation, an independent certifying organization reviews every aspect of the program that affects quality. Some considerations include faculty and staff qualifications, teaching methods, and lab equipment.

Accreditation is vital for the following reasons:

  • States require a diploma from an accredited school for NP licensing.
  • Boards only accept applicants from accredited programs.
  • Almost no accredited schools accept transfer credits from non-accredited programs.
  • Accreditation assures your future employer that you know how to safely work as an NP.
  • Most federal loans are available only for accredited schools.
  • A non-accredited program poses a risk to your time and money.

Paying for RN-to-MSN Programs in Minnesota

Paying for a nursing degree can be stressful, especially if you attend a private school or pay out-of-state tuition. Factors to consider include tuition and fees, whether you can work while studying, whether you'll have travel expenses for on-campus requirements or clinical experiences, and the program length. Fortunately, you have multiple options for financial aid.

In addition to aid offered by the school, you can apply for scholarships and grants from government agencies, foundations and other nonprofits, and corporations. If you commit to work in a government agency, the military, or in an area with a shortage of healthcare professionals, you may be eligible for a full scholarship or total loan forgiveness.

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

  1. Capella University

    Minneapolis, MN

    At Capella University, you can take part in higher learning that is innovative, compelling and fresh. The goal of the university is to facilitate lifelong learning, which is why students are encouraged to continue on to their doctoral degree after completing their master's. The programs are available online to offer students the greatest degree of flexibility. All programs are designed to deliver highly competent professionals who are ready to take on important careers.

    • Campus: Minneapolis, MN
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation: CCNE
    • Tuition: $435 per credit
    • Minimum time commitment: Between 54 and 66 credits
    • Online availability: Yes
    • Degree requirements: BSN, GPA of 3.0 minimum, RN license, work experience,
    • Programs: MSN Care Coordination, MSN Nursing Education, MSN Nursing Informatics, MSN Nursing Leadership and Administration, RN-to-MSN Care Coordination, RN-to-MSN Nursing Education, RN-to-MSN Nursing Informatics, RN-to-MSN Nursing Leadership and Administration
    • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid
  2. Bethel University

    Saint Paul, MN

    At Bethel University, the master’s degree in nursing program is designed to help students transition into leadership functions in the field of health care. The curriculum is versatile and comprehensive. All students take part in a number of core courses, as well as choose a number of elective courses in specific concentrations. This means that the final degree is fully customized to your own needs. Students are also encouraged to study on towards their doctoral degree.

    • Campus: Saint Paul, MN
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation: CCNE
    • Tuition: $575 for MSN Nurse Educator and Nurse Leader, $740 per credit for MSN Nurse-Midwifery
    • Minimum time commitment: 2 years, 1 summer and 6 months capstone project for nurse leader; 2 years, 2 summers and a 6 months capstone project for nurse educator; three bachelor’s courses followed by MSN specialization for BSN to MSN option; varies for MSN Nurse-Midwifery
    • Online availability: No, but certificates in Nurse Educator and Nurse Leader are
    • Degree requirements: Varies, prospective students should contact an admissions adviser
    • Programs: MSN Nurse Leader, MSN Nurse Educator, BSN to MSN Combined Option, MSN Nurse Midwifer
    • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid
  3. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

    Minneapolis, MN

    The MSN degree program offered by Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota offers formal and informal instruction curriculum for specialization on nurse anesthesia. Students will learn about clinical practice, scientific principles and the opportunities for professional growth that are available to them. The nursing community that emerged from Saint Mary’s follows a number of core values, including professionalism, academic excellent, responsibility, personal integrity and compassion. The faculty and the students share the responsibility for achieving the goals required of someone who wants to be a nurse anesthetist.

    • Campus: Minneapolis, MN
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation: CANAEP
    • Tuition: $541 per credit
    • Minimum time commitment: 64 semester credits
    • Online availability: No
    • Degree requirements: BSN, GPA of 2.75 minimum, transcripts, RN license, one year’s work experience, one professional reference, chemistry course, immunizations, health check
    • Programs: MSN Nurse Anesthesia
    • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid
  4. Mayo School of Health Sciences

    Rochester, MN

    The Mayo School of Health Sciences offers master of science studies in nursing that were created specifically to ensure students have extended theoretical knowledge in that field. This is achieved mainly through scholarly inquiry, during which time nurses prepare themselves to be able to facilitate and manage complex health needs in a variety of settings. Nurses who graduate from Mayo can become nurse educators, clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, nurse administrators, or nurse anesthetists.

    • Campus: Rochester, MN
    • Type: Private, not for profit
    • Accreditation: NLNAC
    • Tuition: $580 per credit
    • Minimum time commitment: 3 to 5 semesters for MSN Clinical Education; varies for Nurse Midwifery
    • Online availability: No
    • Degree requirements: Good academic standing, immunizations, background check, drug screening, health insurance, RN license
    • Programs: MSN Clinical Education, MSN Nurse Midwifery Clinical Rotations, Specializations in Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Midwife, Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Administrator, and Nurse Anesthetist
    • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid
  5. Metropolitan State University

    Saint Paul, MN

    Metropolitan State University has a very clear mission. They want to make sure all RNs are able to advance in their professional careers, as well as focus on fostering better health in Minnesota’s underserved and highly diverse populations and communities. The school has made a strong commitment towards collaborative community involvement, academic excellence, and the promotion of scholarly activities for all faculty members.

    • Campus: Saint Paul, MN
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: CCNE
    • Tuition: $446.68 per credit
    • Minimum time commitment: 7 semesters
    • Online availability: No
    • Degree requirements: Transcripts, essay, two letters of reference, computer literacy, prerequisite courses
    • Programs: Entry Level MSN
    • School Site:  Tuition and Financial Aid
  6. Minneapolis School of Anesthesia

    St. Louis Park, MN

    The MSN program offered by the Minneapolis School of Anesthesia is a collaboration between the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis School of Anesthesia. As such, students can take part in courses in various states and locations should they choose to. Graduates from the program will be able to get to work in a huge range of settings and they will focus on the safe administration of anesthetics, using state-of-the-art technology.

    • Campus: St. Louis Park, MN
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation: AANA/CANAEP
    • Tuition: $3,900 per semester
    • Minimum time commitment: 48 semester credits
    • Online availability: No
    • Degree requirements: High school or GED, BSN or ADN with bachelor’s in other discipline, GPA of 3.0 or more, one year nursing experience, RN license, chemistry course, cardiac support certificate, interview, health check, personal statement, four letters of recommendation
    • Programs: MSN Nurse Anesthesia
    • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid
  7. Minnesota State University at Mankato

    Mankato, MN

    The Minnesota State University at Mankato offers two highly popular MSN degree programs the Family Nurse Practitioner and the Nurse Educator. The goal of the school is to make sure all graduates have true academic and professional excellence. Additionally, students are encouraged to study on towards their doctorate degree.

    • Campus: Mankato, MN
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: CCNE, NLNAC
    • Tuition: $365.95 per credit
    • Minimum time commitment: 37 credits for Nurse Educator, 83 credits for Family Nurse Practitioner
    • Online availability: No
    • Degree requirements: Attendance at information session, transcripts, GPA of 3.0, TOEFL if applicable, BSN/BS/BA, RN license, two years work experience, one professional reference, resume, personal statement, interview
    • Programs: MSN Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator
    • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

Frequently Asked Questions About RN-to-MSN Programs

Is an RN-to-MSN worth it?

RN-to-MSN programs are long and expensive, but NP salaries typically remain at least 20% higher than RN salaries. NPs also enjoy more professional autonomy, especially in full practice states like Minnesota. Because of the demand for NPs, there are many full scholarships or loan forgiveness programs available from the federal government.

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

Depending on the program pace, RN-to-MSN programs typically take three years for full-time students. While this is a long time, this track requires less time in school than the traditional four-year BSN and two-year MSN path.

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

Nurse anesthetists are the highest-paid nurses in Minnesota. The average nurse anesthetist salary in Minnesota is $214,460, according to the BLS. However, new nurse anesthetists must have a DNP, starting with the class of 2025. Most DNP programs take at least three years to complete.

Is Minnesota a full practice state for nurse practitioners?

Minnesota is a full practice authority state, so this makes the various entry-level master's in nursing programs in Minnesota options excellent choices for advancing your career. In full practice states, NPs do not need to work under a physician's supervision.

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