The Best RN-to-MSN Programs in Minnesota

Updated August 8, 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.

1. Admission Requirements

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.

2. Program Curriculum

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.

3. Clinical Experience

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.

4. Accreditation

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.

5. Program Length

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.

6. School NCLEX Pass Rate

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.

7. School Graduation Rate

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.

Admission Materials

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)

GPA Requirement

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.

Other Requirements

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


The University of Minnesota Twin Cities

School Information
Location Minneapolis, Minnesota
Admission Rate 57%
Graduation Rate 83%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Minnesota Twin Cities is a good option for learners with a bachelor’s degree in nursing who want more marketable skills. A leader in graduate education in the state, the school offers 171 master's degrees for continuing education. On-campus options include a master of nursing program for students who already have an RN.

Enrollees learn from qualified faculty known for helping students achieve their academic goals. They cover practical and theoretical knowledge, showing participants how to apply technical skills and best practices in their field. This education prepares degree-seekers for career advancement in nursing  and provides the foundation for terminal degree programs.

Minnesota residents pay about $17,580 in tuition per year, and those living elsewhere pay $27,204. School staff can help learners explore financial aid opportunities like scholarships, grants, and loans to help fund their education. Degree-seekers have access to support services and a strong campus community of like-minded peers.

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Minnesota State University, Mankato

School Information
Location Mankato, Minnesota
Admission Rate 63%
Graduation Rate 50%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

At Minnesota State University, Mankato, degree-seekers receive an affordable top-notch education in a variety of disciplines. The college offers an RN-to-BSN program that prepares students for high-level jobs in their field. Financial aid helps make this degree accessible to those without the means to pay out of pocket.

Learners can expect to pay $7,694 per year in graduate tuition if they live in Minnesota. About 88% of degree-seekers lower the cost of tuition by using scholarships and other forms of financial assistance. Loans are another option accepted by 51% of enrollees.

Students can pursue leadership roles after they graduate, while others change careers or do research. Graduates interested in higher education and research positions may choose to pursue a doctorate.

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Winona State University

School Information
Location Winona, Minnesota
Admission Rate 68%
Graduation Rate 59%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Winona State University’s graduate division offers an RN-to-MSN program for prospective students with a registered nurse background. Learners pursue this master’s for a more in-depth understanding of nursing from a school that develops top-ranked degrees. A respected master’s degree can open doors to careers in management, development, and research.

The public school, located in Winona, Minnesota, is recognized for its strong graduate programs. Graduate degree-seekers have 17 different master's options to choose from, including the top-ranked RN-to-MSN program. The graduate school experience transcends advanced academics to include research opportunities, faculty mentorship, and the opportunity to build strong professional networks.

About 68% of applicants receive an acceptance letter, and this may vary across programs. In addition to required courses, enrollees can probably tailor the curriculum with elective coursework. The career services department and networking opportunities prepare students for the job market.

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The College of St. Scholastica

School Information
Location Duluth, Minnesota
Admission Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 69%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The College of St. Scholastica specializes in top-ranked degrees available in Duluth, Minnesota, home to the private college’s campus. With 20 master's degrees offered by the graduate program, the institution gives bachelor’s degree-holders ample opportunity for upward mobility in various fields. Key features of these programs include highly qualified instructors, rigorous curricula, and ample student support.

The school’s RN-to-BSN program is available for people interested in nursing. Enrollees receive the preparation they need for roles in management and research. One thing that degree-seekers may value a lot is the strong academic community on campus.

The tuition rate falls at $13,986 a year for residents and nonresidents alike. Students should consider applying for financial assistance since the school awards loans, grants, and other aid to 99% of learners. The overall degree completion rate for this college is 69%.

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Metropolitan State University

School Information
Location Saint Paul, Minnesota
Admission Rate 56%
Graduation Rate 34%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 51% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Metropolitan State University, a public college, is located in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and manages a comprehensive graduate school. Degree-seekers choose from 16 master's programs, covering a variety of fields. Students receive a rigorous and accredited education from top-notch faculty.

The school’s entry level master of science in nursing program is worth consideration for people interested in nursing. Coursework emphasizes the theoretical and practical skills required for roles in management and research. Participants not only have access to intensive classes covering a variety of topics, they can also receive assistance like career services.

People can expect to pay $8,082 a year in in-state tuition, and $16,164 a year in out-of-state tuition. Applicants can contact the financial aid department to see how much aid they can receive, as the school awards tuition money to 86% of learners. One factor that attracts people to this college is that about 34% of enrollees finish their programs once they start.

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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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