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The Best RN-to-MSN Programs in Minnesota

Maura Deering, J.D.NurseJournal Rankings Team
Updated November 30, 2023
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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Minnesota registered nurse-to-master of science in nursing (RN-to-MSN) programs offer RNs the opportunity to complete two degrees in about 3-4 years. Known as “bridge programs,” RN-to-MSN graduates earn both bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and MSN degrees, often while continuing to work. Obtaining an MSN can significantly advance your nursing career and lead to higher salaries.

This guide explains how RN-to-MSN programs work, how to apply, and lists the top RN-to-MSN programs in Minnesota.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best Minnesota 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.

At a Glance: The Top Minnesota RN-to-MSN Programs

  1. University of Minnesota-Duluth
  2. Winona State University
  3. Metropolitan State University

How Do Minnesota RN-to-MSN Programs Work?

Most of the top Minnesota RN-to-MSN programs offer online or hybrid classes and allow enrollees to complete their required clinical hours at their current workplaces. RNs can usually study part-time while continuing to work. Students initially complete bachelor’s-level coursework not covered in their associate degree in nursing (ADN) programs. The remaining time focuses on master’s-level nursing courses, which correlate to a specialization area.

Many RN-to-MSN programs train nurse practitioners (NPs) who specialize in areas, such as adult-gerontology, family, neonatal, and psychiatric-mental health. Other focus areas include nurse midwifery, management, and education. The curriculum can be rigorous and emphasizes both theory and practical skills.

Featured Online RN to MSN Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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Applying to a Minnesota RN-to-MSN Program

The top Minnesota RN-to-MSN programs can be competitive and admit roughly 50-70% of applicants. Prospective students should start their research well ahead of the application deadlines to find the best program for their needs. An early start also allows time to prepare admission materials like personal essays and to gather references.

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    Admission Materials

    Transcripts showing completion of an ADN and prerequisite coursework in sciences, human development, pathology, physiology, and statistics; current, unencumbered RN license; 2-3 academic and professional references; personal statement; resume or CV
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    GPA Requirement

    Most programs require a 3.0 undergraduate GPA
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    Other Requirement

    Some programs may require one or more of the following: at least one year of RN practice; admissions interview; criminal background check; GRE scores

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

The programs listed in our rankings hold accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The accreditation process entails regular independent review of nursing programs’ academics and clinical components to ensure adherence to standards and preparation for advanced nursing careers.

Accreditation is important for several reasons, including eligibility for state licensure and national board certification, the ability to transfer credits to other accredited nursing schools, employer preferences or requirements for applicants who graduate from accredited programs, and qualification for federal student loans.

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

See our methodology to learn more about how we create our rankings.
#1 The Best RN-to-MSN Programs in Minnesota

University of Minnesota-Duluth

  • Location-markerDuluth, MN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$12,194
  • Out-of-state$17,394
  • Retention Rate79%
  • Acceptance Rate79%
  • Students Enrolled10,275
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment92%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 The Best RN-to-MSN Programs in Minnesota

Winona State University

  • Location-markerWinona, MN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,712
  • Out-of-state$13,903
  • Retention Rate75%
  • Acceptance Rate75%
  • Students Enrolled7,106
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment46%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 The Best RN-to-MSN Programs in Minnesota

Metropolitan State University

  • Location-markerSaint Paul, MN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,136
  • Out-of-state$14,560
  • Retention Rate66%
  • Acceptance Rate62%
  • Students Enrolled7,552
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment93%
  • AccreditationYes

Frequently Asked Questions About Minnesota RN-to-MSN Programs

How long does it take to complete an RN-to-MSN program in Minnesota?

RN-to-MSN programs in Minnesota typically take 3-4 years to complete. The exact timing can vary by program and considerations like full- or-part-time enrollment, self-paced or scheduled coursework, and specialization area. RN-to-MSN programs merge four-year BSNs and two-year MSNs into an accelerated study plan.

Is earning an RN-to-MSN degree worth it in Minnesota?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Minnesota ranks eighth among U.S. states for NP salaries with average annual earnings of $127,010. In addition, NPs in Minnesota can expect a nearly 46% projected growth rate in employment for 2020-2030, as reported by Projections Central.

How much do nurse practitioners earn in Minnesota?

The BLS lists average and median salaries for Minnesota NPs at above $127,000. Salaries exceed the state average in the metropolitan areas of Duluth, where NPs earn $146,740, and Mankato, with salaries of $134,850. NPs in the southeast Minnesota non-metro area also make higher paychecks than the state average, bringing in $129,340.

Is Minnesota a full practice state for nurse practitioners?

The scope of practice for NPs varies by state and can be full practice, which means they can care for patients without a supervising physician, reduced practice, which allows independent performance of some duties, and restricted practice, which requires a supervising physician. Minnesota is a full practice state, allowing NPs to function autonomously.

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