Top 5 Cheap, Fast, Online MSN Programs
By Chaunie Brusie
If you’re looking to further your education or advance your career with a Master’s of Science in Nursing degree, chances are, you’re probably curious if an online degree could be right for you. Online MSN degrees have a lot of advantages for nurses today because they allow you to have the flexibility to pursue the degree while keeping up with your busy schedule and well, life.
Despite the advantages of an online MSN program, it can be difficult to wade through the many different options that are available. It’s important to look carefully at any program before applying because many advertised online programs either require some kind of on-campus participation or have restrictions on eligibility based on where you live. Additionally, if you’re looking for an MSN-NP degree, every state has its own rules on education requirements, so you will have to check with the individual school to see if you’re eligible to apply.
To help guide your decision, here are 5 accredited online MSN programs that can get you your degree as quickly and affordably as possible. The MSN programs selected vary in on-campus requirements and degree tracks.
- Cost per credit hour: ~$87
- CCNE accredited
- Length of program: 2 years
- Total approximate cost of program: $11,000
Fort Hays State University offers two MSN degree: Nurse Administration and Nursing Education. Fort Hays works with clinical sites across the country to accommodate out-of-state students and notes that if an acceptable site can not be found in your area, a site will be made available to you on their campus. However, it’s recommended that you work with a preceptor well in advance to ensure that you can find acceptable clinical site approval before enrolling.
Additionally, the program does not accept students from Tennessee, Utah, Alabama, or Washington based on licensing restrictions.
The University of Alabama
- Cost per credit hour (as of November 2019): $420
- CCNE accredited
- Length of program: 1-3 years
- Total tuition cost of a 40 credit program: $16,800
The University of Alabama offers a highly impressive array of online MSN degrees because they offer 6 total concentrations: Nurse Case Manager, Clinical Nurse Leader, Nurse Administrator, Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Dual Psychiatric Mental Health and Family Nurse Practitioner. All of the programs are available 100% online, with clinical sites chosen by you (although they are subject to approval by the college of nursing) and two on-campus sessions that have to be completed over the course of the study.
Although the program is designed for a BSN-prepared nurse, although they do offer an RN to BSN program with a pathway to the MSN program if you meet the concentrations. One important note is that although the NP concentrations are available online, only BSN-prepared nurses from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi are currently eligible for admission to Nurse Practitioner (NP) concentrations.
The concentrations do vary in required credit hours and time, with a sampling below:
- MSN Clinical Nurse Leader: 1-2.5 years; 38-44 credit hours
- MSN Nurse Manager: 1-2 years; 40-46 credit hours
- MSN-NP: 2 to 3 years; 51 total credit hours
- MSN Nurse Administrator: 1 (full-time) to 2 years (part-time); 39 total credit hours
University of Texas-Tyler
- Cost per credit hour: ~$460, but varies based on how many credit hours you take
- CCNE accredited
- Length of program: 2 (full-time) or 3 years (part-time)
- Total sample tuition cost: $16,380
Also boasting a low per-credit tuition cost and a low credit requirement to degree completion, the University of Texas-Tyler has four online MSN tracks: Online Nursing Administration-MSN, Online Nursing Education-MSN, Web-Enhanced Nurse Practitioner, RN-MSN, and an Online MSN-MBA.
Although the NP program coursework is offered online, it is a hybrid program, so clinical hours take place on-campus. Anyone enrolling in the program must have an RN license in Texas. The MSN-NP track requires a total of 47 credit hours, including the clinical portion. The other degree tracks, however, are completely done online.
- Cost per credit hour: $525
- CCNE accredited
- Length of program: 3 years
- Total cost of program: $27,000
Briar Cliff comes in at one of the cheapest online MSN-NP programs with a variety of advanced track specialties--students can choose to specialize as a Family Nurse Practitioner, an Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, or Psychiatric Mental Health Care Practitioner.
You can choose that allows you to choose your clinical site near your home area (while working with the school). However, all students have to attend a 6-day seminar at the start of the program over the summer that takes place on campus.
Additional requirements to enroll include that you must have an RN license that is valid in Iowa and you must have the ability to demonstrate with a letter from your employer that you have worked at least 2,000 hours as an RN within the last two years to be eligible to apply.
- Cost per credit hour: $680
- CCNE accredited, AACN member
- Length of program: 15 months + one 16-week capstone
- Total approximate tuition cost: $28,000
The University of Arizona offers one of the fastest available MSN programs, allowing you to earn an MSN in Nursing Clinical Systems Leadership completely online in around 18 months. They have both an ADN and a BSN-prepared track. The actual coursework for a BSN-prepared nurse is 8 7-week courses, with a capstone project that will take an additional semester. However, the Nursing Clinical Systems Leadership is the only track available, so if you’re looking for an MSN-NP program, this online program won’t be right for you.
This program has the advantage of being made up of 7 week-long courses, so admission rotates every 5 months, allowing students three opportunities per year to enroll. In order to be eligible for admission, you must have a BSN and have passed a 3-credit, college-level statistics class within the last 5 years, test out, or take the class within the program.