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October 15, 2021

Top 5 Cheap, Fast, Online MSN Programs

Top 5 Cheap, Fast, Online MSN Programs

If you’re looking to further your education or advance your career with a master’s degree in nursing, 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. Furthermore, it is important to know that most MSN programs do require in-person clinical experiences.

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. 

5 Fast & Affordable Online MSN Programs 

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. Again, check with the school prior to applying to determine your state’s eligibility requirements for online completion. 

1. Fort Hays State University

  • Cost per credit hour: $298.55 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: Committee on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 
  • Application Deadline: February 1 for the summer, July 1 for the fall semester, and September 1 for the spring semester
  • Length of program: 2 years
  • Total approximate cost of the program: $10,747.80
  • Contact Information: 785-628-4256

Fort Hays State University offers two MSN degrees: 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. 

2. The University of Alabama 

  • Cost per credit hour: $440 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: Committee on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 
  • Length of program: 1-3 years 
  • Total tuition cost of a 40 credit program: $17,600
  • Contact Information: 205-348-6639 or 800-313-3591

The University of Alabama offers 4 different online MSN concentrations: Nurse Administrator, Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Dual Psychiatric Mental Health and Family Nurse Practitioner. 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, they do offer an RN to BSN program with a pathway to the MSN program if you meet the requirements. 

Currently, only residents of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia are eligible for the Nurse Practitioner concentrations.

The concentrations do vary in required credit hours and time, with a sampling below: 

  • MSN-NP: 2 to 3 years; 45 - 66 total credit hours
  • MSN Nurse Administrator: 1 (full-time) to 2 years (part-time); 33 total credit hours

3. University of Texas-Tyler

  • Cost per credit hour: Approximately $1469 per credit hour for out-of-state residents
  • Accreditation: Committee on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 
  • Length of program: 2 (full-time) or 3 years (part-time)
  • Total sample tuition cost: Varies based on program, credit hours per semester, and resident eligibility
  • Contact Information: 903-566-7457

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
  • Online MSN-MBA

Although the NP program coursework is offered online, it is a hybrid program, so 25 clinical hours are required 1 to 2 days a semester on the Tyler campus.  Anyone enrolling in the program must have an RN license in Texas as all clinical hours are required to be completed in Texas. The other degree tracks, however, are completely done online. 

4. Briar Cliff University

  • Cost per credit hour: $525 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: Committee on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 
  • Length of program: 3 years
  • Total cost of program: $27,000
  • Contact Information: 800-662-3303 or 712-279-5200

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. 

This program allows you to choose a clinical site near your home area for the 600 required practicum hours. However, all students are required to attend a 6-day seminar (3 days in Summer Year 1 during Advanced Health Assessment and 3 days in Summer Year 2 during Advanced Skills Lab).

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. 

5. University of Arizona

  • Cost per credit hour: $680 
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the Western Institute of Nursing member
  • Length of program: 15 to 24 months + one 16-week capstone
  • Total approximate tuition cost: $28,000
  • Contact Information: 520-621-0898 or [email protected]

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 approximately 15 months. 

There are ADN and BSN-prepared tracks. The ADN track does take longer to complete and costs more money due to the increase in the number of credit hours. 

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 at the start of the program.

Residents of Tennessee, Washington D.C., as well as the US Territories, are not eligible.

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