Top BSN to MSN Online Programs

16 Min Read Published November 7, 2023
Top BSN to MSN Online Programs

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree can open up doors to remarkable career opportunities. But that four-year journey is just the beginning for many nursing professionals. As your career progresses, you may crave more responsibility, a higher salary, and greater autonomy.

In that case, it may be time to consider earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. MSN-trained nurses have a deeper knowledge of their specialties, allowing them to further their career aspirations.

This article explores the best online BSN to MSN programs nationwide. We'll cover everything you should know about the top 10 programs, tuition costs, specialties, and much more. Continue reading to find the best online BSN to MSN program for your nursing journey.

Popular Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University

GCU's College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has a nearly 35-year tradition of preparing students to fill evolving healthcare roles as highly qualified professionals. GCU offers a full spectrum of nursing degrees, from a pre-licensure BSN degree to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Georgetown University
Nursing@Georgetown delivers Georgetown University’s MS in Nursing program online, preparing RNs with a BSN to pursue certification in an APRN specialty. Students can earn their degree in as few as 19 months.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY and WA.

Fast Facts About BSN-to-MSN Programs 

Salary 

$125,900 per year; $60.53 per hour (BLS)

Program Length 

Two years

Requirements 

  • Bachelor of Nursing degree from an accredited nursing program
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher  
  • Official transcripts
  • An unencumbered RN license
  • Year or more of clinical nursing experience
  • Personal statement
  • Two to three letters of recommendation

What Is a BSN to MSN Program?

BSN to MSN programs are for nurses who have earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing and are now ready to take the next step in their educational journey and earn their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Most standard MSN programs do require nurses to have a BSN, though RN to MSN programs do exist for ADN-prepared nurses who want to go straight into earning their master’s degree in nursing. 

Where a BSN program provides the training and instruction needed to become a general practice registered nurse, an MSN program provides more intensive clinical knowledge and focuses more extensively on problem-solving, leadership, and critical thinking. 

There are several MSN programs that specialize in specific areas of interest. These specializations include, but aren't limited to:

Top 10 Online BSN to MSN Programs 

There are over 500 accredited MSN programs in the United States. The one that is right for you depends upon many factors, including:

  • Individual career goals
  • Desired location
  • Budget
  • Full or part-time study
  • In-person or online study
  • Hands-on practice requirements

We considered these factors when curating this list of top BSN to MSN programs. We also weighed and prioritized critical academic elements, including:

  • Cost of tuition
  • Variety of programs
  • Availability of online programming 
  • Accreditation

1. University of South Carolina College of Nursing 

The University of South Carolina College of Nursing is an excellent option for online MSN programs. US News & World Report ranked USC as the country's top online nursing program. The school offers BSN to MSN online programs allowing students to pursue advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) positions after graduation.

This university is ideal for students who want a personalized MSN experience. They may pursue any USC MSN program full or part-time at a steady or accelerated pace. Students may also complete practicum hours at their workplace rather than at sites predetermined by the school.

MSN Programs Offered:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Healthcare Leadership
  • Nursing Education
  • Nursing Informatics

Additional Program Information: 

  • Healthcare Leadership Tuition:
    • In-state: $21,135
    • Non-resident: $21,915
  • Other MSN Program Tuition:
    • In-state: $770.25 per credit hour
    • Non-resident: $1,438 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 30 to 47 credit hours
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Summer Application Deadline: 
    • September 1st (Early decision)
    • November 1st (Priority decision)
    • February 1st (Final decision)
  • Fall Application Deadline:
    • January 15th (Early decision)
    • March 1st (Priority decision)
    • May 1st (Final decision)
  • Contact Info: 
    • Phone Number: (803) 777-9080
    • Email Address: NURSGRAD@mailbox.sc.edu 
    • Website
  • Online Options Available? Yes

2. Duke University School of Nursing 

Duke University offers several options for aspiring advanced practice registered nurses. But you'll also find programs for pursuing non-clinical specialties at this school.

Though Duke has hybrid distance options, there will be in-person components if you attend an MSN program at this school. Once every semester, students must come to campus for 2-5 day intensives, face-to-face interactions, and hands-on activities.

You must complete between 42 and 49 credit hours to complete Duke's BSN to MSN programs. These include 11 credits from core courses and a final clinical residency. Specialty certificates in areas including HIV, palliative care, endocrinology, and more are also available to a specific major where appropriate.  

MSN Programs Offered:

  • Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care
  • Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Health Informatics
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
  • Nursing and Healthcare Leadership
  • Nursing Education
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

Additional Program Information: 

  • Tuition: $13,488 per semester 
  • Program Length: 2 to 3 years 
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: 
    • Fall: December 1st 
    • Spring: May 1st
  • Program Contact: Brandon Holmes, Admissions Officer 
  • Phone Number: (919) 668-6274
  • Email Address: bgh7@duke.edu 
  • Website
  • Online Options Available? Yes  

3. Ohio State University College of Nursing 

The traditional MSN program at Ohio State University includes on-campus and online options. The school also earned the #2 US News & World Report ranking for best online MSN programs. 

At Ohio State, students find clinically oriented classes for all majors that they can complete totally online. Online students take distance classes synchronously, which means they log in and attend class at specified times. They also do in-person clinical hours in their local areas.

MSN Programs Offered:

  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner  
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse-Midwifery
  • Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner  

Additional Program Information:

  • In-state Tuition:
    • In-person: $9,682 per semester
    • Online: $52,729.50
  • Non-resident Tuition:
    • In-person: $22,982 per semester 
    • Online: $53,729.50
  • Program Length: 2 years (full-time)
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: 
    • Round 1: October 31st
    • Round 2: March 1st
  • Contact Info: nursing@osu.edu
  • Online Options Available? Yes
  • Website

Popular Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University

GCU's College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has a nearly 35-year tradition of preparing students to fill evolving healthcare roles as highly qualified professionals. GCU offers a full spectrum of nursing degrees, from a pre-licensure BSN degree to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Georgetown University
Nursing@Georgetown delivers Georgetown University’s MS in Nursing program online, preparing RNs with a BSN to pursue certification in an APRN specialty. Students can earn their degree in as few as 19 months.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY and WA.

4. The University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing 

The University of Alabama offers online MSN degrees, preparing students to become NPs or take administrative positions at healthcare facilities. Currently, UA only offers NP concentrations to residents of certain states. Despite the online BSN to MSN programs at UA, nursing students must still attend orientation on campus.

The University of Alabama’s MSN majors are: 

  • Nurse Administrator 
  • Family Nurse Practitioner 
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner 
  • Dual Psychiatric Mental Health and Family Nurse Practitioner 

Additional Program Information: 

  • Tuition: $440 per credit hour 
  • Program Length: Two years 
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: 
    • Spring: August 1st
    • Summer: December 1st
    • Fall: March 1st 
  • Program Contact: Vickie Samuel
  • Phone Number: (205) 348-8163 
  • Email Address: vsamuel@ua.edu  
  • Website
  • Online Options Available? Yes

5. Emory University School of Nursing 

Emory’s nursing program has won national acclaim, including the #1 MSN program ranking from US News & World Report. Emory University's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing has several MSN programs to satisfy diverse career goals.

The school offers APRN programs with dual-degree options, like the MSN-MA in bioethics or MSN-MPH in public health. While the full-time MSN format is taught in person, the part-time format combines distance learning with on-campus intensives.

MSN Programs Offered:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner 
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner 
  • Family Nurse Practitioner 
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner 
  • Nurse-Midwifery 
  • Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner 
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner 
  • Women’s Health/Gender-related Nurse Practitioner 
  • Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • MSN-MA in Bioethics Dual Degree 
  • MSN-MPH Dual Degree

Additional Program Information: 

  • Tuition: $24,259 per semester 
  • Program Length: 18 months (full-time; Three years (part-time)
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Full-time Application Deadline (Fall start): 
    • Priority: August 1st
    • Round 2: October 16th
    • Final: December 15th 
  • Part-time Application Deadline (Spring start):
    • Priority: June 1st
    • Final: August 1st
  • Contact Info: 
    • Phone Number: (404) 727-7980
    • Email Address: nursingquestions@emory.edu 
    • Website
  • Online Options Available? Yes

6. University of Michigan School of Nursing 

The University of Michigan’s School of Nursing consistently ranks among the nation's top 10 nursing schools. The school's renown is largely due to its exceptional faculty, facilities, and clinical partners.

UM's BSN to MSN programs feature clinical leadership paths, with most majors offered in two or three-year plans. Most of UM's MSN programs are hybrid, and three are entirely online with three and four-day on-campus intensives. All online classes take place in an asynchronous format to accommodate students’ schedules.

MSN Programs Offered:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner 
  • Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner 
  • Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse-Midwifery
  • Nurse-Midwifery/Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner 
  • Leadership, Analytics, and Innovation

Additional Program Information: 

  • In-state Tuition: 
    • In-person: $1,834 per credit
    • Online: $1,624 per credit
  • Non-resident Tuition:
    • In-person: $3,339 per credit
    • Online: $1,912 per credit
  • Program Length: 2 to 3 years
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline:
    • Early: January 15th
    • Final: March 15th
    • Contact Info: (734) 763-5985
    • Website
  • Online Options Available? Yes

7. University of California San Francisco  

The MSN programs at UCSF's School of Nursing offer one of the country's most wide-ranging selection of study areas. 

Master's-level nursing programs at this university always begin in the fall semester. They are designed to be taken full-time and completed in two years. Didactic courses are offered in various formats, including remote, hybrid, and in-person.

The program’s core curriculum is built around research, theory, and clinical judgment in nursing practice. It covers healthcare economics, policy, and leadership topics. 

MSN Programs Offered:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner – Occupational and Environmental Health
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care
  • Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Certified Nurse-Midwife/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist – Oncology
  • Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist – Critical Care Trauma
  • Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Health Policy and Public Health Nursing

Additional Program Information: 

  • Tuition: 
    • In-state: $11,700
    • Non-resident: $23,945 
  • Program Length: 2 years 
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: 
    • Early: November 1st
    • Final: June 1st 
  • Contact Info: 
    • Phone Number: (415) 476-1435
    • Email Address: nursingadmissionssupport@ucsf.edu
    • Website
  • Online Options Available? Yes

8. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers two BSN to MSN programs. The first is a clinically-focused hybrid MSN NP option with four advanced practice areas from which to choose. These programs are only available full-time and range from 35 to 49 credit hours in length.

UNC Chapel Hill also offers an online MSN degree in healthcare leadership and administration, requiring campus immersion experiences each semester. This program is available to full-time and part-time students. Moreover, students may attend the online components either synchronously or asynchronously. 

MSN Programs Offered:

  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (Oncology specialty focus available) 
  • Family Nurse Practitioner 
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care 
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner 
  • Health Care Leadership and Administration 

Additional Program Information:

  • NP Program Tuition:
    • In-state full-time: $9,667 per semester
    • In-state part-time: $5,329-$7,498 per semester
    • Non-resident full-time: $18,530 per semester
    • Non-resident part-time: $9,761-$14,145 per semester
  • Healthcare Leadership and Administration Program Tuition:
    • In-state: $10,261 per semester
    • Non-resident: $19,124 per semester
    • Program Length: 1.5 to 2 years 
  • NP Application Deadline: November 21st
  • Healthcare Leadership and Administration Deadline: March 7th
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Contact Info: 
    • Phone Number: (919) 966-4260 
    • Email Address: nursing@unc.edu
    • Website
  • Online Options Available? Yes

9. New York University’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing 

NYU's College of Nursing offers BSN to MSN programs for nurses seeking roles in clinical practice, education, and informatics. The school places a strong focus on leadership throughout the curriculum. Thus, it prepares students to lead in advanced practice nursing roles like nursing management, clinical research, teaching, and clinical consultation.

All MSN students complete core courses, advanced core courses, population/specialty coursework, and clinical hours. In addition to NYU's nursing specialties, students may select clinical concentrations in holistic nursing, palliative care, and substance use disorders.

Furthermore, the nursing school recently introduced a hybrid-format pediatric NP specialty perfect for students seeking more flexibility. NYU nursing students may also pursue a dual MSN and MPH (public health) degree through a 3-year graduate curriculum.

MSN Programs Offered:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner 
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner 
  • Clinical Research Nursing 
  • Family Nurse Practitioner 
  • Nurse-Midwifery
  • Nursing Administration
  • Nursing Education
  • Nursing Informatics
  • Pediatrics Nurse Practitioner Primary Care
  • Pediatrics Nurse Practitioner Primary Care/Acute Care 
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Additional Program Information: 

  • Tuition:  $24,744 per semester 
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: 
    • Fall: June 15th
    • Spring: November 1st
    • Summer: February 15th 
  • Contact Info: 
    • Phone Number: (212) 998-5317
    • Email Address: nursing.admissions@nyu.edu 
    • Website
  • Online Options Available? Yes

10. Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing

Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing has a well-earned reputation for global and community health leadership. The school’s MSN curriculum is designed for BSN-degreed nurses interested in improving healthcare quality and efficiency.

Graduates of this BSN to MSN program become experts in fiscal management, strategic planning, legal and ethical decisions, and organizational structure. The courses focus on evidence-based practice, decision-making, and innovative redesign of healthcare delivery systems.

The MSN curriculum at Johns Hopkins is offered online with some in-person opportunities. The program’s offerings include information technology, health policy, and case management, allowing students to tailor the curriculum to their interests. MSN candidates can choose from a single-track degree or a dual-track MSN and MBA.

MSN Programs Offered:

  • Healthcare Organizational Leadership Track
  • MSN/MBA Dual Degree

Additional Program Information: 

  • Tuition: 
    • Single track MSN: $53,242
    • Dual track MSN/MBA: $58,720
  • Program Length: 
    • Single track full-time: 4 semesters
    • Single track part-time: 7 semesters 
    • Dual track MSN/MBA: 3 to 6 years
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: January 15th  
  • Contact Info: (410) 955-4766 
  • Online Options Available? Yes  

Popular Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University

GCU's College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has a nearly 35-year tradition of preparing students to fill evolving healthcare roles as highly qualified professionals. GCU offers a full spectrum of nursing degrees, from a pre-licensure BSN degree to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Georgetown University
Nursing@Georgetown delivers Georgetown University’s MS in Nursing program online, preparing RNs with a BSN to pursue certification in an APRN specialty. Students can earn their degree in as few as 19 months.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY and WA.

FAQs

  • Is BSN to MSN the same as RN to MSN?

    • BSN to MSN and RN to MSN programs are designed for nurses with different educational backgrounds. RNs who are are BSN-trained can enroll in BSN to MSN programs. RNs who are ADN-trained will need to go through an RN to MSN bridge program specifically geared for nurses who want to earn their BSN and MSN at the same time. 
  • How long do BSN to MSN programs take?  

    • Most BSN to MSN programs take between 18 months and two years to complete. However, your program length may differ depending on your major and whether you attend full or part-time.
  • Can I get my MSN right after I finish my BSN? 

    • In most cases, APRN programs require at least one year of clinical experience for admission. Therefore, you may not be able to get your MSN right after finishing your BSN. But, degrees in administration, education, and informatics may not have this requirement, allowing you to pursue your MSN immediately. 
  • Is an MSN harder than a BSN?  

    • MSN programs offer different challenges than BSN; some might find them more difficult. MSN curriculum provides a greater depth of knowledge with a higher degree of specificity. They also devote a significant amount of study time to leadership. 
  • Is an MSN better than a BSN? 

    • Nurses with MSN degrees have greater earnings capacity and are more likely to be hired or promoted into leadership positions. Moreover, you may need an MSN to get your desired job. For example, NP and CNS positions require MSN degrees.

 

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer
Terri Heimann Oppenheimer
Nurse.org Contributor

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is a freelance writer and editor who is driven by details. She loves to dive into research, ensuring that the information she provides educates, engages and illuminates. Before starting her own business she spent years working in advertising and raising three kids. Today she lives in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where her she and her husband enjoy travel, the Jersey Shore, and spoiling their grandchildren.

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