The 10 Shortest RN to MSN Online Nursing Programs | 2024

13 Min Read Published May 28, 2024
shortest rn to msn programs

RN to MSN programs are flexible and affordable education options tailored to the needs of working registered nurses (RNs). They help RNs earn graduate nursing degrees in a condensed format. These programs are ideal for nurses who want to advance their careers and education without spending too much time or money.

This guide will explore the top 10 shortest RN to MSN online programs in depth. We'll discuss tuition, accreditation, program length, and more to help you find an online RN to MSN that suits your needs.

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.

Capella University

Capella’s online RN-to-BSN degree is an accredited program designed for working nurses. Thousands of nurses have completed their BSN program with FlexPath, that allows you to control your pace and set your own deadlines. With FlexPath, you can complete your RN-to-BSN program in 9 months and under $10,000. Fastest 25% of students. Cost varies by pace, transfer credits, other factors. Fees apply.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Capella 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

What Is an RN to MSN Online Program?

An RN to MSN program is a graduate-level bridge nursing program. These programs allow Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) trained RNs to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) directly. Therefore, they can skip attending a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.

Despite "skipping" a BSN, RN to MSN nursing students still take bachelor's-level courses. However, the classwork is accelerated and condensed. Universities design RN to MSN courses for working professionals, and most offer full or part-time attendance options.

The programs included in this list are all available online. However, each has some in-person practicum requirements. Clinicals can generally be completed locally, even if you are not located close to the program. Some programs will require you to find your own preceptors and practicum sites, while other programs will assist in this process. 

Typically, programs in nursing education or nursing administration will require fewer clinical hours than nurse practitioner (NP) programs.

Top 10 Shortest RN to MSN Online Programs

With seemingly countless options available, choosing an online RN to MSN program may feel overwhelming. So, we curated a list of some of the fastest RN to MSN online programs for ADN-trained nurses.

We consider many factors in our ranking methodology, such as:

  • Nursing school accreditation
  • Graduation rates
  • Student-faculty ratio
  • Tuition 
  • Program length
  • Practicum requirements
  • Program acceptance and availability

1. Arizona State University*

The RN to MSN online program at ASU requires students to complete 36 credits for a total of 13 classes. Courses in this program do not lead to a bachelor’s degree but rather bridge the gap between an ADN and MSN. Students must complete two practicums during the course of the program which are tailored to your career goals. 

  • Tuition: $586.42 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 24 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Contact Info:
    • Phone Number: (855) 278-5080
    • Email: customerservice@asu.edu
  • Website*

2. Charleston Southern University

Students at Charleston Southern University can earn an MSN in nursing leadership or nursing education in just 19 months. The school also offers a 10% tuition discount to employees of several local healthcare systems. 

The program at CSU offers five-week intensive classes that allow students to focus on teaching projects and hands-on learning. Despite the program being entirely online, students meet on campus twice during the program. An orientation residency day in August and then final presentations in December for graduating students.

  • Tuition: $650 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 19 months
  • Accreditation: ACEN
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Contact Info:
    • Phone Number: 843-863-7050
    • Email: enroll@csuniv.edu
  • 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.

Capella University

Capella’s online RN-to-BSN degree is an accredited program designed for working nurses. Thousands of nurses have completed their BSN program with FlexPath, that allows you to control your pace and set your own deadlines. With FlexPath, you can complete your RN-to-BSN program in 9 months and under $10,000. Fastest 25% of students. Cost varies by pace, transfer credits, other factors. Fees apply.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Capella 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

3. Chamberlain University

Chamberlain College of Nursing offers two RN to MSN options. Students may choose between a traditional, slower program or the accelerated RN to MSN degree.

Students interested in completing a faster, more intense program will love Chamberlain's RN to MSN. Students can finish the program in roughly 14 months. However, the accelerated RN to MSN has stricter admission requirements, which are important to remember when applying.

Students in the traditional RN to MSN program will also earn a BSN degree and receive a diploma for it, while the accelerated program graduates with only an MSN. 

Overall, there are 9 different MSN degree options available to students, including nursing education, nursing informatics, and nurse practitioner.

Additionally, Chamberlain offers deep discounts to military students and alums that can help reduce tuition costs.

  • Tuition
    • BSN Classes: $635 per credit hour
    • MSN Classes: $555 or $567 (depending on program) per credit hour
  • Program Length: 14 months
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Contact Info: (877) 751-5783
  • Website

4. Capella University* - SPONSORED

Capella University partners with over 600 healthcare employers, allowing RN to MSN students excellent networking opportunities upon graduation. These partnerships also provide students with program discounts to help reduce overall tuition costs. Coursework is 100% online, and students can focus on four specializations: care coordination, nursing education, nursing informatics, and nursing leadership and administration. 

As one of the shortest online RN to MSN programs, Capella offers two paths for students. The "Flex Path" allows students to enroll in one or two courses at a time and complete them at their own pace. Conversely, the "Guided Path" enrolls students in one to three courses every ten weeks, which may be too slow a pace for some students.

  • Tuition: $450 per credit hour
    • FlexPath Option: $2,535 per 12-week billing session
  • Program Length: 14 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Contact Info: (877) 884-0733
  • Website* - SPONSORED

>> SPONSORED: Explore Capella's Online RN-MSN Programs*

5. University of Mary

University of Mary’s Nursing Leadership and Management RN to MSN allows students to earn an MSN  in just 20 months while working full-time. Throughout the program, students must complete 500 hours of in-person clinical experience. 

Throughout the program, students must complete 500 hours of in-person clinical experience and a capstone seminar or service project designed to guide them in integrating nursing and management theory with practical application. 

The program includes bridge courses, core classes, and specialty courses that are completed over the five semesters.

  • Tuition: $480 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 20 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Contact Info: (800) 288-6279
  • Website

6. The University of Mississippi Medical Center

The University of Mississippi offers several RN to MSN programs, the shortest of which is Nursing Education. RN to MSN students must complete 360 in-person practicum hours to earn real-world experience. UMMC is the state's only academic health sciences center, and students have access to four major hospitals.

UMMC works exclusively with local hospitals to allow students to complete their required in-person clinical hours. In fact, the health care administration program culminates in a full-time-equivalent residency in which students integrate practice, theory, and research with a senior health care administrator. 

UMMC School of Nursing states that, at times, certain RN-to-MSN programs are not offered due to limited enrollment.

  • Tuition:
    • Resident: $545 per credit hour
    • Non-resident: $1,598.67 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 5 semesters
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: February 15th
  • Contact Info:
    • Phone Number: (601) 815-0124
    • Email: admissioncounselor@umc.edu
  • Website

7. William Patterson University

WPU offers four RN-to-MSN pathways, including nursing education, nursing administration, FNP, and AGNP. While entirely online, all of the MSN pathways require in-person clinical hours in order to graduate. 

After completing the BSN portion of the program, students are awarded a degree and then continue to the MSN portion. 

The RN to MSN in nursing education pathway has the shortest completion time, only 18 months, while the FNP takes roughly 28 months. 

  • Tuition: $25,742.30 to $38,080 depending on program
  • Program Length: 18 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Contact Info: (855) 849-1339
  • Website

>> Explore Southern New Hampshire University's Online MSN Programs*

8. Walden University*

Walden University offers nine RN to MSN nursing specialty programs with varying completion dates. Their shortest RN to MSN online program can be completed in just 20 months. 

Students can choose between course-based or tempo learning. Not all specialties offer both pathways. Course-based offers a pre-set schedule with expected deadlines, and you will pay by course, while tempo learning is independent learning with no deadlines, and students pay a set fee that allows them to access and complete courses over a three-month time frame. 

Walden partners with organizations around the world, including other educational institutions and healthcare organizations. Additionally, students can access a massive network of clinical sites and preceptors in their local area. They also get a dedicated clinical placement team to help them find a preceptor site and complete paperwork.

  • Tuition: $480 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 20 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Contact Info
    • Phone Number: (844) 853-3374
    • Email: help@waldenu.edu
  • Website*

>> Explore Walden's Online MSN Programs*

9. Liberty University*

The RN to MSN program at Liberty University offers multiple nursing specialization options entirely online. The flexible program allows you to curate your studies around your work schedule. Unlike other RN to MSN tracks, Liberty University awards students a BSN during the program.

Liberty University also offers a deep discount to military members and their families, making its RN to MSN program even more affordable. 

Courses are 8-weeks long and there are 8 different start dates throughout the year. Liberty also awards credit hours for military training  on a case-by-case basis. Individuals are expected to discuss this with an admissions counselor.

  • Tuition: $330 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 24 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Contact Info: (866) 565-2217
  • Website*

>> Explore Liberty's Online MSN Programs*

10. Northeastern State University

Northeastern offers only one RN-MSN option, but this affordable, fast-paced program allows students to graduate with an MSN in Nursing Education in as little as 24 months. 

By earning an MSN degree instead of a BSN, you will save roughly 24 credit hours which equals time and money. This is a great option for working nurses. 

Six start dates throughout the year allow for increased flexibility and give students an increased chance of being accepted to the program. 

  • Tuition
    • Resident: $305.50 per credit hour
    • Non-resident: $371.40 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 24 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Contact Info: (844) 351-6656
  • 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.

Capella University

Capella’s online RN-to-BSN degree is an accredited program designed for working nurses. Thousands of nurses have completed their BSN program with FlexPath, that allows you to control your pace and set your own deadlines. With FlexPath, you can complete your RN-to-BSN program in 9 months and under $10,000. Fastest 25% of students. Cost varies by pace, transfer credits, other factors. Fees apply.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Capella 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

RN to MSN Program FAQs

  •  Is it possible to get your MSN in 12 weeks?

    • No. The fastest RN to MSN programs take at least 16 months, but most are roughly 20-24 months.
  • How fast can you get your MSN?

    • The shortest RN to MSN programs available are 16 months long.
  • Can you skip the BSN and get an MSN?

    • Yes! The entire point of an RN to MSN program is to skip the BSN. You will still take BSN courses but continue directly into the MSN curriculum.

*Indicates an affiliate link. At no additional cost to you, Nurse.org will earn a commission if you click through and use this service.

Kathleen Gaines
MSN, RN, BA, CBC
Kathleen Gaines
News and Education Editor

Kathleen Gaines (nee Colduvell) is a nationally published writer turned Pediatric ICU nurse from Philadelphia with over 13 years of ICU experience. She has an extensive ICU background having formerly worked in the CICU and NICU at several major hospitals in the Philadelphia region. After earning her MSN in Education from Loyola University of New Orleans, she currently also teaches for several prominent Universities making sure the next generation is ready for the bedside. As a certified breastfeeding counselor and trauma certified nurse, she is always ready for the next nursing challenge.

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