Best Online Master's in Nursing (MSN) Programs for 2024

10 Min Read Published May 23, 2024
Top Online MSN Programs | Nurse.org

There are a lot of reasons to further your nursing education. Better pay, positions, and hours are just a few. While deciding to obtain a master's degree in nursing may be an easy decision, choosing between MSN programs can be difficult. For nurses looking for a flexible, convenient way to advance their degree, we've rounded up the best online MSN programs for 2024!

Online MSN Program Ranking Methodology

Every online MSN program has its own benefits and features, and the program that is best for one potential attendee may not be the right choice for another. In ranking our list of top programs, we considered the following factors:

  • Cost of attendance
  • Program length
  • Admission requirements
  • A variety of available programs
  • Ranking according to U.S. News & World Report
  • Additional accolades that the program has received

10 Best Online MSN Programs for 2024

Online MSN Program Tuition Accreditation
1. Fort Hays State University $319.45 per credit hour CCNE
2. Johns Hopkins University $1,881 per credit CCNE
3. Simmons College $1,235 per credit hour CCNE
4. The University of Alabama $440 per credit hour CCNE
5. Duke University $2,166 per credit hour CCNE
6. George Washington University  $1,530 per credit hour CCNE
7. University of Connecticut $1,200 per credit hour CCNE
8. Maryville University of Saint Louis  $35,383 - $43,150 total program cost CCNE
9. University of South Carolina $770.25 per credit hour (resident), $1,438.00 per credit hour (non-resident) CCNE, SASCOC
10. Florida A&M University $732 per credit hour ACEN

1. Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University offers two MSN degree options: Nurse Administration and Nursing Education. The program requires clinical practicum experiences that can be completed locally at an approved site with an approved preceptor. The nursing administration program requires 90 clinical hours, and the nursing education program requires 135 clinical hours. 

Fort Hays works closely with students to find a clinical placement. If this is not possible, students will be provided with a clinical site in Hays, Kansas. In this case, students will be required to have a Kansas nursing license. 

Things to note: Fort Hays State University doesn’t accept applications from the following states: Alabama, Tennessee, and Utah.

  • Tuition: $319.45 per credit hour
  • Application Deadline: 
    • Summer: February 1st
    • Fall: July 1st
    • Spring: September 1st 
  • On-Campus Requirement: No
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Contact Information: 
    • Phone Number: (785) 628-4256
    • Email Address: nurs.aps@fhsu.edu

>> Show Me Online MSN Programs

2. Johns Hopkins University

Ranked as one of the top graduate schools by U.S. News & World Report, Johns Hopkins offers three MSN online programs, including tracks for a Masters of Nursing in Healthcare Organizational Leadership or MSN Healthcare Organizational Leadership/MBA. 

Hopkins also offers an MSN Entry program, which allows college graduates with bachelor’s degrees in a field other than nursing to enter the profession directly. This is an excellent time-saving and cost-saving measure for those who know they want to pursue an advanced nursing degree. 

  • Tuition: $1,881 per credit
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • On-Campus Requirement: No
  • Contact Information: 
    • Phone Number: (410) 955-4766  
    • Email Address: jhuson@jhu.edu

3. Simmons College

Simmons College offers several MSN programs, including an online FNP and PMHNP program. 

They also have MSN programs for traditional BSN students as well as a direct entry program for individuals with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. However, these two programs are held on campus. 

Simmons also offers the Dotson Bridge and Mentoring Program, which serves and empowers African American, Latinx, Asian, and Native American nursing students.

  • Tuition: $1,235 per credit hour
  • Application Deadline: Rolling 
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • Contact Information: 
    • Phone Number: (617) 521-2605 
    • Email Address: snhs@simmons.edu

4. The University of Alabama

Considered one of the best Universities in the South, the University of Alabama offers an MSN in Nurse Executive, Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Nursing Education specialties. 

With a low, flat-rate tuition available, even to out-of-state students, joining the Alabama alumni network proves beneficial when applying for clinical placements and future nursing jobs. 

It is important to note that students are not eligible for the online programs at Alabama from every state. Check with an admissions counselor to determine your eligibility. Currently, only students from 28 states are eligible for the two NP tracks.

  • Tuition: $440 per credit hour
  • Application Deadline: 
    • Fall: March 1st
    • Spring: August 1st
    • Summer: December 1st
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes. Two on-campus sessions.
  • Contact Information: 

5. Duke University

Duke University currently offers eight online MSN programs that utilize the latest evidence-based practices and high-fidelity simulation labs to educate students. Additionally, students are guaranteed clinical placement at one of the 2,000 clinical sites nationwide.

Programs include Adult-Gerontology NP—Acute Care and Primary Care, Family NP, Neonatal NP, Pediatric NP—Acute Care and Primary Care, Psychiatric Mental Health NP, and Women’s Health NP. 

Students are required to come to campus at least once every semester for two- to five-day intensives for face-to-face interactions, simulation, and hands-on activities. 

  • Tuition: $2,166 per credit hour
  • Application Deadline: 
    • Fall: December 1st
    • Spring: May 1st
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes. 
  • Contact Information: 
    • Phone Number: (877) 415-3853
    • Email Address: SONAdmissions@dm.duke.edu

6. George Washington University 

Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top MSN programs in the country, GWU offers students a first-class education in the comfort of their homes. The NP programs utilize a hybrid approach with coursework being completed both online as well as some in-person training in simulation centers. All clinical coursework must be completed at an approved clinical site 

  • Tuition: $1,530 per credit hour
  • Admission Deadline: 
    • Fall: July 1st
    • Spring: December 1st
  • Accreditation: CCNE 
  • On-campus requirements: Yes
  • Contact Information: 
    • Phone Number: (202) 994-7901
    • Email Address: nursing@gwu.edu

7. University of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut offers five different MSN programs: Nurse Educator, Neonatal NP, Nursing Administration and Leadership, Family NP, and Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP. All of the programs allow students to earn an MSN, but they can also continue through the program and earn their DNP. 

All of the programs have hard deadlines for application submissions; however, they accept students on a rolling basis until the cohort is filled. That means that by the admission deadline - they might not be accepting applications for the current cohort. In that case, students may be pre-admitted to the next starting cohort. 

  • Tuition: $1,200 per credit hour
  • Admission Deadline: 
    • Spring: December 7th
    • Summer: April 8th
    • Fall: July 20th
  • Accreditation: CCNE 
  • On-campus requirements: No
  • Contact Information:
    • Phone Number: (860) 486-3716
    • Email Address: nursingadmissions@uconn.edu

8. Maryville University of Saint Louis

Maryville University offers students five unique concentrations, including Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. 

Students can complete these programs entirely online, with no campus visit required, and complete clinicals locally at an approved clinical site. Additionally, unlike some graduate programs, no GRE, GMAT, or statistics course is needed. 

  • Tuition: $35,383 - $43,150 total program cost
  • Admission Deadline: Rolling
  • Accreditation: CCNE 
  • On-campus requirements: No
  • Contact Information: 
    • Phone Number: (888) 266-0574
    • Email Address: admissions@online.maryville.edu

>> Show Me Online MSN Programs

9. University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina offers several online MSN Nurse Practitioner programs, including Adult Gerontology Acute Care, Family NP, and Psychiatric Mental Health. In addition, the university offers online MSN programs with specialties in Healthcare Leadership, Nursing Education, and Nursing Informatics. 

The online graduate programs are currently ranked #1 from the U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, the FNP, PMHNP, and AGACNP program boosts a 100% first-time pass rate on the ANCC board certification. 

  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $770.25 per credit hour
    • Out-of-state: $1,438 per credit hour
  • Application Deadline: Rolling 
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • On-campus requirements: No
  • Contact Information:
    • Phone Number: (803) 777-9080
    • Email Address: nursgrad@mailbox.sc.edu

10. Florida A&M University

The FAMU School of Nursing offers three online MSN programs: Adult-Gerontology Primary Care, Women’s Health, and Nursing Informatics. 

FAMU boasts a 1:20 faculty-to-student ratio, which allows for personalized education and tailoring programs to fit students' needs. The NP programs at FAMU also require fewer overall credits than other programs, allowing for quicker completion and cost savings. 

  • Tuition: $732 per credit hour
  • Application Deadline: Rolling Admissions
  • Accreditation: ACEN
  • On-campus requirements: Yes. One in-person requirement.
  • Contact Information: 
    • Phone Number: 850-599-3000 
    • Email Address: gradadmissions@famu.edu

Why Should I Get My MSN?

1. Earn a Higher Salary

For many nurses, the main appeal of earning your MSN is the chance to make more money. An MSN degree can give you a significant pay bump.  

>> Related: MSN Nurse Salary Guide 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), master’s degree-trained nurses such as nurse practitioners and nurse midwives earned an annual median salary of $129,480 in 2023.

2. More Job Opportunities

Graduating from an MSN program can open the door to many more job opportunities. MSN graduates enjoy a variety of exciting options, including leadership and advanced practice positions.

3. The Ability to Specialize

Many MSN programs have specialized tracks that prepare students for a particular field or specialty in nursing. Some of the types of MSN specialties to choose from include:

Nurse practitioner specialties include:

Non-APRN specialties include:

>> Show Me Online MSN Programs

4. Increased Influence 

An MSN can prepare you to advance to senior-level positions, which may place you in the position to play a more significant role in shaping patient care and policies. 

5. The Option to Teach

Nurse educators work in a variety of settings, including universities, schools, and hospitals. As a nurse educator, you can influence and share your knowledge with nurses on every level.

What Are the Benefits of Online MSN Programs?

Many nurses opt to complete their MSN degree online because online programs are convenient, particularly for working nurses. They offer:

  • Flexibility with scheduling
  • Convenience to take your class from anywhere at any time
  • Freedom to work at your own pace
  • In many cases, a cheaper price tag than on-campus options

Most online MSN programs include in-person clinical rotations. However, there are some online MSN programs without clinicals for students pursuing non-APRN nursing roles. 

What Are the Requirements for Getting Into an Online MSN Program?

The requirements for each program will vary by school and program/degree. If the program is associated with a traditional brick-and-mortar school, admission requirements will be for both the school and the graduate program. Ultimately, all programs share the same basic requirements including,  

  • Registered nurse (RN) license in good standing 
  • Possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited program
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Criminal background checks 
  • Relevant bedside experience

Other requirements may include:

  • Essays
  • Letters of recommendations
  • Child abuse clearance
  • Drug test
  • Proof of vaccinations
  • Physical examination

The easiest MSN online programs will have more lax or fewer requirements than difficult schools. Most programs that are easy to get into have acceptance rates above 90%.

>> Show Me Online MSN Programs

Why is it Important to Choose an Accredited Online MSN Program? 

A major consideration when applying to an online nursing program is accreditation. Accreditation ensures the same standards and criteria for all nursing programs. The process improves the quality of nursing education and keeps the curriculum up to date with current trends in advances in nursing and healthcare.

There are two main accrediting bodies for nursing programs:

The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) is designed to support nursing education and ensure it is done in a safe, reliable, and consistent manner. 

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is considered the voice of academic nursing in America and contributes to the overall safety of the public's health. This committee supports the continuous self-assessment of national programs to ensure quality education is delivered to all nursing students. 

FAQs

  • Are MSN programs worth it? 

    • An MSN program can be worth the cost, depending on your career goals. An MSN is necessary to advance in many leadership and educational nurse roles. 
  • How long does an MSN program take?

    • MSN programs can take between 1-3 years, depending on the program and if you enroll full or part-time. 
  • How long is an RN to MSN program? 

    • RN-MSN programs are about 2-3 years long. 
  • Can you get an MSN without being an RN? 

    • Yes, it is possible to enter into an RN-MSN program if you have a bachelor’s in another field. 
  • How hard is it to get your MSN? 

    • MSN programs can be rigorous, but they are manageable for most students, even while working full-time.

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Portia Wofford is a nurse, copywriter, content strategist, and nurse consultant. Chosen as a brand ambassador or collaborative partner for various organizations, Wofford strives to empower nurses by offering nurses resources for development--while helping healthcare organizations and entrepreneurs create engaging content that connects and converts. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for her latest. 

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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