A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) online program is a great way to advance your career without having to make sacrifices at your current job. In this blog, we will focus on some of the best MSN online programs that provide the flexibility to study at your own pace and the convenience of taking your nursing classes anytime from anywhere.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual pay of nurse practitioners in 2020 was $117,670, making it one of the highest-paying jobs in the US. The BLS also predicts that employment among Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) with a master’s degree will grow by a staggering 45 percent from 2020 to 2030.
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What Is an Online MSN Program?
An online Master’s in Nursing degree is a distance-learning opportunity for aspiring nurses to obtain their graduate degrees. Such programs incorporate digital content and technology to offer learners an immersive and engaging learning experience. It can be an excellent option for registered nurses (RNs) to further their nursing education.
Features of Online MSN Programs
Most online nursing programs offer the following features:
- Cloud-based platforms to access course materials
- Online submission of tests and assignments
- Live and recorded lectures
- Interactive modules for practical and hands-on learning
- Communication platforms to interact with faculty and fellow students
- Technical support for assistance in using the platform
What to Look For in an Online MSN Program
An online master’s in nursing can vary in several ways. Some MSN online programs are hybrid-learning modules where you attend online lectures, on-campus laboratory hours, and clinical nursing practice at your location. There is no one-size-fits-all online program. You must determine how well the program meets your requirements. To do so, consider the following points:
- First, you must always look for an accredited program as most employers prefer graduates from an accredited school. You can be confident that the quality of education meets the standard requirements.
- Also take into consideration the program duration and schedule. Some programs allow you to complete their nursing education course at an accelerated pace. If you have adequate free time, you can get an MSN within a shorter period. Alternatively, if you have a hectic schedule, you may want to choose a program that allows you to study at your own pace.
- Always check the number of credit hours you’ll need and the tuition fee per credit. A low tuition fee may not necessarily be the best option. Instead, look at the facilities you can access, the quality of education, and shortlist the nursing programs that offer the best value for money.
- Consider the learning module. Some schools may only offer you recorded lectures which may not necessarily add value. Look for nursing programs that include live lectures, interactive learning modules, assignments, and interaction with the faculty.
- Lastly, check for technical support. Since you’ll be getting your nursing education online, you can face multiple issues such as lags, log-in failures, errors in uploading assignments, or more. A lack of technical support can leave you inconvenienced during crucial hours.
Benefits of Pursuing an Online MSN Degree
Online degrees are highly convenient, especially for working students, because they offer the following benefits:
- Flexible schedule
- Ability to take classes from anywhere at any time
- It grants you the freedom to work at your own pace
- It can be cheaper than pursuing an on-campus degree
If you have a job, your work shifts may not align with on-campus course schedules. You may also spend considerable time and money commuting to college. An online course can help you overcome these inconveniences.
The 10 Best Online Masters in Nursing Programs
Here’s a list of the best nursing schools for MSN online degree programs. Please note that we have not compiled this list using any particular ranking methodology.
1. New England Institute of Technology (NEIT)
The New England Institute of Technology offers online/hybrid MSN degree programs. After completing your degree, you can pursue a career as a Nurse Educator or an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN).
Family nurse practitioner (FNP) graduates are eligible to take the Family Nurse Practitioner certification exam given by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).
The comprehensive curriculum at the New England Institute of Technology integrates the 3Ps-Pathophysiology, Physical Assessment, and Pharmacology recommended by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing programs. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) has accredited this program.
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Earn your degree in Nursing from NEIT and begin your new career path today!
2. John Hopkins University (JHU)
The John Hopkins University offers various online Nursing Master’s programs for bachelor’s degree holders from varied academic backgrounds. All programs at JHU are CCNE-accredited. Some of the tracks that the university offers are Master of Science in Nursing Health Systems Management, Public Health Nursing, and Advanced Nursing.
If you have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline, you can still enroll in this full-time nursing program. RNs can also pursue a dual MSN/MBA degree for nursing administration, leadership, and management roles in healthcare organizations. The supervised clinical placements for MSN graduates occur at hospitals in or around Baltimore.
3. The University of Alabama
The University of Alabama offers CCNE-accredited online RN to BSN/MSN programs. You can pursue an MSN online program with a specialization as a Nurse Administrator. Courses focus on nursing informatics, organization systems, leadership, health policy, and finance.
Nursing students must complete 540 clinical hours that span over three practical experiences to obtain their degree. You may have to commit a minimum of 28 months to earn the required credits.
4. Simmons University
Simmons University offers two nursing programs for students who want to obtain their licensure as Family Nurse Practitioners.
The first program is for RNs who have already earned their undergraduate degree. The second is an accelerated Masters in Nursing program for nurses who work as RNs and have only completed their associate degree, diploma, or certificate. You can also apply for scholarships at Simmons, which can help reduce your tuition cost.
The graduate-level programs for learners at Stony Brook let you choose among multiple specialties. You can apply for a Master’s in Nursing degree specializing in adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner (NP), family NP, women’s health NP, Neonatal NP, pediatric primary care NP, psychiatric mental health NP, nurse-midwifery, nursing education, and nursing leadership.
You can also apply for advanced certifications in these areas to supplement your degree. These courses have some on-campus requirements that students must meet for their degree.
6. Fort Hays State University (FHSU)
Fort Hays State University offers two specializations in their CCNE-accredited online Master’s in Nursing degree; a nursing administration and nursing education program. Both programs require practical clinical experiences. You must ensure that there are clinical sites nearby where you can fulfill the practicum requirements.
Students must also note that FHSU does not accept applications from residents of Alabama, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, or Wyoming.
7. Texas A&M University
The MSN in Nursing Education at Texas A&M constitutes a 36-credit online curriculum that allows you to remain employed while completing your degree. Candidates must fulfill specific on-campus requirements, such as attending the introductory conference. You must also complete 45 hours on campus practicing your clinical skills, including patient care.
You can take the certified nursing educator (CNE) exam conducted by the National League of Nursing after completing your MSN. The University has an excellent NCLEX-RN pass rate of 99.28%.
8. Ball State University
Ball State‘s Master of Science (MS) in Nursing allows you to choose three concentrations depending on your career aspirations: nurse educator, nurse administrator, and family nurse practitioner.
Although all coursework for these MSN programs is performed online, you must take a 180-hour practicum during your last semester in an associate or baccalaureate on-campus program for nurses in your geographic area. Students can also apply for these Master’s in nursing programs without GRE.
9. University of Central Florida (UCF)
UCF provides online Master of Science in Nursing in:
- Nursing leadership and management
- Nurse educator
- Nursing and healthcare simulation
Depending upon your specialization, you have to obtain 31-36 credits in your program to obtain your degree. These roles are primarily focused on healthcare administration roles.
A registered nurse (RN) with an associate degree and students without a degree in nursing can also apply for their MSN programs. However, the admission requirements need you to have your GRE or GMAT scores while applying.
10. University of Virginia (UVA)
At UVA, you can apply for an online Master of Science in Nursing in the following general and specialized concentrations that align with your career goals:
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse (Clinical Nurse Specialist or Nurse Practitioner)
- Clinical Nurse Leader (direct entry or for RNs)
- Family NP
- Neonatal NP
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
- Psychiatric-mental health Nurse Practitioner
These courses can prepare graduates to seek certification within their specialization. UVA also allows you to take up mentorship opportunities in their MSN online program.
Table of Schools and their fees:
|Sr No||Name of University||Tuition Fee|
|1||NEIT||$350 per credit|
|2||John Hopkins University||$1,790 per credit hour|
|3||The University of Alabama||$440 per credit hour|
|4||Simmons College||$1,210 per credit hour|
|5||Stony Brook University||$471 per credit for New York residents; $963 per credit for non-residents|
|6||Fort Hays State University||$2686.95 per semester|
|7||Texas A&M University||$805 per credit for Texas residents; $1,335 per credit per year for non-residents|
|8||Ball State University||$455 per credit for Indiana Residents, $670 per credit for non-residents|
|9||University of Central Florida||$288 per credit|
|10||University of Virginia||$799 per credit for Virginia residents; $1304 per credits for non-residents|
Types of Online MSN Nursing Programs
Nursing aspirants have several options to obtain their MSN. While some schools allow you to enroll for an MSN online degree right after your associate degree in nursing (ADN), others need you to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). These are some of the typical program options:
An ADN is the minimum education requirement for obtaining your licensure as an RN. Some schools allow RNs to enroll directly in their MSN programs. You may choose this option if you have an ADN and RN licensure, however, ADN-to-MSN degrees generally require more time and a focused academic commitment.
BSN-to-MSN is a more conventional route for students to follow. If you have your ADN, you can obtain your BSN degree first and then continue for a Master’s degree. You can also apply for a better job and obtain your MSN for career advancement.
Students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree who wish to become nurses can enroll for direct-entry MSN degrees. These programs allow you to obtain your BSN en route to earning your MSN. However, after completing your BSN, you must pass your NCLEX-RN exam before commencing your Master’s curriculum.
Specializations in Online MSN Degrees
You can obtain your Master of Science in Nursing in the following disciplines:
Students who choose this specialization learn to treat certain medical conditions without a doctor’s assistance. MSN programs in this track mainly focus on teaching primary care for a specific population group such as children, adolescents, or the elderly. They can also specialize in roles such as an acute care nurse practitioner or mental health therapist.
Public Health Nurses
Students who pursue public health are mainly involved in addressing community healthcare and providing access to medical services, often in underprivileged areas.
Leadership and Management
Students can land management roles in a hospital if they specialize in nursing leadership and management with planning, finance, human resources, and decision-making courses. Nurses can also work as consultants for multiple organizations.
If you want to educate the next generation of nurses and healthcare providers, you can join a nursing school that offers courses for educators. Your coursework will include training on adult learning, curriculum development, and technology to better students’ engagement.
This specialization involves the use of technology for the enhancement of services for the patients. You may learn database management that can help improve the accuracy of diagnoses and eliminate redundancies.
Why Is it Important to Choose an Accredited Program?
You must consider the accreditation status of your nursing program while applying for an MSN. Accreditation shows that the program follows the standards and criteria of professional organizations for nursing programs.
The two central accreditation bodies for nursing programs are:
- The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
- The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
ACEN mainly focuses on programs that specialize in nursing education. ACEN ensures that the coursework for students is safe, reliable, and follows a consistent pattern.
CCNE is a leading authority that accredits nursing degrees throughout the US. A Master’s degree in Nursing that the committee accredits goes through a continuous self-assessment of national programs.
Applying for MSN Online Programs: Requirements and Applications
Every school has a different admission requirement for its MSN online program. However, the basic admission criteria generally remain the same. You’ll need a minimum of an ADN or a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline to apply for MSN. While most schools require an RN licensure, some schools allow you to obtain your NCLEX-RN on the way to getting your MSN.
Other requirements may include:
- A good GPA (2.75-3.00+)
- Background check
- Letter of recommendations
- Physical and Mental Fitness Certification
- Vaccination Certificate
You must check the respective college’s website for their deadlines and submit the documents well in advance to avoid any last-minute hassles.
Conclusion: How to Choose the Right Online Nursing Classes at the Graduate Level
Students must ensure that they enroll in an accredited program. They must also go through the admission requirements and apply for a program that best suits their academic interests. While some courses may seem affordable online, students must always check if these MSN online programs fulfill the licensure exam requirements.
START YOUR NURSING CAREER
Earn your degree in Nursing from NEIT and begin your new career path today!
Can I Get My MSN Online?
Yes. You can get your MSN online by applying to a nursing school that offers online coursework. While some degrees are entirely online, some programs require you to fulfill specific on-campus requirements.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s Degree in Nursing Online?
An Online Master’s degree can take two or more years, depending on the school and the course type. Part-time courses generally require more time than full-time courses.
How Much Does an Online Masters in Nursing Education Cost?
The tuition fee per credit for an online Master’s degree in nursing starts from $300. The average cost per credit for an online program in nursing is around $950.
Where Can You Work with an Online Nursing Master’s Degree?
You can work in hospitals, private clinics, psychiatry centers, or nursing care facilities with an online MSN degree. Your degree program can also provide on-campus opportunities where you can learn to diagnose patients, prescribe medications, and give comprehensive exams.
What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master’s in Nursing (MSN) Program?
Admission requirements for an MSN program include an associate degree in Nursing (ADN), a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline. While most schools require an RN licensure, some schools allow you to obtain your NCLEX-RN on the way to getting your MSN. You must also fulfill the GPA requirements and complete a background check.
Why Get an Accredited Online Master of Nursing Degree?
Accredited online MSN programs meet stringent credentialing requirements. Accrediting bodies ensure that the coursework for students is safe, reliable, and follows a consistent pattern. Employers may also prefer to hire nurses who have completed an accredited online MSN course.