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    January 3, 2021

    Top 10 Online MSN Programs for 2021

    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 what program to attend can be difficult. You can choose between online, on-campus or hybrid options. 

    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 anytime
    • Freedom to work at your own pace
    • In many cases, a cheaper price tag than on-campus options

    When seeking online MSN programs, be sure to look at the tuition, accreditation, and additionally, the school and your home state to see if you're eligible to apply. 

    The 10 Best Online MSN Programs for 2020

    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. So students need to ensure they have clinical sites. 

    • Tuition: $2589.75 per semester
    • Accreditation: Committee on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

    Things to note: Doesn't accept applications from the following states: Alabama, Tennessee, Utah, Washington or Wyoming

    2. Johns Hopkins University

    Johns Hopkins offers a variety of MSN online programs, including tracks for a Master of Science in Nursing Health Systems Management, Public Health Nursing, and Advanced Nursing Practice.

    • Tuition: $1,688 - $1,772 per credit hour
    • Accreditation: CCNE
    • On-campus requirements: No

    Things to note: Johns Hopkins also offers an MSN entry into the nursing track for those who have earned a non-nursing degree.

    3. Simmons College

    Simmons offers the MSN degree for nurses who wish to become family nurse practitioners

    • Tuition: $1,210 per credit hour
    • Accreditation: CCNE
    • On-campus requirements: No

    Things to note: Simmons offers an online RN-MSN program as well

    4. The University of Alabama

    The University of Alabama offers the MS in Nursing with a concentration in Nurse Administrator and MS in Nursing - Nurse Practitioner Concentration.

    • Tuition: $420 per credit hour
    • Accreditation: CCNE

    5. Baker University 

    Baker's online MSN programs feature tracks in nursing education and nursing administration. 

    • Tuition: $450 per credit hour 
    • Accreditation: CCNE and Kansas Board of Nursing (BON)
    • On-campus requirements: No

    6. Troy University 

    The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program prepares nurses for advanced practice roles in Healthcare Informatics, Nurse Leadership, and Family Nurse Practitioners. 

    • Tuition: $494 per credit hour
    • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
    • On-campus requirements: No

    Things to note: The program is offered online with clinical experiences

    7. Xavier University

    This completely online program features courses with no set meeting times, making it attractive to the working nurse. 

    • Tuition:$670 per Credit Hour
    • Accreditation: CCNE
    • On-campus requirements: No

    Things to note: The program is one of only 12 nationwide to receive endorsement from the American Holistic Nurses Certification.

    8. Maryville University of Saint Louis

    Maryville offers students six ways to specialize their online MSN:

    1. Family Nurse Practitioner
    2. Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner 
    3. Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
    4. Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
    5. Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
    6. Leadership
    • Tuition: $813 per credit hour
    • Accreditation: CCNE
    • On-campus requirements: No

    Things to note: students can complete clinical requirements at locations close to where they live, and there is no GMAT, GRE, or Statistics required for admission.

    9. Winston-Salem State University 

    WSSU's MSN focuses on the preparation of Family Nurse Practitioners and Advanced Nurse Educators.

    • Tuition: (instate) $189.80 per credit hour. (out-of-state) $685.64 per credit hour
    • Accreditation: CCNE

    Things to note: No GRE or MAT requirement for ANE or MSN-DNP option and removal of time limit for health assessment, statistics, and research courses!

    10. Florida A&M University

    FAMU prepares students to begin a career as an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner.

    • Tuition: $732 per credit hour
    • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

    Things to note: Finish faster: Only 42 credits required, whereas many others require up to 57.

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    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.  According to Payscale, Master's Degree in Nursing holders earn $94,000 on average while Associate Degree in Nursing holders earn an average of $69,000 per year and Bachelor's Degree in Nursing holders take home $83,000. 

    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 corporate level positions.

    3. The Ability to Specialize

    Many MSN programs have specialized tracks that prepare students for a particular field or specialty in nursing. 

    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.

    How Do I Pay For My Online MSN Degree?


    Scholarships offer monetary value towards studies. There are many scholarships available for nurses in grad school, including merit-based scholarships.

    Service-Based Programs

    If you commit to working in an underserved area, you may qualify for scholarships in exchange for several years of service.


    Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if you qualify for loans. FAFSA gives you access to:

    • Federal Student loans
    • School-based aid
    • State aid

    What are the requirements for getting into an online MSN program?

    The requirements for each program will vary by school. 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.  

    • Registered Nurse license in good standing 
    • Possess an associate's or bachelor's degree from an accredited program
    • Minimum 3.0 GPA
    • Criminal background checks 

    Other requirements may include:

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

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    Why is it Important to Choose an Accredited Program? 

    A major consideration that must be taken into account when applying to an online nursing program is accreditation. Accreditation ensures the same standards and criteria for all nursing programs. The accreditation process improves the quality of nursing education and keeps the curriculum up to date on 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)
    • The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

    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. 

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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. 

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