Nursing isn’t only a very necessary field, but also a rapidly growing field! The need for nurses and nurses with advanced degrees is growing quickly year by year. Nursing is expected to be one of the fastest-growing fields within one or two years. People need to be cared for both physically and emotionally, thus needing the expertise and professionalism of well-educated nurses. Advanced nursing degrees like an MSN only improve the opportunity for advancement and profitability of a nursing career. Many individuals have turned to the best online MSN programs to earn their degrees more quickly or on their own time while still working. If you’re interested in advancing your career with a higher-level degree, an online MSN degree may be the best option for you.
Just as the field of nursing is growing, the opportunity for online education is growing. Many people are limited by individual circumstances like remote geographic location, or the necessity of caring for a family or working a full-time job. Others simply want to earn their degree more quickly or from the comfort of their own home. Whatever the reason, completing an online degree can be simple and convenient for anyone across the country interested in pursuing higher education. Students earning degrees online benefit from the same expert instruction delivered on-campus, but have the flexibility of studying when and where they determine.
|1||Mount Carmel College of Nursing||Columbus, Ohio|
|2||Allen College||Waterloo, Iowa|
|3||Columbus State University||Columbus, Georgia|
|4||University of Maryland – Baltimore||Baltimore, Maryland|
|5||Indiana State University||Terre Haute, Indiana|
If you’re interested in pursuing an MSN, but don’t know where to start, we have the perfect resource for you. We’ve compiled a list of the best online MSN programs across the country considering the factors most important for you. We know that you want a quality education that still offers flexibility, all at a good price. That’s why we’ve handpicked the schools providing the best value in the country for a top-level master’s-level nursing education.
Also check out our direct-entry MSN programs.
The Best Online MSN Programs of 2020
Mount Carmel College of Nursing
This Catholic university, located in Columbus, Ohio is an innovative institution seeking to provide a cutting-edge approach to education. Of the just over 1,000 students attending Mount Carmel College of Nursing, nearly half study in a non-traditional way. Mount Carmel has dedicated significant time and resources to developing a Center for Innovative Learning, allowing students hands-on experience through simulation.
The MS programs take about five semesters to complete (18 months) and provide students with real-life experience through two required clinical experiences. The college also encourages student service by requiring students to dedicate ten hours of service utilizing the skills they develop. Their AG-ACNP and FNP programs are 48 credit hours total. They are currently accepting applications for all programs for their FA 21 start. They are currently accepting applications for their FNP and Online Accelerated AG-ACNP Program for the SP 21 start. They will also be running a Spring cohort for their Nursing Leadership-Clinical Operations Master’s Program. The application deadline for all Spring cohort starts is December 1st.
Allen College focuses specifically on healthcare education and has developed high-quality programs at all levels in order to prepare students for successful nursing and healthcare careers. The college creates an intimate, tight-knit community feel with its small student body of around 600 and its location in beautiful, but peaceful Waterloo, Iowa. The online master’s in nursing from Allen offers six different concentrations ranging from 36 to 42 credit hours in length. Each concentration works to get students practical experience with required clinical hours.
Columbus State University
Columbus State University is located in Columbus, Georgia, but caters to online students across the country. The MSN degree offered from Columbus State has a specialization of family nurse practitioner. This program offers full flexibility through an asynchronous format. Such a format allows students to complete their coursework whenever they desire without dictated class times. The MSN program from Columbus State also focuses on real world experience requiring 765 clinical practicum hours that can be completed wherever the student may be studying.
University of Maryland – Baltimore
The University of Maryland Baltimore is the state’s only human services, law, and public health university. This school a majority of advanced students given that 80% of the student body are graduate students. The online nursing master’s degrees are some of the most popular degrees at the college and have a unique fusion of other disciplines. The online nursing master’s degree from this university provides instruction in information technology, creating well-rounded students with expertise in uncommon, but useful areas for the field of nursing. Although all classes can be completed online, students are required to meet with an advisor to coordinate practicum and receive additional support.
Indiana State University
Indiana State University is another University offering a top-level online MSN program and is located in Terre Haute, Indiana. The online MSN offered from ISU has a concentration of family nurse practitioner. The program consisting of fifty credit hours can be completed in a little under three years, only studying part-time. For those willing to dedicate the time for full-time study, that time is cut in half. The program at ISU is a great well-rounded degree that also prepares students for ANCC and AANP certification exams.
Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University offers its online MSN degree through its Health Sciences Center which has served millions of Texas residents and has produced over 10,000 healthcare professionals. Online nursing students can count on a variety of valuable student services including remote library and database access and student health services. The online degree from Texas Tech has a specific focus on nursing education, preparing students with the capacity of developing lesson plans, curriculum, and effective experience opportunities. Students studying online through Texas Tech are required to complete a few courses on campus.
Northern Arizona University
The 30 credit online MSN program from Northern Arizona University offers two different concentrations: either a generalist path or a family nurse practitioner path. The Flagstaff, Arizona school allows generalist path students to tailor the degree with specific courses in various areas of study, while also serving as a good foundation for a possible doctorate nursing degree. Education in the family nurse practitioner path helps students gain skills in primary family care, especially in rural areas.
Gardner – Webb University
Gardner-Webb University is a private, faith-based school located in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. GWU offers a superior level, 100% online MSN program with concentrations in Nursing Education and Nursing Administration. Both the education and administration MSN degrees are comprised of 36 credit hours and can be completed in as little as six semesters. Unique features of GWU’s online MSN program include the option to complete a dual MSN/MBA degree, the RN to MSN option, and the ability to earn a certification in education or administration. Students are not required to take the MAT or GRE for admission.
Stevenson University is the second Maryland school on our list, located in its namesake, Stevenson, Maryland with an additional campus in Owings Mills. The online MSN degree from this school offers three different concentration areas: nursing education, nursing leadership/management, or population-based care coordination. Courses in any of concentration follow an eight-week, accelerated format with the exception of the integrated capstone project and practicum. Online students only have to visit the physical campus once at the very end of their studies for a final competency-testing workshop.
Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, offers more than 60 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including an online MSN degree. Chatham has been recognized for its environmental sustainability efforts and instills best practices in its students. Apart from normally offered concentrations, online students are also given the ability to pursue other degrees and certifications at the same time as the online MSN study. One example is the BSN to DNP executive track which can be completed in just 56 credit hours.
Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin, serves a vast population of over 2,4000 students pursuing a degree in various fields. The online MSN program from Concordia is also very robust, allowing students to choose from a few different specializations and complete an RN-BSN-MSN degree. The streamlined degree allows working RNs with an associate’s to make the leap from RN to MSN within a single program. Another unique feature is the school’s focus on providing an education rooted in Christian values.
Wilkes University is another top university in the country located in Pennsylvania. The online MSN from this school offers an extensive array of concentration areas including, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, family nursing practitioner, nurse executive, nursing education, nursing informatics, and psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner. Each concentration requires 19 credit hours on top of the core MSN requirement of 24 credit hours. As with many other schools, Wilkes University also requires clinical hours in approved local institutions.
Benedictine University is obviously a premier Catholic university established in the Benedictine tradition. The school offers an exceptional online MSN program that is very customizable and centers on the religious values of the institution. The program is comprised of 39 credit hours and offers the option of two different concentrations: either nursing education or nurse executive leadership. The main campus of Benedictine University resides in the Chicago suburb of Lisle.
Jacksonville University is a non-profit institution also providing one of the best online MSN programs in the nation. The degree from this university can be completed in as little as two years and is moderately priced for the schools on our list. Concentrations within the MSN program include leadership in healthcare systems or clinical nurse educator. The Florida school follows an eight-week session format, with students taking just one class per session. Jacksonville University does not require students to take the GRE.
Olivet Nazarene University
The next school on this list is another from the Chicago area. Olivet Nazarene University is a private Christian liberal arts college connected with the evangelical Church of Nazarene located in Bourbonnais, Illinois. The online MSN degree from Olivet Nazarene prepares students who are looking to continue on towards a doctorate degree or simply progress in their current career. The two tracks of the online degree include education and leadership/management. The entire degree takes about sixteen months to complete and does require 120 practicum hours.
Norwich University also offers an online MSN degree with the two concentrations of education or administration. The online program from Norwich can be completed in about eighteen months for full-time students. As for the structure of the program, students start with a strong base of education about health systems and the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students are then pushed into the two tracks to further specialize their education depending on their interests.
Gonzaga University is a school located in Spokane, Washington offering a variety of online degrees including in areas such as theology, communications, and nursing, among others. The online Master of Science in Nursing program from Gonzaga offers classes completely online, supplemented with between one and six on-campus immersions. The three concentrations for the online MSN degree are health systems leadership, family nurse practice, and psychiatric mental health practice. Students applying for the program don’t necessarily have to have their BSN, although it is definitely preferred.
Sacred Heart University
Sacred Heart University has a wide reach due to its multiple campuses. The main campus is located in Fairfield, Connecticut, but the school has also established locations in Cambridge, Griswold, Luxembourg, and Ireland. The online MSN program from Sacred Heart also helps the school to increase its influence and serve students across the country. Within the MSN, there are four concentrations, which are clinical nurse leader, nursing education, nursing management and executive leadership, and family nurse practitioner. For students seeking a more relaxed study pace, Sacred Heart could be a great option, as the university allows students up to six years to complete their degree.
Georgetown University is one of the most well-known and best-established universities in the United States, having its start in 1789. The nursing school from the university also has a great base of experience as it was established in 1903. The online MSN program from Georgetown provides students with whatever schooling option best fits for them. Students can either attend live, real-time class sessions or view the recorded material anytime throughout the day. Resources for online students include virtual access to Georgetown’s libraries as well as webinars.
University of San Francisco
The University of San Francisco’s online MSN degree program is designed for individuals with either an associate’s or a bachelor’s in nursing. The program focuses on helping students to learn to deliver evidence-based care to improve patient outcomes, staff safety, and overall health care plans. The program does take at least two years to complete, but students do not have to attend classes on campus nor are they required to take the GRE for admission.
Vanderbilt University’s nursing program is one of the most widely recognized in the entire country. The online nursing program for the school is management-oriented but does offer twelve different concentrations for the MSN degree. Vanderbilt allows students to complete the program either on-campus or online, so is a great option for students seeking a mixed approach. The school also offers a unique MSN/Divinity degree. Applicants are required to have at least a BSN in order to be considered for the program.
George Washington University
George Washington University is another well-established institution, with its beginning in 1821. The school is located right in downtown Washington D.C. GWU’s online offerings are very extensive, with over 100 online programs including an online MSN degree. For those with an associate’s degree, GWU offers an RN to MSN degree that takes less than four years to complete. The program also offers a number of different specializations for the normal MSN program including things like adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner and nurse-midwifery among others.
Whether you’re interested in advancing your career, earning a leadership position, or pursuing a doctorate-level degree, an online MSN program from any of the schools listed here would be a huge help in taking the first step towards achieving your goals. If you’re looking to complete an online MSN, check out any of these schools as they provide the best value for online students. The schools included and the order of this list was determined by a combination of cost and program quality with a preference towards more affordable schools.
We know that finding the best school to fit your unique needs can be a huge challenge. For that reason, we work hard to develop lists of the best schools based on the characteristics most important for you. Whether that be cost of attendance, student success, resources available, flexibility of schedule, or any other number of important factors, we’ve got you covered. For more information about our ranking process and to find lists of schools based on specific characteristics, check out our methodology page.
If your school isn’t listed here but should be included in an updated version of the list, contact us today!