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Best 12 Most Affordable RN to MSN Online Programs in 2021

September 3, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Many nurse professionals who hold a valid Registered Nursing license (RN) eventually choose to refine their nursing skills by furthering their education. This is often accomplished by earning a Master of Science in Nursing degree (MSN). When enrolled in an RN to MSN degree program, nursing students who have yet to complete a baccalaureate degree, will complete academic requirements at the bachelor’s level which can then be partially applied to some of the MSN degree requirements. In as few as 36 months, nursing professionals can complete the degree requirements for both a BSN & an MSN degree.

Because many of these RN to MSN degree programs are now offered online, nursing professionals can now receive specialized training in the nursing concentration of their choice, from a program that allows them to design a study schedule to meet the student’s time availability – even while maintaining a full-time job and other life commitments.

Top 5 Most Affordable RN to MSN Online Programs in 2021

Rank School Location
1Utah Valley UniversityOrem, Utah
2The University of Central FloridaOrlando, Florida
3Marshall UniversityHuntington, West Virginia
4The University of TexasEdinburg, Texas
5Lamar UniversityBeaumont, Texas

Students who have a serious interest in earning their MSN will find program options available from many quality higher education institutions that often provide access to some of the marketplace’s most affordable programs. Campus-based and online RN to MSN programs often provide significant savings for students in terms of time and money because most programs allow students to apply these earned credits to both degrees, thereby reducing the total mandated credits.

Most RN to MSN degree programs, including the online programs, provide nurse professional with the education and opportunities to –

  • Build advanced skills for health assessments.
  • Enhance their clinical experiences.
  • Expand their training to include more specialized training in the student’s MSN concentration, if any.

A nurse professional with an RN license will have already completed either an Associate Degree in Nursing or RN-diploma program, which generally translates to the completion of about 60 credits units.

For decades, the nursing industry advocates have been pushing for an industry-wide initiative to require RNs to complete a minimum of a BSN within a set time after the nurse professional has passed the NCLEX-RN exam. Earning an MSN degree from one of the RN to MSN online programs will help further a nurse’s professional responsibilities and help improve and increase the nurse’s compensation.   

Further, according to BLS.gov, the median yearly annual salary for nursing professionals who hold a Registered Nursing License was $73,300 per year (or $35.24 per hour) during May 2019. However, more advanced nursing professionals, those with a minimum of a master’s degree in nursing, have a median yearly annual salary of $115,800 per year (or $55.67 per hour).

So, if an anticipated salary increase of approximately 58% (comparing the median salaries of BSNs to MSNs) is not enough to entice every RN to consider earning a graduate nursing degree (MSN), the statisticians at the BLS also predict a job growth for advanced practice Registered Nurses to be 45% over the next decade – about ten times the national average!

The following ranked list offers a selection of the most affordable RN to MSN online programs available in the education marketplace. Note: however, each school determines the criteria set forth to meet the program’s requirements based on relevant state regulations and each school’s objectives.

Best 12 Most Affordable RN To MSN Online Programs

1

Utah Valley University

  • Orem, Utah

Utah Valley University (UVU – Orem) offers an RN to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) bridge program for nurse professionals who have already earned their nursing baccalaureate degree but want to further their career opportunities through additional education. In addition, Utah Valley University’s requires students to complete a project or thesis to meet program requirements.

School Overview

Total Program Tuition Fees: $ 9,928 (Utah Residents)
Program Length: 34 credit hours
Accreditation: NWCCU & ACEN
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2

The University of Central Florida

  • Orlando, Florida

The Nursing College at the University of Central Florida (UCF) offers an RN to (MSN) degree program that offers academic nursing tracks in leadership, education, or healthcare simulation. The University of Central Florida’s RN to MSN online can be complete in four to seven semesters, depending on the student’s time commitments.

School Overview

Total Program Tuition Fees: $ 10,127 to $11,772 (Florida Residents and Ono-residents)
Program Length: 31 to 36 credit hours
Accreditation: SACSCOC & CCNE
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3

Marshall University

  • Huntington, West Virginia

Marshall University (MU – West Virginia) offers an RN to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program that provides two academic tracks in nursing administration or nursing education. Graduates from Marshall University’s most affordable RN to MSN have an impressive pass rate for the Family Nurse Practitioner certification exam of 100%!

School Overview

Total Program Tuition Fees: $ 15,021 (West Virginia Residents)
Program Length: 36 credit hours
Accreditation: HLC & CCNE
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4

The University of Texas

  • Edinburg, Texas

The University of Texas (UT Rio Grande Valley) offers RNs who hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing the opportunity to complete an MSN (with an academic emphasis in education) in only one year. Additionally, students enrolled in the University of Texas’s RN to MSN online must complete a capstone project in addition to classes that include advanced nursing informatics, leadership, policy & population health, and theoretical foundations in nursing, among others.

School Overview

Total Program Tuition Fees: $ 16,000 (Texas Residents)
Program Length: 36 credit hours
Accreditation: SACSCOC & CCNE
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5

Lamar University

  • Beaumont, Texas

Lamar University offers two of the RN to MSN programs in the Lone Star State. Lamar University’s RN to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree programs offer a track in nursing education or nursing administration that students can complete in as little as three years.

School Overview

Total Program Tuition Fees: $ 17,574
Program Length: 58 credit hours
Accreditation: SACSCOC & ACEN
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6

Bushnell University

  • Eugene, Oregon

Bushnell University’s most affordable online programs includes academic tracks in the leadership of health systems or nurse education from the CCNE accredited nursing program. The exact number of credit hours will differ. For example, in the leadership track, students complete 27 undergraduate and 30 graduate credits. In the Nursing Education track, students complete 27 undergraduate and 36 graduate credits.  Students completing Bushnell’s RN to MSN program are awarded a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Science in Nursing degrees upon program completion.

School Overview

RN to MSN Leadership Track Cost: $29,115
RN to MSN Nursing Education Track Cost: $32,265
RN to MSN Leadership Track Length: 57 credit hours
RN to MSN Nursing Education Track Length: 63 credit hours
Accreditation: NWCCU & CCNE
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7

The University of Alabama

  • Tuscaloosa, Alabama

The University of Alabama (UA) offers one of the state’s most affordable RN to MSN online programs with an online RN to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program that offers two academic emphases – clinical nurse leadership or case management leadership. The University of Alabama’s RN to BSN/MSN accelerated degree program is designed for experienced registered nurses, ready to take their careers to the next level.

School Overview

Total Program Tuition Fees: $ 18,750 to 21,000
Program Length: 50 to 56 credit hours
Accreditation: SACSCOC & CCNE
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8

The University of North Alabama

  • Florence, Alabama

The University of North Alabama  (UNA – Florence) offers an RN to MSN degree program. Students completing their BSN under the RN to MSN Bridge concentration will have completed 9 credit hours (one semester) of graduate coursework at the time of admittance to the MSN program. As a result, RN to MSN Bridge students will only lack 23 credit hours, once admitted to the MSN Bridge program, to complete their graduate degree.

School Overview

Total Program Tuition Fees: Estimation $11,400 RN to MSN (Bachelor’s Degree), RN to MSN & Nurse Educator/Leadership Track: $21,175, RN to MSN & Family Nurse Practitioner Track: $26,920
Program Length: 32 Hours for RN to MSN (Bachelor’s Degree), 23 Hours for Nurse Educator & Leadership Track, 32 Hours for Family Nurse Practitioner Track
Accreditation: SACSCOC & CCNE
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9

Robert Morris University

  • Coraopolis, Pennsylvania

Robert Morris University Nursing, Education & Human Studies School offers an RN to MSN degree program that can be completed entirely through Robert Morris University’s distance learning platform. These most affordable online programs from Robert Morris University include an academic emphasis in nursing leadership or nurse education.

School Overview

Total Program Tuition Fees: $ 23,760
Program Length: 37 credit hours
Accreditation: MSCHE & CCNE
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10

Thomas Edison State University

  • Trenton, New Jersey

Thomas Edison State University (TESU) offers an online RN to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree that is also considered among New Jersey’s online. Students enrolled in TESU’s MSN degree program must hold an RN degree and have already completed their BSN degree prior to application. Applicants for this Thomas Edison State University’s graduate degree in nursing may transfer up to twelve credits, if eligible.

School Overview

Total Program Tuition Fees: $ 24,048
Program Length: 36 credit hours for nurse educator, informatics, or administration
Accreditation: MSCHE & CCNE
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11

Stony Brook School of Nursing

  • Long Island, New York

Stony Brook School of Nursing offers an RN to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program that is available to RN licensees who have also completed their bachelor’s degree in nursing. Stony Brook’s includes coursework in chemistry, anatomy, lifespan development, and statistics, among others.

School Overview

Total Program Tuition Fees: $ 26,847 (New York Residents)
Program Length: 57 credit hours
Accreditation: MSCHE & CCNE
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12

Tennessee Technological University

  • Cookeville, Tennessee

Tennessee Technological University’s Whitson Hester Nursing School offers one of Tennessee’s most affordable RN to MSN online that students can complete in about 2.5 to 3 years, depending on course load. Tennessee Technological University’s RN to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) completion program awards graduates an advanced nursing license degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). Classes include theoretical foundations, health care policy, plus a host of FNP clinical rotations, among others.

School Overview

Total Program Tuition Fees: $ 35,476 (Tennessee Residents)
Program Length: 49 credit hours
Accreditation: SACSCOC & CCNE & ACEN
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The Ranking Methodology

The online RN to MSN programs noted above represent a cross-section of the available online RN to MSN currently available in the education marketplace. These online RN to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs have been ranked based on their tuition costs, with the most affordable programs listed first.

Each of these graduate bridge-degree programs is both regionally and programmatically accredited (by either CCNE or ACEN); however, most of the most affordable programs (but not all) are offered through state-run, public higher learning institutions. In fact, some of the noted online programs offered by these schools offer tuition fees that are the same for state residents and non-residents.

In preparing this analysis of the most affordable RN to MSN programs, each program’s relevant academic & financial aspects were considered. The tuition fees used in the analysis represent the latest available costs(2020/2021 or 2019/2020) as noted on the Federal Government’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) website or the website managed by each program or school.

Would you like to update the information included above in these school rankings?

Please contact BestValueSchools.org if you would like us to edit the program/school data analyzed in the above-noted \ final rankings.

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