15 Best Direct Entry MSN Programs in 2023

    February 28, 2023 | Admin

    Direct Entry MSN Programs

    Nursing programs have been a popular career trend among college students for the past 15 years, and it looks like the trend isn’t stopping soon. With a primary focus on preventative care and an aging population in the U.S., the demand for nursing jobs continue to be on the rise. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that nursing jobs will grow an astounding 45% from 2019 to 2029 – much faster than many other industry fields. To keep up with the demand, a new generation of nurses must be needed who are adequately trained with the latest in medical education. Nurses can springboard into many niche nursing areas, including mental health, clinical nurse leadership, family practitioner, midwifery, and more.

    Traditional MSN vs. Direct Entry MSN Programs

    A growing need for nurses in the population call for faster education programs. Though a master’s degree in nursing is required for entry level nursing positions, it can take a considerable amount of time for students to obtain an Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) the traditional way. Typically, an MSN is earned in two years alone, not including the required Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) degree and licensing exams. A BSN can take anywhere from 12 months to four years to complete. This means a student could end up dedicating themselves to six years in college before they have a chance to apply for a nursing job in the field.

    That’s where direct entry MSN programs come in. Unlike a traditional MSN, students can enroll in a direct entry MSN program whether they have a bachelor’s in nursing or not. This allows them the flexibility to make a career switch, even if they find their current career path unsatisfactory. They may not even need a bachelor’s as a prerequisite for these accelerated nursing programs, in a few cases. This means students can pursue nursing careers much faster than once possible, which aids in fulfilling market demand.

    What’s it Like to Take a Direct Entry MSN?

    Students who opt for a direct entry MSN can expect an accelerated, rigorous course schedule. The program may be offered completely online, in-person, or as a hybrid blend of both. The coursework in these programs is robust and fast-paced. Self discipline, a working online internet connection, and a quiet place to study are recommended in order for the student to be successful. But some direct entry nursing programs are flexible with a wider timeframe in which you can complete them. These programs allow the student to work at their own pace according to their schedule and needs. They are ideal for working and parental students with a busy schedule.

    We looked into this growing trend and compared MSN programs that had the best value thus far for the education. We calculated point rankings based on tuition rates and the student to faculty ratio. (The lowest numbers were considered ideal traits for both categories.) These 15 choices below are well spent in the quality, time, and flexibility in each school’s curriculum.

    The 15 Best Value Direct Entry MSN Programs


    Augusta University – Clinical Nurse Leader

    • Augusta, Georgia
    • Graduation Rate: 25%
    • Points: 30

    The MSN program at Augusta University has a concentration in clinical nurse leadership, and it’s one of the Top 100 nursing programs by U.S. News & World Report. Graduates can take the NCLEX nurse licence exam along with the CNL certification at the same time. They offer nursing programs for both students with a bachelor’s in nursing, and for students with a non-nursing bachelor’s. While the programs are on campus, students can opt for flexibility with part-time or full-time credit hours per semester.

    School Overview

    Tuition: $5,504
    Student to faculty ratio: 16 to 1
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    University of Rochester – Direct Entry MSN Track

    • New York State
    • Graduation Rate: 85%
    • Points: 25

    This school not only has a Direct MSN program for non-nursing bachelor students, they offer an accelerated BSN degree program as well. The bachelor’s portion can be completed in as little as one year, and the master’s curriculum can be done in three to four. That means a student can graduate after taking the entire nursing curriculum requirements in only four or five years! What’s more, many Rochester MSN graduates land a job in the neighboring Rochester Medical Center, a rare double-boon opportunity.

    School Overview

    Tuition: $9,900
    Student to faculty ratio: 11 to 1
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    Mount Saint Joseph University – MSN MAGELIN Program

    • Cincinnati, Ohio
    • Graduation Rate: 52%
    • Points: 22

    This super-fast curriculum can be completed in 15 months! It’s especially designed for bachelor students who wish to change careers mid-stream. Students must take the courses in four consecutive semesters to qualify. After graduation, students can enter the workforce right away as generalist nurses and work their way up.

    School Overview

    Tuition: $12,781
    Student to faculty ratio: 11 to 1
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    Simmons University – MSN Family Nurse Practitioner

    • Boston, Massachusetts
    • Graduation Rate: 76%
    • Points: 20

    You might think of other schools in Boston for nursing education, but Simmons University has it made. Their MSN program offerings are top notch, and you’ll get plenty of interpersonal interation with one of the smallest student-to-faculty rates in the country. It’s also available online if the format works better for your schedule. Their 96.3% pass rate makes the value of their tuition all the more worthwhile.

    School Overview

    Tuition: $21,654 per academic year
    Student to faculty ratio: 5 to 1
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    ECPI University Virginia Beach Campus – MSN Nurse Educator

    • Virginia Beach, Virginia
    • Points: 20

    This school is the ideal solution if you want to make a career switch fast. ECPI offers two masters in nursing programs – a MSN Family Nurse Practitioner and MSN Nurse Educator, a unique program designed to help you instruct other nurses. ECPI is no stranger to working students, either. Their flexible income share agreement payment plan is an attractive (and realistic) option. Their competitive tuition rates helped land this school within the top 5.

    School Overview

    Tuition: $12,960
    Student to faculty ratio: 11 to 1
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    Sacred Heart University – Online MSN Program

    • Fairfield, Connecticut
    • Graduation Rate: 60%
    • Points: 18

    Unlike many other MSN programs, Sacred Heart does not require pre-licensing for nursing students to pursue their MSN program. Their flexible online format allows students to complete the curriculum at their own pace, anywhere from three to six years. It’s listed among the Top 50 Best Value Online MSN Program schools, and their graduation rate is better than many schools out there.

    School Overview

    Tuition: $30,427
    Student to faculty ratio: 13 to 1
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    University of Hawaii at Manoa – Graduate Entry Program in Nursing

    • Honolulu, Hawaii
    • Graduation Rate: 58%
    • Points: 17

    Who said you couldn’t feel like you were on vacation while working toward your nursing career? Non-nursing bachelor students have the opportunity to take nursing graduate programs directly at the University of Hawaii on the beautiful island of Ohau. They can enroll in one of the following options: Doctor of Nursing Practice, Nursing Ph.D., and Master’s in Advanced Health Population Nursing. A three-semester pre-licence course program is required as a prerequisite for the graduate programs.

    School Overview

    Tuition: $15,912
    Student to faculty ratio: 12 to 1
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    Ohio State University Main Campus – Graduate Entry Option

    • Columbus, Ohio
    • Graduation Rate: 83%
    • Points: 16

    Ohio State’s online programs have garnered great attention among the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Programs list. This accelerated program lasts for three years on average and has several concentrations to choose from. Students can specialize in Mental Health Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Leader, Nurse Midwifery, and even more programs to increase their chances of entering in a special field.

    School Overview

    Tuition: $11,560
    Student to faculty ratio: 19 to 1
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    John Hopkins University – MSN / MBA Organizational Leadership Dual Degree

    • Baltimore, Maryland
    • Graduation Rate: 92%
    • Points: 14

    John Hopkins University offers several MSN options for students in a relatively short amount of time. Typical course load consists of only 17 to 20 credit hours, and the low student to faculty ratio ensures the time is well spent. The school also offers a rare combination MSN / MBA degree program, which is no doubt invaluable to aspiring nurses who plan to work in leadership hospital positions.

    School Overview

    Tuition: $55,350
    Student to faculty ratio: 6 to 1
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    Marquette University – Direct Entry MSN Program

    • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    • Graduation Rate: 80%
    • Points: 13

    The faith-based Wisconsin school touts that its direct entry MSN program helps students earn a higher return on investment than other schools. In exchange for a few more months – about 19 to 21 total – students are equipped with the potential to earn more income in their nursing jobs than the rest of the pack. It strategically blends online with on campus learning curriculum in order for students to become more competitive.

    School Overview

    Tuition: $21,060
    Student to faculty ratio: 14 to 1
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    Trinity College of Nursing and Health Sciences – MSN-DEP Program

    • Rock Island, Illinois
    • Graduation Rate: 92%
    • Points: 12

    This hybrid accelerated master’s program requires a blend of in-person and online coursework. The two-year curriculum is designed for quick graduation so students can look for nursing jobs right away. Graduation rates for this Illinois school are also very high, making it a practical choice for qualifying applicants.

    School Overview

    Tuition: $27,787
    Student to faculty ratio: 12 to 1
    Visit School Website

    Maryville University – Online Nursing Degrees

    • St. Louis, Missouri
    • Graduation Rate: 40%
    • Points: 11

    Maryville’s MSN program is offered completely online with the intention for current nurses to gain more experience and earning potential in their career growth. It’s an attractive option for new nurses, too, who prefer online curriculums versus on-campus hybrids. The programs have earned a reputation in their own right with several award accreditations, including Forbes America’s Top Colleges and Kiplinger Best College Values.

    School Overview

    Tuition: $14,346
    Student to faculty ratio: 14 to 1
    Visit School Website

    Averett University – MSN FNP

    • Danville, Virginia
    • Graduation Rate: 41%
    • Points: 9

    Averett University provides a handful of attractive options for the accelerated MSN student, including family nurse practitioner track, a post-graduate APRN, and even an Emergency Nurse Practitioner post-graduate program. The latter is rare to find in the country, putting it in the spotlight to give students opportunity in this prized nursing niche.

    School Overview

    Tuition: $35,000 per academic year
    Student to faculty ratio: 17 to 1
    Visit School Website

    MGH Institute of Health Professions – Direct Entry MSN Program

    • Boston, Massachusetts
    • Points: 3

    This private school offers students a very flexible direct entry program with seven nursing concentration options. It can be quickly completed at only three years, and has a 96% NCLEX nursing exam pass rate according to the school. The tuition may be pricey, but the career opportunity is worth every penny. Nursing graduates get to be clinically placed among the best medical facilities in Boston, a city well reputed for its medical prowess.

    School Overview

    Tuition: $61,200
    Student to faculty ratio: 10 to 1
    Visit School Website

    Our Ranking Methodology

    All estimate graduate tuition rates have been calculated by the academic semester year by the in-state rate. We defined an academic year as two semesters in the calculations. All ranking data is compiled from the Google Search engine, and listed from each school’s website. We scored two areas for each school, the tuition and student-to-faculty ratio. This data is sourced from the specific campus listed rather than the parent school, where applicable. We scored the schools first by tuition, and then by student-to-faculty to get the final rankings as shown above.

    Have Questions About Your Ranking?

    We strive to present the latest and most accurate school data to the best of our ability at Best Value Schools. If you find something that needs corrected in the information above for the following schools, feel free to reach out to us and we will correct it accordingly. For more information about MSN degree programs, acceletated options and more, we can help you make the career path you’ve been dreaming for. Get started today to begin your search and see the possibilities ahead of you.

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