Explore 20+ Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs—Find the Best School for You in 2021

Earning an online master’s in nursing (MSN) degree can be your gateway to a more advanced career, one that leads to management, specialization and entrepreneurship opportunities as well as more income. Accredited MSN programs offer convenient ways to earn an advanced nursing degree online, such as accelerated BSN-to-MSN programs, RN-to-MSN bridge programs, entry-level master’s degrees and RN-to-APN programs.

When considering a master’s in nursing online, check out admissions requirements, curriculum, focus areas and whether the institution is accredited. Also, ask about modes of learning. For instance, are there set times each week you’re required to be online? Are computer simulations available? Find out the length of courses, experience of the faculty, how you can interact directly with faculty and students, and what kinds of student support are available.

Sponsored Online Nursing Programs

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Earn a Master of Science in Nursing online from Simmons University.

  • Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Preparation to pursue certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Part-time, full-time, and extended plans of study

Earn an MS in Nursing online from Georgetown University.

  • Earn your MS in Nursing in as few as 23 months
  • Choose from one of four APRN specialty areas: AG-ACNP, FNP, NM/WHNP, or WHNP
  • Gain hands-on clinical experience in evidence-based practice

Earn an M.S. in Nursing online at the Wegmans School of Nursing

  • The Wegmans School of Nursing is ranked among the top 100 nursing schools nationally, and is No. 6 in New York state1
  • Part-time and accelerated tracks available
  • Four program options: PCFNP, PMHNP, AGACNP, AGPCNP

Earn your MSN online from USC’s Top-Ranked School of Social Work.

  • Prepares RNs to pursue board certification as family nurse practitioners
  • Earn a CCNE-accredited MSN in as few as 21 months
  • Choose from part-time and full-time study options

1 U.S. News & World Report, 2022 Best Nursing Schools: Master’s. Ranked in 2021.

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Compare 20 + Accredited Online Master’s in Nursing (MSN) Programs

SchoolLocationMS in Nursing Program SpecializationsLengthClinical HoursCredits
Angelo State UniversitySan Angelo, TX
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Educator
24-36 Months150–600 Hours39–49 Credits
Benedictine UniversityLisle, IL
  • Nurse Educator
  • Nurse Executive Leader
24 MonthsNot Available36–39 Credits
Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia, PA
  • Adult-Gerontology
  • Acute/Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Leadership in Health Systems Management
  • Nursing Education
  • Pediatric Acute/Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (or dual option)
  • Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Quality, Safety & Risk Management in Health Care
  • Women’s Health/Gender Related Nurse Practitioner
VariesVaries45–62 Credits
Excelsior CollegeAlbany, NY
  • Nursing Education
  • Nursing Informatics
  • Leadership & Administration of Health Care Systems
24–48 Months247.5 Hours36–38 Credits
Eastern Kentucky UniversityRichmond, KY
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Rural Health Family Nurse
42–52 Months750 Hours for Rural Health Family Nurse46–47 Credits
Ferris State UniversityBig Rapids, MI
  • Nursing Education
  • Nursing Administration
  • Nursing Informatics
24–33 Months240 Hours37 Credits
Georgetown University
Sponsored Program
Washington, D.C.
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
23–27 Months600–1,000+ Hours40–49 Credits
Jacksonville UniversityJacksonville, FL
  • Clinical Nurse Educator
  • Leadership in Health Care Systems
  • Informatics Specialization
As Few as 18 monthsNot Available24–33 Credits
Jacksonville State UniversityJacksonville, AL
  • Population Health Nursing
  • Population Health – Nursing Education
  • Population Health – Emergency Management
14–24 MonthsNot Available38–53 Credits
Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimore, MDHealthcare Organizational Leadership18–24 Months504 Hours35 Credits
Lewis UniversityRomeoville, IL
  • Nursing Education
  • Health Care Systems Leadership
Not AvailableNot Available36–40 Credits
Liberty UniversityLynchburg, VA
  • Community Health
  • Health Policy
  • Nursing Administration
  • Nurse Educator
  • Nurse Informatics
18 Months200 Hours36 Credits
Norwich UniversityNorthfield, VT
  • Healthcare Systems Leadership
  • Nursing Education
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
18+ Months60–660 Hours18–45 Credits
Nova Southeastern UniversityFort Lauderdale, FL
  • Executive Nurse Leadership
  • Nursing Education
  • Nursing Informatics
24–48 Months150 Hours36 Credits
Ohio State UniversityColumbus, OH
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
24–36 MonthsNot Available42–66 Credits
Sacred Heart UniversityFairfield, CT
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Nursing Management & Executive Leadership
  • Nursing Education
24 Months120–348 Hours39 Credits
St. John Fisher College
Sponsored Program
Rochester, NY
  • Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
As Few as 24–36 Months600 Hours46–53 Credits
Saint Joseph’s College of MaineStandish, ME
  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Administration
  • Family Nurse Practitioner/Individual Across the Lifespan Nurse Practitioner
  • Education
27–48 Months135–720 Hours42–48 Credits
Saint Xavier UniversityChicago, IL
  • Clinical Leadership
  • Executive Leadership
  • Nurse Educator
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
30–36 Months225–600 Hours35–47 Credits
Simmons University
Sponsored Program
Boston, MAMSN–Family Nurse Practitioner24–32 MonthsMinimum 672 Hours48 Course Credits
Southern New Hampshire UniversityManchester, NH
  • Generalist MSN
  • Nurse Educator
  • Patient Safety and Quality
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
20 Months400 Hours39 Credits
Texas A&M UniversityBryan, TX
  • Nursing Education
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Forensic Nursing
24–32 MonthsNot Available36–48 Credits
University of Central FloridaOrlando, FL
  • Nursing and Health Care Simulation
  • Nurse Educator
  • Nursing Leadership and Management
4–7 Semesters60–315 Hours31–36 Credits
University of Southern California
Sponsored Program
Los Angeles, CAFamily Nurse Practitioner21–33 Months784 Hours49–51 Credits
University of Texas at ArlingtonArlington, TX
  • Nursing Administration
  • Nursing Education
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
18–36 MonthsNot Available36–46 Credits
University of West FloridaPensacola, FL
  • Nursing Education
  • Nursing Executive
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
24–30 months90–600 Hours39–45 Credits
Western Governors UniversitySalt Lake City, UT
  • Leadership and Management
  • Nursing Informatics
  • Education
24 MonthsNot Available36 Credits

Angelo State University

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Educator

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 39-49 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 150-600 Hours
Length of Program: 24-36 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • At least a 3.0 GPA
  • An unencumbered RN license
  • U.S. citizen and reside in Texas
  • Acceptance into the College of Graduate Studies and Research
  • Undergraduate statistics with at least a grade of a C
  • At least 1 year of RN experience
  • Three references
  • Personal statement
  • Resume/CV

Program Description: Angelo State University’s online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program may require on-campus visits, depending on the track you choose. The online MSN’s clinical requirements are to be completed at a city of residence in Texas—only students who live in Texas are likely to be accepted to this program.

Learn more about the Master of Science in Nursing online programs at Angelo State University.

Benedictine University

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations:

  • Nurse Educator
  • Nurse Executive Leader

Enrollment Options: Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 36–39 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: Not Available
Length of Program: Two Years

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • An unencumbered registered nurse (RN) license
  • Completed application
  • Transcripts
  • One letter of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Statement of goals

Program Description:  In addition to the two concentrations, the online MSN at Benedictine also offers a dual MSN/MBA option for those seeking opportunities in healthcare settings under finance, operations, marketing and management. Students who are full-time typically take one course per eight-week session, with six academic sessions a year.

Learn more about the Master of Science in Nursing online degree at Benedictine University.

Drexel University

Program Name: Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Concentrations:

  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Healthcare Simulation
  • Leadership in Health Systems Management
  • Nursing Education
  • Quality, Safety and Risk Management in Health Care
  • Public Health Nursing
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute/Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Acute/Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (or dual option)
  • Women’s Health/Gender Related Nurse Practitioner

Enrollment Options: Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 45–56 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: Varies by Concentration
Length of Program: Varies by Concentration

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • At least a 3.0 GPA
  • A current, unrestricted U.S. RN license
  • Completed application
  • Transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Resume
  • There may be other requirements per concentration.

Program Description: Drexel University’s online MSN delivers five core MSN courses before selecting one of the six offered concentrations. The MSN features board-certified faculty from the College of Nursing and Health Professions and a three-year tuition lock for students who complete the program within that timeline.

Learn more about the online MSN program at Drexel University.

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Excelsior College

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations:

  • Nursing Education
  • Nursing Informatics
  • Leadership and Administration of Health Care Systems

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 36–38 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 247.5 Hours
Length of Program: 24–48 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • An unencumbered RN license
  • Transcripts
  • Completed MS Capstone Requirements form

Program Description: The three options for online MSN programs at Excelsior cover core nursing classes, concentration coursework and capstones. Each degree path offers a waiver of up to 16 credits, and  GRE isn’t required for admission.

Learn more about the master’s degree in nursing programs at Excelsior College.

Eastern Kentucky University

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations:

  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
  • Rural Health Family Nurse

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 46–47 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 700 Hours for Rural Health Family Nurse
Length of Program: 42–52 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • At least a 3.0 GPA
  • An unencumbered RN license
  • Three-hour undergraduate or graduate statistics course with at least a grade of a C
  • Minimum one year experience as an RN
  • Professional reference
  • Professional statement
  • Transcripts

Program Description: The online MSN at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) is offered in eight-week terms with no campus visits required. Apart from the two MSN pathways, EKU also offers three post-MSN certificates online. Up to 12 hours of credits can be transferred upon department approval into the MSN programs.

Learn more about the online MSN programs at Eastern Kentucky University.

Ferris State University

Program Name: Nursing MSN Online
Concentrations:

  • Nursing Education
  • Nursing Administration
  • Nursing Informatics

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 37 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 240 Hours
Length of Program: 24–33 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • At least a 3.0 GPA
  • An unencumbered RN license
  • Recommended two years of clinical nursing experience

Program Description: Ferris State’s online MSN consists of nursing core courses, advanced leadership concentration courses, practicum and scholarly projects. Ferris State accepts 60 students a year into the MSN program.

Learn more about the nursing MSN online programs at Ferris State University.

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Georgetown University – Sponsored Program

Program Name: MS in Nursing
Specialty Areas:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP)
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)
  • Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (NM/WHNP)

Enrollment Options: Part-Time 
Coursework Credits: 40–49 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 600–1,000+ Hours
Length of Program: 23–27 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree or CNL/entry-level MSN from a CCNE- or ACEN-accredited program
  • Hold a current U.S. registered nurse (RN) license
  • Have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA and a 3.0 science GPA
  • Have successfully completed a college-level three-credit course in statistics with a grade of C or better

Program Description: In as few as 23 months, registered nurses with a BSN can earn a Master of Science in Nursing from the highly regarded Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies. Through a blend of on-campus intensives, live online class sessions and in-person clinical experiences, graduates are prepared to pursue certification in one of four APRN specialty areas: AG-ACNP, FNP, NM/WHNP or WHNP.

Sponsored Nursing Program

Jacksonville University

Program Name: Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations:

  • Clinical Nurse Educator
  • Leadership in Healthcare Systems
  • Informatics Specialization

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 24–33 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: Not Available
Length of Program: As few as 18 months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • At least a 3.0 GPA
  • An unencumbered RN license
  • Completed application
  • GRE scores of 290 or higher
  • Completion of undergraduate courses in statistics and physical assessment
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Resume/CV
  • Statement of intent
  • TOEFL (international students)

Program Description: The online MSN program at Jacksonville University is offered at one course per eight-week session with six sessions a year. Clinical experiences are completed where the student resides. Students will take 18 credits of core nursing education with 24–33 credits in their specialization.

Learn more about the online Master of Science in Nursing programs at Jacksonville University.

Jacksonville State University

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations:

  • Population Health Nursing
  • Population Health – Nursing Education
  • Population Health – Emergency Management

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 38–53 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: Not Available
Length of Program: 14–24 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • An unencumbered RN license
  • Transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement

Program Description: JSU’s online MSN focuses on population health nursing in addressing vulnerable populations and communities. Students in this MSN program will focus on needs assessments, analysis of data, health planning and program development, and integrating nursing informatics.

Learn more about the online MSN programs at Jacksonville State University.

Johns Hopkins University

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations:

  • Healthcare Organizational Leadership

Enrollment Options: Part-Time and Full-Time
Coursework Credits: 35 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 504 Hours
Length of Program: 18–24 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from an accredited college or university
  • GPA of at least 3.0
  • Official transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation (two academic and one professional preferred)
  • Goal statement
  • Current resume or curriculum vitae
  • Current nursing license
  • TOEFL or IELTS for international students

Program Description: The program taps nursing’s perspective at the front line of patient care to manage, evaluate and improve an evolving health care delivery system. Grounded in evidence-based practice, the coursework and practica can be tailored to focus on management and administration, information technology, health policy or case management/population management.

Learn more about the online Master of Science in Nursing at Johns Hopkins University.

Lewis University

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Concentrations:

  • Nursing Education
  • Healthcare Systems Leadership
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 36–49 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: Not Available
Length of Program: Not Available

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • At least a 3.0 GPA
  • An unencumbered RN license
  • Completion of statistics and nursing research course with at least a grade of a B
  • Two completed recommendation forms
  • Resume or CV
  • Essay
  • Fingerprint background checks

Program Description: Students in the online MSN at Lewis University take 18 core courses and 18–22 specialty courses. Lewis University also offers an online post-master’s certificate in a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner focus.

Learn more about the nursing graduate programs online at Lewis University.

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Liberty University

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations:

  • Community Health
  • Health Policy
  • Nursing Administration
  • Nurse Educator
  • Nurse Informatics

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 36 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 200
Length of Program: 24–36 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • At least a 3.0 GPA
  • An unencumbered RN license
  • At least one year of RN experience
  • One recommender’s contact information
  • Statement of essential attributes
  • Transcripts
  • Proof of English proficiency
  • For BSN applicants: completion of undergraduate statistics and health assessment courses

Program Description: Liberty’s online MSN allows for up to 50% of transferred credits toward the degree. The MSN program takes about 1.5 years to complete. There are tuition discounts for military students and veterans who are civilian first responders.

Learn more about the online Master of Science in Nursing programs at Liberty University.

Norwich University

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations:

  • Healthcare Systems Leadership
  • Nursing Education
  • Nursing Practitioner

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 18–45 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 60–660 Hours
Length of Program: 18+ Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • An unencumbered RN license

Program Description: The online MSN at Norwich has four starts a year, with a maximum of 15 students per class. In addition to the offered MSN specialties, there is an online post-master’s certificate in nursing. There is a one-week residency for online MSN students.

Learn more about the online master’s degree in nursing at Norwich University.

Nova Southeastern University

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations:

  • Executive Nurse Leadership
  • Nursing Education
  • Nursing Informatics

Enrollment Options: Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 36 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 150 Hours
Length of Program: 24-48 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • At least a 3.0 GPA
  • An unencumbered RN license

Program Description: At NSU, students in the online MSN program take 15 semester hours of core nursing courses and three semester hours of practicum. All other hours are compiled of their selected specialization. Each specialization is offered with a bridge course for students without an undergraduate degree in nursing.

Learn more about the MSN programs at Nova Southeastern University.

The Ohio State University

Program Name: Traditional Master of Science in Nursing
Concentrations:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Enrollment Options: Part-Time and Full-Time
Coursework Credits: 42–66 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: Not Available
Length of Program: 24–36 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • A Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or a bachelor’s degree in another area if you are also a licensed RN, from an accredited program
  • Active RN license through an accredited RN education program
  • Minimum of a 3.0 cumulative GPA

Program Description: The Traditional Master’s option provides an opportunity for students with a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) or an RN with a bachelor’s degree to earn a Master of Science degree in nursing (MSN). The primary goal is to prepare graduates for advanced practice nursing in a variety of clinical settings ranging from private practices, clinics, hospitals and businesses to managed care organizations and governmental agencies.

Learn more about the Traditional Master of Science in Nursing degree program at The Ohio State University.

Sacred Heart University

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations:

  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Nursing Management and Executive Leadership
  • Nursing Education

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 39 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 120–348 Hours
Length of Program: 24+ Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing from an accredited college, or a BA/BS in a related field, with a minimum GPA of 3.0 
  • Current unencumbered U.S. RN license
  • Transcripts
  • Criminal background check
  • Statement of professional goals
  • Resume
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Prerequisite undergraduate courses in statistics and health assessment

Program Description: Sacred Heart University’s online MSN can be completed in two to six years with no on-campus visit requirement. The asynchronous MSN program curriculum requires 12 core courses, with the rest focused on your specialty. Students may be able to transfer up to 12 credits from other master’s level coursework toward their MSN.

Learn more about the MSN specializations online from Sacred Heart University.

St. John Fisher College – Sponsored Program

Program Name: M.S. in Nursing
Program Specializations:

  • Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner (PCFNP)
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
  • Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP)
  • Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)

Enrollment Options: Part-Time and Accelerated for PCFNP and Part-Time for PMHNP, AGPCNP and AGACNP
Coursework Credits: 46–53 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 600 Hours
Length of Program: 24–36 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Official transcripts from all previously attended institutions
  • Two letters of recommendation from individuals who currently work with the applicant and are qualified at the master’s level or higher in nursing (APRN preferred; physician and/or PA, NP or CNS also accepted)
  • A personal statement 
  • An updated resume
  • One year of current clinical experience
  • Unencumbered RN license in the state in which they are employed and intend to practice as a registered professional nurse
  • PMHNP applicants only: encouraged to have clinical experience in psychiatric mental health care
  • AGACNP applicants only: current advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) certification and one year of current acute care clinical experience required
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0
  • Grade of B or higher in health assessment, research and statistics coursework
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores for non-native English speaking applicants

Program Description: Designed for RNs with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and one year of clinical experience, the online M.S. in Nursing pathway from St. John Fisher College prepares you to pursue licensure as an NP. Choose from four program options—PCFNP, PMHNP, AGACNP, or AGPCNP—and complete 600 hours of clinical rotations.

Sponsored Nursing Program

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Saint Joseph’s College of Maine

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations:

  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Administration
  • Family Nurse Practitioner/Individual Across the Lifespan Nurse Practitioner
  • Education

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 42–48 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 135–720 Hours
Length of Program: 24 Months; Full-Time

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from a CCNE-accredited program
  • At least a 3.0 GPA
  • An active unrestricted, unencumbered RN license in the United States
  • Official transcripts
  • Prerequisite undergraduate statistics and health assessment courses with at least a grade of a B
  • Resume or CV
  • Career statement
  • Three references
  • TOEFL (international students)

Program Description: Saint Joseph’s College of Maine offers an online MSN program with no campus visit requirements, with the exception of the AGACNP concentration. MSN students must complete the program within five years. Courses are offered in cohorts during 12-week periods at four terms a year.

Learn more about the MS in Nursing online at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.

Saint Xavier University

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations:

  • Clinical Leadership
  • Executive Leadership
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Educator

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 35–47 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 225–375 Hours
Length of Program: 2.5–3 Years

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • At least a 3.0 GPA
  • An unencumbered RN license
  • Executive Leadership applicants must have a minimum of three years of relevant management experience in healthcare settings
  • Official transcripts
  • One written recommendation
  • Personal goal statement
  • Resume
  • At least one year of full-time work experience as a registered nurse is required

Program Description: At Saint Xavier University, students have several paths to their online MSN degree. Most of these offer 14-week semesters and may take 2.5 to 3 years to complete. The FNP online MSN program is only accepting students from nearby states and requires a two-day on-campus intensive.

Learn more about the online MS in Nursing programs at Saint Xavier University.

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Simmons University – Sponsored Program

Program Name: Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) – Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time and Extended Track Option
Coursework Credits: 48 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: Minimum of 672 Hours
Length of Program: 24–32 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree awarded by a regionally accredited U.S. college or institution
  • Resume
  • Personal statement
  • Transcripts from all academic institutions attended
  • Successfully completed (with a grade of 83 or better) a three-credit course in statistics and a three-credit course in health assessment
  • A current unencumbered and unrestricted U.S. registered nurse (RN) license
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score, if your native language is not English.

Program Description: Simmons University’s online Nursing@Simmons program offers licensed RNs an opportunity to earn their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to become family nurse practitioners. The online MSN program is designed for RNs who already hold a bachelor’s degree, preferably a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Sponsored Nursing Program

Southern New Hampshire University

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations:

  • Generalist MSN
  • Nurse Educator
  • Patient Safety and Quality
  • Clinical Nurse Leader

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 39 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 400 Hours
Length of Program: 20 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • At least a 3.0 GPA
  • An active, unencumbered RN license

Program Description: The asynchronous online MSN from SNHU offers four program tracks with the option to transfer up to 12 graduate credits toward the degree. Clinical experience and a capstone project are required. The online generalist MSN may be customized with electives.

Learn more about the online MSN programs at Southern New Hampshire University.

Texas A&M University

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations:

  • Nursing Education
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Forensic Nursing

Enrollment Options: Full-Time and Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 36–48 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: Not Available 
Length of Program: 24–32 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Completion of elementary statistics with a minimum grade of C
  • Recommended minimum 3.0 cumulative and last 60 hour GPA
  • Admission essay(s)
  • Three academic and/or professional references
  • Official college transcripts from each institution attended
  • Online interview and online written assessments, as necessary
  • Professional resume
  • FNP: Preferred 1-2 years work experience as a baccalaureate RN 
  • TOEFL (international students)

Program Description: MSN programs at Texas A&M University are delivered primarily online allowing students to balance career, family and other responsibilities while advancing their education.

Learn more about the online Master of Science in Nursing programs at Texas A&M University.

University of Central Florida

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations:

  • Nursing and Health Care Simulation
  • Nurse Educator
  • Leadership and Management

Enrollment Options: Part-Time and Full-Time
Coursework Credits: 31–36 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 60–315 Hours
Length of Program: 12–18 months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from an accredited institution
  • Official transcripts
  • Undergraduate statistics course
  • RN license
  • Written essay
  • Curriculum vitae 
  • Three recommendations

Program Description: The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs build upon the student’s baccalaureate nursing education and professional experience. The goal of the MSN program is to prepare advanced practice nurses, nurse educators and nursing leaders and managers to assume leadership positions in a variety of health care settings.

Learn more about the online Master of Science in Nursing program at the University of Central Florida.

University of Southern California – Sponsored Program

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program from the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Department of Nursing
Concentration: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 49 credits (Traditional Program); 51 credits (Bridge Program)
Clinical Practice Hours: 784 Hours
Length of Program: 21–33 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) from an accredited college or university
  • Minimum 3.0 grade point average in your BSN or MSN program
  • Completion of a 3-credit course in statistics, with a grade of C or better
  • Must be a U.S.-licensed registered nurse (RN) and reside within the United States upon application and throughout the duration of the program
  • One year of clinical experience

Program Description: The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Department of Nursing prepares registered nurses (RNs) to provide advanced care informed by an understanding of the social determinants of health that influence patient well-being. Through USC’s CCNE-accredited online program, RNs with a BSN can earn an MSN in as few as 21 months.

Sponsored Nursing Program

University of Texas at Arlington

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations: 

  • Nursing Administration
  • Nursing Education
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-PCNP)
  • Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP)
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PNP-PC)
  • Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (PNP-AC)

Enrollment Options: Part-Time or Full-Time
Coursework Credits: 36–46 Hours
Clinical Practice Hours: Not Available
Length of Program: 18–36 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • GRE for students with GPA under 3.0
  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • Undergraduate statistics course with a minimum grade of C
  • Unencumbered RN license 
  • Two years clinical experience in registered nursing for certain concentrations
  • TOEFL for international students
  • CPR certification

Program Description: Course content for MSN degrees is delivered via a blended learning model and online technology-enhanced courses. Practicum experiences occur through application of knowledge learned in health care facilities in which administrative senior nurses are present. UTA faculty guide, coach and mentor students in the practicum assignments. UTA’s instructional format is not linked to traditional semester schedules, which allows students to enter and progress through the program in an expedited manner.

Learn more about the online Master of Science programs at the University of Texas at Arlington.

University of West Florida

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Concentrations:

  • Nursing Education
  • Nurse Executive
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

Enrollment Options: Full-Time and Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 39–45 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: 360–600 Hours 
Length of Program: 24–30 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
  • At least a 3.0 GPA
  • A current, unencumbered U.S. RN license
  • Transcripts
  • Application
  • GRE or MAT Scores
  • Undergraduate statistics course with at least a grade of a C
  • Resume/CV
  • For FNP Applicants: Be in good standing at all previous institutions of higher learning; have approval by the School of Nursing Graduate Admissions Committee

Program Description: The online MSN coursework at UWF is offered in eight- and 16-week lengths with up to nine allowed transferred credits. There are 14 credit hours of common core coursework required, with the rest focused on your specialization. The FNP program requires nine credit hours in direct care courses.

Learn more about the online programs in nursing at the University of West Florida.

Western Governors University

Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing Education (BSN to MSN program)
Concentrations:

  • Leadership and Management
  • Nursing Informatics 
  • Education

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 36 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: Not Available
Length of Program: 24 Months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing
  • Transcripts
  • Active, unencumbered RN license in state of residence or state of employment
  • Must submit to criminal background check

Program Description: Western Governors University includes virtual reality training in their online BSN-to-MSN program and the opportunity to earn the National Association for Healthcare Quality Principles certificate. The online BSN-to-MSN program has 15 core courses, and there is no RN work requirement. You may transfer up to 17 competency units of MSN courses, which must have been completed at an accredited MSN program within the past five years with an earned grade of B or higher.

Learn more about the online BSN-to-MSN program at Western Governors University.

Things to Consider When Choosing an Online School

Accredited MSN programs offer convenient ways to earn an advanced nursing degree online, such as accelerated BSN-to-MSN programs, RN-to-MSN bridge programs, entry-level master’s degrees and RN-to-APN programs. An MSN degree requires a set of core classes plus electives or specialty-focused courses and hands-on clinical hours. 

Goals

Are you hoping to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN)? Do you consider yourself a leader? The answers to these questions may help you develop your goals for earning an MSN degree. All APRN licenses across the United States require a graduate-level degree. Earning your MSN degree may help prepare you for APRN positions. An online MSN program may be flexible enough for you to pursue a graduate degree while still maintaining your current employment.

Schedule

If your time is limited due to career obligations, an online MSN program may be dynamic enough for you to earn your degree during your free time. Some MSN online programs incorporate asynchronous learning, which means that you learn on your own time. However, live classes may also be integrated. Full-time and part-time enrollment options are available at most MSN programs for students to create schedules that meet their needs.

Program Length

Full-time programs are likely to be completed within two years, part-time within four years. Be sure to check requirements for nursing licensure in your state with your preferred university.

Clinical Hour Experience

All accredited online MSN programs will require some level of clinical experience hours. Each university that offers an online MSN program has varying hours, mostly depending on concentrations available. CCNE-accredited programs will have a clinical hours requirement that is often a part of your nursing licensure, once you complete your program.

Potential Earnings and Jobs

Because U.S. states require a graduate degree for APRN careers, consider what that job outlook is for your state. For some APRN careers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 17% more nurse anesthetist positions, 16% more nurse midwives and 28% more nurse practitioner jobs.

Skills Obtained From an Online MSN Program

When enrolling in an MSN program online, you may already have specific medical/nursing skills. According to the CCNE-accredited program standards, you will likely learn more about core courses such as advanced physiology, advanced health assessment, advanced pharmacology, and population-focused or state-focused coursework. 

The skills you obtain from an online MSN program may prepare you for a career as a nurse practitioner. According to an O*NET report, nurse practitioners have skills in:

  • Active learning
  • Critical thinking
  • Judgment and decision-making
  • Service orientation
  • Systems evaluation
  • Negotiation

If you are hoping to become a nurse practitioner, you may want to pursue further education. Currently, nurse practitioners and other advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are required to have completed a master’s degree in nursing in order to begin practicing. However, the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) has stated that by 2025 the education requirement for entry-level nurse practitioner positions will shift to a doctoral degree

A Doctor of Nursing Practice degree is the highest practice-based degree in the nursing field. The curriculum of DNP programs often builds upon master’s in nursing coursework, focusing on evidence-based practice and quality improvement. Most DNP programs require applicants to hold a bachelor or master’s degree in nursing or a related field, according to the CCNE DNP Essentials (PDF, 163KB). The skills and education you gain from completing an MSN program may help you succeed as a DNP student.

Sponsored Online Nursing Programs

Sponsored

Earn a Master of Science in Nursing online from Simmons University.

  • Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Preparation to pursue certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Part-time, full-time, and extended plans of study

Earn an MS in Nursing online from Georgetown University.

  • Earn your MS in Nursing in as few as 23 months
  • Choose from one of four APRN specialty areas: AG-ACNP, FNP, NM/WHNP, or WHNP
  • Gain hands-on clinical experience in evidence-based practice

Earn an M.S. in Nursing online at the Wegmans School of Nursing

  • The Wegmans School of Nursing is ranked among the top 100 nursing schools nationally, and is No. 6 in New York state1
  • Part-time and accelerated tracks available
  • Four program options: PCFNP, PMHNP, AGACNP, AGPCNP

Earn your MSN online from USC’s Top-Ranked School of Social Work.

  • Prepares RNs to pursue board certification as family nurse practitioners
  • Earn a CCNE-accredited MSN in as few as 21 months
  • Choose from part-time and full-time study options

1 U.S. News & World Report, 2022 Best Nursing Schools: Master’s. Ranked in 2021.

Sponsored

Education Requirements

Acceptance into an online master’s in nursing program typically requires:

  • A bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited nursing higher education program.
  • GPA of 3.0-4.0.
  • Current, unrestricted U.S. or a National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) registered nurse (RN) license.
  • Active, unencumbered RN license for the state in which the student’s clinicals will be conducted.
  • Letters of recommendation, a resume, a statement of purpose, and high school or GRE transcripts may also be required.

Curriculum

The core curriculum for a Master of Science in nursing (MSN) online may include courses in advanced physical assessment, ethics, healthcare quality, safety and regulatory management, pharmacology, research and evidence-based practice, healthcare delivery systems and policy, information systems, transcultural theories and disease prevention.

Along with the core curriculum, online MSN programs allow students to specialize in a specific area of study, such as administration, public health or informatics. Specializing in a practice is a sure way to set the course for a career in in-demand nursing fields.

Is an Online Master’s in Nursing Right for me?

The Institute of Medicine’s landmark report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” states that building a culture of lifelong learning and competency-building is essential for nurses as healthcare becomes more complex.

With nursing and doctor shortages and nurses aging out of work, nurses with master’s degrees are urgently needed to serve as primary care providers, managers and leaders, educators, researchers, clinicians, case managers, specialists (especially in geriatrics, informatics, public health, and quality and safety), and policy and public consultants.

MSNs are uniquely qualified to change, design, innovate and implement evidence-based practice. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), nurses with MSN degrees earn higher salaries and increased respect from administrators, physicians and fellow nurses.

An online master’s in nursing degree is a graduate-level academic program that typically requires a BSN degree, an unencumbered RN license, and may be completed in two to three years. However, the AACN also notes there are RN-to-MSN bridge programs, accelerated master’s programs, and dual-degree programs.

RN-to-MSN or APN programs require courses to bridge the gap between an associate and graduate degree. Bridge courses may include topics such as research and evidence-based practice, health assessment, informatics, statistics, population health/epidemiology, leadership in clinical settings, nursing theory and scientific inquiry.

Additional Nursing Programs

While an online MSN program may be right for some students, there are opportunities to further specialize in different career paths in nursing. Consider the following programs:

Direct-Entry MSN Programs

If you have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing but are ready to switch fields, a direct-entry MSN program may be on your radar. These programs are designed for students who want to attain a graduate nursing degree with an undergraduate degree in a different discipline. In a direct-entry MSN program, you’ll earn a BSN before becoming a registered nurse. After gaining work experience as an RN, you’ll complete the requirements for an MSN degree. 

RN-to-MSN Programs

Also catering to those with nontraditional educational backgrounds are RN-to-MSN programs. If you’re an RN with an associate degree in nursing, an RN-to-MSN program enables you to take a step toward becoming an APRN in less time than if you went back to school to complete a bachelor’s degree first. Keep in mind that a number of programs require applicants to have at least one full year of work experience as an RN before applying to the RN to MSN program. 

Post-Graduate Nursing Certifications 

Nursing certificates may help you to grow your education after completing a master’s degree. They often focus on particular areas of practice within the nursing field, preparing students to earn certification for that speciality. Obtaining certificates may help you advance your nursing career by strengthening your knowledge in certain focus areas and displaying your specialized skill set to potential employers. 

Unlike MSN programs, which are full-length degree programs, nursing certificate programs may be completed within a year or two and tend to be more specialized. The length of your post-graduate certificate in nursing may vary by institution and speciality.

What Are the Application Requirements?

The requirements for obtaining a post-graduate nursing certificate vary widely depending on what type of certificate you are pursuing and what school you are attending. Since post-graduate certificates supplement your graduate education, most programs may require students to have completed a master’s degree in nursing before applying. 

Certain certificate programs may also require academic transcripts, letters of reference, submission of a resume, a personal interview and proof of active licensure. Information regarding specific requirements can often be found on the website of the school administering the certificate program. For some speciality certificate programs, schools may require that students have previous work experience in that field or that they have completed specified coursework. 

What Type of Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates Are Offered?

Post-graduate nursing certificates are offered for numerous specializations within the nursing field. Some common post-master’s nursing certificates include:

  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist 
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner 
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner 
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner 
  • Nursing Education 
  • Healthcare Systems Leadership

The types of nursing certificates available vary from school to school, but with many schools offering nursing certificate programs online, it’s likely that you’ll find a certificate program that matches your career goals and fits into your schedule. Keep in mind that details such as length of program and curriculum may vary based on the school’s particular requirements. 

Program Accreditation

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits online Master of Science in Nursing programs. The CCNE is recognized as a national accrediting agency for bachelor’s, graduate, and residency programs in nursing. Programs and schools of nursing may also be regionally accredited by agencies such as the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. However, some states may require a CCNE-accredited degree.

Scholarship Options for Nursing Students

There are numerous options for nursing student scholarships. Some states offer scholarships for nurses pursuing education locally such as the California School Nurses Organization’s graduate scholarship for school nurses. There are also options for undergraduate, graduate, minority students, and opportunities to apply for grants and fellowships. Most states also offer a loan repayment program for healthcare professionals. Be sure to check with your university, state organizations, and state health departments for more information.

FAQs

How do online MSN programs work?

Most online MSN programs will follow the same curriculum and have the same faculty as on-campus programs, with learning via a computer instead of a lecture room or hall. 

How is course content delivered in an online MSN program?

Some online MSN programs have asynchronous and synchronous coursework—not live and live. You will likely need to complete weekly discussions with classmates, assignments, research and other academic responsibilities. 

Are there in-person requirements for online MSN students?

Some universities may require on-campus visits as immersions, or to meet your cohort and faculty members. However, this isn’t always the case. Clinical placements and experiences are likely to take place in-person at your approved site of practice. Be sure to check with your preferred online MSN program.

Do I need a nursing degree to enroll in an online MSN program?

You do not need a nursing degree to enroll in a direct-entry MSN program online. This type of MSN program accepts students who are career changers with different undergraduate or graduate degrees looking to make the transition to nursing. There may be additional admission requirements for non-nursing students. Be sure to check with your preferred program and university for more information.

What are the differences between an MSN and a DNP?

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is the first graduate-level nursing degree required for most APRN state licenses. A Doctor of Nursing Practice, or DNP, degree may help prepare students for advanced clinical nursing roles in clinical research trials as well as executive-level positions in patient care.

Information on this page was last retrieved in August 2020.


This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license. O*NET® is a trademark of USDOL/ETA.