Choose the Best Online RN to MSN Program for You in 2020

You’re a registered nurse (RN) and looking to enhance your expertise. What is the next logical step for your career? You might consider pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

Earning an MSN degree can help increase your experience and knowledge of nursing, which may benefit you as you advance in your career. To earn an MSN, you’ll need a combination of diligence and dedication to satisfactorily complete the requisite coursework of an accredited MSN program.

An MSN degree may provide you an opportunity to specialize within your nursing career. For example, you could be an advanced practice nurse practitioner (APRN), able to carry out more involved and advanced clinical work with patients.

One of the most accessible ways to earn a high-quality education and earn an MSN is to pursue an accredited online nursing program. These programs may be able to accommodate individuals who might not be able to relocate or need a more flexible schedule to match their working hours. Regardless of whether you pursue online or on-campus degree programs, most MSN programs require one to three years of study.

Sponsored Online Nursing Programs

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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 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 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

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Overview of Online RN to MSN Programs

American Public University

Program Name: RN to MSN
Specializations/Concentrations:

  • Nurse Educator
  • Nurse Leader

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 147 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: N/A
Length of Program: 24 months to about 36 months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Associate’s or bachelor’s degree
  • Current RN license
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Resume
  • 500-600-word statement

Learn more about the Online RN to MSN Degree at American Public University.

Concordia University Wisconsin

Program Name: RN to BSN to MSN
Specializations/Concentrations:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult/Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Educator

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 39 to 41 credits, depending on specialization
Clinical Practice Hours: Minimum of 720 hours
Length of Program: 36-48 months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Associate’s or bachelor’s degree
  • Current RN license
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Resume
  • 500-600-word statement

Learn more about the RN to BSN to MSN program at Concordia University Wisconsin.

Drexel University

Program Name: RN to MSN Online Bridge Program for Nursing
Specializations/Concentrations:

  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Leadership in Health Systems Management
  • Nursing Education
  • Quality, Safety, and Risk Management in Healthcare

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: Depending on specialization — 46 to 48 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: Varies depending on specialization — the nursing education program requires 160 practicum hours, for instance
Length of Program: Generally, 24 to 38 months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Nurses with non-nursing bachelor’s can apply for RN-BSN-MSN program
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • GPA of 3.5 or higher can waive letters of recommendation requirement
  • Current RN license

Learn more about the RN to MSN Online Bridge Program for Nursing at Drexel University.

South University

Program Name: RN to MSN
Specializations/Concentrations:

  • Adult-Gerontology
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Administrator
  • Nurse Educator
  • Nursing Informatics

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: 76 Credits
Clinical Practice Hours: Varies depending on specialization, ranges from 240-780 minimum hours
Length of Program: 12-36 months

Admissions Requirements:

  • Associate’s degree in nursing or diploma in nursing
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Academic transcripts
  • Interview with program director, chair, or faculty
  • Resume
  • Essay
  • Three references

Learn more about the RN to MSN programs at South University.

University of Cincinnati

Program Name: RN to MSN
Specializations/Concentrations:

  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Midwifery
  • Nursing Administration
  • Occupational Health
  • Women’s Health

Enrollment Options: Full-Time or Part-Time
Coursework Credits: Depends on the socialization — ranges from 40 to about 70 credits
Clinical Practice Hours: Varies depending on specialization — ranging from about 500 to 784
Length of Program: Depends on specialization, can go up to 3 years

Admissions Requirements:

  • Current, unrestricted RN license
  • Bachelor’s in Nursing
  • At least 1 year of RN experience
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Statistics course with 2.0 or higher
  • Resume
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendations
  • Academic transcripts

Learn more about the Master of Science in Nursing at the University of Cincinnati.

Additional Information for RN to MSN Programs

RN to MSN bridge programs may provide a clear pathway to accelerating your nursing career to the next level. Designed for registered nurses who are looking to specialize in their nursing career, these programs give you the chance to build on the skills you’ve already accumulated.

Individuals that pursue an MSN may decide to specialize in family nursing, nursing informatics, leadership and management, public health nursing, and more. MSN graduates typically work in physician offices, hospitals, outpatient career centers, educational organizations and institutions and offices of other health practitioners, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Education Requirements

The RN to MSN programs are designed for people who have obtained at least an associate’s degree, but the ideal candidates have already earned a BSN and practice as a current registered nurse (RN). All of the top accredited online nursing programs require you to have an active RN license in your given state.

RN to MSN programs generally require an associate’s degree at the very minimum. Most MSN programs require applicants to have a license as a registered nurse in their given state. Nurses who currently hold their RN license may be better positioned to enter the MSN program of their choice. Nurses who hold an associate’s degree or a nursing certificate might need to complete transitionary undergraduate-level bridge coursework once admitted to an MSN program.

Typically, MSN program applicants are required to submit letters of recommendation and academic transcripts from past academic institutions. While admission requirements vary per program, competitive MSN applicants often have a past GPA of 3.0 or higher from their associate’s or bachelor’s degree programs.

RN to MSN Curriculum

RN to MSN curricula vary depending on the program or specialization you choose. Specializations to choose from may include a Family Nurse Practitioner concentration or an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner concentration. Generally, RN to MSN online programs consist of core courses grounded in theory and practice. Courses may include pathophysiology and practicums that allow students to apply theory to practice.

Quality accredited programs typically require students to complete a specific number of clinical practice hours carried out in the field at approved clinics, hospitals and nursing teaching facilities.

Career Paths for RN to MSN Students

RN to MSN graduates can advance in their careers as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), going on to serve as nurse practitioners in everything from adult health to gerontology, pediatrics, psychiatry and women’s health, among other specializations. Some RN to MSN students also enjoy roles in hospital and healthcare administration and leadership, ensuring medical facilities and educational institutions run seamlessly and uphold the highest standards of care.

Salary for MSN Nurses

The median annual wage for specialized nurses that must hold an MSN to practice is $113,930, according to 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $80,670, while the highest 10 percent earn more than $182,750.

RN to MSN Program Accreditation

In choosing an RN to MSN program that is right for you, it is important to check if a program has been accredited and rigorously evaluated.

There are two major accreditation commissions — the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Both ACEN and CCNE carry out reviews by peer evaluators to determine the quality of a school’s program. This is done through site visits and open communication that ensures a nursing program adheres to standards of quality education. Both are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Should I pursue an RN to MSN?

RN to MSN programs are necessary for nurses who want to become authorities in their fields. If you want to gain expertise, become a specialist working with specific populations and earn higher salaries, an RN to MSN program may be the best pathway for you.

FAQS

What is RN to MSN?

An RN to MSN program is a bridge graduate nursing program designed to pave a clear path from registered nurse to advanced practice registered nurse to qualify for advanced nurse practitioner careers in the field.

How long is an RN to MSN program?

RN to MSN programs vary in length. Generally, accredited online nursing programs last two to three years. Whether you pursue your degree full- or part-time will determine the length of study.