Nursing is a profession steeped in compassion, intellect and boundless energy for those serving the health needs of others. American nurse theorist and professor Dr. Jean Watson, RN, PhD, stated that nurses require an “insatiable need to care for others.” To accomplish this, nurses must also have an insatiable quest for knowledge to stay abreast of new therapies and treatments. This is where the Master of Science in Nursing may be the ticket to more challenging job opportunities in conjunction with a higher salary.

According to The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17, the median expected annual salary for registered nurses is $66,640. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. A Nurse Practitioner with a Master’s degree can earn an average of $95,350. This places it on a par with a Physician Assistant. Also, there are more career opportunities available with a MSN, depending on your choice of specialties. For example, there are areas such as Leadership and Management. A master’s in this specialty will open doors into the hierarchy of nursing administration if that is your goal.

This ranking is intended to be a resource to read, digest, and conduct your own research into a program that is best for you. We have selected these based on accreditation, curriculum options with each program, independent reviews and national recognition.

1.  Saint Xavier University

As Chicago’s first Catholic University, founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1846, Saint Xavier University (SXU) strives to provide students with an inclusive and rigorous academic experience — one rooted in ethics and designed to cultivate continued personal and professional excellence. The School of Nursing at Saint Xavier University holds membership in the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the National League for Nursing (NLN) and the Illinois Association of Colleges of Nursing.

The online Master of Science in Nursing programs from Saint Xavier’s School of Nursing advances your management, business and clinical skills for an immediate impact in your workplace.

The online MSN offers two tracks for taking charge of the design and delivery of superior patient care:

  1. Clinical Leadership: Learn to become a clinical leader at the point of care with a focus on care coordination, risk assessment, quality improvement, outcome evaluation, communication and leadership, and the implementation of evidence-based practice. Only 38 credit hours for completion.
    Coursework prepares you for the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) exam. (SXU also offers this track as a stand-alone certificate for nurses who already have an MSN).
  2. Executive Leadership (Nursing Administration): Develop the strategic perspective and critical thinking skills to lead the continuous improvement of processes and patient care in a nursing unit or department. Coursework prepares you for the Nurse Executive, Board Certification (NE-BC) and Nurse Executive, Advanced Certification exams (NEA-BC). There are 35 credit hours required for completion.

Their programs are consistently recognized for their educational quality. U.S. News & World Report ranks the program No. 1 Best Online Master’s in Nursing (2017). Also, in 2013, the National League of Nursing  designated their School of Nursing as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education for the third time. The School is one of only 40 schools in the U.S. to receive this distinction.

Tuition: $720 per credit hour

2. Benedictine University

Founded in 1887, and located in Lisle, Illinois, Benedictine now offers 56 undergraduate and 16 graduate degrees. U.S. News & World Report consistently lists the school among the best colleges and universities in the nation. In 2015 the university was added to its lists for: Best Nursing School and Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs.

Benedictine’s online MSN curriculum aligns with the graduate education standards specified by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing which emphasize organizational and systems leadership, informatics, health care technologies, advocacy, inter-professional collaboration, evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and cultural awareness among other valued professional nursing qualities and skills. The online program is also accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

The school provides two concentrations in their MSN program:

  1. Nurse Educator: Learn to serve in teaching roles for patients and nurses in both clinical and academic settings such as universities, community colleges, and teaching hospitals.The program also prepares students academically to sit for the Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) exam.
  2. Nurse Executive Leader (Administrator): Designed for nurses interested in administrative and executive roles, coursework in this concentration focuses on the planning and management of high-quality care initiatives and processes. This course of study prepares students academically for the Nurse Executive (NE-BC) exam offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Both tracks are comprised of 18 Foundation Courses (credits), plus the Educator specialty consists of 21 concentration courses and the Leadership path has 18 courses.

Tuition: $650 per credit hour

3. Maryville University

Founded in 1872, Maryville has since formed a strong education in healthcare where 90% of the faculty hold a Ph.D or terminal degrees. The school has been recognized as a top Military Friendly School, Best Value 2015 by Kiplinger’s. and Top 2015 College by Forbes. Plus, all nursing degrees are CCNE accredited. Students with a BSN can earn their Master of Science in Nursing choosing from five concentrations:

  1. Family Nurse Practitioner: You can complete the online program in 15 courses which is ideal for working RNs seeking to advance their career.
  2. Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner: You can complete your AGPCNP in as few as 28 months and 100% online. Begin your coursework the semester after you enroll with six entry points per year (January, March, May, July, August, and October). Clinical Hour Requirements: 580 clinical hours completed over 3 semesters, though subject to change.
  3. Acute Care Nurse Practitioner: You can complete your AGACNP in just 32 months. Begin your coursework the semester after you enroll with six entry points per year (January, March, May, July, August, and October). Clinical Hour Requirements:830 clinical hours completed over 4 semesters, though subject to change.
  4. Psychiatric Mental Health: The demand for psychiatric nurse practitioners is rising. With public awareness of mental illness increasing, a shortage of psychiatrists in the U.S., and an aging and growing population, the need for psychiatric experts is greater than ever. Finish within 32 months online.
  5. Pediatric Primary Care: Scrubs Magazine identifies the pediatric nurse practitioner as one of the “Top 10 Highest Paying Nursing Specialties.” Degree can be completed in as few as 28 months; requires 580 clinical hours to be completed over 3 semesters.

Tuition: $797 per credit hour

4. Lynchburg College

Lynchburg College was founded as Virginia Christian College in 1903 by Dr. Josephus Hopwood, a pioneer in Christian coeducation. From its earliest days, Lynchburg College has maintained an association with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). These values have allowed the school to accumulate  prestigious recognition: twice selected as one of 100 colleges nationwide for the John Templeton Foundation’s Honor Roll of Character-Building Colleges; ranked by U.S. News & World Report in the top tier of southern colleges and universities;  G.I. Jobs magazine’s “Military Friendly Schools”; and President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

Their online Master of Science in Nursing Program offers you a professional development opportunity using a convenient online format. Founded on evidence-based nursing practice, the MSN provides educational experiences that are grounded in current knowledge and research. This Clinical Nurse Leader emphasis program is for nurses who want to remain in staff nursing positions and enhance their skills with advanced knowledge and education.

The 37-hour online program:

  • Provides advanced training for generalist nurses who will continue to give expert patient-centered care in health care facilities
  • Educates advanced nurses who will provide care management to patients on a unit-based level
  • Develops a knowledge base for nurses to implement outcomes-based practice and quality improvement strategies
  • Enables nurses to create and manage microsystems of care that will be responsive to the health care needs of individuals and families

Applicants must meet these requirements:

  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Hold a current unrestricted registered nurse license in the United States
  • Have successfully completed undergraduate courses in Statistics and Health Assessment with a grade of C or higher
  • Have current CPR certification and health records

Tuition: $510 per semester hour

5. Aspen University

Established in 1987, Aspen offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing, education, computer science, technology, information systems, business, project management, counseling, and criminal justice. The school has always been an online University effectively leading the way in online education. Their Master of Science in Nursing programs prepare nurses to assume leadership roles in management, education, and clinical practice within a diverse society and across a spectrum of healthcare settings.

Aspen’s MSN 36 credit-hour program offers fives areas:

  1. Forensic Nursing: Students will learn about sexual crimes, corrections, and legal testimony or chose courses on violence prevention, mitigation, and reduction. The student will be given an opportunity to create a practicum and capstone that focuses on the type of forensic nursing most desired.
  2. Informatics: Designed for nurses who want to solve nursing problems with computers. You will learn the vocabulary and training used by computer science majors as well as advanced nursing informatics skills.
  3. Administration and Management: A core curriculum focuses on nursing theory, practical knowledge of legal and ethical issues in healthcare, and specialized skills in areas such as healthcare informatics, strategic management, and planning.
  4. Nursing Education: Designed to provide courses that will equip students with a comprehensive education grounded in nursing theory and research, a practical knowledge of legal and ethical issues in healthcare, and specialized skills in areas such as teaching strategies and curriculum development.
  5. Public Health: Exposes the student to the pivotal public health role of the school nurse, as educator, advocate, and public health evaluator. Prior to the practicum, the student will examine outpatient care with a course on case management and home health.

Tuition: $325 per credit hour or $11,700 total (36 credits); Aspen offers a Monthly Payment Plan of $325 for Master’s degrees; or the Installment Plan: students pay their course’s tuition in three equal monthly installments while taking the course: Master’s is $975 per course or $325 per installment. 

6. Bradley University

The school began as Bradley Polytechnic Institute in 1897 by Lydia Bradley who started by offering horology (watch-making). Today, it is a top-ranked private university in Peoria, Illinois, that offers 5,400 undergraduate and graduate students opportunities and resources of a larger university and the personal attention and exceptional learning experience of a smaller university. The school offers more than 185 undergraduate and graduate academic programs in business, communications, education, engineering, fine arts, health sciences, liberal arts and sciences, and technology.

Bradley offers two Master of Science in Nursing programs:

  1. Nursing Administration: This degree is open to those with an associate (ADN), diploma-prepared or baccalaureate-prepared RN (BSN). The innovative curriculum of this program expertly blends the disciplines of nursing, management and business to prepare you for leadership in the modern health care marketplace. The curriculum’s 36-45 credit hours of coursework are delivered over eight semesters and require that you complete a capstone course and a preceptor-supervised nursing administration practicum.
  2. FNP degree: The online Family Nurse Practitioner program allows you to complete your clinical hours with an approved preceptors of your choice. Get the most out of your clinical hours by selecting different supervisors for each area of study that your clinical hours emphasize. curriculum of their online MSN-FNP program is designed to prepare you for advanced practice with individuals and families throughout the life continuum. The program’s 67 credit hours of coursework are delivered in just nine semesters and require that you complete a capstone course, as well as five preceptor-supervised clinical practicums.

Bradley is ranked 6th among Midwest Regional Universities by US News 2017; all nursing degrees are accredited by the CCNE.

Tuition: $850 per semester hour

7. Capella University

Capella offers an online Master of Science in Nursing in a choice of five programs:

  1. Care Coordination: Lead interprofessional teams to enhance safety and quality while decreasing costs and improving patient and systems outcomes.
  2. Nursing Informatics:  Integrate information management and technology to enhance patient safety and quality of care while improving patient and systems outcomes.
  3. Diabetes Nursing: Manage the comprehensive care of patients with or at risk for diabetes and their families.
  4. Nursing Education: Prepare the next generation of nursing professionals by developing competency in teaching and learning.
  5. Nursing Leadership and Administration: Transform practice through leading change and influencing interprofessional stakeholders.

Each program is a total of 54 credits with up to 12 transfer credits. This post-BSN MSN degree can be completed in as little as 2 years or the RN-to-MSN in as little as 2.5 years. All programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). More importantly, new students starting an online MSN degree program at Capella University may be eligible to receive a scholarship. Add potential military, employer or nursing association membership discounts to create an even more affordable path.

This online degree may be taken in either of these learning formats:

Guided Path: Their original online format, with 24/7 course access and no specific login times. You’ll have deadlines for weekly assignments and discussions to stay on task. Every quarter you’ll have the freedom to decide if you want to go full-time (2-3 courses) or part-time (1 course). The more classes you take at a time, the quicker you’ll complete your program.

FlexPath: Their unique competency-based approach, but removes pre-set deadlines and weekly discussions—giving you one of the most flexible learning options available. You’re evaluated by how well you demonstrate competencies, not by how long it takes you to learn them. Before each course, you’ll work with your FlexPath coach to complete a personal course completion plan—setting your own deadlines to complete each assessment.

Tuition: $415 per credit

8. Colorado Technical University

CTU offers two Master of Science in Nursing degree concentrations in Nursing Administration and Nursing Education. The Nursing Administration program is designed to be completed in as little as 18 months while the Nursing Education program is designed to be completed in as little as 20 months.

MSN-NA: Nursing Administration:

The 48-credit track is designed to help students prepare for possible nursing leadership and management positions. By learning how to communicate effectively, understand relationship-building strategies to drive positive change and through demonstrating ethical personal, professional and fiscal accountability. After completing their core nursing courses, students can finish their degree by taking six (6) more courses, or 24 quarter credits. These courses are designed to help students learn about the specialty of nursing administration and to apply their newly learned nursing administration theory into clinical practice.

MSN-NE: Nursing Education:

Students in the MSN-NE program are taught nursing education principles such as the use of innovative teaching strategies, curriculum design and development, assessment and evaluation, and the application of these concepts in nursing practice and virtual environments. You will complete seven courses to help you learn more about how to instruct students in their nursing education and how to assess them on their learning. There also are two practicum courses to complete as part of the area of concentration. These experiential learning experiences are 60 hours each, for a total of 120 hours all together, and provide the opportunity to try out your teaching skills, including in a virtual environment. Finally, you will complete an MSN capstone project that will help you to encapsulate all of the knowledge you have gained throughout the program in a final project.

Tuition: $370 per credit hour or $17,760 total

9. Western Governors University

Western Governors University is a nonprofit online university founded, in 1995, and supported by 19 U.S. governors. At no other time in the history of higher education have the governors of several states joined together to create a university. The school has flourished into a national university, serving more than 70,000 students from all 50 states, yet remains non-bureaucratic and innovative.

WGU’s College of Health Professions offers online Master’s of Science degrees in Nursing in these three specialties:

  1. Nursing Education: Designed for Registered nurses (RNs) who possess a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), have a current, unencumbered RN license, and wish to move into nursing education. T
  2. Leadership and Management: All areas of study for this specialty are consistent with the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) standards for nurse administrators.
  3. Nursing Informatics: An Informatics nurse specialists play an integral role in boosting the level of care at a healthcare facility. An outstanding nurse informatics specialist combines nursing science with the ability to manage, analyze, and communicate knowledge.

The Informatics program consists of 36 competency units (CUs), our equivalent to the traditional credit hour), including a capstone project. The Leadership option requires a total of 36 CUs; most students complete the program in 24 months. The Education specialty is 36 units also and can be completed within 3 years for students dedicating 15 or more hours per week on their studies. Please note that these are only open to RNs with a current, unencumbered license and possess  a BSN.

The bachelor’s and master’s nursing degree programs at WGU are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Tuition: $400 per CU part-time: 4-7 competency units per term for graduate degrees; $3,250 per term

10. Sacred Heart University

Founded in 1963 in Fairfield, Connecticut, Sacred Heart University continues to provide an affordable, quality education to the local and international community. This dedication to education  has not gone unnoticed as US News & World Report ranked Sacred Heart one of the top universities in the North, as well as among the institutions with the Best Online Programs (2015). ranked as one of the top colleges in New England; ranked among the Top 10 Best Colleges for Veterans (North Region) by U.S. News in 2014; and all SHU’s nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Among all the types of nursing degrees available to you, choose one that gives you more opportunities to customize your learning experience to reflect your career goals. Sacred Heart’s online MSN offers four specializations:

  1. Clinical Nurse Leader (348 hours of role immersion): Clinical Nurse Leader programs focus on learning to lead an integrated team of health care professionals. As a significant part of patient care at the bedside, gain the skills and knowledge designed to address complex challenges involving patient safety, quality of care, and costs. This program prepares students to sit for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing CNL Certificate Exam.
  1. Nursing Management & Executive Leadership (120 hours of clinical practicum): With the tools learned in this specialization, you will be prepared to adopt the necessary leadership principles and practices to assume greater responsibility ensuring effective and efficient care across all levels of a healthcare organization. Learn how to practice positive management and leadership with an emphasis on quality and safety.
  1. Nursing Education: Learn the skills required to effectively educate and train future nurses. With a master’s in nursing education, graduates are prepared to assume teaching roles in academic or clinical settings.
  1. Family Nurse Practitioner: Develop the clinical skills and knowledge to provide primary care to families in an advanced practice role. Study pharmacology, health assessment, and pathophysiology to effectively diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries to patients of all ages. This MSN FNP specialization prepares students to sit for certification exams from the American Nurses Association and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

By taking one course every eight-week session, you could earn your degree in just two years and be on your way to a more fulfilling career. The core courses of the online MSN at Sacred Heart are designed to provide you with an advanced theoretical and clinical foundation. The specialization courses further enhance your leadership skill set in the field chosen. The program consists of 36 or 39 graduate semester credit hours divided between core courses and specialization courses.

Tuition:  $670 per credit hour

11. Southern New Hampshire University

The state of New Hampshire in 1963 granted the university its charter, which gave it degree-granting authority. The first associate degrees were awarded that year, and the first bachelor’s degrees were conferred three years later. The college became a nonprofit institution under a board of trustees in September 1968.

The Master of Science in Nursing online program at SNHU prepares today’s nurses with the key competencies necessary for continuous improvement of the safety and quality of healthcare systems. You may choose to customize your degree and with specialty knowledge electives within the MSN or choose the Clinical Nurse Leader or patient quality and safety programs for specialized education needs that align to your desired career path. The specialty programs are:

  1. Clinical Nurse Leader: The curriculum for the Master of Science in Nursing Clinical Nurse Leader program online program follows the competencies and practice standards defined by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing specific to this role within the field.
  2. Nursing Patient Safety & Quality: Based on the competencies defined by the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” the 13-course, 39-credit MSN Patient Safety and Quality program prepares nurses for their emerging roles and the rising demands within healthcare.
  3. Nurse Educator: Provides registered nurses with the skills and knowledge required to facilitate learning through curriculum design, teaching, evaluation and advisement. The 39-credit program can be completed in eight terms, with two courses per 10-week term and a capstone. The teaching practicum may be completed online or face-to-face, as per state authorization.

Their Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Nursing programs at SNHU are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Tuition: $627 per credit hour or $1,881 per course; $470/$1,410 Active Military & Spouses

12. University of San Francisco

The University of San Francisco, the city’s first institution of higher learning, was founded in 1855. As one of 28 Jesuit universities in the United States, this institution is built upon Jesuit values. School of Nursing and Health Professions was founded in 1954 and instituted the first private university nursing program in California. From its initial launch of graduate degree programs in the 1980s, the school grew to offer the first MSN program with a Clinical Nurse Leader focus in 2005.

The university’s School of Nursing and Health Professions offers an online MSN program for those aiming at becoming a Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL). The curriculum empowers nurses to concentrate on “the big picture approach” of patient outcomes. As a result, CNLs are better prepared to foster meaningful change in their local health care organization and in the health care profession as a whole. The CNL program is learning to embrace the literature, research and latest breakthroughs in medical science and applying that knowledge to improve individual patient outcomes and health care policies. You will use the skills gained throughout the program in a culminating project, applying evidence-based nursing to an issue of your choice.

Program Overview:

  • 46-unit-hour program (ADN-level) or 34-unit-hour program (BSN-level)
  • Two 8-week courses per semester with the exception of one 16-week semester for your final practicum
  • Program completion for (ADN-level) or the (BSN to MSN) in as few as 6 semesters (2 years)
  • Program starts in fall, spring, or summer – whichever best fits your schedule
  • Practicum’s conducted in a work setting close to home, allowing you to continue in your current career

During the coursework, you participate in online discussions, group collaborations, blogs, and discussion boards anytime, anywhere there is internet access. The program is intensive. Expect to allot 15 – 20 hours per week to complete your coursework.

U.S. News & World Report 2016: Ranked as one of the Best Nursing Programs (for its Graduate School of Nursing and Health Professions programs), one of the Best Nursing Grad Schools, and in the list of top National Universities.

Tuition: $1,340 per unit

13. University of Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati College of Nursing is a nationally ranked nursing school with many programs ranked best in Cincinnati and Ohio – and within the top tier of programs across the country. It was in the Best Online Programs ranking for Grad Nursing in 2015, 2016 and 2017 by US News.

The College of Nursing offers three ways to earn a Master of Science in Nursing, along with a number of specialties. The online three specialties are:

  1. Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (NP): Specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of acute and chronic illness in patients over the age of 13.
  2. Family NP: Advanced nursing education including training in the diagnosis and management of common and complex medical conditions in a range of patients including children and adults.
  3. Certified Nurse Midwife:  A CNM provides for women includes health promotion and disease prevention; health education and counseling; contraceptive management; gynecological care, pre-conception care, prenatal care, monitoring of labor and guidance of the birth of a baby into the world; and care of the infant and mother after birth.

The accelerated format can be completed in as few as two years, and graduates of the Adult-Gero and Family NP are eligible to sit tor the ANCC and AANP certification exams for. Graduates of the CNM are eligible to sit for the AMCB certification exam. These programs are CCNE accredited.

Tuition: $758 per credit hour (all fees included) Ohio residents; $1,345 total per credit non-residents

14. Regis University

The Rueckert-Hartman College for  Health Professionals offers a RN to Master of Science in Nursing program combines the RN to BSN Completion and Master of Science in Nursing programs into a single curriculum, putting you on a fast track to earning both a BSN and Master of Science in Nursing degree.  After completion of the BSN portion of the program, you will continue to complete classes for your master’s degree in the same format as the BSN coursework. Within the master’s portion of the program, you will complete graduate level nursing courses along with courses in a chosen focus area – education or management. The curriculum can be completed in approximately 24-36 months depending on the pace at which you choose to take courses, and the number of core courses a student needs to complete.

The online flexible format allows you to log in anytime, day or night as you complete weekly assignments. Each class lasts eight weeks allowing you to progress quickly. No campus visits are required for online students, but we encourage you to celebrate your graduation in person! We provide students with an orientation to online learning prior to getting started. This program starts three times a year, in January, May and August.

There is also a MS in Nursing-FNP offered in synchronized online learning format with technology that allows you to be a part of the class in real-time from a distance. You will be expected to participate in the online classroom once per week from 8am-5pm. Additionally, five on-campus intensives are required throughout the program on the main Northwest Denver, Colorado campus. This program begins in the Fall semester.

Graduates are awarded the Master of Science, Nursing with a Family Nurse Practitioner specialization and are eligible to take both the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Examination (AANP) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Examination.

Tuition: $535 Bachelor level; $620 MS level per semester hour

15. University of Wyoming

Amelia Leino was asked by the Board of Trustees to establish a school of nursing at the University of Wyoming in 1950. Leino remained dean of the School of Nursing until 1968, at which time she retired. The School of Nursing was renamed to “Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing” in 2003 as a result of Roy Whitney’s three million dollar gift to the university, made as a birthday gift to Fay from her husband. A master’s degree in nursing was earned from Syracuse University in 1974, a certificate as a nurse practitioner from Brigham Young University in 1974, a master’s degree in public health from Syracuse University in 1982,and a PhD from Syracuse University in 1983 in public administration.

UW’s Fay W. Witney School of Nursing offer an online Master of Science for the RN with a BSN in a Nurse Leader program. This degree uses a holistic approach to admissions. The program promotes a culture of transformation, focusing on communication, an interconnected global perspective, outcomes orientation, and rural population health. This program serves individuals who desire to be leaders in nursing practice and education.

Applicants must have earned Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from a nationally accredited program or anticipated graduation from nationally accredited BSN program. And you must have a current, active, unencumbered Registered Nurse (RN) license; note that for the final semester practicum, RN licensure is needed in the state where the practicum will take place.

Graduates of the MS Nurse Leader program are:

  1. Transformational learners who seek new perspectives and foster a spirit of inquiry to create synergy among the learning community. They develop humility and a balance of ways of knowing to optimize a sense-of-self for the purpose of influencing others.
  1. The transformational leaders who are authentic, articulate, and collaborative communicators. They discover the leader within for the purpose of optimizing influence, and use innovation and an interconnected system’s perspective to promote population health.

All programs (Baccalaureate, Master’s, and Doctor of Nursing Practice degree programs) offered by the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Tuition: $232 per credit Wyoming residents; $693 non-residents

16. Norwich University

Norwich’s 36-credit Master of Science in Nursing program comprises six six-credit courses if you’re in the nursing administrator track, each of which is approximately 11 weeks in length; if you’re in the nursing educator track you will take five six-credit courses, and two three-credit courses. You may complete all coursework in as few as 18 months, and your graduation date will be 18 to 24 months from the time you enroll.

Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), their online master’s in nursing program equips working nurses with the relevant knowledge, skills, and experience needed to assume leadership positions in nursing administration or education. Students then pursue one of two tracks in nursing administration or nursing education depending on their career goals.

The two tracks are:

  1. Nursing Administration: Leading health care organizations as a nurse administrator takes a deep understanding of the health care organization from the standpoint of finance, human resources, business management, and strategic planning.
  2. Nursing Education: Nurse educators must have expertise in advanced clinical concepts, such as pharmacology and health assessment, curriculum and instruction, as well as measurement, assessment, and evaluation. Completion of the education track also enables students to be eligible to take the National League for Nursing (NLN) Nurse Educator Certification Exam.

The final academic requirement for the nursing program is a week-long residency at the beautiful and historic Norwich University campus in Vermont. Students have the opportunity to meet with fellow students, faculty, and program staff in both formal classroom and informal settings. Norwich covers the cost of all meals and accommodation on campus.

Tuition: $635 per credit hour

17. Georgetown University

Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS), part of the internationally recognized Georgetown University Medical Center. NHS has been developing world-class nursing leaders since opening its doors in 1903 when the first class of eight students graduates three years later.

Georgetown’s School of Nursing & Health Studies’ Online offers these four Master of Science programs:

  1. Adult Gerontology Acute Care NP(AG-ACNP): Prepares registered nurses with the acute-care experience necessary to provide direct patient management in acute and complex care settings. (40 credits total/23 months to complete/600 clinical hours/3 on-campus intensives)
  2. FNP: The focus of the FNP program is to provide the academic knowledge and clinical skills necessary for health promotion, disease prevention, assessment, and management of common acute and chronic illnesses. (44 credits/19 months to complete/650 clinical hours/2 campus intensives)
  3. Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health NP (NM/WHNP): The opportunity to study women’s health and midwifery practice through a strong didactic program that includes advanced courses in pathophysiology, pharmacology, and health assessment. (49 credits/27 months to complete/1000+ clinical hours/3 campus intensives)
  4. Women’s Health NP (WHNP): This program helps aspiring nurse leaders thrive as compassionate caregivers in a variety of settings, including physician’s offices, primary care clinics, hospitals, emergency care clinics, and nursing homes, among others. (44 credits/27 months to complete/768 clinical hours/2 campus intensives)

Tuition: $1928 per credit hour

18. South University

South University’s history began in Savannah, Georgia in 1899 with the establishment of Draughon’s Practical Business College, founded by Dr. John Draughon. In 1996, the institution began offering four-year degrees with the addition of the Bachelor of Business Administration degree. The next year, South College reorganized its administrative structure and formed the School of Business. Fast forward to the first fifteen years of the 21st century would prove to be the most transformative time in the institution’s history. Online classes, more campuses, the addition of advanced degree programs, and a University designation would continue to propel South forward.

The university offers five specializations within their Master of Science in Nursing programs:

  1. Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP: Focuses your education on community-based care with an emphasis on at-risk and vulnerable populations.
  2. Family NP: Prepares you with leading-edge healthcare and professional standards to treat patients and families throughout their lifespan.
  3. Nurse Administrator: Helps students to develop leadership skills in conjunction with the requirements for this position.
  4. Nurse Educator:  Provides coursework that focuses on curriculum development, teaching strategies, and evaluation techniques as well as practicum courses.
  5. Nursing Informatics: Prepare you to develop, implement, and evaluate new operational data systems, train healthcare professionals in the use of computerized clinical information systems, and collect and analyze data for patient information.

All nursing degrees at South University are accredited by CCNE.

Tuition: $4,830 per quarter for 8-18 credit hours; $2,906 per quarter for 5-7 credit hours, and $2,480 per quarter for 1-4 credit hours

19. [This school has been removed from ranking]

20. [This school has been removed from ranking]

21. Grand Canyon University

It started more than 65 years ago when GCU was founded in 1949 by the Southern Baptist Church. At the time, GCU was known as Grand Canyon College with its first campus located in an abandoned armory building in Prescott, AZ. Two years later, the college relocated to Phoenix where GCU began to build a strong reputation as a premier, private Christian university.

The online Master of Science in Nursing with an Emphasis in Nursing Education degree prepares you to advocate the highest care and ethical standards as a professional nurse. In this advanced masters in nursing education program, you study care policy as a framework to analyze how health is defined and healthcare is designed and delivered in the USA.

GCU’s College of Nursing and Health Care Professions’ MSN education program includes both a clinical practicum and a capstone course to strengthen critical thinking skills and place theory into practice in a supervised clinical care environment. The capstone helps you strengthen analytical and critical thinking skills. During the clinical practicum, you have the opportunity to place educational theories into practice in a supervised situation in order to integrate the role of the nurse educator into your professional behaviors.

This 36-credit degree is designed for BSN-prepared registered nurses who have a passion for mentoring and teaching future nurses and are interested in pursuing or advancing in a position in nursing education. As a masters in nursing education graduate, you will be prepared for a variety of roles in nursing education, including patient educator and the educator role in clinical and academic settings.

Tuition: $500 per credit

22. Jacksonville University

​​​​The Jacksonville University Keigwin School of Nursing CCNE-accredited, online MSN program will help students gain confidence as nursing professionals. To accomplish this, there are three specializations:

  1. Clinical Nurse Educator: Teaches you human development processes from infancy to adulthood as they relate to learning, provides you with the foundations for student instruction, and shows you how to implement education methods, evaluate clinical resources, and measure outcomes.
  2. Leadership in Healthcare Systems: Teaches you the essential concepts of financial management in healthcare and patient care, including budgeting, staffing, forecasting and marketing. You will learn how to manage organizational resources, develop plans and analyze human resources (including hiring, firing, compensation and negotiation) in healthcare. You will cultivate a thorough understanding of licensing, laws, and regulations for nurses at both the state and federal level.
  3. Informatics: ​​​The Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences is now offering an MSN Informatics Specialization. ​In addition to the MSN cognate, students who already hold a Master’s degree in Nursing are also be eligible to enroll in the program as a Certificate program.​Students who elect to complete this fo​ur course specialization and capstone will experience a focused curriculum and practicum that are aligned with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Informatics Certification.

Ranked as a Best Online Program in Grad Nursing by US News in 2016, their MSN programs offer these features:

  • Part-time and full-time options (24 months studying full time)
  • Convenient 8-week sessions with six starts per year
  • Ability to take a session or two off
  • Take one course each session
  • Interact with professors and classmates using discussion boards and email
  • Practicum and projects are completed in your hometown

Tuition: $685 per credit hour

23. Graceland University

Graceland College admitted its first students to the Lamoni, Iowa campus in 1895. The Division of Nursing became the sixth academic area of Graceland university in 1969 when administrators of the diploma program at the Independence Sanitarium and Hospital in Independence, Missouri. Their Distance Learning Program offers the Registered Nurse a variety of opportunities in both undergraduate and graduate level degree programs.

Graceland offers Master of Science in Nursing online programs with specialty tracks in either family nurse practitioner or nurse educator. Their online graduate nursing programs are designed to provide working RNs the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in nursing through the completion of a combination of online cohort courses, on-campus focus sessions, and faculty- and preceptor-guided practicum experiences in the student’s local community. Over the course of the MSN program, students are required to attend a two-day focus session located at Graceland.

The MSN program offers three specialty tracks:

  1. FNP: The student’s area of study incorporates a blend of theory and research with an emphasis on guided practice in clinical areas. The required 720 hours of practicum work may be completed in the student’s own community (anywhere in the U.S., Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico). There are 23 semester hours of core courses and 24 specialty semester hours.
  2. Nurse Educator: This track prepares the RN to teach in a collegiate or health care setting. The student’s area of study (23 core hours; 17 specialty) incorporates a blend of theory and research with an emphasis on guided practice in the educator practicum. The required 240 hours of practicum work are completed in the student’s own community.
  3. AGACNP: The newest graduate nursing program, prepares students to become expert clinicians by participating in clinical practicums spanning a multitude of acute care settings to include: emergency medicine, critical care medicine, hospitalist medicine, pulmonology, neurology and cardiology. Additionally, students pick specialty practicums which may include orthopedics, endocrinology, oncology, rheumatology and hematology. (47 hours)

Tuition: $775 per semester hour for FNP & AGACNP; $550 for Educator

24. Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences

Their online Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program prepares Registered Nurses with the solid knowledge base, comprehension, and clinical expertise required to practice as FNPs. Unlike many other online FNP programs, their learning format is unique as it features live, virtual classes that enable you to engage face-to-face via web camera with faculty and classmates. The CCNE-accredited program also features self-paced coursework, a weekend immersion on their campus in Boston, and clinical placements in your own community. Upon completion of the online FNP program, you will be eligible to sit for the national board-certifying exam.

Students will complete 48 course credits and a minimum of 672 clinical hours. Full-time students complete the program over a period of five terms. Part-time students complete the program over a period of seven terms. For both full-time and part-time students, each term lasts 14 weeks, and students complete the same courses. You also have the opportunity to take courses from other online graduate programs delivered by several top-tier colleges and universities. In addition to providing the opportunity to explore areas outside the MSN course catalog, cross-university courses allow you to expand your professional network and meet renowned instructors who are leaders in their fields.

Prior to beginning clinical hours, MSN and RN to MSN students will travel once to the Simmons College campus in Boston, Mass., for an immersion weekend (Friday–Monday). During this immersion weekend, students will apply theory and practical skills in a controlled environment.

Tuition: $1,315 per credit hour

25. Indiana Wesleyan University

The school is an evangelical Christian comprehensive university of The Wesleyan Church. The University was founded in 1920 as Marion College and is committed to liberal arts and professional education. IWU offers more than 80 undergraduate degrees, 38 graduate degrees and 5 doctorate degrees and students represent more than 80 Christian denominations and 10 foreign countries.

IWU’s School of Nursing offers a Master of Science degree in two online specialties:

  1. Nursing Administration: Coursework includes a practicum component as well as organizational behavior, financing, and role development. Participants will be prepared to assume leadership roles within a variety of health care settings, and will have the foundation necessary to work as nurse educators within the university setting. Graduates are eligible to apply for certification by the appropriate credentialing body. The curriculum consists of a total of 41 hours, generally taken sequentially, one at a time, until completion.
  2. Nursing Education: Students will receive a solid theoretical foundation in the art and principles of effective education. Coursework includes a student teaching component as well as curriculum design, adult education, and program evaluation. Participants will be prepared to serve in schools and divisions of nursing, as well as take on educational leadership positions in hospitals, communities, and other areas. This is also a total of 41 hours.

Applicants for the MSN program must meet their admission requirements, some of which are:

  • Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Nursing from a regionally accredited program. Registered Nurses (RNs) who have a baccalaureate degree in a discipline other than nursing may also apply by meeting the following additional criteria:
  • A minimum of 10 years experience in nursing practice.
  • Undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale from the baccalaureate degree-granting institution at which a minimum of 30 credit hours was completed.
  • Three letters of professional reference from faculty members, professional colleagues, work supervisors or a pastor who can evaluate the applicant’s potential for success in a graduate program.

There will be a $200 (non-refundable) portfolio review fee for applicants who do not have a BSN degree.

Tuition: $557 per credit hour

26. American Sentinel University

American Sentinel University is among the nation’s first solely online institutions and has continually forged new ground as a pioneer in distance education. In the late 1990s, Rick Oliver, American Sentinel’s CEO, along with the recently retired chancellor of Vanderbilt University and several others founded the American Graduate School of Management. In 2004, the school moved to Denver, Colorado, where in 2005, Dr. Oliver and Mary Adams, its president, founded Sentinel University, an online nursing school. Their bachelor’s and master’s degree nursing programs are accredited by The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

The school’s online Master of Science Nursing program is ideal for nurses who want to increase opportunity and earning power. To achieve this objective, ASU offers five specializations:

  1. Case Management: The program focuses on improving patient care through understanding patient referrals, planning and delivery of care, evaluating patient results, and assessing overall program effectiveness.
  2. Infection Prevention and Control: Graduates are prepared to assume roles in managing health risk and safety systems in ambulatory, acute and long-term care settings as well as in the public health environment. Classes are eight weeks in length and start monthly.
  3. Nursing Education: This program prepares nurses to teach, develop curriculum and utilize distance education technology to further the nursing profession.
  4. Nursing Informatics: Graduates are prepared to assume critical roles managing health information systems in ambulatory, acute and long-term care settings, as well as the public health environment.
  5. Nursing Leadership and Management: From conflict resolution (and nurse bullying) to human resource management, to implementation of electronic health records; nurse managers today need advanced practice skills to take on management challenges.

All of these specialization are a total of 36 credit hours and you may be eligible to transfer up to 18 credit hours from previous graduate study.

Tuition: $515 per credit hour 

27. University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida is a thriving preeminent research university located in metropolitan Orlando. With more than 64,000 students, UCF is one of the largest universities in the U.S. In addition to its impressive size and strength, UCF is ranked as a best-value university by The Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s, as well as one of the nation’s most affordable colleges by Forbes.

The College of Nursing is an active member of the health care community, utilizing the latest technology and community-oriented programs to develop future professionals. Through cutting-edge research, clinical training and community service, you’ll learn the most current techniques and develop in-demand leadership skills necessary to provide high-quality patient care to serve the needs of a changing population.

UCF’s online Master of Science in Nursing program is designed to build upon the student’s baccalaureate nursing education and professional experience. Applicants who possess a BSN from an accredited institution may apply for admission into one of these three programs of study:

  1. Nursing Leadership and Management Track: This 36 credit-hour track of the MSN is designed to equip nurses with the managerial and leadership skills necessary to become administrative leaders in the health care industry. The emphasis of the curriculum is on evidence-based management and patient-care practices to achieve quality outcomes.
  2. Nurse Educator Track: This CCNE accredited program requires 21 credit hours of nursing courses and 17 credit hours of education courses for a total of 38 credit hours of graduate course work. It prepares nurse educators for teaching positions in colleges and universities. In addition to core and clinical courses, students must complete an internship in their home community under a master’s prepared educator and a faculty mentor.
  3. Nursing and Healthcare Simulation: This 30 credit-hours program is delivered online with some required campus activities. The curriculum is designed to prepare graduates for developing and leading nursing and health care simulation programs in academic and practice settings. Simulation techniques are expanding in the area of initial education, team training and quality improvement in the health care arena.

Tuition: $327.32 (incl. all fees/FL residents); $1,151.72 (non-residents)

28. University of Saint Mary

Founded in 1923 by the Sisters of Charity, the University of Saint Mary places strong importance on the role of liberal arts education in fostering a sense of community and educating well-rounded individuals. The university holds accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) and the State of Kansas Department of Education. In addition, The Princeton Review has named the University of Saint Mary a “Best Midwestern College” since 2005.

Their online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree from University of Saint Mary is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and integrates the Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing (2011) from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). There is a choice of two career-building specializations:

  1. Nurse Educator: A master’s degree in nursing is required to teach courses at the college level. The online MSN from the University of Saint Mary also prepares you to pursue a doctorate, which opens the doors to nursing education in graduate programs and higher levels of clinical practice.
  2. Nurse Administrator: The curriculum focuses on nursing administration for nurses aspiring to become a nurse manager and/or administrator. Nurse administrators utilize advanced knowledge of organizational leadership, health policy, and evidence-based practice to foster the delivery of safe, effective, efficient, and quality patient care.

For each specialty, there are 6 courses/15 credit hours of Core followed by 5 courses or 16 hours of concentration in the respective area chosen. The total inclusive of electives is 35 hours that can be completed in as few as two years. A bonus is that there are no campus visits necessary. However, there is a practicum incorporated into the program but this can be completed at your place of work. You will choose an appropriate location and preceptor for your practicum experience, with final approval from your instructor. Each practicum consists of logged clock hours of researching, planning, implementing, evaluating, and reflecting on the student’s chosen project, with a requirement of 120 documented clock hours throughout the immersion experience.

Tuition: $598 per credit hour

29. University of South Florida

Despite being limited to one online specialty in this venue of nursing, the school has a host of accolades, namely, their Morsani College of Medicine is the only medical school in the country to offer a Master of Science in Health Informatics 100% online. It is a Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Approved Education Partner (AEP), a distinction reserved for institutions that meet HIMSS’ rigorous standards. U.S. News & World Report lists the Morsani College of Medicine as one of 2016’s Best Medical Schools and one of the Best Graduate Schools (2016).

The curriculum addresses both clinical informatics and health information systems informatics, with a focus on the integration and interoperability of technology. Courses provide broad technical skills as well as the organizational competencies needed for senior-level positions. Some of the learning outcomes are:

  • Ability to acquire, store and interpret information of interest to healthcare professionals.
  • Manage data via relational database systems and the structured query language (SQL), and understand data warehousing, online analytic processing, data quality issues, emerging cloud databases and data mining techniques.
  • Integrate electronic medical records with patient care and provide a higher quality of care through better management and availability of medical information.
  • Comply with laws and regulations applicable to managing patient information.

This master’s degree doesn’t require a degree or diploma in nursing; it does require a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from regionally accredited university. The degree takes 32 credit hours (11 courses) to complete, while competitive programs take 33-45 credit hours (12-15 courses).

Tuition: $915 per credit hour or $29,280 total cost

30. St. Joseph’s College

Founded in 1912, Saint Joseph’s College is a Roman Catholic liberal arts college for men and women of all faiths and ages. The 474-acre campus, on the shore of Sebago Lake in Standish, Maine, is in view of Mount Washington. Today, the college’s online programs, through the Office of Continuing Education and Training, develops beneficial relationships with a variety of organizations, both for-profit and non-profit, to meet the educational needs of their employees and associates. This is with the purpose that students can maintain their jobs while pursuing their education 100% online.

Saint Joseph’s flexible, online Master of Science in Nursing offers these three specializations:

  1. Administration Track: This 45 credits degree is designed for the chief nursing officer role and anyone performing supervision. This can be combined with the Master of Health Administration (MHA) or the leadership MBA as a dual degree. Graduates qualify to sit for the national Nurse Administration certification exam. Course content in the administration specialization includes advanced administration, contemporary issues in nursing administration, strategic planning, and financial management.
  2. Nursing Education: This 42 credits track is designed for RNs to perform a staff development role or to begin a role in nursing education (clinical, simulation, didactic, or online with students of all ages). Graduates can sit for the NLN nurse educator exam.
  3. FNP: This 46 credits track is designed for those who are interested in providing primary and specialty care for patients working in collaboration with other health care professionals in a practice setting. Those who are interested in this specialization must have earned a BSN from an accredited institution and currently hold an active, unrestricted RN license. Course content in the family nurse practitioner specialization includes primary care, young and middle age adult, children and women of childbearing years, and the older adult.

The baccalaureate and master’s programs at Saint Joseph’s College are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Tuition: $606 per credit

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