Kick your nursing career into high gear by earning an online master's degree in nursing. Although you may acquire all the essential knowledge in medicine and patient care with your BSN degree, there are certain limitations you'll experience if you stop with a bachelor's. Earning an MSN, on the other hand, can lead you down the path to nursing leadership or nursing education, or to a career as a family or gerontological nurse practitioner. And since working as a nurse can be incredibly time consuming, an online MSN program may be the ticket you need to earn a degree without compromising your current job performance.
Our ranking of the top 10 most affordable master's degrees in nursing online aims to bring you a list of choice that combine quality and affordability. To establish the ranking, we first took a look at several other websites that rank online MSN programs, including U.S. News, TheBestColleges.org, CollegeChoice.net, TheBestSchools.org, and Get Educated. We then conducted an analysis to determine which of these online colleges showed up on top ranked lists more than once. Nearly 60 different schools made the cut, and several appeared on as many as three different rankings. This new ranking represented the "best of the best" in online nursing graduate programs. But we weren't done! Using information from College Navigator regarding graduate-level tuition and fees, we then sorted this selection by cost and determined the ten most affordable choices, listed below for your reading pleasure.
10. Angelo State University
Online M.S.N. Family Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Education
Baccalaureate nurses who are interested in taking on a greater role in their practice should consider Angelo State University, a diverse college in Texas offering an online master's degree in nursing. More specifically, this program is for aspiring family nurse practitioners and nurse educators. Almost all classes are available online (campus visits are minimal), allowing students to continue working as RNs while they study. ASU's low annual tuition makes it an obvious choice for students, but its top quality academics and stellar reputation make it a true no-brainer. U.S. News includes Angelo State on its list of the best online nursing programs nationwide, and the accredited program maintains a 100% pass rate on the difficult FNP certification exam.
Tuition & Fees: $9,200/yr
For more information: Angelo State University
9. American Sentinel University
Online M.S. Nursing (Multiple Specializations)
Another top online nursing program (according to U.S. News) comes in the form of American Sentinel University. The university's CCNE-accredited masters degree in nursing online is ideal for professionals who see themselves working in the field for at least a decade. The goal of this MSN degree is to prepare students for expanded job opportunities – such as in administration or family practice – beyond the typical patient care responsibilities of registered nurses. The program offers five specializations to help you customize the degree program, including Case Management, Nursing Informatics, Nursing Education, Nursing Management and Organizational Leadership, and Case Management.
Tuition & Fees: $9,200/yr
For more information: American Sentinel University
8. Texas A&M University
Online M.S.N. – Nursing Education and Family Nurse Practitioner Concentrations
Texas A&M University provides a range of degree options for nursing students interested in an advanced degree. An RN-to-MSN track serves as a convenient bridge for associate degree nurses who are already committed to securing advanced training, while a standard MSN with a focus in education is available for both part-time and full-time students. In addition, an MSN for family nurse practitioners offers the advanced training necessary to work as a primary care provider and in careers related to health promotion and disease prevention. TAMU also helps students work with preceptors – most of whom are current nurse practitioners and physicians – to find clinical learning opportunities with local agencies.
Tuition & Fees: $9,161/yr
For more information: Texas A&M University
7. Graceland University
Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN): Family Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Educator
Graceland University's online nursing master's degree is similar to other options in that it offers tracks for both educators and family nurse practitioners. The school is ranked 9th in the country by U.S. News and has also received accolades from CollegeChoice.net and TheBestSchools.org. Working RNs can easily progress through the program through a series of online cohort classes and limited on-campus focus sessions. Faculty members also serve as preceptors and instruct students in local practicums. Advisors also work with both part-time and full-time students to make sure that they stay on schedule throughout the 16-week trimester sessions.
Tuition & Fees: $7,797/yr
For more information: Graceland University
6. Ferris State University
Online Nursing MSN
BSNs who are looking for the next step can find what they need at Ferris State University, where they can study in the school's affordable, online nursing program. The MSN, which is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, gives graduates the mobility to move into several different high-demand positions in healthcare. You'll gain adequate training to work in health informatics, education, administration, or clinical practice. Classes like Quality Improvement and Safety, Teaching Methods in Nursing Education, and Critique of Evidence for Practice will keep you on your toes from the beginning to end of this top online master's in nursing degree.
Tuition & Fees: $7,680/yr
For more information: Ferris State University
5. University of Texas Brownsville
Online Master of Science in Nursing
The 37-credit-hour graduate nursing program at the University of Texas Brownsville aims to produce nurses who are not just advanced in their technical knowledge, but also capable leaders in the industry. Graduates enter into the workforce armed with the skills to address the needs of diverse populations, make ethical decisions, conduct research, and lead others as they manage interventions and implement solutions within the community. College Choice and U.S. News both recognize UT Brownsville's excellent online program, which is flexible enough to accommodate working adults and includes engaging coursework that covers nursing leadership, administration, moral and ethical issues, teaching roles, and more.
Tuition & Fees: $7,648/yr
For more information: University of Texas Brownsville
4. Gardner Webb University
Online Master of Science in Nursing: Education and Administration
Earn a comprehensive yet focused education in nursing at Gardner Webb University, a small college with a reputable program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. GWU's curriculum takes a logical approach, leading you first through all theories and issues associated with advanced nursing practice before ultimately leading you to the specialization of your choice. You can pursue the Nursing Administration, Family Nurse Practitioner, or Education track, or shoot for the stars and graduate with a dual MSN-MBA degree. Either way you'll be extremely marketable in the job market, and U.S. News and College Choice seem to agree (they both place Gardner Webb in the top 50 online nursing masters degrees nationwide).
Tuition & Fees: $7,088/yr
For more information: Gardner-Webb University
3. Western Governors University
Online M.S. Nursing: Education or Leadership and Management
The College of Health Professions at Western Governors University offers numerous degree programs to satisfy every possible student interest. In addition to an MBA degree in Healthcare Management (available through the College of Business), WGU also lists four different M.S. degrees among its selection of courses on offer. There are two main academic tracks – one in Education and another in Leadership and Management – and each track has a different curriculum depending on whether or not the applicants are just RNs or have also earned their BSN. The program is CCNE-accredited and takes a "competency based approach," meaning that students can prove their competencies through examinations and move through assessments quickly in accordance with the professional knowledge they already possess.
Tuition & Fees: $6,790/yr
For more information: Western Governors University
2. Delta State University
Online Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Administrator, Nurse Practitioner, and Nurse Educator Concentrations
Delta State University's master's degree in nursing online distinguishes itself from other top online programs through its unique concentration options. Students can choose a traditional specialization in Nurse Administration or Nurse Education, or seek training as a Nurse Practitioner. However, within the latter option students can concentrate in an even more specific area based on their career goals; specialty tracks include Family Nurse Practitioner, Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, or Psych Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (with an additional option to concentrate in either adult or family treatment). And of course, DSU earns an additional distinction thanks to its exceedingly affordable tuition and fees, which stands at less than $7,000 a year!
Tuition & Fees: $6,562/yr
For more information: Delta State University
1. Northeastern State University
Online Master of Science in Nursing Education (MSN)
Northeastern State University stands at #1 on this list thanks to its ultra-cheap annual tuition, but that's not the only appeal of this small Midwestern college. The 32-credit hour program, which is meant for current BSNs who have an interest in nursing education, was designed specifically to address the need for healthcare educators in the region. The ACEN-accredited program has earned plenty of praise from unbiased sources, including U.S. News and TheBestSchools.org. One of this online masters in nursing degree's other high points is its flexibility, which accommodates both part- and full-time students and will allow you to take as many as six years to earn your diploma.
Tuition & Fees: $6,348/yr
For more information: Northeastern State University
This concludes our ranking of affordable master's degrees in nursing online.