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Cheapest Master of Science in Nursing Degrees

Earning a master of science in nursing (MSN) helps nurses enhance their careers and increase their earnings. Entry to online MSN programs requires a bachelor's in nursing or a similar field. Prospective students may also need work experience in the field before they apply.

MSN graduates can become nurse practitioners (NPs). These nurses see patients independently without physician supervision. Other MSN degree-holders become midwives, occupational therapists, or health services managers.

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Questions About MSN Programs

How long is an MSN program?

The length of online MSN programs varies. Some take under a year to complete, while more specialized programs take up to three years.

What is an MSN salary?

According to Jan. 2022 Payscale data, MSN degree-holders make $97,000 per year on average.

How much does an MSN degree cost?

MSN costs vary by school and by students' needs and merit. See below for a breakdown of factors that affect the price. Also, review the list of the most affordable MSN programs offered online.

Why Get an MSN Degree?

Experienced nurses get many benefits from enrolling in MSN programs online. Completing an online MSN program lets them pursue new nursing jobs. These jobs include roles with more independence and responsibility, such as NPs and midwives. Other nurses use their MSN to step into leadership or management roles at healthcare facilities.

Earning an MSN degree online can increase nurses' earning potential. Generally, jobs that require an MSN pay more than those that do not. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that NPs earn a $117,670 median annual salary. Registered nurses (RNs) earn $75,330.

Many schools offer MSN programs online. The flexibility of an online MSN program lets nurses continue working while earning their degree. Many programs use an asynchronous format, letting students take classes at their convenience. This flexibility appeals to nurses, who often work busy, complex schedules.

How Much Does an MSN Degree Cost?

A master's degree in science averaged $62,340 in 2021, according to the Education Data Initiative. Public schools typically offer more affordable MSN programs than private schools. Students often save money by earning their MSN degree online.

Students should expect to earn their degree in 1-3 years. Online MSN programs offer different tracks and specializations, some of which take longer than others. Part-time students often take longer than students taking classes full time.

Prospective students can find many MSN programs online and in person. Online nursing schools often feature the most affordable MSN programs. However, they often require students to complete an in-person practicum during their studies.

Additional Online Student Fees

Online MSN programs may save students money over in-person programs. But, sometimes they come with added costs. These costs include reliable technology, such as a computer and a stable internet connection.

Enrollees need to buy learning materials, such as books and software. MSN programs usually require an in-person component in a healthcare setting. Degree-seekers should consider transportation costs.

Learners may also need to pay graduation fees. Licensure for healthcare positions includes exam fees not covered by tuition.

How Much Do MSN Graduates Make?

MSN degree-holders pursue many nursing and healthcare roles. High-paying jobs for MSN graduates include nurse anesthetist and occupational therapist. Nurse anesthetists earn a median of $183,580 per year, while occupational therapists earn $86,280. Graduates can also pursue healthcare management positions. Medical and health services managers earn a $104,280 median annual salary.

Earning an MSN degree can boost nurses' earning potential. NPs, who need an MSN, earn a median annual salary of $42,340 higher than RNs, who only need a bachelor's.

Courses in an MSN Program

In an online MSN program, students learn management, patient diagnosis, and pharmacology skills. Some schools offer specialized degrees, like MSNs in health system leadership. Other specializations include nursing education and public health nursing.

Some students take specialized nursing classes. Courses cover managerial topics like organizational leadership and fiscal management. Others explore more ethics-related topics, such as the legal healthcare system and quality improvement.

The class descriptions below provide an overview of courses offered by MSN programs online. Note that these courses only represent a sample curriculum. Not all schools offer these specific options.

  • Advanced Health Assessment

    Advanced health assessment classes prepare nurses to provide primary care to patients from all populations. Students collect quantitative and qualitative patient data. They use this data to analyze patients' current health, future risks, and means for preventative care. Nurses use these skills on the job no matter their specialty.
  • Health Promotion in Families and Communities

    This course covers specific health risks in certain communities and families. Students learn about risk appraisal and how to prevent risks in families, communities, and individuals. Nurses use these analytical skills when treating diverse populations.
  • Leadership and Management in Complex Health Systems

    This course prepares enrollees to take on more responsibility in their healthcare roles. They learn strategy and leadership skills and how to manage a team and monitor organizational performance. Nurses use organizational and leadership skills even when not in management roles.

How to Become a Nurse Anesthetist

Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia to patients before, during, and after medical procedures. They provide pain management and prescribe medication. They also monitor patients' vital signs during procedures such as surgeries.

To become a nurse anesthetist, a nurse must first earn an MSN, preferably with an anesthesia specialty. Applicants need RN status for entry into an MSN program. After getting the MSN, graduates seek state licensure and pass a national certification exam.

Licensure for Nursing

Most MSN graduates already hold RN status with state certification. After earning an MSN and completing necessary work experience, students need certification to work in their preferred field.

Nurse anesthetists in all states must take the National Certification Exam. Administered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists, the exam costs $995.

Individual states license nurse practitioners. Some states let NPs practice without physician supervision, while others do not. Most states require that applicants already hold national certification, which several certification boards offer.

Some boards offer national certification for NP specialties, such as family nurse practitioner or women's health nurse practitioner. Certification typically costs a few hundred dollars.

State certification costs also vary. Maryland charges a $50 application fee for general NPs, while Illinois charges $125.

Most Affordable Online MSN Programs 2022

#10- McNeese State University

Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Nurse Executive Concentration

Website

Led by Dr. Peggy Wolfe in Hardtner Hall, the College of Nursing & Health Professions at McNeese State University was tied for America's 118th best online nursing education on the U.S. News & World Report that attracts 180 RNs into CCNE-accredited cohorts of 20. The 38-credit Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) requires one year of experience with four concentrations: Nurse Executive, Nurse Educator, Family NP, or Psychiatric/Mental Health NP. Don't miss the May 1st deadline to begin six terms of Moodle courses like Workforce Management and internships.

Annual Tuition: $5,703


#9- Southwestern Oklahoma State University

BSN to MSN in Administration Online

Website

Acclaimed for America's 117th highest paid health administrative services grads on College Factual for a 20-year net ROI of $246,000, Southwestern Oklahoma State University's ACEN-accredited School of Nursing has grown since 1976 with financial aid like the Evelyn Huebert Shephard Scholarship. The BSN to MSN Online has Administration, Informatics, and Education concentrations directed by Dr. Juli Bell for fast advancement on Canvas. Finishing the 33-credit, non-thesis degree takes 12 months with eight-week courses like Performance Standards and practicum assignments, making this one of the more accelerated options for MSN degrees online.

Annual Tuition: $5,616


#8- University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Online Master of Science in Nursing Administration

Website

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Forbes' 221st top public college, opened the CCNE-accredited School of Nursing in June 2013 with the Pi Omicron STTI Chapter to help close minority gaps in health professions with a 90 percent financial aid rate. Overseen by Dr. Eloisa Tam├ęz, the Online Master of Science in Nursing confers Administration and Education specializations in quick 12-month schedules. BSN graduates enroll quarterly to finish the 36-credit degree on Blackboard with seven-week courses like Holistic Approaches to Chronic Disorders and a practice intervention project.

Annual Tuition: $5,550


#7- University of Texas at Tyler

Nursing Administration MSN Degree Online

Website

Deemed America's 119th top nursing college on Niche, the School of Nursing is a Daisy Award partner located in Braithwaite Hall that's directed by Dr. Barbara Haas and CCNE accredited to train University of Texas at Tyler Patriots for a 95.1 percent licensure pass rate. On Blackboard, RNs could pursue the Nursing Administration MSN Degree or Nursing Coordinated MSN-MBA Online for organizational leadership. The main 36-credit, theory-based curriculum injects 112 clinical hours into courses like Translational Science and Delivery of Care before a scholarly project.

Annual Tuition: $5,220


#6- Kennesaw State University

Online Leadership in Nursing MSN

Website

Founded 45 years ago with Kennestone Regional Medical Center, the WellStar School of Nursing at Kennesaw State University connects RNs to nursing jobs via LiquidCompass, funds like the Julia Perkins Scholarship, and America's 118th best online courses on the U.S. News & World Report. The Online Leadership in Nursing MSN coordinated by Dr. Yvonne Eaves has two tracks for Nursing Education Leadership in a Digital World or Nursing Administration and Transformational Leadership. Finishing the 12-course, CCNE-accredited curriculum takes 15 months with 315 practicum hours.

Annual Tuition: $4,851


#5- Texas Woman's University

MS in Nursing Health Systems Management Online

Website

The CCNE-accredited College of Nursing at Texas Woman's University was ranked America's 87th best master's school on the U.S. News & World Report for teaching 796 Owls with 108 full-time faculty supervised by Dr. Anita Hufft, one of 2017's "DFW Great 100 Nurses." The MS in Nursing Health Systems Management Online accepts $50 applications until May 1st or September 15th from RNs with GPAs above 3.0. Canvas helps complete the 42-credit degree's courses like Fiscal Assessment and Health Promotion Policy with three 90-hour practica.

Annual Tuition: $4,672


#4- University of Texas at El Paso

Online Nurse Systems Management MSN

Website

Aligned to the APRN Regulation Consensus Model, the University of Texas at El Paso's School of Nursing, placed146th nationally by the U.S. News & World Report, welcomed its largest graduate class of 147 in January 2017 for culturally-rich, innovative training. The Online MSN arranged by Dr. Lisa Hennessy has full-time, 24-month completion tracks for Nursing Education, Nurse Systems Management, or Nurse Practitioner on Blackboard. Rolling admission helps BSN grads finish courses like Managing Health Outcomes for this 33-credit, practicum-embedded degree.

Annual Tuition: $4,665


#3- University of West Georgia

Online Master's in Nursing - Health Systems Leadership

Website

Marking its 40th anniversary, the Tanner Health System School of Nursing at the University of West Georgia is a CCNE-accredited, globally-engaged division ranked 31st nationally by the U.S. News & World Report for online class sizes averaging 12 with virtual mentoring. On Blackboard, the Master of Science in Nursing headed by Dr. Sally Richter confers two role options for Health Systems Leadership or Education. Fall cohorts undertake the 36-credit, four-semester curriculum with practicum and courses typical of the best MSN degrees online like Business of Healthcare for CNL credentialing.

Annual Tuition: $4,086


#2- Grantham University

Online Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Management & Organizational Leadership Specialization

Website

Extended ACEN accreditation candidacy in 2018, Grantham University's College of Nursing & Allied Health was named America's 129th most focused health administration school on College Factual that's "Military Friendly," cheap with $4,500 Textbook & Software Grants, and welcoming with 100 percent admission. Directed by Dr. Cheryl Rules, the Master of Science in Nursing Online has tracks for Case Management, Education, Informatics, or Management & Organizational Leadership. Offering an RN to MSN Bridge, the 37-credit, 24-month curriculum integrates 90 practicum hours.

Annual Tuition: $3,900


#1- Texas A&M University Corpus Christi

Nursing Administration MSN Online

Website

Charging our list's lowest price of $3,744, the CCNE-accredited College of Nursing & Health Sciences at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi enrolls over 2,000 Islanders in high-tech, high-touch education that was ranked 66th nationally by the U.S. News & World Report. Open for admission until April 15th, the MSN Online utilizes WebEx and Skype for Nursing Administration, Nurse Educator, or Family Nurse Practitioner concentrations. RNs arrange their own preceptorships while completing the 37-credit, non-thesis program's courses like Diverse Care Environments and Outcomes Management.

Annual Tuition: $3,744


Pursuing an MSN online at top nursing schools helps post-grads advance beyond the median registered nurse salary of $62,007 posted on PayScale. Stepping into the nurse manager specialty comes with nursing salary jumps of $73,710 to $172,240 per year. Salary.com also pinpoints six-figure income averages of $104,443 for head nurses, $109,692 for nursing home administrators, $121,357 for nursing education directors, and $220,276 for Chief Nursing Officers. Generate the biggest potential ROI in senior-level nursing jobs with impactful leadership authority by choosing from these 50 affordable online nursing administration degree options in 2018.

Accreditation for an MSN Program

Prospective nursing students should always choose an accredited online MSN program. Accredited programs meet the highest standards for training nurses. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education grant accreditation to nursing programs. Both organizations provide databases of accredited MSN programs, including online programs.

Only accredited nursing programs meet the requirements for advanced practice nursing licenses and professional certifications. Choosing an accredited program will thus shape a nurse's career opportunities after graduation. As a result, applicants should carefully research a program's accreditation status before applying.

In addition to an accredited program, applicants should look for an accredited university. Regionally accredited universities follow the best practices for educating students. Additionally, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and transfer credits from accredited institutions. The U.S. Department of Education database lists accredited programs and schools.

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