The 25 Best Master’s in Nursing Programs Online for 2018

By BCR Staff
March 2018

There are many compelling reasons to consider an online masters degree in nursing. Not only do advanced practice nurses make over six figures a year on average, but the field is growing at an exponential rate, almost guaranteeing employment for nurses desiring this top credential. Not all online masters in nursing programs are the same, however. Some can be completed entirely online, for instance, while others require minimal campus visits and/or clinical experiences. Online master degree in nursing programs also feature various tracks and areas of specialization. In this ranking, we explore the top 25 online masters in nursing programs currently available.

Featured Online Masters In Nursing Degree Programs

Rating and Ranking Methodology
Tuition Points:

  • Under $20,000—1 point
  • Under $15,000—2 points
  • Under $10,000—3 points
  • Under $5,000—4 points

US News and World Report Recognition as a Top Online School for Master’s Nursing Programs

  • Top 10— 6 points
  • Top 25 —5 points
  • Top 50 —4 points
  • Top 75 —3 points
  • Top 100—2 points
  • Top 125—1 point

Customization Options

  • Format Customizations (e.g. Hybrid/Online, Full-time/Part-Time, Accelerated, Degree Completion, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option
  • Content Customizations (e.g. Minors, Concentrations, Specializations, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option (5-point cap)

Wow Factor

  • 1 point awarded for each unique feature or program that “wowed” us

To compile the following ranking, our editors identified the 48 online masters in nursing programs available at less than $600 per credit hour, according to U.S. News & World Report. We then used graduate tuition data from College Navigator as well as program details from each school’s website to apply the rating and ranking methodology above. In cases of a tie, the more affordable programs appear higher in the rankings.

#25 –Northwest Nazarene University

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 5
Northwest Nazarene University’s online master’s degree in nursing program is designed for working nurses who want to both work and study full time. It requires no visits to campus. The program focuses on leadership and education and is delivered in a cohort format. Students take only one course at a time, with each course taking just five weeks to complete. Students who have an associates degree in nursing can complete their degree in as few as three years, and students who have a bachelor’s degree in nursing may complete theirs in as little as two.
In-State Tuition: $8,851

#24 –Wheeling Jesuit University

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 6

The online master’s degree in nursing offered by Wheeling Jesuit University is designed to provide a fully-online path to an MSN for students with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Like most other advanced nursing degrees, students must complete clinical and practicum hours, but they can be completed in the students’ own community, and students never have to visit campus. Students in this online master’s in nursing program can customize their education by choosing from three different tracks: nursing education specialist, family nurse practitioner, and nursing administration.
In-State Tuition: $11,970

#23 –Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 6
Clarion University of Pennsylvania offers an online masters degree in nursing program intended for students who want to become family nurse practitioners, particularly for underserved areas in western Pennsylvania. It’s one of the narrower masters programs in nursing, but it is rigorous and thorough. The program includes 600 hours of clinical practice and prepares students for professional certification exams through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or the American Nurses Credentialing Center. After passing these certifications, graduates will also be able to apply to the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing for legal certification.
In-State Tuition: $11,592

#22 –University of Alabama- Huntsville

Online Master of Science in Nursing: Nursing Administration

Website
Points: 6

The University of Alabama – Huntsville offers an online master’s degree in nursing program that focuses on nursing administration. It is one of the narrower programs, but it is thorough. Topics studied include risk management concepts, human resources, cultural competency, and patient-centered care. It is an online-only program, but it is taught by the same faculty who teach other nursing programs on campus. Clinical hours can be completed in students’ local area. Online master’s in nursing students studying full-time can complete the program in only ten months.
In-State Tuition: $9,834

#21 –University of Arkansas

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 6

The University of Arkansas offers an online master’s degree in nursing with a concentration in nursing education. This program focuses on preparing its students to create professional development opportunities and other learning opportunities for future nursing students. It also prepares them for study at the doctoral level. It includes both a 39-credit non-thesis option and a 42-credit thesis option, as well as full and part-time format options. Clinical hours can be completed locally, provided that the student’s chosen site meets the university’s quality standards.
In-State Tuition: $7,379

#20 –Indiana State University

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 6
Indiana State University is another online master’s in nursing school that works to accommodate students who are already working full-time in nursing. All course materials are delivered online, and clinical hours can be completed in students’ home states. Students in this program can choose between two concentrations: family nurse practitioner, and nursing education. Both tracks are rigorous and prepare students to meet the appropriate certification competencies. Students who graduate from this online master’s degree in nursing program are prepared to work in a variety of settings, including health departments, clinics, and other medical centers.
In-State Tuition: $7,128

#19 –Frontier Nursing University

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 7

Frontier Nursing University is one of the best online masters in nursing schools for students who plan to go on to earn a doctorate degree in nursing. After earning their MSN with Frontier, students can earn their DNP without having to apply a second time. The program includes four tracks: women’s healthcare nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, and nurse-midwife. Two short campus visits are required, but the majority of coursework is online, and online master’s degree in nursing students may complete their clinical practicum in their home community.
In-State Tuition: $15,524

#18 –University of Missouri

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 7

The University of Missouri offers two online masters in nursing programs: a leadership in nursing MSN, and a nurse educator MSN. The leadership in nursing program is a 33-credit program and covers topics such as quality management, epidemiology, and health program evaluation. The nursing education program is a 41-credit program and covers healthcare policy, role development, and teaching strategy. Both programs are primarily online, but they do require some visits to campus for orientation and certain courses. Most online master’s degree in nursing students are able to earn their degree in three to five years.
In-State Tuition: $8,462

#17 –Liberty University

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 7
Liberty University offers an online master’s in nursing with specializations in nursing informatics, nursing administration, and nursing education. It is primarily designed for individuals who already have a BSN degree, but a sequence of bridge courses is available to students who don’t yet have a bachelor’s in nursing. The nursing educator and nursing administration tracks include a total of 200 clinical hours spread out across four different practicum courses. All tracks for this online master’s degree in nursing program can be completed in roughly two years of full-time study.
In-State Tuition: $8,051

#16 –Clarkson College

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 8
Clarkson College’s online master’s degree in nursing is patient-focused and includes nursing education, nursing healthcare administration, family nurse practitioner, and adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner tracks. All tracks require students to do research in a clinical setting, but only the two nurse practitioner tracks require students to come to campus. Students can complete their clinical hours at their current workplace provided that it meets the guidelines established by the college. Most online master’s in nursing students complete the program in three years, but they can take anywhere from two and a half to seven years to finish depending on their individual needs.
In-State Tuition: $10,008

#15 –Cedarville University

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 8
Cedarville University’s online master’s degree in nursing includes global public health, family nurse practitioner, and nurse educator tracks. All tracks are equally rigorous and include clinical and/or practicum hours. However, the only track that requires visits to campus is the family nurse practitioner track, which includes state-of-the-art simulations with the university’s high- and low-fidelity simulators. All tracks prepare students for their respective certifications. While the curriculum for all tracks is primarily secular, Cedarville emphasizes a Christian perspective on healthcare and includes theology and Bible courses in its degree requirements. Thus, this online master’s in nursing program may make it a good fit for individuals planning to work in religious environments.
In-State Tuition: $9,385

#14 –University of Louisiana- Lafayette

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 8
The University of Louisiana – Lafayette offers its online master’s in nursing through its affiliation with the Intercollegiate Consortium for a Master of Science in Nursing. It typically includes family nurse practitioner, nurse executive, and nurse educator tracks, though the nurse executive track is not currently admitting new students. Both available tracks emphasize improving the health of diverse populations across the lifespan. Online master’s degree in nursing students in this program must complete in-person practicum experiences, but students can access course materials at their convenience.
In-State Tuition: $5,511

#13 –Queens University of Charlotte

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 9
Queens University of Charlotte is one of the more unique online master’s in nursing schools in that its MSN program requires no GRE, no application fee, and no campus residency requirement. It includes three separate tracks: clinical nurse leader, nurse administrator, and nurse educator. Post-graduate certificates are available for all of these tracks. These online masters’ degree in nursing offerings also require a clinical experience, which can be completed at a site in the student’s own community. Many students are able to complete this program in two years, though they are free to take more time if needed.
In-State Tuition: $11,194

#12 –Union University

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 9
Union University offers its master’s in nursing with tracks in education and administration. Both of these tracks are offered completely online and via a blended format. The fully online option is available to students who have previously earned a BSN degree, whereas the blended format option is available to students who only have an RN. All tracks can be completed in just over a year if students choose to study full time, though online master degree in nursing students who need a slower pace are free to take longer.
In-State Tuition: $6,870

#11 –Delta State University

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 9
Delta-State-UniversityDelta State University’s online master’s degree in nursing program includes nurse administrator, family nurse practitioner, and nurse educator tracks. Most coursework is completed online with regular discussion activities. The program also includes in-person requirements such as on-campus seminars and clinical learning opportunities. Clinical experiences can be completed in students’ own communities. Regardless of which track they choose, students can earn their degree in as little as two years of full-time study. Part-time study is also an option for busier online master’s in nursing students who need a more relaxed pace.
In-State Tuition: $6,298

#10 –Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 9

Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers an online master’s degree in nursing with two completely online tracks: nurse educator and nurse administrator. Both of these tracks allow students to further specialize by choosing concentrations in maternal child nursing, adult gerontology nursing, or adult gerontology critical care nursing. All tracks are similar in completion time and difficulty. Most online masters in nursing students will complete a professional paper instead of a thesis before they graduate, but students who choose the adult gerontology critical care nursing concentration may choose between a thesis, research problem or professional paper.
In-State Tuition: $5,738

#9 –Georgia College and State University

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 10

Georgia-College-&-State-UniversityGeorgia College and State University’s online master’s in nursing is designed primarily for individuals with BSN degrees who want to advance in the field. The program is primarily online, but does require students to visit campus at least once. Students are also required to complete clinical rotations in the state of Georgia with an approved preceptor. This makes this program less ideal for individuals who live out of state. Tracks offered within this online master’s degree in nursing program include family nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner with a concentration in psychiatric mental health, and nurse education.
In-State Tuition: $5,187

#8 –University of Kansas

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 11

The University of Kansas’s online master’s in nursing program is a master of science with specializations in nursing informatics, organizational leadership, and public health nursing. All courses are offered completely online, though students are required to complete a practicum experience regardless of which focus area they choose. Outside of the specialty courses, the curriculum for all online master’s degree in nursing specializations includes a common core of nursing basics, a leadership core that gives students the theoretical basis for the leadership focus areas, and a research project supervised by a faculty member.
In-State Tuition: $9,480

#7 –University of West Georgia

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 11
The University of West Georgia’s Tanner Health System School of Nursing offers a completely online master’s degree in nursing with two tracks: nursing education and health systems leadership. The nursing education track that emphasizes educational technology and assessment as well as health promotion, and professional development. The health systems leadership track is designed to prepare clinical nurse leaders and includes several topics, including health policy, pharmacology, risk management, community health, and holistic health assessment. Both of these online master’s in nursing tracks include post master’s certification options.
In-State Tuition: $3,996

#6 –Cleveland State University

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 12

The online master’s degree in nursing offered by Cleveland State University emphasizes population health. Students who graduate from this program will be well-versed in research and evaluation as well as ethics, cultural awareness, and political strategies. It includes specialization tracks in forensic nursing, nursing education, clinical nurse leadership, and specialized populations. The credit hours required to complete the program vary depending on which specialization students choose to pursue. However, most online master’s degree in nursing students will be able to graduate in two years regardless of which track they choose.
In-State Tuition: $9,565

#5 –University of Southern Indiana

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 12
University of Southern IndianaThe University of Southern Indiana offers an online master’s degree in nursing with seven separate tracks. These tracks include nursing education, nursing management and leadership, and several nurse practitioner tracks. All tracks require students to attend a two-day on-campus orientation. They also require students to complete a clinical experience under a university-approved preceptor. These experiences can often be completed in or near students’ home communities. The exact number of clinic hours needed to graduate with an online master’s in nursing varies depending on which specialization track students choose.
In-State Tuition: $8,497

#4 –University of Central Arkansas

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 12

The University of Central Arkansas’s online master degree in nursing program is primarily designed for RNs with a baccalaureate degree in nursing. However, post-master’s certificate and second MSN degree options are available to master’s-prepared nurses who still need to meet the academic requirements for national certification. Students in this program can choose from four specialization tracks: adult/gerontology nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, nurse educator with a clinical specialty, and clinical nurse leader. All tracks are primarily online, but online master’s in nursing students are required to make occasional trips to the university’s Conway campus for each course.
In-State Tuition: $4,594

#3 –Old Dominion University

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 13
Old Dominion University Top Online Bachelor's in FinanceOld Dominion University’s online master’s in nursing includes an impressive number of content customization options. There are nine specializations in total, including four nurse specialist tracks, three nurse practitioner tracks, a nurse midwifery track, and a nurse midwifery track. All of these are primarily online, but most include some in-person component, such as standardized patient experiences or the comprehensive exam. In most cases, students can complete their clinical experiences in or near their own communities. Online master’s degree in nursing students can also tailor their clinical experiences to their personal interests as long as they meet the required competencies set by the program.
In-State Tuition: $8,736

#2 –University of Missouri- Kansas City

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Points: 13

The University of Missouri – Kansas City is one of the best online masters in nursing schools in terms of specialization options. Its MSN program is primarily intended for individuals interested in becoming nurse practitioners, though there is a nurse educator track. There are seven online track options in total, including pediatric nurse practitioner, adult gerontology nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner, and women’s health nurse practitioner. Not all of these tracks have start dates every term, so students should plan accordingly. Prospective online master’s degree in nursing students should also keep in mind that while most coursework is online, all tracks include on-campus residencies.
In-State Tuition: $6,462

#1 –University of Texas- Tyler

Online Master of Nursing

Website
Points: 14

The University of Texas-Tyler offers three different tracks for prospective students looking for an online masters degree in nursing, including a nursing administration MSN, a nursing education MSN, and a coordinated MSN-MBA nursing degree. Both the nursing administration and coordinated MSN-MBA tracks focus on leadership and management, whereas the education track focuses on promoting safe and effective professional nursing practices. All tracks for these online master’s in nursing programs are equally rigorous and are taught by faculty with extensive experience in both nursing and teaching.
In-State Tuition: $4,896

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