The 5 Best Master’s in Nursing Online

Updated July 30, 2021 | Staff

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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 5 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.

Featured Online Schools

#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

#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

#3 –Old Dominion University

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website | Points: 13

Old 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

#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

#5 –University of Southern Indiana

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website | Points: 12

The 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


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