Why This Matters

  • THE U.S. NEEDS 117,700 MORE NURSING CLINICIANS BY 2029

    With a job growth rate of 45%, MSN graduates are in higher demand than nearly every other profession. Hospitals, outpatient clinics, and physicians’ offices have the greatest need for graduate-level nurse practitioners.

  • MSN GRADUATES CREATE THEIR OWN CAREER PATH

    Not all MSN graduates need to work in clinical settings. A master’s degree in nursing can also prepare you to become a nurse administrator, nurse educator, or nursing informatics specialist.

  • EXPECT A MEDIAN SALARY OF $115,800 WITH AN MSN DEGREE

    Earn six figures with your MSN degree. The highest median income for MSN graduates belongs to nurse anesthetists, at nearly $175,000 a year, while nurse administrators, midwives, and advanced registered nurse practitioners enjoy a median income above $105,000.

Our Research

This list contains graduate programs in nursing and primarily covers programs that offer a Master of Science in Nursing. This program prepares nurses to become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), who serve as primary practitioners or part of a clinical treatment team. Programs we reviewed offer online, in-person, and/or blended courses.

With few exceptions, the MSN programs we reviewed are nationally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which speaks to the programs’ excellence. Some programs are also accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), the Council on Accreditation (COA), and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Degrees from accredited schools assure potential employers that your education meets or exceeds industry standards.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 70 hours to write this article
  • 162 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 373 education programs we compared

The Top 34 Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Degree Programs

Best Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Degree Programs
01
Georgia Southern University

intelligent score 99.66

Award Intelligent Pick

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Intelligent Pick

Delivery Format On-Campus, Hybrid, Online

Programs Master of Science in Nursing-Nursing Education

Required Credits to Graduate 36 credits

Department School of Nursing

Estimated Cost per Credit $277 per credit

accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 912-478-5322

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Hybrid, Online

Programs Master of Science in Nursing-Nursing Education

Required Credits to Graduate 36 credits

01
Roberts Wesleyan College

intelligent score 98.5

Award Best RN/MS Degree

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best RN/MS Degree

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master' of Science in Nursing Education

Required Credits to Graduate 39 credits

Department School of Nursing

Estimated Cost per Credit $865 per credit

accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 585-594-6600

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master' of Science in Nursing Education

Required Credits to Graduate 39 credits

01
SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

intelligent score 97.94

Award Best for Women's Health

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for Women's Health

Delivery Format On-Campus

Programs Master of Science in Nursing

Required Credits to Graduate 44 credits

Department College of Nursing

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $471.25 per credit; Out-of-State: $962.50 per credit

accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 718-270-7600

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus

Programs Master of Science in Nursing

Required Credits to Graduate 44 credits

01
Fort Hays State University

intelligent score 97.51

Award Best Scholarships

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Scholarships

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Science in Nursing

Required Credits to Graduate 36 credits

Department Department of Nursing

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $241.71 per credit; Out-of-State: $609.77 per credit

accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 785-628-4256

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Science in Nursing

Required Credits to Graduate 36 credits

01
Angelo State University

intelligent score 97.38

Award Best for Primary Care

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for Primary Care

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs Master of Science in Nursing

Required Credits to Graduate 39 credits

Department Department of Nursing

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $228.85 per credit; Out-of-State: $637.85 per credit

accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 325-486-6875

Learn More

Delivery Format On-campus, Online

Programs Master of Science in Nursing

Required Credits to Graduate 39 credits

01
South Dakota State University

intelligent score 92.76

Award Best Clinical Partnerships

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Clinical Partnerships

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Science in Nursing

Required Credits to Graduate 36 credits

Department College of Nursing

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $336.80 per credit; Out-of-State: $647.55 per credit

accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 605-688-4114

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Science in Nursing

Required Credits to Graduate 36 credits

01
University at Buffalo

intelligent score 90.2

Award Best Part-Time Program

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best Part-Time Program

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master's in Nursing Leadership

Required Credits to Graduate 41 credits

Department School of Nursing

Estimated Cost per Credit $470 per credit

accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, Council on Accreditation

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 716-829-3765

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master's in Nursing Leadership

Required Credits to Graduate 41 credits

01
UNC Greensboro

intelligent score 90.1

Award Best for Health Management

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for Health Management

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Science in Nursing Education

Required Credits to Graduate 38 credits

Department School of Nursing

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $299.95 per credit; Out-of-State: $972.40 per credit

accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 336-334-5400

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus, Online

Programs Master of Science in Nursing Education

Required Credits to Graduate 38 credits

01
Kennesaw State University

intelligent score 89.94

Award Fastest Completion Time

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Fastest Completion Time

Delivery Format On-Campus

Programs Master of Science in Nursing

Required Credits to Graduate 40 credits

Department WellStar School of Nursing

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $296 per credit; Out-of-State: $1,066 per credit

accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 470-578-6061

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus

Programs Master of Science in Nursing

Required Credits to Graduate 40 credits

01
West Chester University

intelligent score 89.8

Award Best for Adult Gerontology

Rankings


School Information

Graduation Rate:

Admission Rate:

Urbanicity:

School Size:

No

Award Best for Adult Gerontology

Delivery Format On-Campus

Programs Master of Science in Nursing

Required Credits to Graduate 40 credits

Department Department of Nursing

Estimated Cost per Credit In-State: $516 per credit; Out-of-State: $774 per credit

accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

more program informationEmail: [email protected]
Phone: 610-436-2943

Learn More

Delivery Format On-Campus

Programs Master of Science in Nursing

Required Credits to Graduate 40 credits

01
Best for Psychiatric Health
Clarkson College
01
Best for Family Nurse Practitioner
Lewis University
01
Best for Rural Health
Eastern Kentucky University
01
Best Hybrid Program
Widener University
01
Best Accelerated Program
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
01
Best for Nursing Education
The University of Texas at Arlington
01
Best Clinical Tracks
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
01
Best in the Southeast
University of Virginia
01
Best for Career Changers
Marquette University
01
Best in the Northeast
University of Pennsylvania
01
Best for Nursing Informatics
University of Maryland School of Nursing
01
Best Clinical Placements
Georgetown University
01
Best Private Research Institution
Vanderbilt University
01
Best Core Curriculum
University of Arizona
01
Best in the Midwest
University of Cincinnati
01
Best Full-Time Program
Florida Atlantic University
01
Best for International Students
University of Pittsburgh
01
Best Graduate Assistantships
University of Kansas Medical Center
01
Best for Neonatal Health
The Ohio State University
01
Most Recognized Faculty
School of Nursing at Johns Hopkins University
01
Best Job Placement Rate
Thomas Jefferson University
01
Best Certifications
Duke University
01
Best Simulation Initiatives
George Washington University
01
Best NCLEX Pass Rate
Rush University

What You Should Know About This Degree

A master of science in nursing differs from its undergraduate counterpart in that it sharpens leadership skills and prepares students to enter administrative or educational roles. Graduate students focus on evidence-based practice, quality and safety measures, program evaluation, and health policy.

During your research, make note of the accrediting body for each program to ensure the accreditation is valid for your state of residence. This is important if your chosen career path involves becoming licensed as an APRN. It also helps ensure credits are transferable to a doctoral program in the future. Look for accreditations from CCNE, ACEN, COA, HLC, and a regional entity such as the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) or North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (NCACSS).

Because the number of master’s-level nursing graduates will need to increase by nearly 50% through the end of the decade, choose a program that offers coursework in your specialty of interest. This will provide a competitive edge and differentiate your qualifications from those of other nursing graduates. Also, review programs to identify specialized learning tracks, such as organizational leadership or fast-track to RN programs for individuals who hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree.

To designate yourself as an RN, you are required to complete the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and follow all state-specific licensure requirements even if you don’t plan to become an APRN. If becoming an APRN is your goal, you should research your state’s licensing and nurse practitioner requirements, which might include a minimum number of clinical hours logged under the supervision of a medical doctor.

What’s Next?

As you research master of science in nursing programs, ask the following questions:

  • Am I eligible for this program? To be eligible, you must have a bachelor’s degree, but not necessarily in nursing. Some colleges offer a fast-track program for those with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree seeking a career change. Prospective students interested in a fast-track RN program must complete nursing prerequisites prior to applying for admission.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? Depending on the MSN program and your full-time status, most MSN degrees can be completed within two years. Unless otherwise noted, practical experience in a clinical setting must be completed in person even if your degree program offers courses online.

Before you decide on a degree program, note the application requirements, deadlines, and potential prerequisites for admission. Most graduate-level applications require a minimum undergraduate GPA and recent letters of recommendation from academic and professional sources.

In addition to completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), contact the financial aid office at each school to determine if scholarships, grants, or graduate assistantships are available to help you pay for school. Also, check with any professional organizations to which you belong to see if they offer annual awards for graduate school.