Why This Matters


    Research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the average annual salary for a nurse practitioner — which is just one of several specialties that require a master’s in nursing — is $117,670.


    The field of nursing is expected to experience huge levels of job growth, with 117,700 nurse practitioner positions to be added through 2029.


    The top five states with the highest employment levels for nurse practitioners are California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Ohio.

Our Research

When we were researching the most affordable online master’s in nursing programs, we looked for schools that had the lowest cost per credit hour. The most affordable programs are around $150 per credit hour for in-state students, and the average is around $300 to $400 per credit hour.

Any master’s in nursing program you are looking at needs to be accredited to ensure it adequately prepares you for your career and will be accepted by potential employers. The most common accrediting bodies for the schools on our list include the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

  • 75 hours to write this article
  • 150 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 227 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Affordable Online Master’s in Nursing Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

Cost is one of the most important considerations when it comes to choosing an online master’s in nursing program. While all the options on our list are affordable, they do still vary in price. To get a more accurate comparison between programs, multiply the cost per credit hour by the number of credits required. Don’t forget to factor in other variables such as administrative fees and textbooks. Going part-time can help stretch out costs if you’re not in a hurry to complete your program, and there are some scholarships, loans, and other financial aid options available for graduate nursing students.

Another important consideration is how much debt you’re carrying from your undergraduate education. If you’re paying off your student loans, it’s crucial to understand how committing to a master’s program may affect things like deferment and accrued interest. If you have private loans that will need to continue to be paid, it’s important to make sure those can fit in your budget along with the cost of the master’s program.

If you’re interested in an online master’s in nursing program, you’re likely already working as a nurse. While that means you have valuable experience in the field, it also may mean that you have to plan your studies around your work schedule. It may be a good idea to look for programs that have as much instruction as possible offered asynchronously so that you can work on your days off or before or after your shift starts.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching online master’s in nursing programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? To be eligible for an online master’s in nursing program, you usually need to already have completed your BSN and be a practicing RN. Some programs may have special tracks for those who have a related bachelor’s degree, but even then, it usually needs to be in the medical field. You may also be required to have a certain undergraduate GPA, especially for nursing classes.
  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? Theory classes in a master’s in nursing program may be offered synchronously or asynchronously, but any required clinicals will be in-person at specific times.
  • How long does it take to complete an online master’s in nursing program? How long it takes to complete an online master’s in nursing depends heavily on the school and program you are enrolling in. One reason for this is that the number of credits required to graduate varies widely depending on specialty. In general, you can expect to take two to three years going full-time to complete the program.
  • What tests are required for an online master’s in nursing program? To be accepted into a master’s in nursing program, you will need to submit GRE scores. This may be the general GRE as well as some specific GRE subject tests. It’s also common for programs to require proof of health insurance and proof that you are up to date on all vaccines.