With the American Nurses Association advocating for the BSN to become the standard for nursing jobs, many RNs are realizing they need to raise their status, and current BSN-holders find they need an MSN to continue to compete on the job market. So what’s the lowest cost you can pay to get an MSN degree online?
What do you call a value? Sometimes, as in the Value Colleges Best Value MSN list, it’s a complicated formula that takes a lot of factors into account. Sometimes, value just means cheap. That’s why, for those of you with small pockets and big plans, we have the Cheap List.
These aren’t the absolute rock-bottom – these are the best of the cheap. Sure, you could find a cheaper school, but they’ll probably be worth what you pay. The schools on this list are worth more than the sticker price. Nearly all are accredited by the CCNE or ACEN, a basic minimum standard for quality.
The Cheapest Online MSN list is based on cost per credit gathered from each institution. Fees and higher prices for out-of-state residents may apply.
Our cheapest online MSN goes to Fort Hays State University, at an absolutely astounding $251.38 per credit hour. Located in Hays, Kansas, the Fort Hays State Department of Nursing has a plan to spread high-quality nursing education across Kansas and beyond with their online nursing degrees. The online MSN degree features credentialed faculty and small class sizes, so students can develop relationships with one another and their faculty mentors similar to the experience in a residential program. Online students can concentrate in Nursing Administration or Nursing Education, non-clinical roles that remove the need for clinical practice. How does Fort Hays State do all that for such a low cost? Smarts – just like an investment in a low-cost MSN.
With a huge area to cover, with spread-out populations and deserts between, the public university system of New Mexico has their work cut out for them, as many western states do. To meet the educational needs of their diverse, scattered citizenry, New Mexico State University solves the problem of access with a highly developed online distance education program that they keep exceptionally cheap. NMSU’s School of Nursing offers an online MSN in Nursing Administration, with tuition as low as $274 per credit hour, for students with an RN and a BSN who want to move into administrative positions in the health care field. With a commitment to providing care to populations in need, and a strong faculty, NMSU is as high in quality as it is low in price.
It may be a surprise to find the cheapest anything in Massachusetts, but Fitchburg State University, in Fitchburg, MA, has a surprisingly low price for their online MSN, only $304 per credit hour (including fees!). FSU’s online MSN has a specialization in Forensic Nursing, for those who are interested in doing nursing in law enforcement settings such as Legal Nurse Consultant, Forensic Mental Health Consultant, or Risk Management Specialist. If nursing and justice are your callings, Fitchburg State wants to hear from you.
Aspen University is a private, for-profit online university in Denver, CO, but don’t count them out – their prices are low, their programs are accredited, and they provide a quality education for their cost. At only $325 per credit hour, plus reasonable fees, students can earn an MSN degree in Nursing Administration & Management or Nursing Education, non-clinical nursing careers. This program is not accredited by the ACEN or CCNE, but by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, so they meet a Department of Education standard of quality.
Georgia College & State University, in Milledgeville, GA (home of Flannery O’Connor), has a name that reflects its unusual status as a small, public liberal arts college and a part of the University System of Georgia. Online MSN students can choose from Family Nurse Practitioner or Nurse Educator, with the clinical portions of the FNP program handled by an approved preceptor in the student’s home area. With the individualized attention of a small college, and the affordability (priced at just $415 per credit hour) of a large public university, GCSU offers the best of both worlds for online MSN students.
The University of Missouri in Kansas City is not just cheap, though it is that – at only $422 per credit hour, it’s pretty hard to beat. It’s also one of U.S. News & World Report’s top 20 online nursing schools, a universally-recognized indicator of quality. Unlike many public university programs, that charge much higher rates for out-of-state residents, UMKC offers part-time non-residents the same low online price (though it goes up for full-time), and Kansas residents in the KC area are treated as in-state residents. With concentrations in Psychiatric Mental Health NP, Family NP, and Nurse Educator, students have a minimal number of campus visits and an affordable degree from a leader in nursing.
Jacksonville State University takes the mandate of a state university very seriously, providing education to as many of the people of Alabama and beyond as possible. They are also serious about affordability, tuition is priced at just $461 per credit hour. The College of Nursing’s online programs help spread quality nursing education and care across the south and nationwide for a more than reasonable cost. JSU’s online MSN in Community Health is a cutting-edge, forward-thinking program in which students learn methods of targeting health care issues in specific populations, regions, and groups for public health improvement. Student may further concentrate in Nursing Education or Emergency Management for a career focused on making the world a healthier place, not just one person at a time, but for everyone.
Norfolk, VA’s Old Dominion University is a perennial visitor to online college rankings, due to their unprecedented focus on building and promoting their online programs. As one of the first public universities to develop technology-driven distance education, ODU has one of the best, consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report. ODU’s School of Nursing offers several online concentrations in the MSN degree: Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist/Educator, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Administrator, and Nurse Midwifery. With a low cost ($464 per credit hour) and a proven reputation, it’s better than cheap – it’s an investment.
Liberty University has made a unique reputation among private Christian liberal arts universities by developing a nationally-recognized online education system that is the envy of their rivals. As a Christian university, Liberty’s School of Nursing emphasizes ethics in health care and regards nursing as a lay person’s ministry, aiming to provide both physical and spiritual care. Online students can earn an MSN online in Nurse Educator and Nursing Administration concentrations, gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to lead other nurses into and through their careers. LU is affordably priced at just $520 per credit hour for all distance learners regardless of residence.
Western Governors University, in Salt Lake City, UT, is a unique, experimental online university designed around an innovative competency-based model in which students earn credit for demonstrating skills rather than traditional grade-based courses. Founded by a group of western state governors to provide an educational alternative to their people of their states, WGU is a non-profit, private university that provides affordable online education nationwide ($541 per credit hour). WGU’s College of Health Professions offers two MSN concentrations (Education and Leadership & Management) with two different paths (for students with a BSN, or students with an RN).