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Top 50 Best Value Online MSN Programs of 2015Nursing is among the most rewarding careers, but also one of the most demanding – long hours, irregular schedules, emotionally involved. You’ve probably heard by now that the key to better pay and higher positions in nursingis further education, but who has the time to go back to school when you have a challenging job, and, perhaps, a family to care for?

That’s the reason that many working nurses are turning online to earn their higher degrees. Online programs are designed with working adults in mind, and are usually scheduled for flexibility and convenience, sometimes through asynchronous delivery (that is, you can do your work at any time), sometimes through live-streaming or online discussion. Many schools allow students to do clinical practice in their own local areas, or at their current workplace, and often non-clinical programs (such as administrative or educational tracks) don’t require clinical practice at all. These programs do all they can to help graduate students keep working and live their lives as they are earning their degree.

The Master of Science in Nursing degree is the door to higher status. Most programs fall into one or more of three tracks: advanced clinical roles (especially the Nurse Practitioner); leadership roles (for those who want to move into administrative and managerial positions); and academic (for those who want to educate nurses or work in research capacities). These programs build on the working nurse’s current knowledge and experience to prepare them for new experiences and challenges.

The Value Colleges mission is to steer you toward the most reputable colleges with the best return on investment, so you can avoid getting ripped off by unscrupulous diploma mills that will sell you a degree that no self-respecting employer will take seriously. Some of these are values because their tuition is low; some are values because their name and reputation opens doors to high pay and high returns. All of them find their own distinct balance between quality, cost, and return.

We have some basic requirements for colleges to make the list: all must be regionally-accredited, with nursing programs accredited by the CCNE or ACEN. Choosing only accredited institutions ensures that all meet minimum quality standards. We determine ranking order by taking into consideration three factors:

  • average early-career salary from Payscale.com
  • national ranking (U.S. News & World Report)
  • real tuition cost (from college website)

Because of regulations and the need for approved clinical sites, online nursing programs can be a little more location-specific than other online courses. Not all programs are available nation-wide; when you find a program that sounds interesting, check your state’s availability before getting too invested.

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Stony Brook University

Stony Brook, NY; Stony Brook University: Wang Center in spring
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Lucky #13 on U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the best online graduate programs, Stony Brook University (AKA SUNY Stony Brook) is our #1 Best Value Online MSN program. There are a few reasons for that: first of all, the overall reputation of the State University of New York system in general, and of Stony Brook in particular, an internationally-recognized research institution. Secondly, Stony Brook’s tuition is exceptionally low for public graduate programs, especially in the New York/Northeastern region, which ultimately means a higher return on investment. Finally, Stony Brook has taken the time to build one of the best online education platforms, with excellent student support and top-tier instructors. Students should be aware that there are some campus visits required, but all coursework happens online. A full range of options are available online: Nursing Education, Nursing Leadership, Nurse Practitioner (in several specialities), and Nurse Midwifery. And of course, a degree from Stony Brook University carries the Stony Brook name, a mark of quality recognized by employers everywhere, from the fertile job market of the New York area to wherever in the nation you may be.

Well known by sports fans for their formidable basketball team, UNLV is also a research-intensive, science and technology-heavy university with a solid reputation throughout the western US. Ranked #6 by U.S. News & World Report for their online graduate programs, the UNLV School of Nursing has several options available for the online MSN student: Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, or Nurse Educator. These concentrations allow students to choose either a written thesis or a capstone project, depending on which would be more useful for the student’s career path. UNLV Nursing uses a unique trimester system (rather than semester or quarter) that allows full-time students to finish a graduate degree in only 16 months, instead of the standard 24. Part-time schedules are also available, but the ability to finish quickly and get out on the job market, or receive higher pay in your current workplace, definitely increases the possibilities for return on investment. Take all of these advantages into account, and you’ve got a Best Value MSN.

Health science is what Clarkson College does. Founded as the first school of nursing in Nebraska way back in 1888, this private college has grown to encompass all aspects of health care education, but remains one of the best nursing programs around. With a mission to produce the best-prepared nurses in the nation, Clarkson College’s School of Nursing has developed an online graduate program that is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best in quality. Besides quality, though, Clarkson is also a value, with an affordable $512 per credit hour tuition rate for graduate courses. MSN students can choose from Nursing Health Care Administration, Nursing Education, Family Nurse Practitioner, and Adult Gerontology Primary Care NP concentrations. These programs require some minimal on-campus sessions, and students must set up clinical practicum in their own area, but there are some benefits: working nurses can set up clinicals in their workplace, as long as it meets guidelines, and students following the RN to MSN track don’t have to do clinicals at all! With a long, respected reputation, Clarkson College is providing nurses with flexible, affordable online options, the definition of a value college.

The UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies has a solid reputation: top 20 best online graduate nursing according to U.S. News & World Report (best in Missouri or Kansas, the sister states that share KC), and a best value according to the Princeton Review. Value, of course, is what concerns us here, and UMKC provides it. For Missouri and KC-area Kansas residents (who share in-state rates), tuition is a low $400 per credit hour, and part-time out-of-state residents get the same rate. It’s an affordable way to get an MSN degree. Online students will need to make minimal campus visits, as little as one to four days depending on the concentration, of which there are three: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, and Nurse Educator. Despite campus visits, the online course of study is flexible, with full-time and part-time options, strong student support, and a high amount of attention from faculty. Mentorship and support, of course, are crucial to success in a graduate program, and with an affordable MSN degree from UMKC, you can expect to see your investment pay off.

Part of the Texas State University system, Lamar University is home to a U.S. News & World Report top 100 online graduate nursing program. Recognized as one of the best colleges in the US for core standards (by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni), Lamar may not be famous, but it’s quality. Lamar’s online MSN program tracks focus on the academic and administrative sides of nursing, with concentrations in Nursing Education, Nursing Administration, and a dual MSN-MBA program. All MSN courses are available online, and without clinical practice requirements, can be completed from pretty much any location. As for value, online tuition is an unbelievably low $318 per credit hour, making it one of the most affordable high-quality programs available. That fact in itself makes Lamar a solid investment with potential for a high return, as well as a bright future in the health care field.

When it comes to nursing education and jobs, Florida tends to be pretty dominant. That should come as no surprise; the state has a high proportion of retirees, heat, hurricanes, alligators, and poisonous snakes, so there’s a lot of work for nurses to do. Ranked in the top 25 online nursing schools by U.S. News & World Report, as well as a best choice for veterans, the University of Central Florida College of Nursing offers high-quality online MSN degrees. Like Lamar, UCF’s online MSN focuses on the non-clinical side of the profession, with programs in Nurse Educator or Leadership and Management. While all course content is online, students must arrange an internship in their area; this may be convenient for working nurses if their current employer meets the criteria. Working RNs may want to look into the RN to MSN path, though be warned that admission to the MSN program is not guaranteed; it depends on performance in the undergraduate program. But with affordable tuition rates and a strong job market in Florida, UCF’s online MSN is a great value in an educational investment.

Everything you need to know is right there in the name: the Medical University of South Carolina is the place for medical education in South Carolina. Maybe that’s not everything you need to know. So here’s this: MUSC’s online MSN program is U.S. News & World Report’s #1 for 2016. That reputation comes from being the highest ranking nursing college in SC, one of the highest-funded research institutions in the southeast (according to the NIH), and one of the best-reviewed by graduates, who are overwhelmingly satisfied with the education they received. All of MUSC’s MSN programs are available online, with some campus visits required depending on the course of study, including an orientation in July; clinical experience is the student’s responsibility, and can usually be done locally. Students can choose Nurse Practitioner concentrations in Adult Gerontology, Family, and Pediatric, with either full-time or part-time scheduling for convenience and to negotiate around work schedules. It’s a flexible, proven value in nursing education that graduates can confidently expect to return.

The University of Kansas School of Nursing is part of the KU Medical Center, one of the finest teaching medical institutions in the midwest. With much of the faculty practicing in the Medical Center or in rural clinics as part of KU Nursing’s commitment to service, students know that their instructors are accomplished in nursing practice as well as up-to-date in the latest research, including their own. The KU School of Nursing offers four MSN concentrations: Clinical Research Management, Nursing Informatics, Organizational Leadership, and Public Health Nursing. All courses for these concentrations are offered online, but students are required to attend an orientation session at the Medical Center campus, so be ready to travel. Clinicals can be arranged through KU’s large network of associated centers and facilities. With a solid education and an especially affordable tuition rates (only $361 per credit hour for graduate courses), KU Nursing is a top ten Best Value.

Old Dominion is one of the most reputable and recognizable names in online education, and the School of Nursing’s online master degrees are always highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a sign of their quality. That’s largely because of the faculty, a highly qualified body of scholars and practitioners who bring in millions of dollars in research grants to fund their innovative work. Those same faculty members teach ODU’s online programs, giving online students access to the same top-flight minds and mentorship that residential students receive. Plus, ODU keeps online course tuition rates affordable at $464 per credit for Virginia residents, and only $501 per credit for out-of-state residents – a great rate if you compare out-of-state rates for most other public universities. Students can choose concentrations in Nurse Anesthesia, Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist/Educator, or Nurse Administrator/Educator. Old Dominion’s exceptional combination of educational excellence and affordability put it solidly in the top 10 of smart MSN investments.

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University of Texas, Arlington

An educational leader in the heart of the thriving North Texas region, UT Arlington nurtures minds within an environment that values excellence, ingenuity, and diversity.
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The University of Texas flagship in Austin gets all the glory, but UT Arlington has quietly built up an online nursing program that is the envy of many more prominent schools. Arlington’s College  of Nursing graduates the most nurses in the state of Texas, and considering Texas’s reputation for size, that’s an impressive number. Though the full college is enormous – around 8,000 students – students are divided into small groups led by a designated mentor, providing the kind of personal attention in an online format that helps residential students succeed. UT Arlington provides fully online MSN degrees in Nursing Administration and Nursing Education, complete with electronic textbooks, technical support, and a cohort of online learners led by a faculty member. A well-developed online program provides students with everything they need to earn a degree and advance in their career, bringing UT Arlington to close out out Best Value Top 10 on a high note.

With recognition from U.S. News & World Report, and a growing reputation as one of the healthiest campuses in the US (through initiatives such as the National Consortium for Building Healthy Academic Communities and the Buckeye Wellness program), the Ohio State University College of Nursing is known for their quality and commitment. But one factor that definitely sets Ohio State apart as a value is their tuition: out-of-state residents pay the same reasonable rates as residents, so location is less of a barrier to an Ohio State degree. Online students can choose concentrations in Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal NP, or Psychiatric Mental Health NP. With reasonable costs and a great quality education, the Ohio State University offers a solid investment for online MSN students.

Duke University is a standard-bearer in medicine and health care education, with the Duke University Health System. Duke’s School of Nursing is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the #7 graduate nursing program, an impressive statistic that reflects Duke’s reputation worldwide. Duke is a southern rival to the Ivy League, and while that brings an Ivy League price tag, it also brings Ivy League connections; simply put, a degree from Duke opens doors that are closed to most other schools. That’s why Duke is a value – while the sticker price may be high, the returns are high as well. Duke offers some non-clinical degrees fully online (the Nursing and Health Care Leadership and the Nursing Education programs), while others, including Nursing Informative and Nurse Practitioner concentrations, have online coursework with some required campus visits. Even for those that require campus visits, scheduling is flexible and convenient for working nurses, and the pay off for the investment makes the challenge rewarding.

East Carolina University has long been a leader in nursing education for North Carolina, with the highest number of nursing graduates for any NC school, and impressively high NCLEX pass rates. But U.S. News & World Report also recognizes them nation-wide for quality, with top-20 ranked online master degree programs. ECU hits what sweet spot that Value Colleges looks for, with affordable tuition rates and educational excellence. Students can choose all-online concentrations in Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, and Nursing Education; Nurse-Midwifery is available as a hybrid, mostly online program. Whether in North Carolina or elsewhere, ECU graduates can count on an MSN degree that will prove to be a solid investment in the future of nursing.

Like Duke, Johns Hopkins University is one of the first names that come to mind when it comes to medicine, and like Duke, it’s not a name you might associate with value. Elite, competitive, and challenging, certainly, but don’t count Johns Hopkins out as a value. As one of the oldest and best-ranked nursing schools in the nation, Johns Hopkins balances out a high tuition cost with access that no other school can match, with a high ROI and connections that make a nursing degree from Johns Hopkins an investment like no other. Online MSN students can choose between Clinical Nurse Specialist or Health Systems Management, or a dual concentration in both. While few may be selected, those who make the grade can expect Johns Hopkins to prove itself a surprising value.

The University of Oklahoma, a best value? OK! As Oklahoma’s largest, highest U.S. News & World Report ranked nursing school, the OU College of Nursing provides a top-quality education for a public university price, our definition of value. Online MSN students can choose concentrations in Administration Management, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Education, and Family Nurse Practitioner. Oklahoma residents pay an affordable $293 per credit hour, vs. a rather higher tuition for non-residents, but non-residents should check carefully anyway – only a few states are approved for OU’s online master’s degrees. For Oklahoma residents, however, it would be hard to find a better deal on an online MSN.

UMass has been working since 2001 to build the most comprehensive, well-developed online education provider possible, and it shows; UMass is one of the biggest names in online education among public research universities. But this hasn’t been accomplished by lowering standards or cranking out diplomas – UMass has some of the most prestigious faculty and best rankings in the world. Students earning an online MSN degree benefit in multiple ways from this reputation for quality, namely in high ROI and great marketability in job searches. Students can earn an online master’s in Clinical Nurse Leader, with all the status that a UMass degree affords, making UMass Online a top value.

While it may not have the name recognition of other medical schools, Rush University, a health care-focused university that represents the academic side of Rush University Medical Center, does have a top-tier reputation in the health sciences. Since medicine and health is all Rush does, they do it exceedingly well, with a top-20 ranking from U.S. News & World Report, and many individual programs ranked in the top 5 and top 10. Rush offers an online MSN for the Clinical Nurse Leader concentration, open to licensed RNs; all courses are online, except for one course offered in an accelerated, 3-4 day on-campus format. As a proven leader in nursing education, with the rankings and reputation to back it up, Rush could prove to be the perfect investment for your career.

With a number of renowned hospitals and medical centers, as well as the internationally known Research Triangle Park, North Carolina has a wealth of jobs for nurses and health science researchers, and plenty of quality nursing programs to supply them. The University of North Carolina Greensboro has solid U.S. News & World Report rankings for the graduate nursing programs and a growing reputation. UNCG offers MSN programs in Nursing Education and Nursing Administration, taught completely online, not counting clinical hours. Like ECU above, UNC Greensboro offers an excellent education at a state university price, making an MSN degree from UNCG a great value.

The University of Colorado College of Nursing has its home in Aurora, CO (a suburb of Denver), at the world-class Anschutz Medical Campus. As one of the first nursing schools in the west, CU’s College of Nursing has a long history of excellence in nursing education. As is the case with many western schools, where populations are often scattered and rural, CU has built a strong distance education system over the last 30 years, and the College of Nursing’s online graduate programs have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report. With a number of specializations, such as Health Care Informatics, Women’s Health, and several Nurse Practitioner specialities, CU Nursing prepares students for the modern world of health care, using modern means.

With the reputation of a Public Ivy and a Carnegie designation as a very high research activity institution, the University of Delaware has a national reputation and a long history (it includes several signers of the Declaration of Independence among its first alumni). The College of Health Sciences offers a high-quality online nursing program, with specializations in Adult Gerontology, Nursing for Children, and Health Services Administration. Offerings are somewhat restricted in location, so UD’s online MSN isn’t for students all over the US, but if you’re in Delaware or Maryland and want a convenient way to earn your MSN, the University of Delaware is a top 20 Best Value.

Named for Saint John Francis Regis – not the talk-show host – Regis University is a small, private Jesuit university with a top-tier status and an international reputation. As a Jesuit school, Regis’s Loretto Heights School of Nursing emphasizes Catholic values, ethics, social service, and community engagement as they educate nurses in the science of health care and the art of patient care. Students can choose from two online Leadership in Health Care Systems MSN degrees, in either Education or Management. While tuition, at $620 per credit hour, is higher than most public universities, it’s lower than the rates charged for many out-of-state public students, and the advantages that a small university like Regis can provide may end up making a slightly higher tuition a better investment in the long run.

Yet another North Carolina nursing program, to join Duke, ECU, and UNC Greensboro on our list. Like ECU and UNCG, UNC Charlotte is part of the University of North Carolina system, and students benefit from the reasonable tuition rates a large public university can offer. UNC Charlotte’s reputation is on the rise, thanks to a concerted effort to meet North Carolina’s nursing needs, especially in its home Charlotte-metro region. UNCC offers fully-online MSN degrees in their Systems Population Major which includes Community/Public Health Nursing, Nurse Educator, and Nurse Administrator. With locally-arranged clinicals, students never need to visit campus, making UNCC an affordable, convenient way to invest in your future career.

Ranked at #3 by U.S. News & World Report for their online graduate programs, the University of South Carolina College of Nursing is an all-around fantastic program, with high licensure rates, excellent faculty, and a socially-engaged, community-minded culture. As the first nursing school in South Carolina, the College of Nursing remains the standard for quality in the state. USC has especially spent time designing a strong online program in which students practice collaborative and cooperative work, much like in an on-campus program, rather than being totally independent and disengaged. Students can choose from Acute Care Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, Primary Care Family NP, Psychiatric Mental Health NP, and Organizational Leadership. All coursework is online, but students in the advanced care programs will be required to visit the Columbia, SC, campus twice a semester. With affordable rates and top quality, the University of South Carolina College of Nursing is a definitive value.

Ball State’s School of Nursing has been noted by U.S. News & World Report not only for the quality of their online graduate nursing program in general, but also as a best online program for veterans, due to Ball State’s organized efforts at making a college education convenient and accessible for veterans returning to civilian life. Online MSN students can focus on one of two tracks: either Leadership (education and management) or Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner. Designed for working nurses, the program is flexible and can be completed part time within a few years. It’s an affordable way to invest in your career from one of the best in the midwest.

Created as a unique effort to increase educational options for underserved people in Indianapolis, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis combines the powers of both the named universities for work they could not do alone. Nursing students get their degrees from the Indiana University School of Nursing, technically, a long-standing, highly-regarded nursing school with a reputation for quality. Students can choose from online and distance-accessible (online with limited campus visits) MSN concentrations in Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist (both distance-accessible), Nursing Leadership in Health Systems (online except for two campus visits per semester), or Nursing Education (all online). IUPUI’s commitment to providing education for everyone means an affordable, solid education that will give students a real return on their time and money.

On any list of top nursing schools, top online programs, or top values, expect to see Mizzou. The University of Missouri has made its mission to provide excellent education accessible, both economically and technologically. The Sinclair School of Nursing is all over U.S. News & World Report’s rankings, and has one of the most accomplished faculty bodies in the nation for nursing research. Mizzou prefers the term “distance mediated,” since their MSN programs aren’t strictly online; their belief in face-to-face interaction means students are required to attend a two-day orientation at the beginning of their program, and may need to visit campus in a limited way for some courses. With concentrations in Nurse Educator and Leadership in Nursing and Healthcare Systems available online, students can count on a relevant, marketable MSN degree from a proven leader in online nursing.

Arizona State University’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation’s quality is attested not only by its consistently high U.S. News & World Report ranking, but also by the partnerships it has developed, including the Mayo Clinic and the VA. ASU offers some unique, cutting-edge MSN degrees online in Clinical Research Management and Healthcare Innovation, interdisciplinary programs designed to prepare nurse researchers to shape the future of the healthcare industry. With affordable programs that put students at the forefront of the field, ASU is a value and an investment literally like no other – until other nursing schools catch up.

The University of Texas at El Paso doesn’t get the same attention as its hipper sister institution in Austin, but it’s a recognized value and a noted Hispanic-serving institution dedicated to graduating a well-trained, diverse field of nurses. As part of this effort, UTEP has developed online graduate programs that connect students closely with each other and with faculty guidance, in three different majors: Nursing Education, Nursing Systems Management, and Nurse Practitioner (with concentrations in Family Primary Care, Pediatric Primary Care, and Adult Gerontology Acute Care). UTEP will prepare students for their careers with the same attention and guidance that residential students expect, all for a reasonable price.

Though it is a hundred years younger, Sacred Heart University, in Fairfield, CT, has built a reputation that is coming to rival fellow Catholic institution Boston College, with recognition from the Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. For students looking for a nursing program that emphasizes ethics, service, and community, with the advantages of a small student to faculty ratio and the attention of a small university, Sacred Heart is tailor-made. Online students can concentrate in Clinical Nurse Leader, Nursing Management and Executive Leadership, or Nursing Education, and while the price tag may be higher than a public program, at $650 per credit hour it’s still well within the realm of affordable, while providing an education that will have a sterling market value.

With its close ties to NASA – Huntsville, AL, is famously the home of the Marshall Space Flight Center – the University of Alabama in Huntsville is known as a technologically-focused, research-intensive public institution, its culture built around innovation and its eyes on the stars. With that reputation, you would expect the UAH College of Nursing to be committed to preparing students for the technologically-advanced future of health care, and you would be right. UAH currently offers one fully-online MSN degree (unless you’re in New York – sorry, not admitted) in Leadership in Health Care Systems, designed to prepare students for administrative and managerial roles shaping how the health care industry will look in the information age. It’s an investment not only in your future, but the future of your profession.

New Mexico State University’s School of Nursing has a unique vision and mission that relates to its unique environment. As a diverse state, with large numbers of people in need, and a contentious border, NMSU is committed to serving the people of New Mexico with health care and community engagement, a vision that drives the education at the School of Nursing. To help develop nursing leaders who can expand their vision across New Mexico and the US, NMSU offers an online MSN Administration degree that prepares graduates for administrative positions and doctoral programs. Any RN with a bachelor’s degree in nursing can apply, knowing that an online MSN from New Mexico State will be an investment not only in your own career, but in the public good.

West Virginia University’s School of Nursing can claim an extraordinary licensing pass rate of 97-100% for their MSN graduates, a number exceptionally high for a public university and, in fact, for any elite program. That stat alone tells you a lot about WVU’s educational quality, but there is more to see. Like New Mexico State (above), WVU is dedicated to alleviating inequities in health care in their poor and rural communities, a faith in public service that translates into its curriculum. WVU offers three tracks for online MSN students: Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric NP, and Nursing Leadership. All coursework is online, but the program may be most attractive to students in and around West Virginia, as there are quite a few mandatory campus visits. WVU is another School of Nursing doing a lot of good for a lot of people, a value in itself.

With a top 10 online MSN program, and a highly ranked nursing school (according to U.S. News & World Report), George Washington University is a proven quantity as an educational investment. Online MSN students can choose from a full range of specializations, from Adult Gerontology and Family Nurse Practitioners, to Health Care Quality, Nurse Leadership and Management, and Nurse Midwifery. While GWU’s nursing tuition is higher than other public programs at $1030 per credit hour, they do have a fixed rate, so enrolled students will never pay a higher price, and for a school at GWU’s elite level, it’s still a reasonable price tag. With connections throughout the Washington DC region, from Virginia to Maryland, a degree from George Washington can also open doors to jobs that a degree with a lesser reputation would not, so all things considered, GWU retains its value.

The University of Cincinnati College of Nursing is a school on the rise, with big plans for the future and a growing reputation. With solid rankings from U.S. News & World Report, students have the assurance of a quality education from UC, but with aggressive expansion and global goals, graduates can count on seeing their status of their degree increase. Cincinnati offers many online MSN degree concentrations, including Adult-Gero and Family NP, Nurse Midwifery, Nursing Administration, and Women’s Health. A strong name in nursing education and affordable tuition rates mean the University of Cincinnati is a value that is going to look better and better.

A comprehensive nursing school with the only DNP degree in West Texas, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing is determined to improve nursing care and knowledge throughout the vast west Texas region. Texas Tech offers a number of online and web-enhanced MSN programs, including Administration, Education, Informatics, several Nurse Practitioner specializations, and more, though some concentrations, such as Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Midwifery, require some campus visits. Tuition rates are extremely low for Texas residents, at a little more than $300 per credit hour, though out of state rates are not unusually high, making Texas Tech a solid investment that should provide a significant return.

It’s easy to overlook modest, unassuming Iowa, but you’d be missing out on a great value if you overlook the University of Iowa College of Nursing. According to U.S. News & World Report, UI has some of the best online graduate programs, and a long history of excellent education and service distinguish the College of Nursing as a top educator. Right now, online students can earn an MSN in Clinical Nurse Leadership, a specialization designed to improve patient care and nurse practice in administrative and managerial roles. Students earn their degree entirely online, except for minimal on campus time (a manageable day and a half). With a Clinical Nurse Leadership degree from the University of Iowa, students can count on a solid investment in the future of nursing.

Drexel University is best known for its innovative co-op structure, in which students gain for-credit, real-world work experience alongside their classroom education – a formula that would seem difficult to manage in an online format. Drexel, however, is determined to perfect it, with a variety of options for online MSN students. Most of Drexel’s MSN courses are presented online, with minimal campus visits for Nurse Practitioner concentrations and no on-campus components for most Advanced Role concentrations. Whether students want to enter practical nursing roles such as Family NP, Women’s Health, or Psychiatric/Mental Health (just some of the options), or administrative leadership roles (Clinical Nurse Leader, Clinical Trials Research, and more), Drexel has a program that will give students ample support, strong cohort ties, and an excellent network of connections with hospitals and health care facilities that will help graduates begin capitalizing on their investment right away.

Michigan State’s College of Nursing has been steadily rising in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings for the last few years, a sign of an intentional, well-developed effort to increase MSU’s visibility and reputation. That means an online MSN degree from Michigan State is one that will prove its value increasingly in coming years. MSU offers a Clinical Nurse Specialist and Education MSN concentration fully online, except for one orientation day at the beginning of the program; the Nurse Practitioner concentration is still hybrid, meaning students will need some limited on-campus attendance, which may still be convenient for students in the East Lansing region. Either way, students will find Michigan State a solid investment in their nursing career.

One of the most elite universities in the south, Vanderbilt University has a School of Nursing that is highly acclaimed by U.S. News & World Report, and is part of one of the most renowned teaching hospitals, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. So Vanderbilt’s quality is unquestionable, but what about its value? Certainly Vanderbilt is more expensive than your average state college, but that price tag brings with it a legacy and name recognition that, like any elite school, means higher-paying job placements and access. Healthcare Leadership and Nursing Informatics concentrations can be completed online, with some minimal on-campus time (Nurse Practitioner concentrations are presented in a Modified Block format which permits students some flexibility but are not fully online). With the high-profile connections Vanderbilt can offer, graduates will find them a surprising value whatever the sticker price.

Eastern Kentucky University’s Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Department is distinguished not only by their commitment to serving the underprivileged in the rural Appalachian community, but by their close connection to the Army ROTC and nursing graduates who have gone on to practice their profession in the armed services. EKU offers a number of online MSN degrees, including the unique Rural Health Family NP, Psychiatric Mental Health NP, and Nursing Administration. EKU’s reasonable tuition rates and one-of-a-kind programs mean that, especially for nurses planning to serve in low-income, rural settings, EKU offers a value not to be found anywhere else.

You can be forgiven your confusion, but yes, California University of Pennsylvania is a Pennsylvania State system institution in the town of California, Pennsylvania. Now that that’s clarified, it’s worth knowing that they’re recognized as a best college in the Northeast by the Princeton Review, and their graduate nursing programs are cited by U.S. News & World Report. Cal U’s Nursing Administration and Leadership MSN is completely online and can be completed in only 20 months, making it one of the most convenient and flexible programs on the Best Values list. Reasonable tuition and extraordinary convenience add up to a great value for your MSN.

The Loewenberg School of Nursing, at the University of Memphis, is recognized by U.S. News & World Report for its graduate nursing programs, as well as its high levels of faculty and student diversity. To spread their mission of providing nursing care to everyone, U of M has a number of fully-online MSN degrees, with concentrations in Family Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Education, Nursing Administration, and a rare Executive MSN for nurses who intend to follow management or executive careers. As an urban campus, U of M’s nursing program is ideal for students going into urban, metropolitan, or low-income settings, where nurses are especially needed.

As U.S. News & World Report’s #5 graduate nursing program, the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing has reason to brag. It’s also one of the best-funded research nursing schools, according to the NIH, and these factors reinforce why Pittsburgh’s nursing degrees are a great investment. Online students can earn an MSN with concentrations in Clinical Nurse Leader, Nursing Administration, and Nursing Informatics, though not in advanced clinical areas such as Nurse Practitioner. Still, Pitt’s stellar reputation means your degree is sure to get your resume to the top of the stack when you hit the job market, with the higher salary, responsibility, and status an MSN brings.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s Nova Southeastern University, a private research university that is one of the largest in the US, offers online MSN degrees in non-clinical (Nursing Education, Health System Leadership, or Nursing Informatics) and clinical concentrations (Family Nurse Practitioner and Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP). As is appropriate for nursing, one of the most diverse careers, NSU is recognized as one of the most diverse institutions in the US according to the Princeton Review and the U.S. Department of Education. That means that NSU has a place for everyone, a significant value that you can’t put too high a price on.

In U.S. News & World Report’s top 10 online graduate nursing schools, and online nursing programs for veterans, Pittsburgh, PA’s Duquesne University is well-respected and recognized for excellence. Online students can earn an MSN in one of three areas: Family Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Education and Faculty, and a rare (for online) Forensic Nursing. While, as a private university, Duquesne’s tuition is higher than many public programs, there are numerous opportunities for savings, such as a 30% discount for professional RNs in affiliated facilities, and a well-known program for veterans. Excellence, and the opportunities that come with it, is its own kind of value.

Cleveland State University has made major overhauls and developments in recent years as they pursue a course to become a world-class institution, both on campus (a $500 million renovation) and online. CSU Ohio offers four MSN tracks: Specialized Population, Clinical Nurse Leader, Nursing Education, and Forensic Nursing. Another option is the MSN/MBA track, which is offered jointly through the College of Business for nursing students interested in a role in the administrative or financial side of health care. It’s a value investment in an institution that may soon be on everyone’s radar.

Liberty University is a private Christian institution located in Lynchburg, Virginia, but you do not need to profess a Christian faith or reside in the state to obtain a valuable CCNE-approved Master of Nursing Education. The current program at LU offers two concentrations: Nurse Educator and Nursing Administration. Practicums are required for all MSN students and are tailored to the student’s interests within a variety of healthcare settings. The program is 42-total credit hours, and priced affordably at $520 per credit, it’s easy to recognize Liberty as a solid value for online learners.

The University of Arizona offers two distinct paths for the Registered Nurse to Master of Science (RN to MS) program. Both are intended for RNs, the difference being whether the applicant holds an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. The student with an Associate Nursing Degree (ADN) follows a 44-credit, 2-year curriculum, while the applicant with a BSN will pursue the 31-credit, 15-month curriculum. Both tracks lead to an MSN. The University does not require any residencies throughout the program and is available at three starting times per year: January, May, and September. Ranked by U.S. News & World Report at #36 for Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs, University of Arizona is a solid choice for students looking for a reputable program with online convenience to advance in the nursing field.

Norwich University’s Master of Science, accredited by CCNE, provides nurses the knowledge and skills they need to assume leadership or administrative positions. All coursework is completed online in 18 months. Small classes capped at 15 students promotes a nurturing atmosphere and gives plenty of room for discussions and support. Norwich conveniently offers four starts per year (March, June, September, and December). Where the Norwich Online MSN Program really shines, though, is through its dedicated faculty and support staff. From start to finish, Norwich is fully committed to the task of helping students: first, with the application process; later in advising throughout the program; and finally in celebrating students’ accomplishments at graduation. That kind of support makes for a top investment.

The College of Nursing at Florida State University offers an MSN Nurse Leader program. The program is designed to prepare nurses for leadership roles in different healthcare settings. FSU offering such a program completely online provides a flexibility and convenience for those already working toward a higher-level position in their current workplace without the hassle of re-location to Tallahassee. The second year of the program will require 90 clinical hours in a health care setting with a preceptor. FSU is found within the Top 100 Online Nursing Programs by the most current U.S. News & World Report and offers an excellent state tuition for Florida residents, making this a wise choice for RNs interesting in specifically advancing their careers to leadership positions.