Top 50 Best Value Online MSN Programs 2020

Top 50 Best Value Online MSN Programs 2020Working nurses know that the key to better pay and higher positions in nursing is further education, but the inconvenience of relocating or commuting for a master’s degree keeps many associate’s and bachelor’s-holding RNs from making the leap. 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. 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.

Recommended Online MSN Degree Programs

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 prospective nurse leaders toward the most reputable colleges with the best return on investment. Some of these are values because their tuition is low; some are values because their name and reputation open doors to high pay and high returns. All of them find their own distinct balance between quality, cost, and return.

All nursing schools ranked by Value Colleges 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 alumni salary (Dept. of Education – College Scorecard)
  • 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.


University of Colorado Denver-Anschutz Medical Campus

The University of Colorado Denver was founded in 1912 as an extension campus of the University of Colorado, but its roots go back even farther. Denver (having a larger population for practice) was the first home to CU’s medical school, beginning in 1883, until a legal claim by the University of Denver forced the school back to Boulder. However, with the establishment of the extension campus, and the return of the CU School of Medicine, CU Denver was well on its way to becoming Colorado’s biggest and most influential research university. The University of Colorado Health Sciences Center – named the Anschutz Medical Campus in honor of donors Philip and Nancy Anschutz – is also the home of the CU College of Nursing, a world-class program ranked among the best in the nation.

As one of the first nursing schools in the west, CU’s College of Nursing has a long history of excellence in nursing education, and the University of Colorado online MSN degree program is continuing that tradition for the 21st century. Like 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 as one of the ten best in the nation. 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.


University of Texas Medical Branch

Part of the University of Texas system, the UT Medical Branch is an academic medical center that includes hospitals, clinics, research centers, and the oldest medical school in Texas. Located in Galveston, TX (winning out over Houston in a popular vote), the UTMB began in 1891 as the University of Texas Medical School, while the main UT campus was located in Austin. With very little formal medical care in Texas, the medical school was key to establishing a modern healthcare system for the young state, and UTMB was a pioneer, establishing the state’s first pediatric hospital and education program, among other key innovations. The School of Nursing is one of the oldest in the state, dating back to a hospital nurses’ training school established in 1890.

The UT Medical Branch online MSN degree programs have been acclaimed and ranked among the best in the nation by numerous publications. At UTMB, nurses are prepared for leadership positions, research careers, and social advocacy, with a curriculum designed to motivate nurses to make substantial improvements to patient care. With seven concentrations – including Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, and Executive Nurse Leader – working professionals can choose a specialization that builds on their current career, or make a shift in a more rewarding direction. With national recognition, and the reasonable tuition rate that only a public university can offer, the UT Medical Branch is one of the best possible values for an MSN.


Clarkson College

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. Like many nursing schools, Clarkson began as a 2-year nursing program at a hospital, Bishop Clarkson Memorial Hospital, but as educational demands for nurses grew, so did Clarkson, from an associate’s degree to doctorates in Nursing Practice and Health Care Education & Leadership. With a mission to produce the best-prepared nurses in the nation, Clarkson has become one of the most trusted names in the Midwest.

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 $556 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 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.


OSF St. Francis Medical Center

Part of the University of Illinois College of Medicine, the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center is a teaching hospital with a long, proud history. The original hospital was founded in 1876 by the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Peoria, IL, a group of German nuns sent to Illinois from a settlement in Iowa, while the UI College of Medicine dates back to an independent medical school opened in 1882 in Chicago. The college was given to the University of Illinois in 1913, and in 1970 it expanded to the Peoria campus of the Saint Francis Medical Center, where it all comes together. The Center has been named one of the most technologically advanced medical schools in the nation, and one of the best for nursing, winning a Lantern Award from the Emergency Nurses Association.

The online MSN degree program from the Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing has a number of possible pathways for the prospective student, including an accelerated RN to MSN program, and a half-dozen concentrations including Nurse Educator, Nursing Management Leadership, and Family Nurse Practitioner. Online students work collaboratively and asynchronously using a variety of electronic methods, and each student has an academic advisor to help them through the process. The SFMC online program emphasizes collaborative leadership, the integration of theory and practice, and cultural diversity to make nursing professionals the best caregivers and leaders they can be.


University of Massachusetts Amherst

The University of Massachusetts is the most prestigious public research university in New England, a tough field of competition, but prospective students may not realize that UMass is also a leading online educator. UMass has been working since 2001 to build the most comprehensive, well-developed online education system 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, including U.S. News & World Report ranking as one of the 30 best public universities in the nation.

The UMass Amherst online MSN degree program is a shining example of UMass’s online excellence. Students earning an online MSN degree benefit in multiple ways from UMass’s global reputation for quality, namely in high ROI and great marketability in job searches. The online MS program offers three concentrations: Clinical Nurse Leader, Nursing Education, and Nursing Science. These specializations provide prospective nursing managers, teachers, and researchers with the grounding they need to take on critical roles in health care facilities; the Nursing Science in particular prepares students for the DNP or PhD in nursing. With UMass’s reputation, graduates can be sure they’re getting a prime college value.


Saint Xavier University

Founded in 1846 by the Sisters of Mercy, a religious order dedicated to the protection and education of women and children, Saint Xavier University began as a women’s college in the young city of Chicago. As the oldest college in Chicago (and the first Sisters of Mercy college in the world), Saint Xavier University played a part in bringing learning and civilization to the burgeoning city, and remains an innovative and visionary institution. Saint Xavier is not only one of the most diverse colleges in the US, and a designated Hispanic-serving institution; it is also one of U.S. News & World Report’s top 50 regional colleges for the Midwest, and the online graduate nursing program is ranked best in the nation.

The Saint Xavier University online MSN degree program more than earns that U.S. News distinction, with an online MSN that combines affordability, reputation, and real academic quality. The CCNE-accredited School of Nursing has been recognized by the National League for Nursing as a Center of Excellence, and the online MSN draws on all of Saint Xavier’s strengths for the students’ benefit. Three tracks allow nursing students to specialize and hone in on their best options – Clinical Leadership, Executive Leadership, or Nurse Educator. For working nursing professionals who intend to take on managerial or academic roles, the Saint Xavier online MSN a pioneering program in Chicago, and one of the best values in the world.


Benedictine University

Benedictine University was founded in 1887 by the Benedictine monks of St. Procopius Abbey, a monastic community in Chicago, though the college moved to suburban Lisle, IL in 1901. Throughout its century of existence, Benedictine has made the most of its location, developing a strong relationship with the business community and government of Chicago and providing students with top-notch access to the life-changing internships and dynamic job market of the Windy City. For its academic excellence and unparalleled opportunity, Benedictine has been named one of Forbes best colleges, and the online graduate nursing programs are ranked among the best nationwide by U.S. News & World Report.

The highly-ranked Benedictine University online MSN degree program is accredited by the CCNE and designed according to AACN standards. While it is no longer governed by the monks, Benedictine takes its Catholic and monastic heritage very seriously, putting ethics and community outreach at the center of its nursing curriculum. Two concentrations – Nurse Educator and Nurse Executive Leader – give students the knowledge they need to obtain top-level managerial positions in the modern healthcare system, while a dual MSN/MBA option is available for especially ambitious nurses. For students in Chicago, Illinois, and beyond, Benedictine is a trusted name and a prime entry point into a rewarding career.


McKendree University

The oldest college in Illinois, McKendree University was originally founded in 1828 as a Methodist seminary, intended to prepare clergy to serve the large numbers of Methodist settlers coming into the frontier. Bishop William McKendree, the first American bishop for the church, gave the school a farm to build its campus, and in turn was honored with the naming of the university. Still affiliated with the United Methodist Church, McKendree has made its name in the 21st century with a well-organized, highly motivated campaign to raise its profile, grow its student body, and increase its diversity, and the hard work has paid off with U.S. News & World Report top-tier regional ranking for the Midwest.

McKendree University’s online MSN degree program is a perfect example of McKendree’s dedication to innovation and development. McKendree’s CCNE-accredited Division of Nursing has built a top-notch online answer to the problem of a growing gap in qualified nursing leadership, with a focus on nursing education, nursing management, and palliative care, as well as a dual MSN/MBA degree program. Required practicum experience depends on the specialization, and students can complete the program in two years of full-time courses, or on a less demanding part-time schedule. With tuition rates that fall in line with most public universities, McKendree’s online MSN is a strong contender for one of the best values in the US.


Lamar University

Founded in 1923 as a public junior college, Lamar University is named for Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, a former president of the Republic of Texas. While Lamar was once the flagship of its own system (the Lamar University System), in 1995 it became part of the Texas State University system. From the beginning Lamar’s focus was on practical technical and career learning, eventually growing into an important regional institution for professional studies. Lamar is one of only a few US colleges ranked at the top for quality of core curriculum standards by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, and many of Lamar’s individual programs are ranked in the top tier by U.S. News & World Report, including a top 75 online graduate nursing program.

Lamar University’s online MSN degree 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 ACEN-accredited 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 healthcare field.


The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University has emerged in the 21st century as one of the most influential public research universities in the US, having revolutionized public higher education with a philosophy of acceptance, experiment, and innovation. OSU has particularly become a leader in professional studies, including nursing. 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.

The Ohio State online MSN degree program allows students to choose concentrations in Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal NP, or Psychiatric Mental Health NP. Two tracks allow students with a nursing bachelor’s degree (the Traditional MS) or with a non-nursing bachelor’s (the Graduate Entry option) to start their nursing leadership career. 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. With reasonable costs and a great quality education, the Ohio State University offers a solid investment for online MSN students.


Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University is one of the first names in American medicine. Founded in 1876 out of the largest philanthropic gift ever made at the time – $7 million, nearly $150 million in today’s dollars – Johns Hopkins is elite, competitive, and challenging, having been at the center of some of the most important medical discoveries, inventions, and research in American history. Johns Hopkins, however, is not generally thought of as an online educator, or as a value, but in recent years the university has made online education a new priority, bringing its world-changing nursing programs in particular to a wider student body.

The Johns Hopkins online MSN degree program is offered with a Health Systems Management concentration, focusing on the technical aspects of healthcare delivery, decision-making, and leadership. 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. Students may also pursue a dual degree program in both the MSN and the Master of Public Health. While few may be selected, those who make the grade can expect Johns Hopkins to prove itself an educational investment like no other.


Old Dominion University

Founded in 1930, Old Dominion began as an extension campus for the College of William & Mary (one of the Colonial Colleges, the oldest colleges in the US pre-dating the American Revolution), but in the 21st century ODU has more than established its own name. Not only is Old Dominion Virginia’s largest public university, it is also one of the most reputable and recognizable names in online education, having jumped into the field early and enthusiastically. Since 1994, ODU’s distance education has grown into a third of its student body, 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.

The ODU online MSN degree program includes nine concentrations, including Nurse Anesthesia, Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal NP, or Nurse Administrator/Educator. The ODU faculty, a highly qualified body of scholars and practitioners who bring in millions of dollars in research grants to fund their innovative work, also 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 $516 per credit for out-of-state residents – a great rate compared to out-of-state rates for most other public universities. Old Dominion’s exceptional combination of educational excellence and affordability put it solidly in the top 10 of smart MSN investments.


University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington dates its founding back to 1895, to a private school established to close the education gap created by the region’s underfunded schools. The Arlington College quickly grew from a primary and secondary school into a public college, then into a military academy, and eventually was taken in by the Texas A&M system. Today, though, UT Arlington is part of the University of Texas system, and over the years the university has quietly grown into a respected regional institution, ranked by the Princeton Review as a best western college and named a Next Generation University by the New America Foundation. In particular, UT Arlington has built up an online nursing program that is the envy of many more prominent schools.

UT Arlington’s online MSN degree programs represent some of Texas’ best. 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 several concentrations, including Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult Gerontology, and Pediatric specialization, 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, giving UT Arlington a place of distinction in the best value ranking.


Sacred Heart University

Founded in 1965, Sacred Heart University is a young Catholic institution, one built on the revolutionary ideas of the Second Vatican Council, in which the church took on important reforms in openness and accessibility. In that spirit, Sacred Heart was the first Catholic college founded to be governed by lay people, and though it is a hundred years younger, Sacred Heart 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 as one of the best regional institutions in the North – a highly competitive field – Sacred Heart University is making the 21st century its own, particularly in professional and online education.

Sacred Heart’s online MSN degree program is perfectly designed for the working nurse and career-changing professional alike. For students looking for a CCNE-accredited 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.


Nova Southeastern University

In just 50 years from its founding in 1964, Nova Southeastern University has become one of Florida’s fastest-growing and most admiring institutions. Nova began as a school for advanced technology focused on the social sciences and sciences, building its campus on a formal naval base designated for education. Nova reached its current status after merging with Southeastern University of the Health Sciences, adding the “Southeastern” to its name and the crucial addition of nursing and healthcare to its curriculum. With both osteopathic and allopathic medical schools, and one of the most respected nursing schools in the state, Nova Southeastern is Florida’s healthcare leader.

Nova Southeastern’s online MSN degree programs offer several options for prospective nursing leaders, with both non-clinical (Nursing Education, Health System Leadership, or Nursing Informatics) and clinical concentrations (Family Nurse Practitioner or 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 U.S. News & World Report; Nova Southeastern has been noted for awarding more professional doctorates to minority students than any other American university. A wide variety of options, and a level of accessibility that has made it nationally recognized, make Nova Southeastern a clear best value and one of the strongest options for Florida’s prospective nursing leaders.


University of St. Francis

Illinois has a multitude of world-class Catholic colleges, and like Saint Xavier University (#6) and Benedictine University (#7), the University of St. Francis is a highly regarded private Catholic college in the Chicago metropolitan area. Founded by the Congregation of the Third Order of Saint Francis to educate new members of the convent, the University of Saint Francis slowly grew, first admitting women from outside the convent, then becoming coeducational, and finally growing to university status. USF began offering distance education in 1972, and a partnership with the Saint Joseph College of Nursing in 1997 set the stage for the university’s excellent online nursing programs.

The University of St. Francis online MSN degree program, offered by the Leach College of Nursing, is dedicating to meeting the healthcare needs of diverse populations, from health promotion and education to health restoration from the individual to the public level. Students can choose from four concentrations – Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric/Mental Health NP, Nursing Education, or Nursing Administration, and a special RN-BSN-MSN program for nurses without a nursing bachelor’s degree includes all of the concentrations as well. A highly interdisciplinary, ethically-focused program, the USF online MSN prepares nurses for collaborative leadership, public service, and the complexities of modern healthcare.


University of West Georgia

A comprehensive public institution, the University of West Georgia is part of the University System of Georgia and a major educator for Georgia’s western border region. Originally an agriculture and mechanics school founded in 1906 to educate young farmers of high school and college age, the school grew from a junior college to a full, doctoral university over the course of the 20th century. In the 21st century, UWG is one of the key components in professional and technical education for western Georgia, with recognition from the Princeton Review as one of the top regional institutions in the South. As a regional institution, UWG has a mission to provide opportunity to as many students as it can, and in recent years UWG’s online programs have emerged as important component in that mission.

The UWG online MSN degree program is offered by the Tanner Health System School of Nursing, which has been consistently ranked one of the top 30 graduate nursing schools in the nation. The School of Nursing, fully accredited by the CCNE, emphasizes innovation, professional development, and the application of theory to real-world needs; two concentrations, in Nursing Education and Health Systems Leadership, are available online, as are two post-graduate certificates in the same specializations. The University of West Georgia is doing its part to meet Georgia’s healthcare needs, and providing prospective leaders in the field with a top value as well.


Jacksonville University

Founded in 1934 as a private junior college, Jacksonville University (then named for its founder, William J. Porter University) took over a decade to find its footing, moving numerous times before the end of WWII and the GI Bill gave the college the student body and funding to set down permanent roots. When the junior college merged with the Jacksonville College of Music, Jacksonville University was born, and over the years adapted into a respected, small liberal arts college, with an 11:1 student:faculty ratio and a reputation for service and engagement within the Jacksonville community.

The Jacksonville University online MSN degree program comes from the CCNE-accredited Keigwin School of Nursing, and is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top online graduate nursing schools in the nation. Three specializations speak to the needs of the healthcare system today: Clinical Nurse Educator, Leadership in Healthcare Systems, and Informatics. All of these specializations meet critical needs not only in Florida’s healthcare field, but in the US as a whole, especially the need for technical mastery and for qualified instructors to educate the next generation of nurses. With the flexibility of six 8-week terms throughout the year, and locally-administered practicum experience, Jacksonville University’s online MSN is a solid choice for nursing’s next leaders.


University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh dates back to 1787, just after the American Revolution, when Pittsburgh was still considered the American frontier (which in those days meant west of the Allegheny Mountains). Originally an academy for settlers, the school became a university in 1819, reflecting the growth of not only the school, but Pittsburgh itself, which had become a significant city. Today, the University of Pittsburgh is one of the largest and most productive research universities in the nation, and retains an unusual mix of public and private (like Rutgers University and a handful of other institutions) that allows it the freedom of a private university and the resources of a public. The University of Pittsburgh is particularly known for its community outreach, as the largest non-government employer in the city and a key element of Pittsburgh’s healthcare system.

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 the University of Pittsburgh’s online MSN degree program is a great investment. Online students can earn an MSN with concentrations in Clinical Nurse Leader, Nursing Administration, and Nursing Informatics. In addition, Pitt’s online tuition is now the same for both in-state and out-of-state students, making the online MSN a value wherever student may be. Pitt’s stellar reputation means your degree is sure to get nursing graduates’ resume to the top of the stack on the job market, with the higher salary, responsibility, and status an MSN brings.


Ball State University

Ball State University was founded in 1918 on a gift from the Ball Brothers (of Ball jar fame), who bought the campus of a closed normal school (a 19th century teacher’s school) and donated it to the state of Indiana to establish a new public normal school. Over the course of the 20th century, Ball State grew into a comprehensive public research university, offering degree programs from the bachelor’s to the doctoral level. Ball State has been named an up-and-coming university by U.S. News & World Report, and is ranked in the top tier of national universities, with many individual programs noted as high as the top ten for their field.

The Ball State online MSN degree program comes from Ball State’s School of Nursing, which 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 for prospective nursing leaders to invest in their career from one of the best in the midwest.


University of Arkansas

The flagship of the University of Arkansas system, and a top-tier land and sea-grant public research institution, the University of Arkansas was founded in 1872 as an agriculture and mechanics school, like other land-grant universities. However, over the 20th century U of A grew to dominate research, learning, and culture in Arkansas, standing as a beacon in the Deep South. U of A is particularly well-regarded in areas of professional studies, technology, and especially business, as the beneficiary of the largest donation in higher education history from the Walton family, the founders and owner of Wal-Mart. The University of Arkansas is ranked in the top tier of U.S. News & World Report’s national universities, and is considered one of the finest public research institutions in the South.

The University of Arkansas online MSN degree program is accredited by the CCNE and is noted for both quality and value. Students can choose between two concentrations, Nurse Educator and Nurse Executive Leader, learning the critical, problem-solving, and motivational skills necessary to take on managerial and teaching positions in the nursing field. Students must have a nursing bachelor’s degree from an accredited nursing school as well as a current RN license, and the curriculum is designed for convenience and flexibility; fully online courses, local practicum, and both full-time and part-time options allow students to complete their degree without leaving their current jobs. With U of A’s reputation throughout the South, students can count on their online MSN to provide entry into the most rewarding levels of the nursing profession.


University of Cincinnati

Founded in 1819, the University of Cincinnati is one of the oldest colleges in the Midwest and the second-largest in Ohio. Like many colleges during the 19th century, what was then Cincinnati College went through several iterations as financial pressures forced the first college to close down, mergers brought in different programs (such as a law school), and social changes brought growth. The university reached its most stable form when a local businessman willed his estate to the city, which established the University of Cincinnati as a comprehensive liberal arts and professional institution. UC has been named an up-and-coming university by U.S. News & World Report, and in recent years has moved into the top tier of national universities.

The University of Cincinnati’s online MSN degree program comes from the College of Nursing, 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.


University of Nebraska Medical Center

Part of the University of Nebraska system, the University of Nebraska Medical Center began as a private medical school in 1880, before being taken into the UN system in 1902. Over time, the Medical Center opened a teaching hospital, and in 1968 the University of Nebraska gathered all of its health science programs into the UNMC campus in Omaha to help faculty and students improve communication, collaboration, and service. Today, the UNMC is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s best medical education systems, with several programs ranked in the top 10 nationally.

The UNMC online MSN degree program offers 6 concentrations in some of the most in-demand areas, including Nurse Leader/Executive and Women’s Health NP; in a rare option, all of the UNMC concentrations can also be combined with the Nurse Educator Training to prepare nurses for teaching roles as well. With student:faculty ratios as low as 6:1, UNMC provides students with a world-class level of support, and the Medical Center’s student-centered curriculum is focused on making the most capable nurses in the nation. A highly diverse student body is part of UNMC’s commitment to excellent healthcare for all, an a curricular emphasis on adaptability, lifelong learning, and holistic health ensures the the UNMC online MSN will remain a value throughout the graduate’s career.


West Texas A&M University

West Texas A&M University began its life in 1910 as one of Texas’ seven normal schools, the precursor to the teacher’s college in which prospective teachers learned their craft in a real classroom. As the school expanded into a teacher’s college, then a regional state college, its degree offerings expanded as well, incorporating numerous academic and professional programs beyond its original emphasis on teacher education. In 1990 West Texas State came under the Texas A&M University system, and the 21st century brought a new emphasis on revitalization and fundraising that has made WTAMU one of Texas’ most promising, up-and-coming institutions.

The West Texas A&M online MSN degree program builds on a long tradition of excellence in graduate nursing education. WTAMU has been offering the MSN degree since 1978, meeting the needs of Texas’ healthcare system with an CCNE-accredited, highly advanced curriculum. The online program, named the Comprehensive MSN, is a broad, adaptable program designed to let students fit their education to their current or preferred positions, from Nursing Administration to Nursing Informatics. While the program is oriented toward the leadership side of nursing, clinical practice is not left behind, as students complete practicum experiences in their home area. With a high median income for graduates, and a trusted name throughout the Southwest, the West Texas A&M online MSN is a solid value for Texas’ great nurses.


University of Arizona

The first college in the Arizona Territory, the University of Arizona was founded in 1885 as a land-grant institution, but because of the state of education in the area at the time, the university began as a kind of catch-all, even requiring a college prep program due to the lack of high schools in Arizona. Today, the University of Arizona is a comprehensive university at the center of much of Arizona’s research and intellectual life, particularly in healthcare. UA has two medical schools, in Tucson and Phoenix, and the only academic medical center in the state; the UA College of Nursing has been the state’s primary source for well-prepared nurses since 1957, with degree programs from the bachelor’s to doctoral level, including some of the nation’s best online nursing programs.

The University of Arizona’s online MSN degree program offers two distinct paths to reach the Master of Science in Nursing. 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 enrollment is available at three starting times per year: January, May, and September. Ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s top 40 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.


University of Colorado Colorado Springs

The University of Colorado Colorado Springs dates its official founding to 1964, but the need for a college in the growing city had been evident since after WWII, when the GI Bill sent thousands of veterans to colleges around the nation. The University of Colorado began offering extension classes in 1945, and by 1964 the program had grown into its own location, the site of a former sanatorium. The school began with a focus on engineering and business, due to Hewlett-Packard’s influence in the city, but quickly expanded into a wide variety of professional and career programs to meet the changing needs of the times. Today, UCCS is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top regional universities in the West, and has held the top 10 for over a decade.

The UCCS online MSN degree program has been acclaimed by U.S. News as one of the best online graduate programs in America, and the Beth-El College of Nursing is one of the most trusted nursing schools in the west. There are three MSN specialization options: Adult/Gero NP, Family NP, and Psychiatric/Mental Health NP. These programs are designed for advanced clinical practice, rather than administrative or managerial careers, though the UCCS nursing curriculum emphasizes research, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills that can be adapted to leadership positions as well. Offered in 19 states, the UCCS online MSN is a strong preparation for a 21st century nursing career.


Kennesaw State University

A regional institution in the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State University began in 1964 as a public junior college intended to meet the career and technical education needs of northern Georgia (now part of the sprawling Atlanta metropolitan area). In the following decades, KSU grew by leaps and bounds, adding bachelor’s and graduate programs, and becoming the third-largest university in Georgia with over 35,000 students. Kennesaw State has been named an up-and-coming university by U.S. News & World Report, and after many years ranked as one of the best regional institutions in the South, KSU was elevated to a doctoral research university in 2016.

The Kennesaw State online MSN degree program is known as the Advanced Care Management & Leadership Program; the online track is Nursing Administration & Health Policy, focusing on the administrative and managerial side of the nursing profession. The curriculum, designed to prepare students for leadership, is based on the requirements for certification with the American Nurses Credentialing Center, so graduates can be assured that they have the knowledge and skills necessary for nursing management certification. From health policy to ethical leadership, the KSU online MSN prepares future nursing leaders for their careers in just 15 months, a short investment with lifelong professional benefits.


Lewis University

Founded in 1932, Lewis University was different from the beginning. A private Catholic college in Romeoville (an exurb of Chicago), Lewis is named for its earliest benefactor, Frank J. Lewis, and distinguished itself early on with a focus on aviation, a rarity in Catholic education. That exceptional program became a benefit in WWII, when Lewis was used to train Navy pilots, and following the war, the GI Bill helped Lewis grow into a full liberal arts university. Lewis University has regularly been named one of the best regional institutions in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review, and is especially regarded for professional and adult education programs.

The Lewis University online MSN degree program has two concentrations available online: Nursing Education and Healthcare Systems Leadership. These fully online programs give students the grounding in theory, methodology, and critical decision-making to take on careers in education or management in the nursing field. The Lewis MSN is designed to put the focus on the patient, and prepares graduates to meet the complex demands of the modern healthcare system. With a highly rigorous curriculum based in real-world expertise, and a sterling reputation throughout the Chicago metro area and the Midwest in general, graduates can trust the Lewis University online MSN to take them to great heights in their career.


Cleveland State University

The roots of Cleveland State University reach back to 1923, to Fenn College, a private institution which was bought out by the state in 1964, but even before Fenn, it was the YMCA evening studies program, which started way back in 1870. So in some form or another, Cleveland State has been part of the professional and academic life of Cleveland for nearly 150 years. 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. And CSU’s ambition has had results, as its status as an urban research university has grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade.

The Cleveland State online MSN program is especially attracting attention, having made national rankings since it was started. CSU offers four CCNE-accredited online MSN tracks: Specialized Population, Clinical Nurse Leader, Nursing Education, and Forensic Nursing. The CSU online MSN focuses on leadership, problem-solving, critical thinking, and analysis, providing an adaptable, effective way for RNs with a bachelor’s in nursing to complete their degree in only two years. 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.


Regis University

Named for Saint John Francis Regis, a Jesuit saint who ministered to the outcasts of 17th century France, Regis University is a small, private Jesuit university with a top-tier status and an international reputation. Regis actually began in Las Vegas, NE, in 1877, before merging with another Jesuit college in Colorado to form Regis University. In the 21st century, Regis has become known for professional studies, adult education, and online distance education, using technology to reach out to as many student as possible. 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.

The Regis University online MSN degree program pulls together Regis’ greatest strengths and delivers them in a thoroughly up to date and technologically sophisticated package. 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.


Florida State University

Named one of Florida’s two preeminent universities – an equivalent to “flagship” in other states – Florida State University is a major public research university with foundations going back to 1851, to the West Florida Seminary, and is thus the oldest of Florida’s colleges. Despite many changes over the generations, from absorbing a women’s college, reopening as a military college in the Civil War, and becoming an agricultural college, FSU has remained invested in whatever the people of Florida needed in education. That is definitely true today, when FSU has emerged as a major online educator, reaching Florida’s working adults and professionals where they are, and FSU is regularly ranked in the top tier of national universities by U.S. News & World Report – currently in the top 40.

Florida State’s online MSN degree program, offered by the College of Nursing, has a Nurse Leader emphasis. 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 healthcare 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.


Bradley University

Bradley University began as Bradley Polytechnic Institute in 1897, a private, independent institution dedicated to practical technological and professional education. The founder, philanthropist Lydia Moss Bradley, originally intended to start an orphanage in memory of her late children, but instead purchased a watchmaking school that would be expanded to include liberal arts and what was then called “industrial arts” – the roots of engineering and technical education. Today Bradley is a crucial player in life in Peoria, IL, and has been ranked among the top 10 regional universities in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report; in recent years, Bradley has made critical investments in online education that are paying off.

The Bradley University online MSN degree program offers several options depending on the student’s experience and level of education: students with an ADN or BSN are eligible for the Nursing Administration track, while only BSN holders can apply for the Family Nurse Practitioner; students who already have an MSN may also earn a Family NP certificate for further specialization. These programs are all designed around the most current theory and best practices, taught by an accomplished faculty of experienced practitioners, and intended to prepare students for the ANCC exam. Bradley University’s online MSN program is an investment sure to create returns, making Bradley a model value college.


Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University sets on a campus dating back to 1874, to an institution called Central University. When that school was financially threatened in 1901, it merged with another college and left a campus that was bought by the state to form a normal school in 1906. Over time, EKU grew into a teacher’s college, then a full state university, becoming known and trusted throughout the region as a source of adult education, professional studies, and useful, practical learning. In the last decade EKU has entered a period of massive revitalization, earning recognition from U.S. News & World Report as one of the best regional institutions in the South, particularly for online education.

Eastern Kentucky University’s online MSN degree programs have been ranked by U.S. News in the top 20 nationally among online graduate nursing programs. The EKU 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.


Xavier University

The first Catholic college in the Northwest Territory (the original American frontier), Xavier University was founded in 1831 as a small men’s school, before being handed over to the Society of Jesus in 1840. As such, it is one of the oldest and most prestigious Jesuit universities in the US, built on the Jesuit values of academic rigor, intellectual exploration, and spiritual growth. With one of the highest graduation rates in the region, and named an up-and-coming school by U.S. News & World Report, Xavier has regularly been ranked among the top regional colleges in the Midwest by publications such as U.S. News and Forbes; Kiplinger’s has also named Xavier a best value.

Xavier University offers an online RN to MSN degree program intended for experienced, working registered nurses who do not have a bachelor’s degree. A bridge program takes care of the nursing bachelor’s courses, and then students enter the MSN program, with flexible, 8-week terms designed to help working professionals navigate both career and school. With endorsement from the American Holistic Nurses Certification Corporation, Xavier graduates are eligible for certification as holistic nurses, an approach to nursing that emphasizes the whole person – physical, mental, and spiritual. It’s an online MSN steeped in Jesuit values, but designed for the 21st century, and Xavier’s top-notch reputation gives graduates assurance on the job market.


Fitchburg State University

A public, urban university in the city of Fitchburg, MA, Fitchburg State University began in 1894 as a normal school for women training to be schoolteachers in Massachusetts public schools. By 1930 Fitchburg began offering bachelor’s degrees, growing into a teacher’s college, then a comprehensive state college, offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in primarily professional and technical fields like business, teaching, and nursing. Fitchburg State has been offering continuing education since 1915, and that century of outreach leads directly into today’s acclaimed online programs for working adults, which have gained the university national recognition.

Fitchburg State’s online MSN degree program offers a specialization Forensic Nursing, a rarity for online programs. This unusual program is designed for nurses who want to work with trauma victims, and sets nurses up for careers in areas like legal nurse consulting, risk management specialist, and sexual assault nurse examiner. Forensic nurses work closely with law enforcement, and a strong grounding in the legal system is essential. This fully online program requires a bachelor’s degree in nursing, current RN license, and at least one year of practical experience in the nursing field. Fitchburg State’s excellent regional reputation, and the opportunity to specialize in a rare and in-demand field, make the online MSN in Forensic Nursing an undisputed value.


Indiana State University

Founded in 1865 as a normal school, Indiana State University’s first mission was preparing teachers for Indiana’s primary and secondary schools, but as the normal school model began to fall out of favor, ISU expanded into a state college and university. With an urban campus in downtown Terre Haute, Indiana State’s academic programs center around professional and career field like business, nursing, technology, and (of course) teaching. The ACEN-accredited Graduate Nursing program dates back to 1986 and is widely considered one of the best programs of its kind in the region, while Indiana State is particularly recognized for its outreach and public service.

Indiana State University’s online MSN degree program offers two concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner, and Nursing Education. Both programs are fully online, with practicum experience located in the student’s home area, and are designed to be completed in 2-3 years with a full-time schedule. There is no residency required, and students need never visit campus; in fact, Indiana State makes no distinction between in-state and out-of-state students in online programs, meaning all students pay the same affordable tuition rate (including fees) regardless of their location. With a well-developed curriculum that prepares students for leadership in both clinical and educational settings, Indiana State earns its reputation as a best value nationwide.


Roberts Wesleyan College

Roberts Wesleyan College was the Free Methodist Church’s first college, named for its founder (and founder of the Free Methodist denomination) Benjamin T. Roberts. Split from the Methodist church in 1860, the Free Methodists were known for abolitionist and other progressive viewpoints, and Roberts Wesleyan was intended to be a seminary that would train young men and women in servant leadership for the church and society. As an evangelical, holiness institution, Roberts Wesleyan is known for its Christ-centered, service-oriented programs, emphasizing the responsibility of college graduates and professionals to do good in the world. RWU has been ranked a top regional college by the Princeton Review, and has earned accolades in recent years for its excellence in online education.

The Roberts Wesleyan College online MSN degree program has been ranked among the best online graduate degrees in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, and is designed for convenience, flexibility, and accessibility. Two concentrations – Nurse Leadership & Administration, and Nurse Education – are offered completely online in a cohort format that brings students through each course in the sequence as a group, helping online learners develop connections and collaborate. The online MSN is scheduled for completion in 20-29 months, and Roberts’ excellent nursing faculty – made up of experienced practitioners who are noted for their supportiveness and guidance. Roberts Wesleyan is a name gaining more and more attention, meaning the online MSN will surely return graduates’ investment.


Spring Hill College

Founded in 1830, Spring Hill College was the first Catholic institution of higher learning in the South, and stands as the third-oldest Jesuit college in the nation. The Catholic church’s influence in Alabama was French in origin, and the first faculty for the college were brought from France by the Bishop of Mobile. The Fathers of Mercy and the Society of Jesus and Mary both attempted to take on administrative duties early on, but the Jesuits were the most experienced in higher education, and Spring Hill has continued in the Jesuit tradition since 1847. Today, Spring Hill is a highly respected liberal arts college known for academic excellence and student support.

Spring Hill College’s online MSN degree program prepares students for a career as a Clinical Nurse Leader, taking on managerial and leadership duties in healthcare settings like clinics, hospitals, and other direct care facilities. Different curricular tracks are available for working RNs who have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, a bachelor’s degree in another field, or an associate’s degree or diploma; nurses who already have an MSN can also earn a post-master’s certificate for further specialization in leadership. Fully online courses and practicum experience in the students’ community makes the Spring Hill online MSN convenient for any Alabama nurse.


Gardner-Webb University

A mid-sized, private Baptist university in Boiling Springs, NC, Gardner-Webb University was founded in 1905. For the first two decades of its life, Gardner-Webb was a Baptist high school, before growth in the region made it possible to expand into a junior college, and eventually into a full university with graduate studies and a School of Divinity. Today, Gardner-Webb offers eight degrees in a score of majors and programs, from the humanities to the health sciences. Gardner-Webb has regularly been ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top regional institutions in the South, and has moreover been recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for its service with the Community Engagement Classification.

Gardner-Webb University’s online MSN degree program is intended for working nurses who want to take on more responsibility and higher positions in the field. The two concentrations available in a fully online format are Education and Administration, areas that are in great demand due to the need for qualified nursing teachers and leaders. Further, Gardner-Webb students can take the RN-MSN accelerated program, or the MSN/MBA dual degree, also in an online format. These highly rigorous, interdisciplinary programs prepare students to integrate theory and practice and make the best use of technology for the purpose of healing and caring for patients. Gardner-Webb’s reputation makes it a prime value for the Carolinas and beyond.


Ferris State University

Ferris State University was founded by Woodbridge Nathan Ferris, an educational reformer and public servant who started the Big Rapids Industrial School with a vision to provide practical career and technical education for the modern world of 1884. In 1950, the institute was bought by the state of Michigan, but a fire destroyed it in the same year; it was not until 1963 that the institution became Ferris State. Ferris State has long been known for its community outreach and distance education, operating satellite campuses and an extensive selection of online bachelor’s, graduate, and certificate programs. Ferris State’s online programs have been ranked among the best nationwide by U.S. News & World Report.

The Ferris State online MSN degree program is an ACEN-accredited program intended for BSN-holding, working nurses who want to move into a rewarding, in-demand upper-level career. For those nurses, Ferris State offers concentrations in Nursing Education, Nursing Administration, and Nursing Informatics, each built around the same foundation of theory, practice, and research. The program is highly competitive; only 20 students can be selected each semester. Ferris State is trusted throughout Michigan and the Midwest, and Ferris State’s esteemed graduates will find the job market much kinder.


Florida Atlantic University

When the population of south Florida was experiencing a boom in the mid-20th century, it became evident that a public university was necessary to meet the educational requirements of the area. Built on a former Army training base, Florida Atlantic University was strictly an upper-division and graduate institution, helping working adults and transfer students complete their bachelor’s degrees or further their education, but within 20 years demand was such that FAU was expanded to a comprehensive university. FAU has entered the 21st century at full pace, expanding and growing by leaps and bounds, including more than 30,000 students on five campuses.

The Florida Atlantic University online MSN degree program builds on FAU’s growing reputation as a major research university, and its wide connections to the Florida healthcare system, to give students a foolproof entry into higher levels of employment. The Lynn College of Nursing is highly diverse and recognized as one of Florida’s best, and students earn a thorough foundation in leadership and practice. Seven concentrations – including Advanced Holistic Nursing and Nurse Educator – give students options to fit their interests. Florida Atlantic is also ranked one of the best colleges in the nation for social mobility, giving students the means to raise their class and enter rewarding professional careers, and adding to FAU’s consistent status as a college value.


Maryville University of St. Louis

Maryville University of St. Louis is one of the oldest colleges in Missouri, founded in 1872 as an academy for girls and women by the Religious of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic order of teaching nuns. The school became a college 50 years later, shifting over time into a more traditional liberal arts college, and beginning in the 1980s, Maryville became well-known throughout the region as a top educator for working adults, opening the Weekend College in 1981. That outreach to nontraditional students stands behind Maryville’s growing reputation as an online educator, which has earned Maryville University national attention from a growing number of publications.

Maryville University’s online MSN degree programs build on a long-standing history of quality in adult and distance education, and the resources of the highly-ranked McAuley School of Nursing. This CCNE-accredited, fully online curriculum offers 5 Nurse Practitioner concentrations, including Family, Pediatric, and Adult Gerontology The Maryville online MSN is designed for flexibility and convenience, with strong, personalized student support and scheduling that allows students to complete their MSN in 28-32 months. Students work collaboratively in an online format that mimics the interaction of a real classroom, while the McAuley faculty is made up of experienced professional practitioners who know the real-world demands on nurses. It’s one of the Midwest’s best choices for future nurse practitioners.


Queens University of Charlotte

Dating back to 1857, Queens University of Charlotte began as a girl’s school and seminary, which merged with the younger Presbyterian Female College to become Queens College – a name that recognized Charlotte’s traditional nickname, the Queen City (named for Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg), and differentiated the college from other women’s schools. As its home city of Charlotte has grown into one of the largest banking and business cities in the nation, Queens has become known for its highly ranked business programs, its excellence in internships and career development, and its high proportion of study abroad. Queens has been coed since 1987, and became Queens University in 2002.

Accredited by the CCNE, Queens University’s online MSN degree program is a model of online education, providing working nursing professionals with the skills and knowledge they need for leadership in the contemporary healthcare field. Queens’ online MSN specializations speak to the most urgent needs in 21st century nursing: Clinical Nurse Leader, Nurse Administrator, and Nurse Educator. Management skills particular to healthcare, including ethics, risk analysis, and cooperation, are critical parts of the curriculum, and clinical practice can be done at the student’s home area. With no GRE requirements, reasonable tuition (on par with many public universities) and a reputation for student support and graduate success, Queens University is a solid investment.


University of Hawaii-Manoa

The flagship of the University of Hawaii system, the University of Hawaii-Manoa was founded as a land-grant agricultural and mechanical college in 1907, more than fifty years before Hawaii would be officially admitted as a state. UH is, in a word, central to academic, research, and professional education in the state, as the home of Hawaii’s only law and medical schools, the state’s only AACSB-accredited business school, and one of the only tropical agriculture schools in the US. As Hawaii is the only US state made up of a string of islands, UH has also become a model of distance education, using online programs in recent years to extend its reach across the state and across the Pacific.

The University of Hawaii online MS in Nursing degree program takes an unusual approach with its specialization in Advanced Population Health Nursing. The APHN program draws not only on conventional nursing theory and practice, but also on the most current public health research, preparing nurses for leadership roles in population health, including community assessment, health promotion, and disease prevention. UH’s online MSN is ideal for nurses practicing on whole populations, whether in Hawaii, the Pacific Rim, or the US. Three specially designed pathways allow registered nurses with a BSN, non-nurses with a bachelor’s degree, or associate’s-holding RNs to enter the program at their appropriate level. With a degree from one of U.S. News & World Report’s top American nursing schools, nurses can’t go wrong with the University of Hawaii.


Herzing University

Founded in 1965 as a for-profit computer training school, Herzing University took a winding path to becoming a private, non-profit university, regionally accredited and recognized for their outreach to working adults and online students. Herzing grew in pieces as it bought out other schools, making leaps from technical school to college to full university in just 50 years. Herzing’s degree programs are almost exclusively dedicated to professional studies, including technology, business, and healthcare, and its practice of acquiring other schools has left Herzing with 11 campuses in 8 states, as well as a robust online presence that has earned national recognition.

The Herzing University online MSN degree program comes from a known leader in distance education for working adults, and is designed with convenience, flexibility, and accessibility in mind. The MSN program is exclusively for RNs with a BSN degree, and for qualified students, the program can be completed in less than 2 years. Students can choose from two concentrations, Family NP or Nursing Education, and the CCNE-accredited program is taught by expert faculty who have extensive real-world experience in the field. For today’s nursing leaders, the Herzing University MSN may be a glimpse at the future of nursing education.


Lynchburg College

A small, private Christian institution, Lynchburg College was founded in 1903 as Virginia Christian College by the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church). The formation of Lynchburg College was an unusually grassroots process, as Lynchburg’s business and church leaders came together to start an institution of higher learning (first located in a former hotel), but their vision succeeded, and over a century later Lynchburg College is primed to reopen as Lynchburg University in 2020. While Lynchburg is still grounded in its history as a liberal arts college, the school has become known in the 21st century for its professional programs, especially in healthcare and medicine, including a new Doctor of Medical Science program for physician assistants.

The CCNE-accredited Lynchburg College online MSN degree program draws on years of expertise in both nursing and adult distance education, as is solidly grounded in evidence-based nursing theory and practice. The Lynchburg MSN includes only one concentration, Clinical Nurse Leader, steeping students in the most up-to-date nursing practice and in the managerial, motivational, and problem-solving skills needed for leadership positions in the modern healthcare system. The 37 credit cohort system helps students develop collaborative relationships with their fellow students, and the program can be completed in as little as 18 months, making Lynchburg College’s online MSN a low-risk investment with a high payoff.


University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Part of the University of North Carolina system – one of the oldest and most respected public higher education systems in the US – the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is a public research university located in North Carolina’s fastest-growing city. UNC Charlotte began as a regional campus of UNC in 1946, seeking to meet the educational demands of returning WWII veterans, though the city had already attempted to win the land-grant university (which became Raleigh’s NC State University) and medical school (which remained in Chapel Hill). The third try stuck, and today UNC Charlotte’s reputation is on the rise (along with the city itself), thanks to a concerted effort to meet North Carolina’s professional education needs, especially in its home Charlotte-metro region.

UNCC offers a fully-online MSN degree in their Systems Population Major which includes Community/Public Health Nursing, Nurse Educator, and Nurse Administrator. These particular concentrations focus on the administrative and research side of nursing, rather than direct practice, and students are steeped in real case studies, research analysis, critical thinking, decision-making, and leadership. Students who do not have a bachelor’s degree may also enter the online RN to MSN program, which provided an accelerated plan from the ASN to the master’s. With locally-arranged clinicals, students never need to visit campus, making UNCC an affordable, convenient way to invest in your future career.


University of Toledo

The first iteration of the University of Toledo was a short-lived private vocational school founded in 1872, but that institution was given to the city of Toledo in 1884 to form the Toledo Manual Training School. Through strategic partnerships with other area schools, including law, medical, and music schools, the University of Toledo secured a strong, deeply rooted place in the life of the city of Toledo, and steadily grew in influence and reputation throughout the 20th century. In the last decade, UT has emerged as a leader in healthcare education for Ohio through merger with the Medical University of Ohio and the establishment of the Health Science Campus; the University’s nursing, pharmacy, and other health science programs are regularly cited by U.S. News & World Report’s program rankings.

The University of Toledo online MSN degree program, with a Nurse Educator specialization, is intended to prepare working nurses for teaching roles in hospital nursing programs, colleges, and universities, as well as other educational settings. With qualified nursing educators in high demand and low supply, the University of Toledo gives Nurse Educator students a deep grounding not only in nursing practice and clinical research, but in the fundamentals of teaching and motivating students. As a public university, UT offers students affordable tuition, and as an online education leader, UT’s flexible, well-designed classes help students prepare for the demands of teaching in a fast-paced, ever-changing field.


Liberty University

A private Christian institution founded in 1971 by evangelist Jerry Falwell, Liberty University has had one of the most impressive periods of growth ever seen in Christian or non-Christian private universities. In just five decades, Liberty has grown from a small Baptist college into the largest Christian university in the US, and one of the most recognizable names in online education. How recognizable? With just over 20,000 traditional on-campus students, Liberty also claims more than 100,000 online students. Liberty is known for its religious and political conservatism, but students need not profess a Christian faith or reside in the state to obtain a valuable CCNE-approved Master of Nursing Education, or to benefit from a university ranked in the top 100 regional Southern colleges by U.S. News & World Report.

Liberty University’s online MSN degree program offers concentrations in Nurse Educator, Nursing Administration, and Nursing Informatics one of the fastest-growing healthcare professions. Liberty’s courses are scheduled in 8-week terms year-round, so students can tailor their education to their current schedules for ultimate flexibility. Practicums are required for all MSN students and can be set up in the student’s own home area; as a private school, Liberty offers their program nationwide, not only in Virginia. 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.


University of Central Missouri

Originally Missouri’s Normal School #2 – a functional, if not creative, name – the University of Central Missouri was founded in 1871 to help fill a shortage of professionally-trained schoolteachers in the state after the dark days of the Civil War. Like other normal schools, UCM followed a steady trajectory of growth and expansion, to a teacher’s college, state college, and eventually a comprehensive state university. Today, UCM is well-regarded as a large, top-quality regional institution, providing necessary professional and career education for Missouri’s leaders, especially in business, education, and health sciences.

The University of Central Missouri online MSN degree offers students two possible routes to a master’s in nursing. Due to UCM’s location and expertise, the online MSN is particularly designed to focus on rural family health. Students can choose a concentration in Family Nurse Practitioner or Nurse Educator; while all coursework is done entirely online, prospective students should be aware that Family NP students will be required to take clinicals in Missouri, while there are no residency requirements for the Nurse Educator option. Applicants must be current RNs with a nursing bachelor’s degree and at least one year of experience working in the field. The University of Central Missouri is a trusted name in the Midwest, and the online MSN is a convenient way to career progress.

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