10 Great Deals: MSN Degree Programs Online 2018

By Jennifer W. Eisenberg

So you have decided to get your online master of science in nursing (MSN) degree. Congratulations! Perhaps you have been in the field awhile, and you realize you wish to become more committed to nursing. Whether you want to be a Family Nurse Practitioner or a Nurse Administrator–and your career options are almost limitless–we have gathered up this list of 10 Great Deals: MSN Degrees Online to help you find the program that fits your specialization and your budget.

Yearly tuition figures quoted below are the out of state graduate tuition numbers that are reported to the National Center for Education Statistics, which is an information clearinghouse of the US government. Enrollment and student to faculty ratios also are taken from the NCES. A school’s website is the source for any per credit hour or per semester tuition rate information and may show a difference from the rate reported by the government. Many factors were considered as these ten best deals on online master of science in nursing were put together. Those factors are shown in detail below. If a tie in points occurs in school rankings, then the deciding factor will be tuition cost. A school’s student to faculty ratio is considered, in addition to bonus points given for tuition breaks to out of state online students.

Ranking Methodology

Tuition Points

  1. Under $30,000—1 point
  2. Under $27,000—2 points
  3. Under $24,000—3 points
  4. Under $21,000—4 points
  5. Under $18,000—5 points
  6. Under $15,000—6 points
  7. Under $12,000—7 points
  8. Under $9,000—8 points

Student to Faculty Ratio Points

  1. Above 35-1 point
  2. Above 30-2 point
  3. Above 25-3 points
  4. Above 20-4 points
  5. Above 15-5 points
  6. Above 10-6 points

National Recognition

  1. Top 40-1 point
  2. Top 30-2 points
  3. Top 20-3 points
  4. Top 10-4 points
  5. Top 5-5 points

Bonus for special tuition discount for online students

  1. Has special online discount for tuition-3 points
  2. Online students charged standard tuition-0 points

#10 – University of Central Florida

Orlando, Florida

The University of Central Florida is a leading provider of online MSN education.

Master of Science in Nursing Online

Website
Points: 4
Enrollment: 64,088
Tuition: $25,759
44% of graduates from the University of Central Florida matriculate without any student debt. With a student to faculty ratio of 30 to 1, the school offers an online master of science in nursing that is a 36 credit hour program including coursework in professional practice and public health nursing. The University of Central Florida charges an out of state graduate tuition rate of $694.82 per credit hour for this program. They are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

#9 – Florida State University

Tallahassee, Florida

Consider Florida State University’s MSN online.

Master of Science in Nursing Online

Website
Points: 6
Enrollment: 41,173
Tuition: $24,116
Florida State University recommends its online MSN to you on account of its faculty and support programs. With a student to faculty ratio of 24 to 1, the school offers an online master of science in nursing that is a 32 credit hour program, including coursework in methods in nursing research and health promotion. Florida State University charges an online out of state graduate tuition rate of $1,075.66 per credit hour. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

#8 – Excelsior College

Albany, New York

Excelsior College offers an online MSN with a great student to faculty ratio.

Master of Science in Nursing Online

Website
Points: 8
Enrollment: 41,658
Tuition: not reported
Excelsior College was founded by the New York State Board of Regents but now operates as an independent entity. With a student to faculty ratio of 16 to 1, the school offers an online master of science in nursing that is a 38 credit hour program, including coursework in population health and epidemiology. Excelsior College offers an online graduate tuition rate of $645 per credit hour, regardless of residency. They are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#7 – Michigan State University

East Lansing, Michigan

Michigan State University does not charge out of state tuition to online MSN students.

Master of Science in Nursing Online

Website
Points: 8
Enrollment: 50,340
Tuition: $32,940
Michigan State University’s mascot is the Spartan, and the school colors are green and white. With a student to faculty ratio of 17 to 1, the school offers an online master of science in nursing that is a 39 credit hour program including coursework in health assessment and clinical decision making. Michigan State University offers an online graduate tuition rate of $830 per credit hour, regardless of residency. They are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

#6 – Tennessee Tech University

Cookeville, Tennessee

Tennessee Tech University has multiple options for the online MSN degree.

Master of Science in Nursing Online

Website
Points: 8
Enrollment: 10,493
Tuition: $23,720
Tennessee Tech University is the Volunteer State’s only technological institute of higher learning. With a student to faculty ratio of 18 to 1, the school offers an online master of science in nursing that is a 36-46 credit hour program offering three concentrations: family nurse practitioner, nursing education, and nursing administration. Tennessee Tech University charges an out of state graduate online tuition rate of $879 per credit hour. They are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

#5 – University of Colorado at Denver

Denver, Colorado

The University of Colorado-Denver is home to the Anschutz Medical Center and the MSN online.

Master of Science in Nursing Online

Website
Points: 9
Enrollment: 23,960
Tuition: $22,374
The University of Colorado at Denver traces its history back to 1898. With a student to faculty ratio of 15 to 1, the school offers an online master of science in nursing as a 30 credit hour program, including coursework in decision support and relational communication. The University of Colorado at Denver charges an out of state graduate online tuition rate of $448 per credit hour. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

#4 – Western Governors University

Salt Lake City, Utah

Complete your MSN online at your own pace at Western Governors University.

Master of Science in Nursing Online

Website
Points: 12
Enrollment: 84,289
Tuition: $6,500
Western Governors University charges a flat rate of tuition and allows you to complete the coursework at your own pace. Each “competency unit” you complete is another credit closer to finishing your degree, and you can complete any number of units per term, allowing you to finish faster and saving you thousands. With a student to faculty ratio of 41 to 1, the school offers an online master of science in nursing as a 42 credit hour program, including coursework in nursing science and nursing leadership. Western Governors University offers a full time graduate rate of $3,750 per semester for this program, regardless of residency. The school is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

#3 – Thomas Edison State University

Trenton, New Jersey

Thomas Edison State College - Best Deals Online MBA

Thomas Edison State University offers a quality tuition rate for its online master of science in nursing.

Master of Science in Nursing Online

Website
Points: 15
Enrollment: 12,489
Tuition: $12,024
Thomas Edison State University is a public university that proudly serves busy adults. With a student to faculty ratio of 15 to 1, the school offers an online master of science in nursing in the form of a 36 credit hour program. Three specializations are available: nurse educator, nursing informatics, and nursing administration. Thomas Edison State University offers an online graduate tuition rate of $634.60 per credit hour, regardless of residency. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#2 – Fort Hays State University

Hays, Kansas

Fort Hays State University - online programming degree

Fort Hays State University has a very low per credit hour tuition rate, regardless of residency, for is online MSN and other programs.

Master of Science in Nursing Online

Website
Points: 15
Enrollment: 14,658
Tuition: $9,676
Fort Hays State University was established in 1902. With a student to faculty ratio of 16 to 1, the school offers an online master of science in nursing as a 36 credit hour program. Courses include advanced statistics and research in nursing. Fort Hays State University offers an online graduate tuition rate of $280.73 per credit hour, regardless of residency. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#1 – Frostburg State University

Frostburg, Maryland

Frostburg State University’s online MSN program took the top spot on this list because of its low tuition and excellent reputation.

Master of Science in Nursing Online

Website
Points: 16
Enrollment: 5,676
Tuition: $9,108
Frostburg State University is one of the 12 members of the University of Maryland system and was founded in 1898. With a student to faculty ratio of 15 to 1, the school offers an online master of science in nursing as a 37 credit hour program, including coursework in health finance and nursing informatics. Frostburg State University offers an out of state online graduate tuition rate of $547 per credit hour. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

A career in nursing can offer great satisfaction because of the knowledge that you are helping those who suffer. If you are a nurse who earned your bachelor’s degree some time ago, active employment in the health field may have affirmed that you are in the right career for your talents and interests, but you may still experience the nagging suspicion you could be happier in your work. A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) might be exactly what you’re looking for. With a master’s degree, your occupational options increase exponentially, more health fields are open to you, and the salaries become more attractive.

If you are already employed when you consider returning to school, as many students are, you will find that an online degree offers great flexibility. The geographical distance from where you live to the college or university of your choice will have no effect on your pursuit of an advanced degree. There’s no need to join the crowds in traffic or even to change into work clothes. You will study at your own pace, on your own schedule, in settings that you choose. Many schools offer financial incentives by waiving out of state fees.The professors teaching your classes are the same ones teaching at the brick-and-mortar college or university, and the student to faculty ratio is comparable. This list of the ten best deals in online Master of Science in Nursing degrees will help you to find and choose the right fit for your academic needs.

FAQs

Once I’ve obtained my bachelor’s degree (or even associate’s degree) as an RN, why is it necessary to return to school for an MSN?

Between now and 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected that the field of nursing will undergo growth of 19%. It is to an employer’s advantage to have a highly educated workforce; thus, more and more hospitals and clinics are moving in that direction. Those who hold a Master of Science in Nursing can shoulder more advanced responsibilities, to the point at which they may assume many duties and responsibilities of the physician. Already, in some states, those who hold an MSN are qualified to prescribe medication.

The advanced degree holder’s salary will mirror this heightening in trust and responsibility. For instance, the average salary of an RN with only a BS degree is between $42,343 and $81,768, but with an MSN degree, average earnings rise to between $62,281 and $195,743. Of course, variations will occur in salary, based on the location of the job, number of years of experience, and the nursing specialty.

Serious employees in the healthcare field understand that continuing education should be an essential part of their lives. Each person will need to choose the form and the time for such pursuits, and many factors impact the decision, such as money and time. Nevertheless, it is conventional wisdom that within ten years of receiving a BSN degree, one should begin work on an MSN. Forward is the best way to move.

What are some types of careers that a Master of Science in Nursing online prepares one for?

An MSN is the initial degree for nursing managers and those who teach and train nurses. Your degree will also help boost you up the ladder to becoming an expert in health policy, a nurse administrator, or a clinical nurse leader. Other options include nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, research nurse, nurse consultant, or nurse midwife.

What does someone with an online Master of Science in Nursing do on the job?

With an MSN, your daily tasks may involve supervising others, conducting research, or working closely with a physician to deliver optimum care to patients.

What are some specific job titles for holders of an MSN degree?

Six highly desirable jobs in the field are nurse educator, nursing consultant, research nurse, nurse administrator, advanced nurse practitioner, and clinical nurse specialist.

What specialties will the MSN online focus on?

Specialities in the program may include the following nursing fields: pediatric, psychiatric, acute or palliative care, obstetrics, neonatology, gynecological, gerontology, family, and adult.

What does the degree cover?

An online MSN degree covers the problems of current healthcare, including availability, economic considerations, and degree of excellence. Coursework also focuses on governmental and industry policy, innovative technologies, health informatics, application and assessment, and development of standards.

What is the job outlook for the profession?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that those in the workforce with a master’s degree in nursing will continue to be in high demand, with the need for healthcare managers predicted to grow by almost 25 percent by 2020 (better than the average for all other occupations).

Long-term rehabilitation and care facilities and home health care promise the highest growth. The complicated and difficult nature of these work areas will require a greater degree of skill and knowledge than is associated with a nurse holding only a bachelor’s degree. Because of the fragile nature of at-risk populations, leaders in health care emphasize the urgency to provide superior care that is also competitive in cost. In such a climate, the MSN degree programs that focus on the three specializations of administrative, clinical, and education assure even more relevance. To fill essential positions, the Department of Veterans Affairs has made it known that it plans to employ more nurses who are trained to be Clinical Nurse Leaders. At a time when many nursing jobs remain unfilled, both in healthcare facilities and in nursing schools, nurse educators can feel assured of employment.

What are some specific job descriptions for a holder of an MSN and what are annual salaries for those positions (on average)?

Nutrition Services Managers – $51,000
Nutrition services managers may work in a wide range of settings, from offices in community centers to clinics to hospitals. They oversee evaluations of the nutritional health of patients. Working with a doctor or a dietitian, they provide counseling and supervision regarding nutritional problems, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Health and Social Service Managers – $52,000
Health and social service managers supervise health-related programs. In addition to being advocates for social healthcare solutions, they are responsible for overseeing staff members, identifying the needs of a group, and creating needed services by gathering and analyzing information.

Mental Health Program Managers (also called Behavioral Health Program Directors)- $53,000
Mental health program managers are responsible for developing and supervising mental health programs in their organization, which may be public or private mental health agencies. They may be in charge of programs like youth and family or substance abuse, often folded within a larger organization.

Nurse Administrators – Between $60,000 and $200,000
Nurse administrators work in a supervisory capacity and are in charge of interviewing, hiring, and scheduling of nursing staffs.

Advanced Nurse Practitioners – Between $60,000 and $72,000
Advanced nurse practitioners are overseen by physicians and are often the chief medical personnel for their patients. Health fields they serve in may include obstetrics/gynecology, maternity, family care, pediatrics, and oncology.

Relief Charge Nurses – $64,500
Relief charge nurses oversee and work with patients alongside their nursing staff. As well as providing administrative support, they assign nurses and support staff to patients, ensure patient welfare, and assume responsibility for admissions and discharges.

Nursing Informatics Nurses – $67,000
Health informatics nurses analyze newly developed healthcare applications arising from internet technology, especially as those applications influence the ways that healthcare is received, the ways that goals and schedules are set, and overall supervision methodology.

Practice Administrator RNs – $70,000
Practice Administrator RNs are in charge of the day-to-day operations of a medical practice, whether solo or group. They may run clinics or departments of hospitals. Other job titles include health care administrators, medical practice administrators, healthcare executives, and medical managers.

Clinical Directors – $70,000
Clinical directors manage healthcare clinics. They are responsible for all aspects regarding personnel from hiring to performance rating to scheduling and supervision. Clinical directors create long-term plans for program success. They are in charge of patient care or administrative operations and programs, as well as preparation of budgets.

Nurse Managers – $76,000
As their job title would suggest, nurse managers spend more of their workday overseeing the daily activities of the unit than in hands-on nursing care. Because they are responsible for the day-to-day supervision of a nursing unit within a hospital, they have fewer dealings with patients than do their staff. Their emphasis is on improving overall patient care from an administrative perspective.

Program Managers – $76,000
Program Managers oversee every aspect of nursing programs, from agenda-setting to budgetary concerns to grant writing. They are also responsible for the day-to-day operation of the nursing facility.

Nurse Educators – $77,000
Nurse Educators may work in a range of academic settings, including medical centers, to instruct nursing students and recently graduated nurses.

Directors of Nursing (also known as Nursing Directors) – $82,000
Directors of Nursing are in charge of all factors relating to the nursing staff, including hiring, schedule-setting, training, performance-rating, rules of operation and their applicability, even, and perhaps especially, the nursing department’s budget. They ensure that the nurses and the hospital administrators are responsible for patient care. They are like cheerleaders for the nursing staff to see that all nurses continue to grow professionally and to excel at their jobs.

Directors of Patient Care Services – $91,000
Directors of patient health care services see to it that patients have the best of care and services, in a hospital or clinic environment that is conducive to rest and recovery. The directors’ work hours follow those of a typical business day, without a need for night or shift work, but they are on the go for the entire time. Because of the broad nature of their duties, they must coordinate with each department of the hospital to make sure all programs operate at maximum efficiency.

Research Nurses – $90,000
Research nurses are crucial for drug and medical progress. They are often part of a team of health workers, tasked with gathering and evaluating data in a variety of fields, such as analyzing new and old medications to make improvements and solve problems. They are in on the creation of new medical discoveries.

Clinical Nurse Specialists – Between $80,000 and $120,000
Clinical nurse specialists work in their chosen specialty. They offer individualized care, but their work differs from that of nurse practitioners because it takes place in settings other than a hospital or physician’s office.

Nursing consultants – $125,000
Nursing consultants may work with companies or clinics or neighborhoods. They are nurses as well as consultants, so they provide advice and counseling regarding crucial health factors like management of risk, controlling costs, and enhancing communication.

Clinical Nurse Leaders – Between $84,270 and $144,880
Clinical Nurse Leaders work within clinics and are not part of an administrative team. Their duties consist of planning, executing, and assessing the care of clients. They are in charge of overseeing all aspects of the healthcare team.

Actual salaries for any of the above positions are contingent on several factors, such as the employee’s specialization, the area of the country in which the job is located, and where the job falls within the healthcare industry. Some of the higher-paying job settings include emergency rooms, acute care units, cardiovascular disease units, and intensive care units. With an MSN degree, a managerial position will usually ensure yearly bonuses, and the annual salary will likely go up as well.

Why should I study online instead of in a traditional face-to-face college?

If you have already started your nursing career or you are dealing with personal obligations, obtaining an online degree gives you many obvious advantages. With an online education, you may move at your own schedule and still take care of your other responsibilities. Many colleges and universities will offer a lower, comparable tuition for online classes. In some instances, you may complete your degree more quickly (and save money) with accelerated courses of study.

No matter where you consider taking online courses, be sure to check that your state will honor any degree or certification from a particular school. Also, certain online master’s degree programs in the science of nursing may include an internship. Many colleges and universities require a period of on-campus attendance, so you should check to see if this requirement applies to the program in which you are interested.

How do I find the online master’s program that is right for me?

You can assess an online college in some of the same ways you can check out a traditional school. Look for program accreditation, courses you desire, a good faculty to student ratio, and tuition you can afford. You should be able to verify all of these factors electronically. Consider also whether course offerings are flexible enough for your needs. Technology support and after-graduation career support are also important. You should be able to contact a tech support center 24/7. You would be wise to employ and explore an online school’s services as much as possible.

Does getting an online degree get me a different diploma than people who go to a brick and mortar college?

If you obtain an online master of science in nursing, your diploma, with no mention of the word “online,” will look exactly like the diploma that the school’s traditional students get as they walk across the stage at graduation. You can even attend the same ceremony, if you want. In many cases, you will have the same instructors as you would have had in the brick-and-mortar setting.

How will I pay for an online master of science in nursing?

Very often, the same course per hour rate will be charged to both out-of-state and in-state students at online institutions. Most master’s degrees require eighteen to twenty-four months of full-time study and between 36 to 60 semester credits of study (or 60 to 90 quarter-credits), which is the equivalent of 12 to 20 college courses. Public or state colleges and universities deliver the vast majority of master’s degrees. Students of both online colleges and traditional schools will apply for federal student aid and scholarships in the same way.

What kind of skills does online college require?

All colleges and universities call for specific powers of organization and a high degree of discipline, and online studies are no different. Most schools will offer a brief online quiz that will demonstrate the quiz taker’s facility with necessary skills. As you achieved your bachelor’s degree, you employed a variety of skills and techniques, either innate or learned, and those will still be useful as you pursue your advanced degree online. The technical aspect of online coursework is important, but your ability to find and read this article on your own shows that you possess the necessary skills to pursue and obtain an online master of science in nursing.

Published May 2018

Related:
10 Great Deals: Master’s in Health Informatics Online 2018
10 Great Deals: Master’s in Clinical Psychology Online 2018

This concludes our ranking of the top 10 great deals on an online MSN degree.