Obtaining a Master of Science degree in Nursing (MSN) opens multiples doors for registered nurses looking to expand their success within the healthcare industry. After completing a MSN program, students can promote their careers by becoming a nurse practitioner, certified registered nurse anesthetist, certified nurse midwife, or a clinical nurse specialist. The following are the top RN to MSN programs offered conveniently online to help students get on the right track achieving leadership in the field of nursing. These programs are the best of the best in terms of ranking, student satisfaction, accreditation, student-teacher ratio, and tuition rates.
1. Sacred Heart University
Sacred Heart University is a private, comprehensive liberal arts institution situated in Fairfield, Connecticut with more than 45 exceptional degree programs on-campus or online. Consistently ranked for its academic performance, cutting-edge technology, and community service programs, Sacred Heart is currently ranked at number 38 for the best colleges in the North. Registered nurses can enroll in a top online program from this high-level university to advance their career. Students that possess either a diploma or associate’s degree are put on an accelerated path to achieve both a BSN and MSN simultaneously. Therefore, it is an ideal way for students to save both time and money.
The online MSN program is fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education to provide three separate specializations for students. Depending on future goals, students can specialize in Clinical Nurse Leader with 300 hours of role immersion, a Patient Care Services Administration with 120 hours of clinical practicum, or Nursing Education with 120 hours of clinical practicum experience. The online format offers unparalleled 24/7 convenience for students to complete the coursework at their preferred pace. In addition, Sacred Heart’s award-winning nursing faculty members are with students every step of the way of the preparation process.
2. Loyola University
Situated in the uptown section of New Orleans, Loyola University is a Jesuit private institution that is currently ranked number 9 for the best colleges in the South. Along with the 61 other diverse degree programs offered, Loyola provides a unique online program for registered nurses looking to achieve a MSN degree. The BLEND program, which stands for Bridge to Leadership Education for Nurses at a Distance, allows registered nurses with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree to close the gap and gain admission to the MSN program. Fully online, the BLEND program only takes one-semester to complete. The curriculum is based on all the undergraduate nursing courses that are prerequisites in preparation for graduate school, such as professional communication, disease prevention, current issues, and health education.
Once the student completes the Loyola BLEND program, the students can move on to obtaining an MSN in the master’s level online program. Accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, the coursework is focused on the knowledge and skills necessary for health care systems management for leadership in the field. With enrollment, students can enjoy access one of the most prestigious libraries in the country, competitively priced tuition, and assistance from dedicated instructors. For these reasons, Loyola has been ranked number 6 in the United States for the overall best online graduate nursing program.
3. University of North Carolina Charlotte
The University of North Carolina campus located in Charlotte offers a suburban setting to the public institution nationally recognized for its academic excellence and cost-effective in-state tuition rate. The vibrant research university is committed to quality graduate education, and the MSN program is no exception. The RN-MSN program is specifically designed for outstanding registered nurses that are seeking to pursue an accelerated degree path and delivered 100 percent online with Moodle. All degree programs at the School of Nursing at UNC Charlotte have been properly accredited by the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education, as well as the North Carolina Board of Nursing.
Students that enroll in this selective graduate program can pursue a concentration to supplement the MSN degree as well. The concentrations that are offered through distance education include Nursing Education, Community/Public Health, and Nursing Administration. The curriculum of the program focuses on health assessment, nursing leadership, design and coordination of care, health policy and planning, and research in nursing. After students complete the MSN program with their specialty concentration, they become eligible to take several certification exams for further achievement in the field.
4. University of Arizona
One of the largest public institutions within the state, the University of Arizona is located with the urban center of Tucson. The school’s College of Nursing is currently ranked at number 32 of the best graduate programs in the country. Even better, the University of Arizona offers the unique accelerated program for registered nurses to earn their MSN degree. The RN to MSN program was specifically designed to be completed in less time than a traditional RN to BSN program, in as little as two years. Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the College of Nursing RN to MSN program features a strong, focused curriculum for leadership in clinical care.
Students are educated on how to lead innovative patient-centered care, integrate healing strategies across healthcare settings, and coordinate care transitions for optimal patient outcomes. Students also receive the invaluable opportunity for guidance from internationally-renowned faculty and experts in the field. Plus, the program comes with the perk of flexibility to accommodate working registered nurses. No on-campus residencies are required, since students are able to complete the Clinical Systems Leadership Immersion practicum in their own workplace or local community healthcare office.
5. Robert Morris University
Situated in the suburbs of Moon Township near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Robert Morris University is a private higher education institution. In recognition of the continuous academic excellence of the campus’ students and faculty, the university is ranked at number 70 of the best colleges in the North. Robert Morris’ School of Nursing and Health Sciences offers a fully online RN to MSN program to prepare nurses for the role of nurse educator in community, clinical, and academic settings. The cost-effective program allows students to save money by earning a BSN and MSN at the same time, in combination with one of the lowest tuition rates among programs of this type.
Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the program is designed for registered nurses with an associate’s degree or diploma to move ahead in the healthcare field with a bachelor’s and master’s degree simultaneously. The online coursework provides students with convenience and versatility for achieving the degrees in as little as three years. The curriculum focuses on interdisciplinary support courses in education and information science to develop expertise in teaching others about nursing.
6. Gonzaga University
Positioned within a half mile of downtown Spokane, Washington, Gonzaga University is a private institution that resides along the Spokane River. More than just a beautiful campus and high-achieving athletic school, Gonzaga has been recognized for their academic excellence by being ranked number 4 for the best colleges in the West. The university offers an online RN to MSN program that is ideal for registered nurses that possess an associate’s degree. Although the program is mostly conducted online, it is important to note that there is a two-day immersion required on-campus during the last practicum course in the MSN program. Otherwise, all of the other courses can be completed in the comfort of home, within an already busy career.
Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the accelerated program allows students the possibility of earning a master’s degree much quicker than earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree separately. Students with an associate’s degree first take a ten-course bridge for preparation, and then complete an additional 34 credits to finish the entirety of the program. The curriculum is heavily focused on major research methods, ethical decision making, advanced clinical topics, strategies for improving healthcare and patient outcomes, and leadership skills for management.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, students that achieve a Master of Science degree in Nursing are eligible for fulfilling jobs that are in higher demand in the current economy. In May of 2012, there were 105,780 nurse practitioner positions nationwide, while this rate is expected to grow a faster rate than the national average to provide ample opportunity in just one of the possible professions. In addition, nurses with a MSN degree are compensated with a higher average salary of $91,450 per year. These top online programs will help students receive the best training to begin extraordinary leadership positions in nursing and success in a rewarding career.