Last Updated: January 1, 2017
Then again, maybe the doctor isn’t, which means someone needs to step up to the plate. More often than not, that’s a job for the nurse!
As the healthcare profession expands and doctors continue to be spread thin, there is a growing need for licensed nursing medical professionals who can fill any number of gaps. The journey to a nursing profession starts with a Registered Nurse designation, or “RN,” but that’s only the beginning.
Nurses perform a number of duties, including providing and coordinating patient care, educating patients and the public about various health conditions, and providing advice and emotional support to patients and their family members. Most registered nurses work as part of a team with physicians and other healthcare specialists.
Related MSN Rankings
The job outlook for nursing professionals is one of the strongest of any field, with an expected growth rate of 17 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. RNs can typically expect to earn in the neighborhood of $60-70,000 per year, depending on education and experience. One of the best ways to increase your employability and chances of a move up that scale are to go a step beyond the RN designation and spend some time in a graduate program to distinguish yourself among your peers.
What Are the Best Master’s Programs in Nursing?
And that’s where we come in. We’ve compiled a list of the top 50 master’s degrees in nursing with your needs in mind. The first thing we want to know, like you, is the bottom line: how much is this going to set me back? So we’ve included the annual tuition for each school right up front for you. We’ve also included our College Choice Score, which is computed based on each school’s reputation in the field and its return on investment. The end result is a list of schools that balance cost, reputation, and, ultimately, what they can do for you and your unique goals. You can’t go wrong with any of them, of course, but these schools are leading the way.
The rankings you’re about to read are based on a few important sources. The first source is actual college freshman polled during a nationwide survey published by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. These students rated academic reputation, financial aid offerings, overall cost of school, and the survey also took into account graduate success rates ono the post-college job market. These factors were weighed equally alongside data from other publicly available sources, including U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Education Statistics, and PayScale.com.
Turns out the doctor isn’t in . . . and that’s good news for you!
The 50 Best MSN Programs
Johns Hopkins University
College Choice Score: 100.00
Annual Tuition: $36,530
Johns Hopkins University is a private institution that was founded in 1876. Johns Hopkins University is divided into nine schools, five of which serve undergraduate and graduate students. Hopkins’ graduate programs include the top ranked Bloomberg School of Public Health and the highly ranked School of Education, Whiting School of Engineering, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, SAIS and the well-regarded Peabody Institute for music and dance. Johns Hopkins Hospital is the top-ranked overall hospital in the nation, with the majority of its specialties ranked in the top five.
Johns Hopkins offers several degree options at the master’s level. Students with a bachelor’s degree in another discipline who want to earn a master of science in nursing can enroll full-time in the MSN: Entry into Nursing Practice program. Students who already have a bachelor’s degree in nursing can pursue the MSN: Advanced Nursing Practice program. This program offers specialties in advanced practice, management, and/or public health nursing. Finally, Johns Hopkins also offers a dual MSN/MPH in partnership with the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
University of Pennsylvania
College Choice Score: 99.82
Annual Tuition: $38,060
University of Pennsylvania is a private institution that was founded in 1740. Penn has 12 schools: Four offer undergraduate and graduate studies and eight offer only graduate studies. Penn’s highly ranked graduate programs include its Wharton School, School of Education, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Law School and School of Medicine. Penn’s other notable graduate programs include its Design School and School of Dental Medicine.
Penn offers the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree and features both world-class facilities and faculty as well as connections to the Philadelphia metro area. Students can expect extensive research opportunities throughout Penn, and the program looks after all clinical placements. Graduates of the program enjoy excellent placement records at the highest levels at the best institutions anywhere in the world. Many are offered positions prior to graduation, and Penn’s alumni network is second to none. MSN students also have the opportunity to complete dual degree programs in partnership with Penn’s other schools.
University of Washington
College Choice Score: 99.42
Annual Tuition: $31,542
University of Washington is a public institution that was founded in 1861. The University of Washington receives a hefty amount of federal funding each year to further its mission as a public research institution. True to its roots in research, the school hosts an Undergraduate Research Symposium every year for students to present their work to the community. The school has a highly ranked School of Medicine, College of Engineering and Michael G. Foster School of Business. Nearly three fourths of University of Washington graduates remain in the state.
Washington offers a highly specialized MS program in Clinical Informatics and Patient-Centered Technologies (MS-CIPCT). It is open to students with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline. MS-CIPCT students acquire proficiency in how to understand and promote the increasing role of technology in clinical settings, as well as how to implement a wide variety of tools and technologies to enhance the work of healthcare professionals and improve patient outcomes. Successful students will be able to evaluate current and future Health Information Technology (HIT) needs and recommend optimal solutions; identify barriers, challenges, and solutions in HIT adoption; interface with developers to ensure IT implementation for clinical use is effective and user-friendly; manage adoption and use of patient-centered technologies; assess performance of information systems in patient care; and improve the flow of patient information within and outside of an organization.
University of Virginia
College Choice Score: 99.02
Annual Tuition: $24,288
University of Virginia is a public institution that was founded in 1819. Founded by Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia is located in Charlottesville. UVA’s graduate programs include the highly ranked Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, Curry School of Education, School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Law and School of Medicine.
UVA’s nursing programs are regularly ranked among the country’s best thanks to the general excellence of the university and the particular strengths of the UVA Medical Center, which is consistently ranked as one of the top one hundred hospital systems in the nation. UVA offers the MSN degree, a 30-credit graduate program that allows students to specialize in a wide variety of areas. Some concentrations will require additional credits. Many of UVA’s MSN grads pursue further graduate work upon graduation, and others enjoy an excellent placement record.
University of Texas at Austin
College Choice Score: 99.01
Annual Tuition: $21,155
University of Texas–Austin is a public institution that was founded in 1883. UT is divided into 18 schools and colleges, the largest of which is the College of Liberal Arts. UT’s graduate programs include the highly ranked McCombs School of Business, College of Education, Cockrell School of Engineering, College of Fine Arts, School of Nursing, College of Pharmacy and School of Social Work, in addition to the well-regarded School of Architecture. UT offers hundreds of study abroad programs, with the most popular destinations being Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, France and China.
Texas offers the MSN degree, which is designed to provide the opportunity for advanced study in select areas of nursing science, professional foundations, related sciences, and modes of systematic inquiry related to advanced and specialized professional nursing practice. MSN students can choose to specialize in any of the following areas: Leadership in Diverse Settings; Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist; Family Nurse Practitioner; Psych/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner; and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.
University of Alabama Birmingham
College Choice Score: 98.99
Annual Tuition: $14,790
University of Alabama–Birmingham is a public institution that was founded in 1969. It covers 88 blocks in the heart of Alabama’s largest city, allowing its diverse student body to enjoy a rich campus life while taking advantage of enormous opportunities for research, internships and resume-building work experience. UAB’s campus includes 10 schools, a large graduate school and a renowned medical center. As early as their freshman year, undergraduates can get hands-on experience in UAB’s nationally ranked and highly interdisciplinary research programs.
One of the outstanding features of the MSN program at UAB is its more than 17 specialty tracks, including a variety of nurse practitioner options, clinical nurse leader, nurse anesthesia, nursing education, nursing informatics, and nursing and health systems administration. UAB is one of the world’s largest academic health centers, and the program provides extensive hands-on experience for its students. It also prepares graduates for entry into doctoral studies in nursing in either the School’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program (a practice-focused terminal degree) or in the School’s Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Nursing program.
College Choice Score: 98.88
Annual Tuition: $42,240
Columbia University is a private institution that was founded in 1754. It is comprised of three undergraduate schools—Columbia College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the School of General Studies—as well as a number of graduate and professional schools. Columbia’s graduate programs include the highly ranked Business School, Teachers College, SEAS, Law School, College of Physicians and Surgeons, School of International and Public Affairs, School of the Arts and Mailman School of Public Health. The university also has a well-regarded College of Dental Medicine and Graduate School of Journalism.
Columbia offers the MS program, which prepares registered nurses as advanced clinical practitioners within the specialty areas including HIV/AIDS, oncology, adult oncology, pediatric oncology, palliative and end-of-life care, and women’s health. Students learn to evaluate the health status of individuals and families, build interdependent relationships through the health care system, participate in and make use of research, and analyze issues that influence and contribute to the development of nursing.
University of Maryland
College Choice Score: 98.67
Annual Tuition: $37,530
University of Maryland–Baltimore is a public institution founded in 1807. It is a 71-acre research and technology complex that encompasses 65 buildings in West Baltimore near the Inner Harbor. UMB is Maryland’s only public health, law, and human services university. Seven professional and graduate schools train the majority of the state’s physicians, graduate nurses, dentists, lawyers, social workers, and pharmacists. Under the leadership of President Jay A. Perman, MD, the University is a leading partner in the redevelopment of Baltimore’s Westside.
The University of Maryland offers the MS degree through its School of Nursing. Students are encouraged to explore the field from different perspectives and put exciting new theories and methods into practice. The MS program prepares students to excel in a career as a clinical nurse leader, administrator, public health nurse, or information specialist. Students are also prepared to work in specialized areas, lead organizations, and pursue further graduate work. Areas of specialization include Community/Public Health Nursing, Health Services Leadership and Management (HSLM), HSLM Education Focus, HSLM MS/MBA Dual Degree Option, and Nursing Informatics.
University of Michigan
College Choice Score: 98.57
Annual Tuition: $42,484
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor is a public institution that was founded in 1817. Michigan’s graduate programs include the highly ranked Stephen M. Ross School of Business, School of Education, College of Engineering, Law School, Medical School, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, School of Public Health and School of Nursing in addition to the well-regarded School of Dentistry and Taubman College for Architecture and Urban Planning. The University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers is ranked among the top hospitals in the country.
Michigan offers a variety of opportunities through its MSN program in its School of Nursing. While Michigan’s program encourages the development of general skills first so that students are prepared to function in multiple care settings, available areas of specialized training include Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Specialist MSN; Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner MSN; Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner MSN; Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner MSN; Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner MSN; Nurse Midwife MSN; Nurse Midwife and Family Nurse Practitioner MSN; and Nurse Midwife and Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner MSN.
College Choice Score: 98.50
Annual Tuition: $47,040
Duke University is a private institution that was founded in 1838. Duke University is divided into 10 schools and colleges, many of which serve both undergraduate and graduate students. Its graduate programs include the highly ranked Fuqua School of Business, Pratt School of Engineering, School of Law, School of Medicine, Sanford School of Public Policy and School of Nursing. Duke also offers graduate programs through its well-respected Divinity School and Nicholas School of the Environment. Duke’s most esteemed undergraduate scholarship, the Robertson Scholars Program, provides approximately 18 students from each class with a monetary reward and the opportunity to study for a semester at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Duke’s MSN program at the School of Nursing offers seven advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) majors and three non-clinical majors. MSN students in APRN majors also have the option of adding a specialty to their course of study. Available areas of specialization include Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner/Acute Care; Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner/Primary Care; Family Nurse Practitioner; Pediatric Nurse Practitioner/Acute Care; Pediatric Nurse Practitioner/Primary Care; Neonatal Nurse Practitioner; and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Beyond these areas, students can request to further specialize in the following areas: Cardiology; Endocrinology; HIV/AIDS; Oncology; Orthopedics; Veterans Health Care Concentration.
New York University
College Choice Score: 98.43
Annual Tuition: $40,024
New York University is a private institution that was founded in 1831. NYU is divided into a number of schools and colleges, the largest of which is the College of Arts and Sciences. For those interested in drama or film, the renowned Tisch School of the Arts is the place to go, offering both undergraduate and graduate programs in acting, dance, dramatic writing, film, television and more. Former Tisch students include directors Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee. Other graduate programs include the highly ranked Stern School of Business; Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development; School of Law; School of Medicine; Silver School of Social Work; and Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
NYU’s master’s programs are designed for nurses seeking advanced roles in clinical practice (nurse practitioners and nurse midwives), nursing administration, education, and informatics. Students can also expect to be prepared for doctoral study. Students are prepared for leadership positions in teaching, clinical consultation, nursing management, administration, and advanced nursing practice across the age spectrum, as well as mental health, holistic nursing, palliative care nursing (specialty sequence) and nurse midwifery.
University of Colorado
College Choice Score: 98.43
Annual Tuition: $17,550
University of Colorado–Denver is a public institution that was founded in 1912. The main University of Colorado—Denver campus is located downtown, with the Anschutz Medical Campus situated a few miles east in the city of Aurora. Students at CU Denver, as it is known, can choose from more than 130 areas of study, including master’s degrees in business, engineering and education. CU Denver has several highly ranked health programs, including nursing and physical therapy, and its School of Medicine has top-ranked programs in family medicine and pediatrics.
Colorado’s program is designed to provide a foundation for future leaders in advanced nursing practice and indirect care. The College of Nursing has a long history of excellence and has established itself as one of the best in the country. It is the birthplace of the first nurse practitioner program in the world, and it also offered online education many years before other schools. Its graduates are prepared to formulate clinical, administrative or policy decisions to promote health with clients experiencing wellness, acute or chronic illness and to develop, manage and evaluate the care within communities and health care systems.
College Choice Score: 98.34
Annual Tuition: $36,570
Vanderbilt University is a private institution that was founded in 1873. Vanderbilt is comprised of 10 schools and colleges covering disciplines from the humanities to music to engineering. Among its graduate programs are the top-ranked Peabody College of Education and Human Development, which also offers undergraduate programs, and the highly ranked Owen Graduate School of Management, School of Engineering, Law School, School of Medicine and School of Nursing. Vanderbilt is also well known for its undergraduate Blair School of Music, and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center is ranked one of the best in the nation.
Through its MSN program, Vanderbilt’s School of Nursing trains skilled and experienced advanced practice nurses who are prepared to serve a variety of needs in an array of global contexts. It is characterized by flexibility and innovation and seeks to prepare its graduates for the many challenges they will face in clinical practice. The program features multiple entry options, advanced practice specialties, modern facilities in the newly renovated Godchaux Hall, and an extensive nurse faculty practice network.
University of California Los Angeles
College Choice Score: 98.31
Annual Tuition: $33,494
The University of California Los Angeles is a public institution that was founded in 1919. UCLA encompasses the College of Letters and Sciences and a number of graduate schools and programs, including the highly ranked Anderson School of Management, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Law, David Geffen School of Medicine, School of Public Affairs, School of Nursing and School of Public Health. UCLA also has a prestigious School of Theater, Film & Television and School of Dentistry. The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is one of the top-ranked hospitals in the country.
UCLA School of Nursing’s MSN program offers a pre-licensure program, which provides students without undergraduate training in nursing a pathway to entry that lasts two years. Those who complete the program are granted the Master in Science in Nursing (MSN) degree and are eligible to take the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX) to be licensed as registered nurses (RN). Graduates of the program are also qualified to take the Clinical Nurse Leader certification exam given by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and can then apply for a Public Health Nursing Certificate from the California Board of Registered Nursing.
University of California San Francisco
College Choice Score: 98.10
Annual Tuition: $39,048
The University of California—San Francisco is a public institution that was founded in 1864. The UCSF Medical Center is one of the university’s teaching hospitals and is highly ranked in several specialties. Other medical institutions affiliated with the university include the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, the UCSF Dental Center and the San Francisco VA Medical Center. UCSF receives more research funding from the National Institutes of Health than any other public school in the U.S. The university has research partnerships with companies such as Pfizer and GE Healthcare, as well as with medical institutions around the world like the Kenya Medical Research Institute and Aga Khan Health Services–Tanzania.
UC San Francisco’s School of Nursing prepares leaders in the advanced practice roles of nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse-midwife, administrator, teacher, and consultant through its MS program. Students are equipped with advanced theoretical knowledge, assessment skills, role/leadership development, and advanced clinical practice in a selected specialization. The degree typically takes two years to complete and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
College Choice Score: 97.97
Annual Tuition: $36,828
Yale University is a private institution that was founded in 1701. Yale is made up of the College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and 13 professional schools. Included in the professional schools are the top ranked Law School and highly ranked School of Management, School of Medicine , School of Art and School of Nursing. The School of Drama, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Divinity School are also well-regarded graduate programs.
Yale’s master’s curriculum is designed to prepare students to become advanced practitioners in their area of specialty. Graduates have succeeded in roles as clinicians, scholars, and leaders in their fields. Advanced Practice Nurses are committed to the delivery and the study of high-quality evidence-based clinical care and work to help shape health care systems. Areas of specialization in Yale’s program include the following: Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner; Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner; Family Nurse Practitioner; Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner; Pediatric Nurse Practitioner; and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing.
Arizona State University
College Choice Score: 97.31
Annual Tuition: $20,322
Arizona State University is a public institution that was founded in 1885. Arizona State also offers a wide range of highly ranked graduate programs through schools including the W. P. Carey School of Business, the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.
Arizona State offers three different MS programs at its downtown campus. First is the MS in Nursing with a concentration in care coordination, which provides registered nurses with advanced preparation in nursing practice and the ability to provide effective care in a variety of situations. Second is the nursing educator concentration, which prepares the nurse educator for leadership roles in academic and practice settings. Finally, the Nursing Informatics concentration prepares students with the expertise to integrate technological expertise and data management in clinical settings.
College Choice Score: 97.25
Annual Tuition: $33,720
Rutgers University is a public institution that was founded in 1908. It operates three different campuses in Camden, Newark, and Piscataway and has a variety of degree programs for graduate students through departments such as the Business School, the School of Law and the highly ranked School of Criminal Justice.
Rutgers offers the MSN degree, which is designed to help students accomplish objectives such as integrating knowledge from nursing and related arts and sciences in the design and delivery of patient-centered, population-focused care; designing quality improvement and safety initiatives; applying research in nursing leadership and practice; applying informatics and health care technologies; using effective communication and collaborative strategies; and incorporating strategies for prevention, wellness, and risk reduction.
University of Texas Health Science Center
College Choice Score: 97.16
Annual Tuition: $28,380
UT’s Health Science Center in Houston offers the MSN degree, which prepares graduates to assume leadership roles in clinical practice, nursing administration and nursing education. MSN graduates are prepared for entry into the Doctoral of Nursing Practice (DNP) program and to apply to the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) program.
The MSN program offers seven clinical tracks. Most programs offer a courses online and traditional delivery, allowing students flexibility but also maintaining a dynamic class experience that include in-class time to demonstrate skills, dialogue with colleagues and receive mentorship and guidance from our highly regarded and recognized faculty.
University of Pittsburgh
College Choice Score: 97.13
Annual Tuition: $43,290
University of Pittsburgh is a public institution that was founded in 1787. The university earns national accolades for its highly ranked School of Medicine, School of Education and Swanson School of Engineering. The School of Medicine is particularly well regarded for its research, working in conjunction with the highly ranked University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and the institution receives one of the highest amounts of funding from the National Institutes of Health.
Pitt’s MSN program offers students a few different options. Depending on the concentration, the program will vary in the precise number of credits required, and students can also opt to pursue the program full- or part-time. The program offers a Nurse Specialty Role major, which has two areas of concentration: clinical nurse leader (CNL) and nursing informatics. Clinical nurse leader areas of concentration are offered both onsite and online, while the nursing informatics option is only offered online. Students can also pursue training as a neonatal nurse practitioner. The curriculum design includes core courses, specialty courses, role development courses, and electives. Students in any of the majors may also elect to add a minor in nursing administration, nursing education, nursing informatics, nursing research, or health care genetics.
University of Rochester
College Choice Score: 97.10
Annual Tuition: $24,192
University of Rochester is a private institution that was founded in 1850. The University of Rochester’s graduate programs include the highly ranked William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration, Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Medical Center, Department of Political Science and Department of Economics.
The University of Rochester School of Nursing is part of the University of Rochester Medical Center, the largest and strongest health care system in the region. It offers MS degrees in the areas of Nurse Practitioner, Leadership, and Nursing Education. Rochester students have access to world-class clinical facilities and abundant research opportunities. They benefit from the limitless opportunities that come from Rochester’s status as the largest medical center in the region. Each Rochester program is built on a “patient-first” philosophy for improving individual care and reforming system-wide policies.
University of Illinois Chicago
College Choice Score: 97.02
Annual Tuition: $32,360
University of Illinois–Chicago is a public institution that was founded in 1965. The university has a well-regarded College of Education, an engineering school and the Liautaud Graduate School of Business, among other academic departments. The UIC College of Medicine is the largest medical school in the country.
UIC’s College of Nursing boasts a completely revised graduate curriculum as of 2014, including its Master of Science program. As a leader in nursing education, it responded to the changing dynamics in health care and demonstrated its commitment to preparing the most sophisticated and skilled nursing professionals for today and the future. UIC’s academic programs are consistent with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s mandate to produce advanced nursing clinicians who are able to address the complex care needs of this environment in direct care and specialty practice roles. UIC also offers an MS transition program for students with an RN license and a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing.
University of Arizona
College Choice Score: 97.00
Annual Tuition: $24,000
University of Arizona is a public institution that was founded in 1885. The University of Arizona offers a variety of opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students to get involved in research projects. The university has a wide range of graduate student programs, including the Eller College of Management, the James E. Rogers College of Law and a College of Medicine.
Arizona offers a Master of Science for Entry to the Profession of Nursing (MEPN) program. It is a competitive program that is interested in students who are highly motivated and demonstrate a distinguished level of scholarship, integrity, leadership and service to others. The program is designed to last fifteen months on a full-time basis. It often require more than 40 hours a week to complete, and graduates will obtain a Master of Science degree as well as pre-licensure requirements.
University of Missouri Kansas City
College Choice Score: 96.97
Annual Tuition: $12,000
University of Missouri–Kansas City is a public institution that was founded in 1929. students can choose from more than 120 academic programs and majors, including master’s degrees from the Henry W. Bloch School of Management and the schools of medicine, computing and engineering, and education.
UMKC offers a Master of Science in Nursing, which is designed to meet the latest needs of working professionals. UMKC’s MSN is offered online, which provides flexibility. Students can choose a thesis or complete advanced research coursework. The affordable in-state rates, dedicated faculty and innovative academics cause the program to stand out. Graduates of UMKC’s program are prepared to respond to any of the following challenges: health promotion, assessment, diagnosis, and management of patient problems including the prescription of pharmacologic agents within a specialty area of clinical practice such as Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP), Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP), Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP), Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), and Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP).
University of North Carolina
College Choice Score: 96.93
Annual Tuition: $31,354
University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill is a public institution that was founded in 1789. UNC is divided into a number of schools and colleges, the largest of which is the undergraduate College of Arts and Sciences. Graduate programs include the highly ranked Kenan—Flagler Business School, School of Education, School of Law, School of Medicine, Gillings School of Global Public Health, School of Social Work, Eshelman School of Pharmacy and School of Government.
UNC Chapel Hill’s graduate programs are offered through its School of Nursing, which is nationally recognized as one of the premier nursing schools in the country. It is committed to excellence in nursing education, research and practice. It offers both an MSN program and an RN-MSN program in addition to BSN and doctoral programs. The MSN program is designed to build upon a baccalaureate nursing education and professional experience. The goal of the program is to prepare advanced practice nurses and health care specialists for leadership positions in a variety of health care settings.
College Choice Score: 96.86
Annual Tuition: $28,410
Rush University is a private institution that specializes in medical education. The mission of Rush University is to teach, study and provide the highest quality health care, using a unique and multidisciplinary practitioner-teacher model for health sciences education and research, while reflecting the diversity of its communities in its programs, faculty, students and service.
Rush’s Generalist Entry Master’s (GEM) program caters to students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to pursue a career in nursing. The program focuses on clinical leadership and prepares students for the RN licensure exam. Successful students will not only be prepared for a nursing career but also pursue an advanced practice DNP or PhD in nursing degree. Students at Rush can expect to have a different clinical experience every term, which provides a broad overview of all of the major nursing specialties.
University of Iowa
College Choice Score: 96.83
Annual Tuition: $31,608
University of Iowa is a public institution that was founded in 1847. It has many well-ranked graduate programs, including degrees offered through its College of Law, Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, Henry B. Tippie School of Management and College of Education. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is a very highly ranked facility as well.
Iowa offers a Master of Science in Nursing-Clinical Nurse Leader (MSN-CNL) degree through a joint effort between the Graduate College and the College of Nursing. The Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) is an evolving nursing role developed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) in collaboration with leaders from the education and practice arenas. The CNL’s primary area of responsibility is to improve the quality of patient care as well as helping nurses succeed in the health care system. The role of the CNL has been demonstrated to be highly effective in improving these outcomes and enhancing overall quality of care. Upon completion of the MSN-CNL, graduates are prepared to function as a clinician, educator, advocate, outcomes manager, information manager, system analyst, and more.
University of Cincinnati
College Choice Score: 96.82
Annual Tuition: $26,210
University of Cincinnati is a public institution that was founded in 1819. It offers hundreds of programs of study, including graduate degrees in business, law and engineering. The university also has several highly ranked fine arts and health master’s programs. Located just east of the uptown campus, the UC Academic Health Center is home to four colleges, patient-care facilities and major research laboratories. This center is famed for offering the first nursing bachelor’s degrees in 1916 and developing the first live, attenuated polio vaccine in the 1960s.
The College of Nursing offers three ways to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), along with a number of specialties. Choose an online or hybrid (online and on-campus) program. Or, for those with a bachelor’s in an unrelated field, earn a master’s degree through our Accelerated Program. Students will be prepared to integrate research, scholarship, and evidence based practice from nursing and related sciences as a framework for planning holistic care of the patient in various environmental contexts; demonstrate competence in providing and evaluating advanced nursing practice with an emphasis on safety and quality; design evidence-based clinical prevention and population care and services to individuals, families, and communities; demonstrate knowledge and skills to promote health and help shape the health delivery system through policy, processes, and advocacy; and more.
College Choice Score: 96.78
Annual Tuition: $52,500
Emory University is a private institution that was founded in 1836. Emory is divided into nine schools and colleges, four of which serve undergraduates and graduates. Emory’s graduate programs include the highly ranked Goizueta Business School, School of Law, School of Medicine, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and Rollins School of Public Health.
At Emory, students can choose from more than a dozen MSN program options. In each track, the curriculum consists of four components: theoretical core, clinical/functional core, specialty courses, and electives. Each of the specialties can be completed in four to five semesters of full-time study, and part-time study is also available. Graduates are prepared to apply for the appropriate nurse practitioner and/or certified nurse midwife certification examinations.
Case Western Reserve University
College Choice Score: 96.76
Annual Tuition: $56,730
Case Western Reserve University is a private institution that was founded in 1826. It boasts a broad range of top-rated specialty graduate programs, like its health law curriculum at the School of Law. The university also has renowned offerings in biomedical engineering at the School of Engineering and nonprofit management at the Weatherhead School of Management. In addition to its suburban campus, the school owns University Farm, a 389-acre plot of land about 10 miles from campus where students research and take courses in biology, ecology and art.
Case Western’s MSN program prepares nurses to deliver care through a variety of specialties. They are in high demand as nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and nurse anesthetists. Case’s areas of specialization include Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner; Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner; Education with Population Focus; Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP); Family Systems Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing; Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP); Nurse Anesthesia; Nurse Midwifery; Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP); Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Acute Care; and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP).
College Choice Score: 96.18
Annual Tuition: $37,440
Boston College is a private institution that was founded in 1863. It is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a university with high research activity. It has nine schools, which include highly ranked graduate programs, including its Lynch School of Education, Boston College Law School and Carroll School of Management.
Boston College’s master’s programs challenge and inspire students to become advocates and clinicians. It caters to RNs who want to move into advanced nursing practice, those entering the nursing profession for the first time, and part-time learners. The program’s areas of specialization include Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner; Family Nurse Practitioner; Nurse Anesthesia (CRNA); Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner; Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner; and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner.
Oregon Health and Science University
College Choice Score: 96.08
Annual Tuition: $22,200
Oregon Health and Science University is a public institution and the state’s only health and research university. It is Oregon’s only academic health center, which means it has the multifaceted, interwoven responsibility of providing healing, teaching, research and community service. It is one of only approximately 100 such institutions in the nation. OHSU includes the schools of dentistry, medicine, and nursing; two hospitals; multiple clinical care practices; dozens of research institutes and centers; and more than 200 community service programs.
OHSU’s master’s degree programs focus on the development of critical thinking and judgment, understanding of health systems and economics, interdisciplinary care, and public health in a variety of health care settings. It offers an accelerated Bachelor to Master’s in the areas of Family, Nurse-Midwifery, or Psychiatric Mental Health. It also offers an RNBS to Masters, which can be pursued along one of two tracks: Nursing Education (MNE) and Health Systems and Organizational Leadership (HSOL).
George Washington University
College Choice Score: 95.97
Annual Tuition: $30,900
George Washington University is a private institution that was founded in 1821. The school has broad graduate offerings, and its Law School and Graduate School of Education and Human Development are particularly well regarded. Because GW is so close to the centers of thought and action in every field offered, it is easy to integrate its academic tradition, special programs, and faculty connections, with the best internship and job opportunities in the Washington metropolitan area. A generous scholarship and financial assistance program attracts top students from all parts of the country and the world.
George Washington’s nursing program is designed for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing. It offers a number of areas of specialization, each of which is designed to be interdisciplinary in nature so that students are prepared for as many situations as possible: Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner; Family Nurse Practitioner; Nursing Leadership and Management; Nurse-Midwifery; and Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.
Pennsylvania State University
College Choice Score: 95.91
Annual Tuition: $29,001
Pennsylvania State University is a public institution that was founded in 1855. The land-grant institution, which originally was offered state land in exchange for agricultural courses and research, offers highly ranked graduate programs through the College of Education and the College of Engineering. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of over 40,000 and its campus is over 8,500 acres.
Penn State offers an MSN program with three advanced practice options (Family Nurse Practitioner; Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner; Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner) and two advanced administrator role options (Nurse Educator, Nurse Administrator). NP graduates are qualified to take national certification exams through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and/or American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Once nationally certified, Nurse Practitioner graduates are also eligible to be licensed by the state Board of Nursing.
University of Missouri
College Choice Score: 95.82
Annual Tuition: $12,660
University of Missouri is a public institution that was founded in 1839. It features highly ranked graduate programs at the College of Education and Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business, as well as a School of Medicine and a Tier 1 School of Law. This public research university offers opportunities for students to team up on faculty-led projects as early as their freshman year.
Missouri’s Master of Science (Nursing) degree program prepares nurses with post baccalaureate or post graduate degrees for roles as nurse educators and nurse leaders. Graduates of the Masters of Science program proceed to prepare future nurses, promote health, and provide care and nursing leadership to meet the healthcare needs of its citizens of Missouri and beyond. The Master of Science degree is offered in conjunction with the MU Office of Research and Graduate Studies and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Missouri’s program is offered primarily online, and students can select from part-time or full-time plans of study.
University of Massachusetts
College Choice Score: 95.79
Annual Tuition: $22,500
University of Massachusetts–Amherst is a public institution that was founded in 1863. It is the flagship campus of the Commonwealth, combining the academic resources of a nationally-ranked research university with the support and individualized attention usually reserved for a small college. UMass Amherst offers its students a wide array of academic disciplines and nationally-known programs of study, including the Bachelor’s Degree with Individual Concentration (BDIC), which allows students to create their own major.
UMass’s master’s program prepares its graduates through two different tracks: population health or nurse education. Graduates synthesize and integrate knowledge from the biological, psychological, social and nursing sciences. They also analyze the effect of developmental, economic, cultural, epidemiological, social, political, ethical, legal and spiritual factors influencing the care of patients with emphasis on vulnerable and diverse populations. The program is designed for students who have already obtained both a bachelor’s degree in nursing and an RN designation.
University of South Florida
College Choice Score: 95.64
Annual Tuition: $23,160
University of South Florida is a public institution that was founded in 1956. The school offers degree programs through the USF College of Medicine, a graduate school of engineering, a College of Education and other departments. It prides itself on offering an intimate, waterfront campus environment with all the resources and reputation shared as part of the USF System. With smaller classes and an emphasis on community engagement, it offers nearly 40 degree programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels.
The College of Nursing plays a central role in both the USF health system and the university as a whole. It is a world class nursing program shaping the nursing profession. The program operates by the mission “Transforming Healthcare, Transforming Lives: Creating the Nursing Leaders of Tomorrow and the Research that Improves Health.” The school consistently appears in nursing rankings. Its master’s program offers the following specialties: Adult-Gerontology Primary Care; Adult-Gerontology Acute Care; Family Health Nursing; Nurse Anesthesia; Nursing Education; Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nursing / Occupational Health Nursing; and Pediatric Health Nursing.
University of Utah
College Choice Score: 95.59
Annual Tuition: $34,479
University of Utah is a public institution that was founded in 1850. The University of Utah’s well-regarded S.J. Quinney College of Law, College of Engineering, College of Education and David Eccles School of Business all offer degree programs for graduate students. The U of U School of Medicine, which is particularly well regarded for its primary care program, is the only medical school in the state.
Utah’s MSN program aims to expand on students’ knowledge of science and humanities gained in their undergraduate programs by integrating and applying scientific findings from a broad range of disciplines; help students work with individuals, families, and populations in diverse settings and health care systems to develop and lead initiatives promoting safe, high quality, culturally sensitive, and cost-effective patient care; train its graduates to apply evidence-based research outcomes to improve practice and associated health outcomes for patient aggregates; help students integrate advanced knowledge and skills to assure high quality outcomes for individuals, families, population groups, and systems; and much more.
University of Kansas
College Choice Score: 95.55
Annual Tuition: $18,450
University of Kansas is a public institution that was founded in 1865. KU offers the highest-quality academic programs (142 undergraduate and 231 masters, doctorate, and professional degree programs.) Top ranked programs in special education, public administration, occupational therapy, speech-language-pathology, environmental policy, education, and petroleum engineering provide outstanding undergraduate and graduate academic opportunities. Excellent programs in architecture, art, business, design, engineering, journalism, law, medicine, music, nursing, pharmacy, social welfare, and other fields prepare students for professional careers.
The Master of Science degree program at the KU School of Nursing enlarges the focus of nursing beyond the bachelor’s level through the following curriculum: Common Core (nursing courses that provide the core knowledge and skills essential to the nurse practicing in any advanced area of nursing); Leadership Core (provide the theoretical basis for the Leadership specialty areas); Research Core (focus on the ability of the nurse to understand and use research and participate in development of new knowledge in nursing and health care), and Functional Specialty Core (information necessary for advanced practice). Areas of specialization include: Clinical Research Management; Nursing Informatics; Organizational Leadership; and Public Health Nursing.
Frontier Nursing University
College Choice Score: 95.38
Annual Tuition: $16,050
Frontier Nursing University is one of the only nursing universities that has been in continuous use since its founding. It is a haven of nursing research, especially as it pertains to midwifery, and remains a center for women’s health, family health, and nurse-midwifery. It is accredited by CCNE and is licensed by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.
Frontier Nursing University now offers a newly designed Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program that allows students to complete their MSN with the added option to seamlessly progress to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. The DNP can be completed in nine months’ time after the completion of the MSN. Students can also opt for a terminal MSN degree. Once students complete the core competencies of their area of specialty, the MSN is conferred, and students are fully prepared to take the national certification exam. Students who opt to proceed to the DNP do not need to reapply to the program.
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
College Choice Score: 95.21
Annual Tuition: $43,050
Indiana University-Purdue University–Indianapolis is a public institution that was founded in 1969. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, better known as IUPUI, offers more than 250 degrees, including several highly ranked master’s programs. In the medical and health fields, IUPUI’s well-regarded graduate programs include primary care, nursing and social work. The law school offers a prestigious legal writing program, and there are also notable master’s programs in the IUPUI School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
IUPUI’s Master of Science in Nursing program is one of the most comprehensive in the world, and its students are in high demand. Both nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist tracks are available, as well as nursing education and leadership in health systems. IUPUI’s program is consistently ranked among the best in the country. Its MSN programs prepare students as nurse leaders to provide and improve care to patients, families, and/or communities and to lead educational and complex healthcare systems.
Washington State University
College Choice Score: 95.12
Annual Tuition: $32,814
Washington State University is a public institution that was founded in 1890. The university is committed to research, and there are opportunities for students to get involved in projects as undergraduates. Washington State also offers a wide variety of graduate school options, including degree programs through the College of Business, the College of Engineering and the College of Education.
Washington State offers a Master of Nursing in Population Health: Nurse Leader, which prepares students for an advanced practice leadership role in acute and outpatient settings. Students will take master’s core course work and additional course work in organizational leadership. Students may enter the MN program with a BSN or the RN-MN program as an RN with a bachelor’s degree in any field. Students who graduate with this non-clinical degree are prepared to work as nurse administrators or in a leadership role in a number of healthcare settings, including acute care, public health, outpatient clinics, home healthcare, and more. Washington State also offers a Master of Nursing in Population Health: Nurse Educator Graduates, who work as faculty in ADN or BSN higher education programs, or as nurse educators in a number of settings including acute care, public health, outpatient clinics, home healthcare, and more.
Medical University of South Carolina
College Choice Score: 95.04
Annual Tuition: $28,569
The Medical University of South Carolina, known as MUSC, is a public institution and nationally ranked as the best nursing online school in the country. It is known for pioneering online education for nurses for the last 15 years as well as creating and renovating teaching methods that reflect the modern age of nursing. It is accredited by CCNE.
MUSC offers an MSN program designed to prepare students for the advanced professional practice role as a primary care nurse practitioner in the areas of adult, family or pediatrics. The program is offered primarily online and requires visits to campus. Some of the objectives of the MSN program at MUSC include integrating scientific findings from nursing, biopsychosocial fields, genetics, public health, quality improvement, and organizational sciences for the continual improvement of nursing care across diverse settings; utilizing leadership skills that are needed to emphasize ethical and critical decision making, effective working relationships, and a systems-perspective; and applying research outcomes within the practice setting, resolving practice problems, working as a change agent, and disseminating results.
University of San Diego
College Choice Score: 95.01
Annual Tuition: $41,700
University of San Diego is a private institution that was founded in 1949. It is a Roman Catholic institution open to students of all faiths. The University of San Diego has a variety of graduate programs, including a Tier 1 School of Law and an accredited paralegal program. Some enrichment programs are specific to the school’s religious foundation, like the Center for Christian Spirituality and the Oscar Romero Center for Faith in Action.
USD’s MSN program assumes a bachelor’s degree in nursing or related fields and emphasizes research, theory, and practice. The graduate program in nursing offers eight areas of emphasis: Executive Nurse Leader, Health Care Informatics, Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Clinical Nurse Leader, Family Nurse Practitioner, Dual Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner/Family Nurse Practitioner, Dual Pediatric Nurse Practitioner/ Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Additional options within the MSN include a Nursing Education Option, a Latino Health Care Option, and a Mind-Body-Spirit Health Care Option.
Loyola University Chicago
College Choice Score: 94.84
Annual Tuition: $31,800
Loyola University Chicago is a private institution that was founded in 1870. For graduate students, Loyola Chicago has a business school, a law school – particularly well known for health care law – and a medical school. The university also has an international campus four miles from downtown Rome, where about 400 students study abroad each year.
Loyola offers both an MSN in nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist tracks. The Nurse Practitioner specialties include Family Nurse Practitioner; Family Nurse Practitioner with Emergency Nurse Subspecialty; Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner; Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner; Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner with Oncology Specialty; and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. All nurse practitioner programs are offered in a blended format. The Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) specialties include Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist; Adult Gerontology CNS with Oncology Specialty; and Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist.
College Choice Score: 94.74
Annual Tuition: $55,890
Georgetown University is a private institution that was founded in 1789. Georgetown comprises several undergraduate, graduate and professional schools, including the highly ranked Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business, Law Center, School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Health Studies and McCourt School of Public Policy. Georgetown’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service also offers well-regarded graduate programs.
Georgetown University offers an MSN program through its School of Nursing and Health Studies, and its specialty areas are nationally ranked. Program specialties include Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP), Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL), Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (NM/WHNP), and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP). Graduates from Georgetown’s nursing master’s programs are in high demand and are prepared to improve nursing and health care through expert practice and the advancement of nursing knowledge.
Ohio State University
College Choice Score: 94.61
Annual Tuition: $58,200
Ohio State University–Columbus is a public institution that was founded in 1870. Ohio State offers a wide variety of graduate programs through its highly ranked College of Education and Human Ecology, Max M. Fisher College of Business, College of Engineering, College of Medicine and Michael E. Moritz College of Law. At the undergraduate level, Ohio State offers more than 175 majors, as well as a Personalized Study Program for students who want to design a nontraditional education.
OSU offers the Master of Science through its College of Nursing. It provides a broad range of clinical and classroom-based education with a strong emphasis on patient-centered practice. Students are exposed to background in theory and foundations of nursing as well as the latest technology and ideas in nursing. Nursing students have access to exceptional faculty and research facilities and the support services of a large university, while benefiting from the high degree of personal attention and student interaction usually found in much smaller departments.
Florida Atlantic University
College Choice Score: 94.51
Annual Tuition: $27,840
Florida Atlantic University is a public institution that was founded in 1961. It is committed to providing access to a broad array of higher educational opportunities through its network of seven campuses strategically situated along 150 miles of Florida’s southeastern coastline. FAU has achieved special distinction in the areas of ocean engineering, biomedical research, nursing, accounting, entrepreneurship, arts and humanities, complex systems and brain sciences, honors education, and computer science and engineering.
FAU’s master’s program is designed to offer the leadership, clinical experience and teaching skills students will need in their chosen direction of practice. FAU offers most of its program on a part-time basis, and online options are also available. The master’s program is offered through the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing. Graduates of the program are in high demand, and the program enjoys an excellent placement record. Numerous areas of specialization are available.
University of Miami
College Choice Score: 94.47
Annual Tuition: $40,700
University of Miami is a private institution that was founded in 1925. Its core values are “diversity, integrity, responsibility, excellence, compassion, creativity, and teamwork.” It offers 180 majors and programs across nine schools and colleges. Miami offers MSN programs through the School of Nursing and Health Studies, which prepare nurses to assume advanced practice roles in their profession. The campus boasts a state-of-the-art M. Christine Schwartz Center for Nursing and Health Studies as well as at the university’s medical campus in downtown Miami.
MSN students are precepted in Jackson Health System, Baptist Healthcare System, and in hospitals and facilities throughout South Florida. MSN full-time cohorts start each fall semester and part-time in the spring. Application Deadlines, program length, admission criteria, and tuition vary by program, and applicants must be a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree.
University of Nebraska
College Choice Score: 94.36
Annual Tuition: $27,990
University of Nebraska is a public institution that was founded in 1908. It is a premier metropolitan university that combines the resources of a nationally recognized Carnegie Doctoral Research University with a close-knit community. With global reach and vision, UNO is large enough to provide the opportunities students seek, yet with student to faculty ratios of 17:1 (undergraduate) and 13:1 (graduate), personal enough to provide the mentorship they need to achieve academic excellence, creativity, and engaged learning at competitive tuition rates.
Nebraska offers the MSN degree, and its program is nationally recognized. It offers specialization in the following areas: Nurse practitioner; Clinical nurse specialist; Nurse educator training; Nurse leader/executive; as well as paths to doctoral researcher/educator/administrator. Additional areas include Adult-Gerontology CNS / Acute Care NP / Primary Care NP; Family NP; Nurse Leader/Executive; Pediatrics Primary Care NP; Psychiatric Mental Health NP; and Women’s Health NP.