Best Master’s in Nursing Degrees

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A master of science in nursing degree gives nursing professionals and individuals that want to enter the field of nursing opportunities to build nursing competencies through foundational coursework and clinical experiences.

Many master’s in nursing programs offer registered nurses without bachelor’s degrees in the field an advance track to graduate-level credentials; other master’s in nursing degrees provide nurses with bachelor’s degrees advanced coursework needed for career advancement. Nurses that want to become nurse practitioners, look to specialize in an area of nursing, or plan to advance to leadership and management roles in nursing and healthcare benefit from the specialized coursework in a master’s in nursing degree. Programs with minors and elective classes in nursing subspecialties like rural health, oncology, and cardiology further provide nurses with access to focused programs that meet individualized interests and overall professional goals. Learners also gain the expertise needed to continue onto doctoral study.

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Recommended Schools

Top 10 Best Master’s in Nursing Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
2 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
3 University of Washington Seattle, WA
4 University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA
5 University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
6 University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL
7 University of Maryland College Park, MD
8 University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI
9 Duke University Durham, NC
10 New York University New York, NY

What Are the Best Master’s Programs in Nursing?

And that’s where we come in. We’ve compiled a list of the top 25 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 on 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!

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

The 25 Best MSN Programs

  1. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Johns Hopkins University offers several master’s in nursing degrees for current and future nurses alike. The entry-into-nursing MSN provides students with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing the opportunity to enter the field while joint MSN/MPH and MSN/MBA programs combine public health and business curriculum with advanced-level nursing coursework. Johns Hopkins MSN in health systems management gives nurses information and tools to use and develop innovative technology-based practices. Johns Hopkins’s graduate nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist curricula are now offered through their doctor of nurse practice degree, an advanced-track, emersion program. Johns Hopkin’s nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  2. University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The master of science in nursing program at the University of Pennsylvania offers students several specializations designed to engage individual interests and advance professional goals. Practicing nurses can focus on pediatric, adult, and family acute or primary care or they can incorporate coursework in one of the numerous minors the Penn offers to supplement the MSN program. Learners interested in healthcare and nursing management also have the opportunity to pursue degrees in healthcare leadership and healthcare administration to advance in non-clinical settings. Applicants to Penn’s MSN programs need to have a BSN in the field. Penn’s nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

  3. University of Washington
    Location

    Seattle, WA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Designed for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in any field, the University of Washington’s master of science in clinical informatics and patient-centered technologies (MS-CIPCT) includes 46-49 credit hours of coursework about the role of technology in patient care. Students study the role of technology in clinical settings and throughout the healthcare industry while learning the theories and application of technology use. Learners with healthcare experience benefit from hands-on training in innovative tools and practices to advance their careers and all students complete a scholarly project or thesis to demonstrate competency development. Part-time students can complete the MS-CIPCT degree in two years while full-time students can fulfill degree requirements in as few as 15 months.

  4. University of Virginia
    Location

    Charlottesville, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Virginia offers a master’s of science in nursing program with 10 specializations to established nurses and students looking to enter the field. UVA’s MSN in clinical nursing leadership has tracks for direct-entry into nursing and for advancement to managerial and leadership positions for practicing nurses. Additional concentrations in adult, pediatric, neonatal, and psychiatric acute and primary care give learners options to pursue personal interests and enhance professional knowledge. The UVA accepts only 90 applicants annually for their programs. Full-time students can complete a MSN in two years; part-time students usually meet degree requirements in three years. All of UVA’s nursing degrees are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

  5. University of Texas at Austin
    Location

    Austin, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Texas at Austin’s master of science in nursing program provides students with knowledge and skills to build nursing competencies as entry-level learners and practicing nurses alike. Specializations in family, pediatric, and psychiatric nursing; leadership in nursing; and adult-gerontology clinical nursing provide students with two-year nursing degrees that incorporate advanced coursework on aspects of nursing. The three-year alternate entry MSN program introduces students without a nursing background to nursing fundamentals before exploring leadership, adult-health, and psychiatric concentrations. UT’s MSN degrees are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

  6. University of Alabama at Birmingham
    Location

    Birmingham, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) offers a master of science in nursing program with 11 specialties and six subspecialties to students that have a BSN. Learners can pursue degree concentrations in adult-gerontology, pediatric, and family nurse practitioner fields or nursing leadership and informatics. Subspecialties in oncology, palliative care, and nurse education give students additional opportunities to tailor their degree to meet their personal and professional goals. All of UAB’s MSN degrees give students knowledge based in core nursing competencies and provide them with critical-thinking and analytical skills applicable to the field. Applicants must pass a background check for admission. The UAB’s nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

  7. University of Maryland
    Location

    College Park, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Tailored to prepare registered nurses for advanced positions within the field of nursing, the RN to MSN program at the University of Maryland includes coursework on nursing fundamentals for students that need to complete a BSN before advancing to MSN classes. By substituting the BSN curriculum for core MSN coursework, registered nurse complete 31 credit hours of coursework before choosing one of three specializations: community and public health, nursing informatics, and health services leadership and management. MSN curricula include between 38-40 credit hours of advanced coursework offered online and on-campus. The UM’s RN to MSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

  8. University of Michigan
    Location

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Michigan offers master’s in nursing degrees based in advanced clinical practice to students that want to pursue specialized credentials in acute, primary, family, and midwifery care. Practicing nurses study assessment, diagnostics, therapeutic techniques, and consultation methods to develop enhanced skills in patient care while simultaneously building leadership competencies applicable to the field. Students can also pursue a MSN in systems, population, and leadership, emphasizing improving health outcomes throughout the human lifespan and in various community and social settings. The UM’s MSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the midwifery concentration is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME).

  9. Duke University
    Location

    Durham, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Duke University offers master of science in nursing degrees in 11 specialized areas, eight of which provide advanced practice content for registered nurses. Three non-clinical degree tracks emphasize nurse education, health informatics, and nursing and healthcare leadership for professionals that want to focus on administrative and managerial aspect of nursing. All students complete core coursework designed to meet the standards for numerous nursing certifications, including the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Advanced classes also provide students with opportunities to study nursing fields, including oncology, orthopedics, and cardiology. Duke’s programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

  10. New York University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The master’s program at New York University provides practicing nurses with advanced coursework to build knowledge and develop skills for professional growth and career enhancement. NYU’s MSN program includes specializations in nine areas, including adult-gerontology primary and acute care, midwifery, nursing administration, and pediatric nurse practice. Students can also specialize in palliative care, holistic nursing, and substance abuse care, further tailoring the MSN to meet their needs and goals. Core coursework includes nursing theory, research methods, issues and trends in nursing, and population-focused care. Combined with clinical placements, NYU’s MSN programs give students access to fundamental information and experiential learning opportunities. Students interested in community-based health practice, policy, and programming can enroll in the dual MSN/MPH program.

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