How Much Does Nursing School Cost?

A nursing degree can cost as little as around $7,000 or over $300,000 in total, depending on the degree level.
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  • An associate degree in nursing is the cheapest nursing degree program available to students, typically totaling under $8,000 for a public college.
  • A bachelor of science in nursing program, meanwhile, costs approximately $70,000 on average over four years.
  • The cost of a nursing graduate degree program largely depends on the availability of stipends and other institutional aid.
  • Tuition and fees may seem steep, but jobs in the industry can be financially rewarding enough to recoup expenses over time.

Nursing is one of the fastest-growing professions in the U.S., but a career in nursing starts with a degree.

With financial constraints affecting people and households around the country, this reality leaves many would-be nurses wondering: "How much does nursing school cost?"

The answer isn't straightforward, since different nursing degree programs have vastly different costs.

Altogether, nursing school can range from $7,000 for those pursuing an associate degree in nursing (ADN) to more than $300,000 for students pursuing an advanced graduate nursing degree. Students within the same program may also pay different tuitions, depending on whether students are in state or out of state.

If those sticker prices seem high, it's worth remembering that a career in nursing can be financially rewarding. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a registered nurse (RN) is $81,220 per year, as of May 2022.

Nursing School Costs, by Degree Level

Future nurses may have very different career goals, depending on what practice area they plan to pursue.

There are varying degree requirements for these specializations. Therefore, the total cost of nursing school largely depends on what degree a nurse aims for and how long they plan to be in school.

ADN Program Cost

An associate degree in nursing program takes just two years to complete and is the minimum degree requirement to become a registered nurse.

The program's relatively short timeframe means attaining an ADN is much cheaper than other nursing degrees. Most people pursuing an ADN will attend a public, two-year community college, which generally offer significantly lower tuition rates than other institutions.

The average cost of tuition and fees for a two-year degree was $3,859 annually for the 2021-22 academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). That means it would cost approximately $7,718 each year to earn an ADN, or about $23,952 including room and board.

Costs can vary based on what type of institution a nursing student attends.

Average Yearly Undergraduate Costs, Two-Year Degree (2021-22 Academic Year)
Public institution Private, nonprofit institution Private, for-profit institution
Average tuition and required fees $3,564 $18,480 $15,826
Average tuition, fees, room, and board $11,619 $30,850 $24,300

Tuition tends to be higher for out-of-state students — sometimes double or triple the cost.

BSN Program Cost

A bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree traditionally requires four years of schooling.

That means a BSN costs more, on average, than an ADN. However, a BSN typically opens more doors for career advancement than the associate degree.

The average tuition and fees for a four-year degree was $17,251 annually for the 2021-22 academic year, according to NCES data. It would cost approximately $69,004 across four years to earn the degree, or about $120,124, including room and board.

Costs vary greatly, however, depending on whether a nursing student attends a public or private university.

Average Yearly Undergraduate Costs, Four-Year Degree (2021-22 Academic Year)
Public institution Private, nonprofit institution Private, for-profit institution
Average tuition and required fees $9,596 $37,222 $15,518
Average tuition, fees, room, and board $21,878 $51,154 $27,911

Tuition can be significantly higher for out-of-state students.

Popular Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

MSN Program Cost

A master of science in nursing (MSN) degree program typically takes 1-2 years to complete.

An MSN is a graduate-level degree, meaning students must first earn a bachelor's degree before enrolling. An MSN student, however, does not need to have earned a BSN, as their undergraduate degree can be in any field.

The average cost of tuition and fees for a master's degree program was $16,320 per year as of August 2023, according to a BestColleges analysis. It would cost approximately $32,640 in tuition and fees across two years.

All told, the average net cost of a master's degree program — including tuition and student expenses, minus grant funding — is about $30,870 per year.

Average annual master's tuition and fees vary depending on whether a student attends a public or private university.

  • Public — $11,700
  • Private, nonprofit — $21,580
  • Private, for-profit — $9,400

Popular Online MSN Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

DNP Program Cost

A doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) degree program doesn't have a set number of years to complete. The timeframe largely depends on how long it takes a student to complete their dissertation, but the median number of years to a doctorate is 5.8 years, according to a BestColleges analysis of 2016 data.

Students can choose to earn an MSN degree before pursuing a DNP or go straight from earning their bachelor's and enroll in a DNP program. Students may take slightly longer to complete their doctoral program if they don't complete a master's program first.

The average cost of tuition for a Ph.D. program is $16,526 per year, according to the BestColleges analysis. Including non-tuition expenses like room and board, books, and supplies, the total average cost per year is roughly $32,846.

If students take six years to complete their degree, total costs would be just under $200,000.

As with other degree levels, average annual tuition and fees vary depending on institution type.

  • Public — $15,930
  • Private, nonprofit — $30,960
  • Private, for-profit — $14,780

However, there is good news for doctoral students. Many can benefit from tuition waivers and stipends in exchange for research work. The average graduate research assistantship pays $1,833 monthly, while the average teaching assistantship pays $2,391 monthly.

Popular Online DNP Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Other Nursing School Expenses to Consider

Tuition and fees aren't the only costs nursing students must consider.

In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition Differences

Public colleges and universities generally charge steeper prices to out-of-state students than in-state students.

The average annual tuition and fees for in-state students at a two-year public college were $3,501 for the 2020-21 academic year. Out-of-state students, meanwhile, paid $8,256 per year, on average, according to NCES data.

The difference is even more extreme at four-year universities.

Four-year public institutions charged in-state students an average of $9,375 in 2020-21. These same institutions charged out-of-state students an average of $27,091 per year, nearly triple the cost of in-state tuition and fees.

Supply Costs

Tuition and fees aren't the only costs associated with higher education.

Nursing students will likely have to pay for textbooks and other supplies while pursuing a nursing degree. According to research from the College Board, students spent approximately $340 on average for course materials during the 2022-23 academic year.

Students paid an additional $1,120 on "other supplies" per year at two-year colleges, according to the College Board.

They reportedly paid an additional $900 per year on "other supplies" at four-year colleges and universities.

Accelerated BSN Programs

People who are interested in earning a nursing degree but already hold a bachelor's degree in another subject should consider an accelerated BSN program.

Many schools offer a quicker timeline to earn a BSN for students who already have a bachelor's degree. Rather than beginning the four-year degree process from the start again, accelerated programs allow students to skip general courses and earn a BSN in as little as one year. Other accelerated BSN programs may take 1.5 years to complete.

The shorter timeframe means students will ultimately pay less in tuition, fees, and non-academic expenses.


Page last reviewed on October 9, 2023

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