Best Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

A quality master of science in nursing degree may be cheaper than you think. Learn how to find the most affordable online MSN programs.
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Updated on June 7, 2024
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Elizabeth Clarke is a board-certified family nurse practitioner. Her experience spans emergency departments, cardiac units, pediatric urgent care, and occupational health settings. She earned her bachelor of science in nursing and master's in nursing...
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Most Affordable Online Master's Programs in Nursing

Is it your dream to work in leadership or management as a nurse? Are you already a registered nurse (RN) but want to see where else your career can take you? Earning a master of science in nursing (MSN) can help you expand your skills, job prospects, and salary potential.

If you're a student on a budget, the good news is that tuition at many affordable online MSN programs can be as low as $13,500. By doing your homework, you can find an inexpensive graduate nursing program that offers a rigorous and meaningful education.

Featured Online Nursing Programs

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

Top 10 Affordable Online MSN Programs

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#1 Best Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

California State University-Dominguez Hills

  • Carson, CA
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Cost per Year:
In-State | $8,493
Out-of-State | $8,493 plus $396 per credit

Credits to Graduate: 45

Consider CSUDH's online MSN if you want to concentrate in administration, education, family nurse practitioner, or clinical nurse specialist. Some concentrations require two two-day on-campus seminars. All students take core classes in advanced nursing roles, nursing ethics, and pharmacology.

Admission requirements include an unrestricted nursing license and a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. You'll also submit a resume and proof of professional experience in your intended concentration. The School of Nursing offers one $1,500 graduate scholarship to degree-seekers in the U.S. or Canada.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,055
Out-of-state
$17,622
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$7,176
Out-of-state
$16,680
Retention Rate
71%
Acceptance Rate
89%
Students Enrolled
15,530
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
94% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#2 Best Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

University of North Florida

  • Jacksonville, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $494
Out-of-State | $1,044

Credits to Graduate: 34

Apply to UNF's MS in nursing education to learn how to train and mentor the next generation of RNs. This 16-month degree features core classes in theory framework for practice and applied nursing research. Concentration coursework includes health assessment, teaching nursing, and evaluation techniques.

Admission requirements include a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, one year of professional experience, and an active nursing license. UNF may also request an interview. All Brooks College of Health scholarships accept applications online.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,281
Out-of-state
$17,999
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,570
Out-of-state
$19,585
Retention Rate
80%
Acceptance Rate
71%
Students Enrolled
16,406
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
77% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#3 Best Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

Texas A&M International University

  • Laredo, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $367
Out-of-State | $1,030

Credits to Graduate: 31

Apply to TAIMU's MS in nursing administration if you want to graduate in less than one year. The 10-month full-time curriculum features coursework in theories influencing practice, healthcare policy and social justice, and finance for the nurse executive. A required practicum lets you apply your new knowledge and skills on the job.

TAIMU restricts applicants to practicing Texas nurses with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Your undergraduate transcripts must also show a passing grade in one statistics class.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$3,818
Out-of-state
$13,610
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$3,350
Out-of-state
$10,694
Retention Rate
74%
Acceptance Rate
54%
Students Enrolled
8,455
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
62% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#4 Best Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

Utah Valley University

  • Orem, UT
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $347
Out-of-State | $981

Credits to Graduate: 34-37

Both full- and part-time students can enroll in UVU's online MSN. Core classes include advanced nursing theory, teaching nursing in the classroom, and curriculum design and development. The customizable curriculum lets you complete a final project or a master's thesis. 

Prospective students must live in Utah or a state with licensure reciprocity. Other application requirements include a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.2 and three recommendation letters from professors or work supervisors. UVU awards out-of-state tuition waivers to eligible degree-seekers.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,368
Out-of-state
$16,450
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,773
Out-of-state
$21,461
Retention Rate
66%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
41,262
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
56% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
#5 Best Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

Weber State University

  • Ogden, UT
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $870
Out-of-State | $1,914

Credits to Graduate: 32-34

Aspiring nurse educators and nursing leaders can enroll in Weber's online MSN. The nurse educator concentration features coursework in curriculum development, integrating scholarship into practice, and teaching strategies. Nursing leadership degree-seekers take classes in financial issues in nursing, creating a component workforce, and information systems.

The online MSN requires a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and an active nursing license. You may apply with a lower GPA if you have at least two years of relevant work experience. Some degree-seekers may qualify for an out-of-state tuition waiver.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,090
Out-of-state
$15,272
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,089
Out-of-state
$17,923
Retention Rate
66%
Acceptance Rate
100%
Students Enrolled
29,914
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
#6 Best Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

Johns Hopkins University

  • Baltimore, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $1,881
Out-of-State | $1,881

Credits to Graduate: 34

JHU's MSN in healthcare organizational leadership covers leadership role identity, biostatistics for evidence-based practice, and the foundations of healthcare quality and safety. You'll also complete 504 hours of clinical rotations at your job site.

Admission requirements include an active nursing license, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, a goal statement, and three recommendation letters. JHU selects applicants through virtual interviews. The School of Nursing also considers all incoming students for departmental scholarships.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$58,720
Out-of-state
$58,720
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$58,720
Out-of-state
$58,720
Retention Rate
97%
Acceptance Rate
7%
Students Enrolled
31,275
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
80% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#7 Best Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

University of Central Florida

  • Orlando, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $327
Out-of-State | $1,152

Credits to Graduate: 31-36

Apply to UCF's online MSN if you want to concentrate in nurse education or nursing leadership. Coursework in both tracks includes health promotion, pathophysiological bases for advanced nursing practice, and theory for advanced practice nursing. Graduates can use their degrees to work as chief nursing officers or nursing managers.

UCF success coaches help prospective students throughout the application process. Application requirements include GRE or GMAT scores. You can apply for over 200 institutional scholarships with just one application.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$6,368
Out-of-state
$19,810
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,916
Out-of-state
$25,759
Retention Rate
93%
Acceptance Rate
41%
Students Enrolled
67,959
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
9% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#8 Best Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

Georgetown University

  • Washington, DC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $2,441
Out-of-State | $2,441

Credits to Graduate: 44

Consider Gerogetown's online MSN if you want to work as a family nurse practitioner. The synchronous curriculum features live class sessions and two on-campus intensives. Other graduation requirements include 650 clinical hours you complete at your job site.

Application requirements include an active nursing license, a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, and three recommendation letters. You'll also submit a personal statement and a recorded interview. Your financial need may qualify you for federal grants or low-interest loans.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$59,784
Out-of-state
$59,784
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$54,672
Out-of-state
$56,592
Retention Rate
97%
Acceptance Rate
12%
Students Enrolled
20,984
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#9 Best Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

Northeastern State University

  • Tahlequah, OK
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $370
Out-of-State | $371

Credits to Graduate: 32

Future nursing systems analysts and informatics nurse specialists can enroll in NSU's online MS in nursing informatics. Online classes last seven weeks and include cultural perspectives, advanced research and evidence-based practice, and trends in professional nursing. You can also complete a traditional master's thesis or a capstone project.

NSU maintains an undergraduate GPA cutoff of 2.5 and requires an active nursing license, professional liability insurance, and a background check. The university also offers three annual graduate scholarship application deadlines.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$6,285
Out-of-state
$15,270
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$4,802
Out-of-state
$10,697
Retention Rate
64%
Acceptance Rate
99%
Students Enrolled
6,631
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
78% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#10 Best Affordable Online MSN Programs of 2024

University of Utah

  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $971
Out-of-State | $3,459

Credits to Graduate: 39

The U's MS in nursing education offers a five-semester curriculum with coursework in curriculum development and education, assessment and feedback in education, and teaching strategies and modalities. You can study full or part time, and advisors can help you find practicum sites at local healthcare centers.

Application requirements include an active nursing license, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, three references, and a goal statement. International prospective students may apply but must prove English language proficiency. The Nurse Faculty Loan Program can significantly reduce your tuition if you agree to a four-year teaching commitment.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,749
Out-of-state
$27,201
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,970
Out-of-state
$24,607
Retention Rate
87%
Acceptance Rate
95%
Students Enrolled
34,464
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
66% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

How We Rank Schools

To create this ranking, BestColleges sourced the most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard. We then ranked each school according to the top variables college students selected in our College Choice and Admissions Survey. To learn more, check out our full rankings methodology or read the summary below.

Ranking Methodology Summary

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To qualify for our rankings lists, each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution. Each eligible school was then ranked based on a formula measuring:

  • Affordability (30%)
  • Student outcomes (30%)
  • Reputation (20%)
  • Diversity and social mobility (20%)

In addition, we only included colleges with graduation rates in the top third of all online colleges.

What to Expect in an Online MSN Program

Being cost-efficient and online in format doesn't necessarily mean low quality. Many cheap MSN programs offer the the same rigor and curricula as more expensive, in-person programs. They're also often better options for busy working adults as they have flexible course schedules.

A traditional MSN degree typically takes two years to complete; however, many affordable online MSN programs offer accelerated courses, allowing you to graduate in as little as one year.

As an MSN student, you can expect to take required courses in clinical skills and leadership. You'll also likely choose a specialization, such as geriatric nursing, nursing administration, clinical nursing, or advanced practical nursing.

In addition to coursework, students typically complete clinical practicum and lab hours, which they do on site or on campus. If your MSN program is online but based in another state, you will be required to find a clinical site in your home state. Some programs assist with this, and some do not.

Here are some of the most common graduate classes:

  • Advanced Nursing Roles: Students get exposure to the application of nursing practices and principles in various settings. Other topics include the history of nursing and ethical considerations.
  • Diagnostics: This course explores the methods and tools for diagnosing various physical and mental conditions. A great deal of learning stems from examining case studies.
  • Primary Care Management: This class provides advanced coverage of human physiology, anatomy, and the clinical manifestations of disease. You'll also learn about the treatment and assessment of acute and chronic conditions.
  • Research in Advanced Nursing: You'll acquire analytic and critical thinking skills as you diagnose and treat patients. The course also covers research methodologies.

How Much Do the Cheapest Online MSN Programs Cost?

Regardless of how cheap or expensive a nursing program is, an MSN requires a significant financial investment.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, graduate students pay an average of $20,513 in tuition each year. Students attending private schools can expect to pay even more.

The cost of an MSN program can vary significantly depending on your residency status, the course delivery format, and whether the school is public or private. Access to financial aid or stipends can also impact the cost of a graduate nursing degree.

Georgetown University offers one of the most expensive online MSNs at $2,440 per credit. In contrast, the University of Alabama charges just $400 per credit for its online MSN program.

There are many advantages of a cheap online MSN. Some online programs charge in-state tuition rates regardless of residency. Also, attending classes remotely often means you can avoid paying on-campus fees and save money on transportation costs.

How to Find Good-Quality, Cheap Online MSN Programs

Some of the cheapest online MSN programs have stellar reputations in the nursing field. Follow these steps to find a quality graduate nursing program within your budget.

Step 1: Define Your Budget

Creating and following a budget is essential to financing a master's degree in nursing. While enrolling in a graduate program can be financially difficult for many people, sticking to a budget can prevent you from living beyond your means.

It pays to anticipate all the costs associated with pursuing an MSN. To ensure that even the cheapest MSN programs are feasible for you, be sure to plan for these expenses and income sources:

  • Total income: Total funds you have when starting graduate school, including savings, refunds from financial aid disbursements, and wages
  • Monthly income: Recurring income from work, assistantships, and other sources
  • Fixed expenses: Bills that have the same cost each month, such as insurance premiums and subscriptions
  • Variable expenses: Costs that change each month, such as grocery costs and utility bills
  • Emergency fund: Unexpected expenses, such as car repairs and medical bills

Step 2: Confirm Accreditation

College or university accreditation means a school meets academic standards of excellence. Accreditation also indicates that the school is academically rigorous and can prepare you with the skills and experience you'll need to succeed. You must attend an accredited school to qualify for state licensure and to sit for certification boards.

When researching cheap MSN programs, understand the distinction between institutional and programmatic accreditation. High-quality MSN programs will typically hold programmatic accreditation from either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Step 3: Evaluate Student Outcomes

How likely is it that will you find a job after earning your MSN? Will you be able to earn more after graduation? Do most of the students from your chosen program report being satisfied with their education?

These and other figures are essential to consider when selecting a cheap MSN program.

When researching prospective programs, look at outcomes, such as retention and graduation rates, graduate salaries, and job placement. Metrics like acceptance and graduate rates can provide insight into the quality of a school's MSN. For example, a program with a relatively high acceptance rate but low job placement can raise concerns about its ability to meet specific academic standards or adequately prepare you for success.

Some MSN programs provide student outcomes or rankings on their websites. For example, Johns Hopkins University's MSN program lists its ranking among other graduate nursing programs in the country.

Step 4: Look for Lots of Financial Aid

Even attendees of the cheapest MSN programs often need aid to pay tuition and fees and support themselves financially.

If you're considering student loans, weigh the debt you may incur against your earning potential after graduation. If you can greatly increase your salary potential with an MSN, you may be able to handle those loan payments.

On the contrary, if your prospective pay is relatively low, you might want to look into other types of financial aid.

Does earning an MSN require you to go into student debt? Not necessarily — as long as you know what resources to search for. You can apply for graduate nursing scholarships to help defray tuition costs and provide a modest stipend to live on.

Here are some popular scholarships to consider:

Frequently Asked Questions About Online MSN Programs

Are online MSN programs legit?

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Many of the cheapest online MSN programs are accredited, meaning they provide a high-quality education. If a school prepares you with the skills, knowledge, and experience a job requires, employers should view your MSN the same way they'd view a degree from a traditional in-person program.

Are cheap online MSN programs worth it?

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An MSN is likely worth your time and effort if you want to take on a leadership role or a more technical job in nursing. Also, an MSN can equip you with the necessary skills and real-world experience to qualify you for higher-paying positions such as clinical nurse specialist and nurse practitioner.

Are there any affordable online RN-to-MSN programs?

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Many graduate nursing programs offer an affordable RN-to-MSN path for nurses who want to further their education. Some of the most affordable online MSN programs with high academic standards include courses of study at the American College of Education, Northeastern State University, the University of West Florida, and the University of North Alabama.

What is the best MSN to get?

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The best type of MSN can depend on your salary or occupational goals. For example, if you want to earn more money, consider becoming a nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, or nurse practitioner. These professionals earned a median salary of $129,480 in 2023, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You need at least a master's degree to qualify for any of these positions.

Is it hard to get an MSN?

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Some people may find it difficult to get an MSN due to the coursework and practicums. Because of the rigor of a typical MSN, most graduate programs require you to have at least two years of work experience.


Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by BestColleges. Page last reviewed April 16, 2024.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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