Top 20 Cheap Online MSN Programs

Best Value Schools - Online MSN Degree Programs

Online MSN programs are becoming increasingly popular and for good reason. Nurses are some of the most under-appreciated healthcare staff in the industry; although doctors sometimes overshadow them, nurses have a significant amount of responsibility, work long hours, and spend a great deal of time with patients. People who choose to become nurses are usually motivated by a genuine love of medicine and a sincere desire to help others.

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Online nursing programs are more plentiful than many other degrees because it is so convenient to educate aspiring nurses via distance education. Undergrads and graduate students alike can blend online theoretical learning with in-person practicums that they complete at nearby hospitals and health clinics. In addition, online nursing master’s degree programs often come with opportunities for specialization. The most common of these are nurse education, nurse administration, and nursing practice (nurse practitioner).

The 20 Best Cheap Online Master of Nursing Degrees Ranking Methodology

Selection Criteria

For this ranking, we focused on public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer online MSN programs. To be eligible for consideration, the school’s nursing department must be accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

In addition, we controlled for affordability by only considering schools with tuition rates* less than or equal to $1,000/credit.

*For public schools, we calculated the average value of their in-state and out-of-state rates.

Ranking Factors

To rank each school, we examined three primary aspects of their online nursing master’s degree programs.

First, we looked at the variety of online MSN programs that each college offers. We awarded full points for each different type of program (education, administration, nurse practitioner, etc.) and half points for each subtype or concentration within a program (ex. family, neonatal, and gerontology options for nurse practitioners).
Of course, just because a school offers a particular program doesn’t mean that students are interested in it.

So for our second metric, we looked at how active the nursing program is in conferring degrees to students. We quantified this measure by looking at the average number of graduate nursing degrees that each college has conferred over the past five years. In addition, we only included MSN programs in this calculation that have graduated at least ten students/year for at least four of the last five years. This approach allowed us to distinguish popular, productive programs from those that have struggled to produce graduates (most likely due to low enrollment and/or retention or because it is a new degree offering).

Because the significance of this figure diminishes as it grows, we implemented a point limit so that any school that graduates an average of 100+ nursing students per year earned the maximum score.

Lastly, we looked at program affordability. We awarded points in this category by subtracting each school’s tuition rate from $1,000 (the maximum allowable cost/credit).

We weighted our calculations so that the maximum score in each category was 15 points for a total maximum of 45 points. Read more about the best cheap online master of nursing degrees below!


University of Mary Online MSN Programs

The top online nursing master’s degree at the University of Mary embraces Catholic values.

19. University of Mary (tied)

Online MSN

Website
The accredited online master of nursing at the University of Mary combines top-notch academics with Catholic principles, making it a great choice for students of faith. The school’s Benedictine values suffuse the curriculum; many programs incorporate elements of servant leadership in particular. Most programs also require a service project, enabling you to give back to the community while practicing the skills you’ll need as you pursue a career in nursing. And whether you’re more interested in healthcare informatics or leadership, the University of Mary has a program to meet your needs.
Average Tuition: $550/credit
Score: 28.4

Wilmington University Online MSN Programs

Wilmington University offers three concentrations within its top online master of nursing.

19. Wilmington University (tied)

Online Master of Science in Nursing Leadership

Website
With three concentrations available as part of its top online MSN, Wilmington University sets itself apart from the competition. Depending on their goals, enrollees can choose to focus on executive leadership, education, or consulting. The latter is a particularly unique option that prepares graduates to assess and analyze health care practices as they apply to nursing. This concentration requires two classes that touch on the law and legal issues and a third on forensic nursing. All three programs of Wilmington’s MSN tracks are designed to be completed in two to three years, although you can take up to five if necessary.
Average Tuition: $444/credit
Score: 28.4

University of Maryland Baltimore Online MSN Programs

Ambitious students will appreciate the top online MSN/MBA dual-degree program at UMD.

17. University of Maryland-Baltimore (tied)

Online Master’s Degree in Nursing

Website
Students who choose to earn an accredited master’s degree in nursing online from UMD can rest assured that they’ve chosen a prestigious program. Not only does it make our ranking, but UMD has also earned accolades from U.S. News for both its informatics and administration specialties. It even offers a valuable dual-degree program that allows you to pair an MSN in leadership and management with an MBA. Beyond offering academic excellence, UMD employs faculty members who are dedicated to online learning. This includes academic advisors who are accessible through a variety of communication channels, including phone calls and video messaging.
Average Tuition: $899/credit
Score: 28.5

University of Colorado Denver Online MSN Programs

Students who earn a top master of science in nursing online from UC Denver can apply for a complimentary HIMSS membership.

17. University of Colorado-Denver (tied)

Online Master’s Degree in Nursing

Website
UC Denver provides some of the best online nursing master’s degrees that are specifically tailored to the 21st century healthcare environment. One of two online MSN options, the Healthcare Informatics degree even offers complimentary student membership with HIMSS. This nation-wide organization promotes improving healthcare through information technology. The other option is UC Denver’s unique i-LEAD Nursing Leadership and Healthcare Systems program. Students who select this track learn strategies for how to deliver high-quality healthcare to rural and underserved urban areas. And if you’d prefer the nursing leadership track but also want some experience with HIT, you can earn a post-master’s certificate in informatics by taking just 12 additional credits.
Average Tuition: $747/credit
Score: 28.5

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Online MSN Programs

Earn Texas top master’s degrees in nursing online with just a few trips to the Lubbock campus.

16. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Online MSN

Website
Aspiring nurse practitioners will find many appealing options at Texas Tech. The university offers more than half a dozen MSN programs in both career- and practice-oriented specialties. In the former category, students can earn an affordable master of science in nursing online in either administration or education. In the latter category, TTU delivers a series of Nurse Practitioner tracks that includes Gerontology, Midwifery, and Psychiatric Mental Health, among others. Note that many of the practitioner programs do require limited on-campus work, but it’s worth the trip to take advantage of the school’s excellent facilities.
Average Tuition: $432/credit
Score: 28.7

Maryville University of Saint Louis Online MSN Programs

Maryville’s top online MSN program doesn’t require applicants to take the GRE or GMAT.

15. Maryville University of Saint Louis

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Aspiring nurse practitioners who want a fuss-free application experience should look to the Maryville University of St. Louis. The school doesn’t require GRE or GMAT scores for admission, and the entire degree is available online – no campus visits required! And because the University offers multiple start dates, you won’t have to wait until the following school year to begin. Thanks to asynchronous coursework, this accredited online nursing master’s program provides plenty and convenience for working adults. And when it comes time to complete your clinical practicum, you can work with faculty to find a nearby location that works for you.
Average Tuition: $766/credit
Score: 28.8

Midwestern State University Online MSN Programs

You can earn a highly affordable master of science in nursing online through Midwestern State.

14. Midwestern State University

Online Master’s Degree in Nursing

Website
If price is a priority in your decision to pursue an MSN, Midwestern State should be on your list. The school offers the most affordable program on this ranking, with an average cost per credit of less than $250. And for such a small investment, MSU offers not one, but three cheap online master of nursing degrees: nurse educator, family NP, and psychiatric mental health NP. But while each program might lead to a different career path, they all provide high-quality training in research, analysis, and of course clinical practice. What’s more, in-state residents are eligible for Texas licensure in addition to national certification.
Average Tuition: $244/credit
Score: 28.9

Indiana Wesleyan University Online MSN Programs

Earning an accredited online master of nursing from Indiana Wesleyan is relatively stress-free thanks to a few thoughtful touches.

13. Indiana Wesleyan University

Online Master’s Degree in Nursing

Website
Indiana Wesleyan wants to ensure that its online learners have a smooth, stress-free experience. That’s why tuition for the school’s top online MSN programs includes the cost of books and materials – so you don’t have to worry about surprise expenses each semester. The program also utilizes a convenient registration process that only requires you to sign up for classes once after you enroll. Another benefit? All three MSN tracks –nurse administrator, nurse educator, and MSN/MBA dual-degree – employ the cohort-learning model. This means you’ll take classes with the same group of students each semester and progress through your studies together.
Average Tuition: $515/credit
Score: 29.1

University of Kansas Online MSN Programs

KU’s top online nursing master’s degree in public health leaves graduates prepared to make a difference in their communities.

12. University of Kansas

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Students who earn their accredited master of science in nursing online through KU can choose from three specialization areas: informatics, organizational leadership, and public health. All three of these options are relatively uncommon within MSN programs, so KU should be a top contender for anyone interested in these fields. The public health track (a particularly unusual find) features a comprehensive curriculum that imparts the skills you’ll need to lead public health agencies at all levels. Courses consider health from a social perspective, ensuring that you’ll be ready to meet your community’s needs after graduation.
Average Tuition: $628/credit
Score: 29.2

University of Texas El Paso Online MSN Programs

UTEP’s cheap master’s degrees in nursing incorporate opportunities for research.

11. University of Texas-El Paso

Online Master’s Program in Nursing

Website
With its low tuition and broad range of programs, the University of Texas at El Paso delivers a high-quality yet affordable master’s degree in nursing online. Whether you want to study nurse administration, education, or practice, UTEP can provide the training you need. Plus, the school’s convenient delivery format means you could graduate in as few as two years while taking all classes in a 100% online environment. Another standout feature of the curriculum is its focus on research; you’ll learn how to apply different methodologies to solve problems and could even conduct research yourself.
Average Tuition: $441/credit
Score: 29.6

Saint Josephs College of Maine Online MSN Programs

All three accredited online MSN tracks at Saint Joseph’s prepare graduates for leadership roles in their healthcare system.

10. Saint Joseph’s College of Maine

Online Nursing MS

Website
For an eminently practical and affordable online nursing master’s degree, look to Saint Joseph’s College of Maine. Although the degree program offers multiple tracks (informatics, education, and family nursing), you’ll pick up the basics in all three areas through a comprehensive core curriculum. At the same time, professors make a point to keep up with current trends in the field, so you can feel confident that the knowledge you gain is immediately translatable to professional practice. And by incorporating your personal work experiences into course content, the program enables you to apply what you learn right away in your day-to-day practice.
Average Tuition: $476/credit
Score: 30.1

Graceland University Lamoni Online MSN Programs

Students who enroll in Graceland’s top online master of nursing degree program will need to attend an on-campus focus session.

9. Graceland University-Lamoni

Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Website
If you choose to pursue an affordable master’s degree in nursing online through Graceland University, you’ll have the benefit of selecting from two highly sought-after specialization areas. However, both programs (Gerontology and Family Practice) do require (limited) face-time on the school’s Missouri campus. You’ll participate in a two-day on-campus focus session to augment your online coursework, and later you’ll work with a preceptor to arrange a practicum experience a little bit closer to home. Graceland also offers both full- and part-time options for their MSN degree, ensuring that working adults can find a program that fits their schedule.
Average Tuition: $556/credit
Score: 30.7

University of Texas Tyler Online MSN Programs

Earning a top online nursing master’s from UT – Tyler won’t break the bank.

8. University of Texas-Tyler

Online MSN

Website
UT – Tyler receives praise for being one of the most affordable places to earn an accredited master of science in nursing online. Indeed, it’s one of the cheapest options on this ranking. Along with a low price, students benefit from coursework that prepares them for either a career in the field or further graduate study. They also gain valuable hands-on experience thanks to the practicum requirement, which places students in a professional healthcare setting in their local community. What’s more, all three of the school’s MSN programs (administration, education, and practice) emphasize patient care for diverse populations, imparting much-needed skills that will help graduates succeed in a 21st-century healthcare environment.
Average Tuition: $245/credit
Score: 31.1

Benedictine University Online MSN Programs

Benedictine provides one of the best master’s degrees in nursing online, and graduates report that they’re well prepared for professional practice.

7. Benedictine University

Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Degree

Website
With three yearly start dates, no thesis or residency requirements, and a user-friendly delivery format, Benedictine University’s accredited online MSN degree sets a new standard in accessibility and flexibility. The program, which most students complete in about two years, is available with concentrations in Nurse Education and Nurse Executive Leadership. Of course, both options prepare students for their certification exams, but Benedictine does even more to ensure your future success in nursing. For example, you can get advice for interviews and help polishing your résumé. It’s no wonder that 95% of surveyed MSN graduates reported that Benedictine left them well prepared for their careers.
Average Tuition: $650/credit
Score: 32.5

Texas A M University Corpus Christi Online MSN Programs

While earning your affordable master of science in nursing online at Texas A&M, you might consider tacking on a minor as well.

6. Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi

Online MSN

Website
Texas A&M’s cheap online master of nursing earns accolades not just from the healthcare field, but also from the broader world of graduate programs. In fact, in 2017, U.S. News rated it among the top 100 graduate programs in the country. The school’s low tuition, varied degree options, and opportunities to earn a master’s-level minor are all top selling points for grad students. In fact, Texas A&M is one of the few online programs that will allow you to augment your MSN with a minor. Adding this secondary specialization (in Nursing Education or Leadership in Nursing Systems) to your primary major (in one of the three standard focus areas) will help your résumé stand out from the pack.
Average Tuition: $393/credit
Score: 32.9

Texas Womans University Online MSN Programs

TWU’s top online master of nursing includes the option to practice in a patient simulation laboratory.

5. Texas Woman’s University

Online Master’s in Nursing

Website
Although you can earn an accredited online MSN from Texas Women’s University without setting foot on its Houston campus, you might just want to make the trip anyway. Why? Because the school runs simulation laboratories that place faculty and students alongside one another as they imitate real-life healthcare scenarios. These exercises are particularly important for students who experience anxiety in high-stress situations, as it gives them a chance to practice in a low-stakes, low-risk environment. If traveling to Houston isn’t an option, however, you can always complete your required clinical hours in a suitable location in your own community.
Average Tuition: $438/credit
Score: 37.5

Regis University Online MSN Programs

Nurse practitioners who’d like to earn an accredited master’s degree in nursing online without changing their specialty can do so at Regis.

4. Regis University

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
Regis University has plenty of choices for the aspiring graduate student in nursing. Of course, the university offers all the traditional options: leadership, education, and a few practice-based fields. However, it also hosts a top online master of nursing program specifically for nurse practitioners who already have experience in a certain area but haven’t yet earned their master’s degree. This Master of Science Completion Option (MSCO) includes coursework in research, ethics, policy, and theory, building on the skills and knowledge you already have while challenging you to re-evaluate what you know. In other words, it’s an efficient way to boost your credentials without having to start your degree from square one.
Average Tuition: $600/credit
Score: 38.9

Students can save both time and money while earning a top-notch education at Western Governors University.

3. Western Governors University

Master of Science in Nursing Online

With its long-standing dedication to providing a top-notch education to working adults, it’s no surprise that Western Governors University earns a spot on this list. The school’s competency-based approach (which asks students to prove their knowledge rather than simply complete credit hours) rewards fast learners and those with ample experience. It can also save you money, because you can complete your assessments as soon as you’re ready instead of waiting until the end of the term. And as a final step in your pursuit of this affordable master of science in nursing online (with tracks in education, leadership, and informatics) you’ll complete a capstone project to help synthesize and integrate your knowledge in daily practice.
Average Tuition: $406/credit
Score: 43.4

Graduates of UT – Arlington’s accredited online MSN program boast high pass rates on certification exams.

2. University of Texas-Arlington

Online Master of Science in Nursing

Website
The efficacy and quality of UT – Arlington’s top master’s degrees in nursing online become apparent when you look at graduates’ pass rates on certification exams. For example, the family nurse practitioner program boasts a 97% pass rate on the ANCC national exam, while the pediatric acute care program sports a 95% pass rate – one of the highest in the country! But exam scores are only one metric of success, and UT – Arlington ensures that students also graduate with ample clinical experiences, research work, and diagnostic reasoning practice so that they’ll succeed in whatever they choose to do next.
Average Tuition: $606/credit
Score: 44

University of Texas Medical Branch Online MSN Programs

Students pursuing an affordable master of science in nursing online at UTMB are spoiled for choice when it comes to program specialties.

1. University of Texas Medical Branch

Onine Master of Science in Nursing

Website
On this list, the University of Texas Medical Branch stands out for the sheer number of accredited online nursing master’s programs it has to offer. In addition to standard education and leadership programs, UTMB boasts some of the most specialized options for nurse practitioners that you’ll find online. More specifically, the NP degree comes with four sub-tracks: family, neonatal, and two gerontology programs (primary and acute care). Even the MSN Nurse Leader degree offers two sub-tracks (in clinical and executive leadership). And if you already have a few graduate courses under your belt, you can transfer up to 12 credit hours, making this already affordable program even more accessible.
Average Tuition: $459/credit
Score: 45

Thanks for reading our ranking of the 20 best cheap master’s degrees in nursing online!

Sources:
IPEDS Data Center
College Navigator
Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education – Accredited Programs

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