The typical MSN student will be a practicing RN who wants to open up professional prospects, whether that means obtaining greater pay, taking on management responsibilities or having more opportunities to treat certain types of patients. But there are many ways to get to that career change, and it all starts with the MSN program.
When choosing the best RN to MSN program, it’s important to remember that what one student sees as the ‘perfect’ program might not even be on the radar for another. However, most nursing master’s students will focus on three primary characteristics when choosing their program: the cost to completion, how long it takes to earn the degree and the overall quality of the program.
Cheapest RN to MSN Online Programs
Who doesn’t want to save money? Most prospective MSN
students will look for the most affordable RN to MSN online programs – and for
some, it will be the single most important factor when choosing a school. This
is perfectly understandable, but before jumping at the cheapest option out
there, it’s important to consider a few factors that affect a school’s tuition
First, there’s more to the cost of attendance than tuition.
There are additional fees to consider, as well as a student’s residency status;
both of which may make the cost of the degree more or less expensive. Then
there are opportunities for tuition assistance, such as loans, grants,
scholarships and employer tuition reimbursement programs, all of which can
bring that tuition number down significantly.
Secondly, it’s important to confirm what a master’s in nursing student is giving up by choosing a school with a lower tuition. In many cases, they’re giving up nothing – it’s a solid program that just happens to be more affordable. In other cases, a higher tuition may equate to more student services, thus making it easier to obtain academic assistance from the professor or technical assistance from the school.
Shortest RN to MSN Online Programs
Remember the old saying: Time is money? The sooner a nurse is out of their MSN
program and practicing at a higher level, the faster they will be making higher
pay. But choosing the shortest RN to MSN online program isn’t always
straightforward. The time it takes for a student to complete an RN to MSN
program will depend on their prior academic standing, but can range from
anywhere from two to four years.
For example, if they already have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, they may be able to proceed more quickly than if they have an associate degree. One thing to keep in mind about moving as quickly as possible through an MSN program is that there will be tradeoffs. A master’s student in an accelerated program will have less free time and may need to rely on others to help out with family obligations. And taking a heavy course load could make trying to work full-time difficult or impossible. This in turn, can lead to lower income while in school – something that can make tuition even tougher to meet.
Best RN to MSN Online Programs
Every student would like to attend the best online RN to MSN
program possible, but as previously discussed, things get tricky when taking
cost and length of program into consideration. So how does a nursing master’s student
choose the one that’s “best”?
There are some less obvious or tangible factors, such as a
program’s reputation and school recognition. For some, this will be important, especially
if they wish to have a future career in research or academia. For others, they
couldn’t care less, as long as the program is accredited – accreditation is
important because a program that’s not accredited means the degree will mean
little and it will be far more difficult to obtain financial aid.
Other aspects to look at include certification exam passage
rates, graduation rates and types of online learning available. Some online
programs have a synchronous online delivery system which allows grad students
to attend class from anywhere, but at a set time. This limits the level of
flexibility a nursing master’s student has in the program. Contrast this with
asynchronous learning, which allows students to attend class anytime they feel
like it. However, this means it will be more difficult to interact with
Ultimately, what constitutes the “best” RN to MSN online program will come down to what is important to the master’s student.
Online RN to MSN Programs: No Clinicals?
For most online MSN degree
programs, clinicals will be required. One caveat has to do with RN to MSN
programs that grant a BSN degree in addition to an MSN. In these types of
programs, the clinicals are only required as a part of the MSN portion of the
When clinicals are required, many
programs will allow master’s in nursing students to complete them at medical facilities
close to home or work. This can be done by making arrangements with program administrators
ahead of time. In some cases, the student can meet clinical requirements at the
same medical facility where they work.