25 Best Master's in Nursing Schools (MSN) 2020

By the GradReports team | Updated April 1, 2020
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We ranked the top 25 colleges that offer a Master of Science in Nursing based on the median entry-level salaries of alumni. The top ranked school is Central Connecticut State University, with a median salary of $188,500. University of North Carolina at Greensboro has the lowest median debt of all the ranked schools, with MSN graduates owing a median of $34,706. Graduates of these top nursing schools have median starting salaries in the $133,500-$188,500 range.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 $24,178 $44,035 $188,500
#2 #2 $9,000 $60,500 $186,000
#3 #3 $20,525 $132,170 $184,700
#4 #4 $13,814 $143,158 $177,000
#5 #5 $23,287 Not Reported $167,200
#6 #6 $19,005 $81,634 $167,000
#7 #7 $7,800 $114,925 $166,500
#8 #8 $11,114 Not Reported $166,200
#9 #9 $18,133 $126,267 $165,200
#10 #10 $74,817 $108,131 $164,400
#11 #11 $24,202 $98,800 $162,500
#12 #12 $18,882 $141,150 $160,300
#13 #13 $45,561 $151,002 $159,600
#14 #14 $28,272 $165,566 $159,000
#15 #15 $12,223 $85,599 $158,900
#16 #16 $19,220 $105,199 $156,100
#17 #17 $10,590 $111,967 $153,400
#18 #18 $23,488 $142,759 $149,100
#19 #19 $18,570 $51,241 $147,100
#20 #20 $16,704 $45,946 $145,300
#21 #21 $16,072 $41,000 $139,800
#22 #22 $21,846 $34,706 $139,100
#23 #23 $31,216 $77,875 $137,100
#24 #24 $29,372 $73,413 $135,100
#25 #25 $18,084 $63,256 $133,500

2020 Best Master's Program Highlights

Median Debt
$44,035
Median Salary
$188,500

Central Connecticut State University features a unique Master of Science Nursing in Hospice and Palliative Care. The program focus is on advanced nursing care for end-of-life and chronic care patients and their caregivers. Students may focus on palliative or chronic care, or both. Students will learn to assess, evaluate and effectively offer care. The program focus is competent care delivered in a patient-sensitive way, and also developing nurse advocacy for clients. Graduates are eligible for certification by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Center.

The program uses a cohort system for entering students. The 35 credit degree may be completed in less than two years. It is geared toward working nurses with current RN certification. Entrants must have a bachelor's degree, with a BSN strongly preferred. All courses are available online, and the program can be completed entirely online. The last 6 credits are a capstone research project.

Among the courses in the program are Theory of Hospice and Palliative Care, Health Assessment Across the Lifespan, and Comparative Domestic Delivery Systems and Informatics.

CCSU is located in New Britain, Connecticut.

Visit Central Connecticut State University's website.

Median Debt
$60,500
Median Salary
$186,000

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota features a Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia. The program is designed for practicing RNs who want to qualify as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.  The 64-credit program takes 28 months (7 semesters) to complete. The academic portion is based on the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis, with a blended online and on-campus format. Hospitals all over the state participate in the clinical portion. Students will learn the techniques and practice of anesthesia. Courses offered include Principles of Anesthesia, and Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology.

In addition to the Twin Cities campus, Saint Mary's has campuses in Winona, Rochester, and Apple Valley, all in Minnesota.

Visit Saint Mary's University of Minnesota's website.

Median Debt
$132,170
Median Salary
$184,700

The University of New England offers a Master of Science in Nursing degree both on its campus in Portland, Maine. The program specializes in anesthesia.

The Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia is designed for practicing RNs who want to become Certified Registered  Nurse Anesthetists. The first 8 months are in Portland, After that is a 19-month clinical training, UNE works with hospitals all over New England. In this second phase courses are online. Students will learn the procedures of anesthesia for all patients. Courses include Airway Management and Regional Techniques and Advances Principles of Anesthesia. The degree requires 51 credits. To date, graduates have a remarkable 100% pass rate on the certifying exam, and an equally impressive 100% employment rate within one year of graduation.

In July of 2019, UNE launched its new School of Nursing and Population Health on the Portland campus. UNE has a second campus in Biddeford, also in Maine.

Visit University of New England's website.

Median Debt
$143,158
Median Salary
$177,000

The Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University features a Master of Science in Family Nurse Practitioner. The degree is designed for licensed and practicing RNs to become advanced practice nurses focusing on family practice. Students will learn the application of nursing practice across the lifespan for a diverse population. The program's special emphasis is practicum experience in rural and underserved communities. Completion takes two to three years, with 44 credits and a minimum of 600 hours of clinical practice.

The most recent graduating class has an impressive 100% pass rate on the MSN-Family Nurse Practitioner certification exam. Among the courses offered in the program are Physiology and Pathophysiology, Applied Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Nursing Theory and Advanced Practice, and Health Assessment/ Health Promotion.

The university is located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The School of Nursing is over 90 years old. The clinical practicum portion of the program is geared to underserved areas or rural and urban Louisiana.

Expedited entry is available for students enrolled or recently graduated from the university.

Visit Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University's website.

Median Debt
Not Reported
Median Salary
$167,200

Bryan College of Health Sciences features two Master of Science in Nursing degrees. They are Nurse Educator and Nurse Leadership. Both are blended format, approximately 75% on line and 25% on campus. The 36 credit program usually is completed in two years. Students must have a bachelor's degree with a major in nursing, and a current unencumbered RN license in Nebraska, or in the state where the practicum will take place.

Both programs stress integrity, teamwork, flexibility, evidence-based nursing, and the integration of technology. Students will learn best practice nursing, current nursing theory, and building teams. Nurse Educators will be able to teach community outreach, beginning nurses, individuals, and families. Nurse Leaders will be able to build networks, apply analysis to statistics and devise solutions to problems. Courses offered include Teaching and Learning Strategies, Applied Statistics, Applied Theoretical Foundation, and Evidence-Based Practice and Informatics.

Bryan College of Health Science is uniquely a college within a major medical center, Bryan Health, in Lincoln Nebraska. Bryan Health is a nonprofit organization. Graduates report a 100% employment rate within four months.

Visit Bryan College of Health Sciences' website

Median Debt
$81,634
Median Salary
$167,000

Villanova University is a private, Catholic university located in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania. A Master of Science in Nursing is available through the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing. This track is specifically geared toward a Family Nurse Practitioner degree, preparing students to deliver care to patients in all communities and of all ages.

The core curriculum can be taken in-person or online and includes classes such as nursing science, nursing research, pathophysiology, and clinical ethics. The majority of classes are held in the evening, to accommodate students who are also working. Certain clinical fieldwork may take place during the day. Students who participate fulltime can expect to finish the graduate degree track in two years, however, students may take as many as five years to complete their studies. While graduates of the program can expect to have rewarding careers in primary care settings, this Master of Science in Nursing also prepares students to continue their education with Villanova University's doctor of nursing practice program.

The university also offers an MSN track in Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner and Nursing Education. 

Visit Villanova University's website.

Median Debt
$114,925
Median Salary
$166,500

Founded in 1936, Mount Marty College is a private, Catholic college located in Yankton, South Dakota offering a Master of Science for aspiring family nurse practitioners. This program provides a comprehensive, advanced nursing education focused on skill acquisition and Benedictine values.

In total, this degree requires 46 credits and 600 clinical hours. Students take classes such in advanced pathophysiology, pharmacology, and physical assessment, advanced practice roles and leadership, and advanced concepts in the care of older adults, families, women, and children. With most classes offered both online and in person, this program easily accommodates students who may be working simultaneously. The program length is six semesters, after which students are eligible to be certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and become licensed family nurse practitioners. Financial aid is available for students who may be unable to afford tuition.

Visit Mount Marty College's website.

Median Debt
Not Reported
Median Salary
$166,200
Median Debt
$126,267
Median Salary
$165,200

Founded in 1890, Texas Wesleyan University is a private, Methodist university located in Fort Worth,Texas. A Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia is offered for students who are seeking specialized training at the graduate level.

The program is 28 months in length, and requires the completion of 66 credit hours. The first phase of this program is primarily classroom study, where students can expect to take classes in subjects such as applied chemistry for nurse anesthetists, advanced pharmacology, research methods in nurse anesthesia, and advanced physical and health assessment. The second phase of the program is devoted to clinical rotations. Students receive hands-on experience through the fieldwork component of this degree program. Following completion of the program, students are eligible to sit for the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists licensing exam. Texas Wesleyan University graduates had a 100% employment rate within six months of passing this exam, according to the university.

Visit Texas Wesleyan University's website.

Median Debt
$108,131
Median Salary
$164,400
Median Debt
$98,800
Median Salary
$162,500

Florida International University is a public university located in University Park, Florida, that offers a Master of Science in Nurse Education through the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences. This competitive graduate program awards a master's degree following six semesters of coursework, and includes core coursework in subjects such as curriculum development in nursing, pathophysiologic concepts, pharmacological concepts, culture in advanced nursing practice, and instructional technology in nursing.

The entire program requires 37 credits and 280 clinical hours. These clinical hours can be completed in a variety of settings, and students receive assistance with finding the best fit for them. Students are also supported by the convenient hybrid of in-person and online coursework. Graduates of this program are prepared to teach nursing concepts in academic institutions or healthcare facilities, with special attention to culturally diverse educational settings, and are eligible to take the NLN National Nurse Educator Certification examination.  

Visit Florida International University's website.

 

Median Debt
$141,150
Median Salary
$160,300
Median Debt
$151,002
Median Salary
$159,600
Median Debt
$165,566
Median Salary
$159,000
Median Debt
$85,599
Median Salary
$158,900
Median Debt
$105,199
Median Salary
$156,100

Located in Erie, Pennsylvania, Gannon University is a private, Catholic University offering a Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia. This is a full-time program that functions as a partnership between Gannon University and the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center.

Through this program, students will gain the skills and knowledge to administer anesthesia using a variety of techniques and equipment, as well as in a variety of settings. Core curriculum includes classes in the chemistry and physics of anesthesia, physiology, pharmacology, and research methods. Students also complete practicums, through which they gain hands-on experience in a clinical environment. A total of 48 credits are required for the completion of the program, and the program is designed to have a duration of 28 months.

Following completion, students may take the licensure exam for nurse anesthesiology as an additional required step toward a career as a CRNA. Graduates are also prepared to continue to the doctoral level. The university also offers a Family Nurse Practitioner MSN program. 

Visit Gannon University's website.

Median Debt
$111,967
Median Salary
$153,400
Median Debt
$142,759
Median Salary
$149,100
Median Debt
$51,241
Median Salary
$147,100

Founded in 1868, Holy Names University is a Roman Catholic University located in Oakland, California, that offers a Master of Science in Nursing for aspiring family nurse practitioners. Students enjoy a flexible hybrid curriculum, with classes available online. Outside of the online classes, students meet in person one weekend per month, making this program ideal for students who live off-campus or are working. Other student perks include strong networking resources and a state-of-the-art simulation center for students to perform labs and simulations in throughout their education.

Core classes include Healthcare Law and Ethics, Scientific Inquiry in Nursing, Social Impact of Healthcare Economics in a Changing Healthcare Environment, and Philosophical Foundations of Advanced Practice Nursing. In the family nurse practitioner concentration, classes range from physiology and pharmacology to healthcare through the lifespan. 45 credits are required for completion of the program, along with extensive clinical fieldwork, at which point students will be prepared to become certified as NPs by taking a licensure exam.

The university also offers a hybrid Nurse Educator MSN program and a hybrid Nurse Administration program.

Visit Holy Names University's website.

Median Debt
$45,946
Median Salary
$145,300

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Median Debt
$41,000
Median Salary
$139,800
Median Debt
$34,706
Median Salary
$139,100
Median Debt
$77,875
Median Salary
$137,100
Median Debt
$73,413
Median Salary
$135,100
Median Debt
$63,256
Median Salary
$133,500