2020 Best Graduate Schools Badge

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

By the GradReports team | Updated 4/1/2020

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 in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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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 Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 New Britain (CT) New Britain (CT) $26,186 $44,035 $188,500
#2 #2 Winona (MN) Winona (MN) $11,835 $60,500 $186,000
#3 #3 Biddeford (ME) Biddeford (ME) $30,198 $132,170 $184,700
#4 #4 Baton Rouge (LA) Baton Rouge (LA) $26,274 $143,158 $177,000
#5 #5 Lincoln (NE) Lincoln (NE) $23,512 Not Reported $167,200
#6 #6 Villanova (PA) Villanova (PA) $21,307 $81,634 $167,000
#7 #7 Yankton (SD) Yankton (SD) $9,995 $114,925 $166,500
#8 #8 Springfield (MO) Springfield (MO) $13,098 Not Reported $166,200
#9 #9 Fort Worth (TX) Fort Worth (TX) $18,547 $126,267 $165,200
#10 #10 Madison (TN) Madison (TN) Not Reported $108,131 $164,400
#12 #12 Orlando (FL) Orlando (FL) $26,982 $141,150 $160,300
#15 #15 Rochester (MN) Rochester (MN) $23,667 $85,599 $158,900
#16 #16 Erie (PA) Erie (PA) $21,410 $105,199 $156,100
#17 #17 Wichita (KS) Wichita (KS) $8,484 $111,967 $153,400
#18 #18 Charleston (SC) Charleston (SC) $25,673 $142,759 $149,100
#19 #19 Oakland (CA) Oakland (CA) $18,590 $51,241 $147,100
#20 #20 Flint (MI) Flint (MI) $18,900 $45,946 $145,300
#21 #21 New York (NY) New York (NY) $13,678 $41,000 $139,800
#22 #22 Greensboro (NC) Greensboro (NC) $22,013 $34,706 $139,100
#23 #23 Fort Myers (FL) Fort Myers (FL) $31,216 $77,875 $137,100
#24 #24 Loma Linda (CA) Loma Linda (CA) $31,780 $73,413 $135,100
#25 #25 Chattanooga (TN) Chattanooga (TN) $18,538 $63,256 $133,500

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Median Salary $188,500
Median Debt $44,035
Annual Tuition $26,186

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 Salary $186,000
Median Debt $60,500
Annual Tuition $11,835

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.

Biddeford (ME)
Median Salary $184,700
Median Debt $132,170
Annual Tuition $30,198

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 Salary $177,000
Median Debt $143,158
Annual Tuition $26,274

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 Salary $167,200
Median Debt Not Reported
Annual Tuition $23,512

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.