12 Best MSN Degree Programs For Graduate Studies

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree aids Registered Nurses (RNs) or Nurses with a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) to upgrade to a higher level in their career by improving their knowledge and skills through intense practice and theoretical classes.

Here is what you can do with an MSN degree.

Earning an MSN Degree

There are many different MSN degree options. Each of these appears suitable for specific nursing professionals or for pursuing specific nursing jobs.

They include the Baccalaureate to Master’s Degree, the MSN Bridge Program, Direct-Entry Master’s Degree, and the Dual Master’s Degree.

Just as the name implies, the Baccalaureate to Master’s Degree is for RNs who possess a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) certification.

The MSN Bridge Program, on the other hand, is a complex and comprehensive training that allows Registered Nurses (RNs) possessing an ADN to earn an MSN even though they do not have a BSN qualification.

Students who choose this option will study for three to four years and can choose between online and physical formats.

The other way to earn a Master of Science in Nursing degree is through the Direct-Entry option. This is similar to the Bridge Program because it admits students without a BSN.

However, students need a bachelor’s or graduate degree in a non-nursing field before studying using this option.

Finally, there is the Dual Master’s Degree. This allows a Master of Science in Nursing study and a second master’s degree, for example, a Master in Health Administration. Combining the programs like this will make an MSN/MHA degree.

Other possible Dual Master’s combinations are a Master’s of Science in Nursing and a Master’s in Public Health (MSN/MPH) or a Master’s of Science in Nursing and a Master’s of Business Administration (MSN/MBA).

It is important to note that pursuing these MSN degree options in an accredited institution could cost between $35,000 and $70,000.


There are different ways to acquire your MSN degree.

Depending on your current degree, you could acquire it through the BSN to MSN Program, RN to MSN Program, Direct-Entry Master’s Degree Degree, or Dual Master’s Degree Program.

Before getting your MSN degree, you must meet the admission requirements to begin studying. The followings are the prerequisite and requirements needed for traditional MSN programs;

  • A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree or non-nursing degree from an accredited college or university
  • A minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 [the higher the GPA, the better your chances]
  • Registered nurse license
  • One year of experience as a registered nurse
  • Academic and professional letters of recommendation
  • Completion of statistics course
  • Submission of standardized test scores such as GRE, MAT, GMAT, and MCAT as requested by the institution of application
  • Application essay.
  • Current resume or CV
  • Interview

It is important to note that it varies for different institutions.


Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) coursework varies according to the specialty, but there are three main courses – fundamental, clinical, and research.

Each category impacts differently from the other on relevant MSN courses


As a result of the growing demand for registered nurses with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, several universities have included it in their programs because MSN degrees are one of the most sought-after.

However, the United States of America offers some of the top programs in this category. It is important to note that admission into these universities is highly competitive.

Here’s our list of top programs in the USA;

According to QS 2021 Rankings, these are some of the best Nursing universities in the world:

  • Johns Hopkins University

John Hopkins University (JHU) is a private university in Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.

It offers one of the top programs in Master in Science for Nursing (MSN) that are specifically designed to meet the needs of various students. It has a reputation in science known worldwide.

John Hopkins offers pre-licensure to MSN, DNP, and even Ph.D. programs, dual degrees, online options, and post-degree opportunities.

JHU tutors thousands of nursing students with full-time and part-time options.

The MSN program duration at John Hopkins University is two years. Its tuition fee is up to $65,088, with an acceptance rate of 5%. The MSN program NCLEX pass rate is as high as 97%.

  • University of Washington

The University of Washington (UW) is a public university in Seattle, Washington, with campuses in Tacoma and Bothell.

The University of Washington focuses on public research making it one of the top institutions that offer an MSN program with highly competitive admission.

UW offers an MSN program with a mindset that community is the cornerstone of the School of Nursing.

The duration of an MSN degree course at the University of Washington is between 2 – and four years, and a tuition fee of $17,919 per year.

Its acceptance rate is 10%, and its NCLEX pass rate ranges between 85 – 93%.

  • Duke University

Duke University is a private research university in Durham, North Carolina. It offers one of the top MSN programs, which the Commission accredits on Collegiate Nursing Education.

It offers eight advanced practice registered nurse majors and three non-clinical majors. You also can add a specialty to your course of study.

Duke University offers its MSN program for 2 – 3 years. Its tuition is $23,241 per semester, and the acceptance rate is 7.7%

The NCLEX pass rate for Duke University MSN program is 99%.

  • Emory University

Emory University is a private research university based in Atlanta, Georgia. It has a sound healthcare system and several MSN students.

It has full-time and part-time MSN program options available for students with three entry points to earn an MN degree: The MN (Fall Entry), the Emory MN (Spring Entry), and the MN Pathway to MSN (Summer Entry).

Students can earn their MSN degree for 15 months, and its tuition is $1,906 per credit hour.

The acceptance rate for MSN degree students at Emory University is 19%, with its NCLEX pass rate of 98%.

  • University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania, commonly called UPenn, is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

It offers students an MSN program spanning 1 – 3 years, ensuring students are prepared to creatively combine knowledge and skills, particularly in clinical decision-making and management.

The University of Pennsylvania has Nurse Practitioner programs, Advanced Specialist programs, and Administration programs.

UPenn’s tuition is $52,508 and has an acceptance rate of 25%, with its NCLEX pass rate at 94.6%.

  • Georgetown University

Georgetown University is a private research university located in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, with an esteemed MSN program.

Its MSN program is for prospective students with broad academic interests in the nursing MS or MSN degrees.

Georgetown University MSN program includes Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP), Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL), Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Global Health*, Health Systems Administration, Nurse-Midwifery, and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP).

This university’s program duration ranges between 2 – 3 years, with its tuition fee at $58,503

The acceptance rate for Georgetown University’s MSN program is 17%, and its NCLEX pass rate is 96%.

  • University of Maryland

The University of Maryland, or UMD or Maryland, is a public land-grant research university in Baltimore.

This university has several MSN degree students ‌who can explore nursing from different perspectives and put exciting new theories and methods into practice.

The University of Maryland also has experience coaching several graduate-level nursing degree students in leadership, research, or administrative roles as they specialize in research and innovation.

Its MSN program lasts for two years and has a tuition cost of $1,490 per credit. Its acceptance rate is 54%, while its NCLEX Pass Rate is 86.67%.

  • New York University

New York University (NYU) is a private research university in New York City that offers a top MSN program with students from several countries. It has campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai.

Its master’s programs are designed for nurses seeking advanced roles in clinical practice (nurse practitioners and nurse midwives), nursing administration, education, and informatics while providing the necessary foundation for doctoral study.

NYU offers its MSN program for 2 – 4 years with a tuition fee of $36,514. Its acceptance rate is 12%, and its NCLEX pass rate is estimated at 95%.

  • University of Michigan

The University of Michigan, or Michigan or UMich, is a public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

This is a fantastic place to study, with eight available specialties leading to a specific APRN position. In addition, its students work closely with the faculty in its state-of-the-art Clinical Learning Centre.

Its MSN program duration ranges between 2 – 3 years, and its tuition fee is estimated at $2,773 per credit.

UMich’s acceptance rate is approximately 26%, and its NCLEX pass rate is 98%.

  • University of California

The University of California (UC) is a public land-grant research university system in California with Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz campuses.

It has numerous research centers, academic abroad centers, and MSN options.

UC allows its MSN program students to select their preferred mode of study, with its program duration expected to run for two years and its tuition set at approximately $12,763.

Its acceptance rate is 18%, and its NCLEX pass rate is 85%.

  • Columbia University

Columbia University, also known as Columbia, is a private Ivy League research university located in the heart of New York that continues to innovate, lead, and transform the education and profession of nursing.

It is well-known for its excellent nursing education, research, and practice.

The duration for an MSN program at Columbia University is two years, and its tuition fee is approximately $87,242 per year.

Columbia University MSN degree acceptance rate is 6.7%, while its NCLEX pass rate is 88%.

  • Yale University

Yale University is a private ivy league school in New Haven, Connecticut.

It specializes significantly in research, and its MSN program curriculum is designed to prepare students as practitioners with selected specialties (precisely eight) and evidence-based practice.

Each student is educated to excel in an expanded role in the specialty area.

Employers recognize the special preparation Yale School of Nursing (YSN) graduates receive and actively seek to recruit them.

The MSN degree program at Yale is a sound one. Its students who enter as an RN move directly into a chosen area of clinical specialization with a curriculum that emphasizes clinical competence and nursing scholarship.

YSN offers MSN degree students their courses for two years, and its tuition is $47,114

The acceptance rate into its MSN program is 12%, with the NCLEX pass rate at 86%.

  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina (also known as UNC, Carolina, etc.) is a public research university located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, which is regarded as a Public Ivy, or a public institution that offers a similarity in experience to an Ivy League university in terms of its academic expertise.

It was established in 1789, and it is a research-intensive university with a top MSN program that provides a diverse, energetic, and collegial environment for participating in world-class interprofessional education, scientific inquiry, and practice opportunities.

The MSN program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a nursing program with a good faculty that prepares its students for advanced practice roles in today’s complex healthcare systems, ensuring they understand and can take care of their patients in diverse ways.

There are two ways nurses can obtain their MSN degree at Carolina – MSN Nurse Practitioner Options and MSN Healthcare Leadership and Innovation, and its MSN program last for two years.

The tuition fee per semester is estimated at $40,394 per year, while its acceptance rate is 26%. The university’s NCLEX pass rate is 96%.

  • Rush University

This private research university in Chicago, Illinois, was founded in 1972 with thousands of graduates from its top MSN program.

It has a top-tier academic medical center where students learn from practitioner-teachers who practice what they teach.

Its MSN program offers a different clinical experience every term, providing a broad overview of all of the primary specialties in which nurses work and a variety of settings across the healthcare continuum. It starts in the first two weeks.

To add to it, Rush University provides its MSN degree students with volunteer opportunities to expand their education beyond Rush University Medical Centre.

The Rush University Medical Centre provides a rich environment where nursing, medicine, and allied health sciences students learn in an interdisciplinary and dynamic setting. Little wonder its acceptance rate is at 48%.

Rush University’s MSN program lasts two years; its tuition per credit hour is $1066. The university’s NCLEX pass rate is impressively 97%.

  • University of Pittsburgh

This is a public state-related university situated in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Its MSN program is one of the top programs in the USA. It is also notably an expert in research and funding from the National Institutes of Health. It was established in 1787.

Pitt University boasts of instilling its MSN degree holders with a deeper understanding of nursing science and the skills and knowledge needed to lead teams and units, create quality interventions, and deliver enhanced nursing care.

It offers full-time and part-time options for its MSN program. The full‐time tuition per academic year is $33,770, with its acceptance rate at 64% and its NCLEX exam impressively at 97%.

  • Villanova University

This private Catholic research university in Villanova, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1842 with a top MSN program known for its educational excellence.

Villanova University provides the means for its MSN degree students to expand their knowledge base, enrich their skills and advance their careers.

Its MSN program prepares nurses for leadership in an ever-changing healthcare arena by helping them think creatively, reach further, and embrace the challenges of professional practice.

The university’s MSN program runs for two years, and it has both full-time and part-time options available for its MSN degree students.

The tuition fee for its MSN program is $940 per credit. So far, it has maintained an estimated NCLEX pass rate of 94% for years. The acceptance rate at Villanova University is 31%.

  • Boston College

Boston College (BC) is a private Jesuit research university in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, founded in 1863.

BC aids its MSN degree students to become compassionate and evidence-based practitioners who are leaders in their fields, with its curriculum ensuring they advance in the nursing field.

Its MSN program ensures its graduates are critical thinkers, intellectually curious learners, ethically driven and thoughtful, and devoted to individualized patient care in complex healthcare settings.

Boston College’s MSN program spans 2 – 4 years, with full-time and part-time options available for its students. The tuition fee for MSN degree students at Boston University is $58,560 per year.

Its acceptance rate is 27%, while its NCLEX pass rate is 93 – 100%.

  • Duquesne University

The Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit (aka Duquesne University or Duquesne) is a private research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, founded in 1878 that offers a well-recognized part-time and full-time MSN program.

Duquesne University has a reputation as a leader in nursing education as it has a supportive program with its expert faculty. It offers small class sizes, which allow MSN program professors to know its students by name.

The MSN program at this university runs for approximately two years.

Duquesne University MSN program tuition fee is $1,635 per credit. Its acceptance rate is as high as 80%, while its NCLEX pass rate is 94.4%.

PS – All fees stated in this article are subject to change.

MSN Job Prospects

As per this report, Nurse Practitioners (NPs), Physician Assistants, and Speech-language Pathologists typically require a Master’s to enter the profession.

Their median annual wage ranges from $80,000 to $115,000. Also, there would be between 12,200 and 26,000 job openings between 2020 and 20230.

This proves a good return on investment for MSN degree holders. It demonstrates their value across the healthcare sector. Also, it announces the distinct and high-level work required of them.


An MSN degree bestows a Master of Science in Nursing qualification on professionals. It is a postgraduate certification for Registered Nurses (RNs).

On the other hand, professionals such as Nursing Educators will need to earn the same before beginning their careers in the healthcare industry.

After carefully reading this article, it is clear that selecting the perfect place to commence your MSN course in the USA to help you reap the benefits will come quickly.

It would help if you took your time to make the best decision on where to study for an MSN program in the USA.

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