The negative side of the COVID-19 pandemic put the health and medical field to the test. However, the positive side was that it encouraged young professionals in the medical industry to further their careers by looking for the most affordable online MSN programs.
Online degrees became more popular because of the restrictions imposed by the global pandemic. The best online MSN programs were available online, and many took to online nursing programs for extra knowledge through online coursework. For those who want to become clinical nurse leaders and excel in their field, more than just a Bachelor of Science in Nursing will be needed.
Advanced nursing practice via distance education provides medical professionals with flexibility in handling clinical requirements and career advancement by earning a master’s degree. If you’re thinking about taking your career as a nurse to the next level, we’ll give you a quick overview of the cheapest online MSN programs available.
How Much Do the Cheapest Online MSN Programs Cost?
The average annual tuition rate among the cheapest online MSN programs on our list is approximately $5,500. This is significantly cheaper when compared to the estimated average cost of college tuition estimate of $19,000, according to the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES). The overall costs for a Master of Nursing degree online differ, of course, from one institution to another. There are also usually additional costs in the form of miscellaneous fees and expenses not included in the tuition rate.
Cheapest Online MSN Programs Costs Breakdown
- Tuition. This is the amount you pay for enrolling and registering as a student for a specific course or class once you meet the admission requirements. Universities typically charge student tuition as a cost per credit hour.
- Technology fee. Since the introduction of remote learning, most colleges and universities have waived their campus-based student fees for distance learners, such as parking and library fees. However, distance learning costs come in the form of technology fees. This accounts for the devices used, Internet fees, and costs for other online and digital processes.
- Tech devices. It is challenging to study online if you do not have the proper tools and equipment. This includes payments for a laptop, tablet, and phone if necessary.
- Internet. It is essential to include the Internet bill in the cost breakdown regarding distance and online classes. Considering that almost every activity would be conducted online, an Internet connection is necessary.
- Academic supplies. Although classes are online, there will still be some educational supplies that you would need. Include book fees in the total costs regardless of whether it is a physical or digital copy.
Why You Should Attend an Online MSN Program
One of the benefits of earning an online MSN degree is the salary increase and career opportunities that come with it. Reports show that the average salaries of nursing careers that require master’s degrees are significantly higher than nursing careers that require bachelor’s degrees.
There is also a notable difference in career growth between advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and registered nurses (RN). Considering that APRNs can specialize in a particular field, the expected demand for APRNs will balloon to 45 percent in the next 10 years, while the demand for RNs is only seven percent.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Career Options
Nurses who earn an MSN degree or certification have a wide range of career opportunities and responsibilities. APRNs can lead their career to a more specialized role, including the following:
- Nurse anesthetist
- Nurse midwife
- Nurse educator
- Nurse administrator
- Clinical nurse specialist for a particular field such as oncology or pediatrics
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Salary
The salary of advanced practice nurses depends on the chosen career, role in the medical field, and the company that employs them.
However, the average yearly pay for an APRN ranges from $80,000 to $121,000. Their role or specialization also influences their annual salary. APRNs who work in the emergency room (ER) earn the most. Other high-paying APRN positions are in otolaryngology, diabetes education, and surgery.
Can You Attend Online MSN Programs for Free?
There are several free nursing courses available for students online. However, it is improbable to find an online Master of Science in Nursing program that is entirely free. Despite being administered through an online program, the schools on our list still provide quality and standard online courses in line with advanced nursing education at an affordable price.
Typically, state and regional universities offer cheaper online graduate nursing programs. You can also look for a public institution that also provides MSN bridge programs for those who do not have collegiate nursing education. Online students looking for a nursing school to enroll in can check their websites for more information. You can find the university’s concentration options, graduation rates, cost per credit, and other additional requirements for an online nursing master’s program.
Cheapest Online MSN Programs That Won’t Break the Bank
|School||In-State Tuition||Out of State Tuition||Graduate Rate|
|University of Alabama||$615/credit hour||$1,550/credit hour||68%|
|Ferris State University||$686/credit hour||$686/credit hour||49%|
|Fitchburg State University||$190/credit hour||$190/credit hour||58%|
|West Texas A&M University||$50/credit hour||$80/credit hour||45%|
|Ball State University||$431/credit hour||$646-$1,179/credit hour||39%|
|University of Missouri||$414.60/credit hour||$1,135.20/credit hour||71%|
|University of Southern Indiana||$409.77/credit hour||$802.71/credit hour||50%|
|Lamar University||$ 359.49/credit hour||$767.49/credit hour||34%|
|Fort Hays State University||$249.84/credit hour||$631.71/credit hour||43%|
|Jacksonville State University||$400/credit hour||$800/credit hour||64%|
What Are the Cheapest Online MSN Programs?
University of Alabama
The University of Alabama was recognized as one of the best graduate nursing schools in 2021. It offers four MSN programs for different advanced nursing specializations. This includes family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, dual psychiatric mental health and family nurse practitioner, and nurse administrator.
The MSN degree program at the University of Alabama is an online program. The student will have the liberty to choose the setting of the clinical site for their required clinical hours for clinical practicum.
Ferris State University
Ferris State University is considered one of the best online MSN programs. The fully accredited institution allows students to enroll either full-time or part-time. However, the coursework and the required practicum hours and hands-on experience could take at least two to three years to complete.
Fitchburg State University
Fitchburg State University offers a single track for its Master of Science in Nursing online. Graduate students can enroll in Fitchburg State University and take their MSN as a full-time or part-time study. The nursing school also offers core nursing courses for national certification examinations to earn a graduate certificate in forensic nursing.
West Texas A&M University
West Texas A&M University ranked number 66 on the list of the best nursing schools in the country by US News & World Report. Aside from its quality education, the CCNE-accredited program offers different online clinical courses for its Master of Science Nursing degree.
Ball State University
Ball State University offers one of the most affordable online MSN programs. The low-cost degree plan discusses health policy, health informatics, and other core courses in clinical practice. Outside of these base education courses, the available nursing specialty tracks at BSU are family nurse practitioner, nurse administrator/organizational leadership, and nurse educator.
University of Missouri
The University of Missouri is a successful school of nursing with an over 70 percent graduation rate among its undergraduate and graduate students. With an emphasis on clinical experiences and evidence-based practice in nursing education, the school offers a hybrid program for its MSN program.
The program revolves around nursing informatics, public health nursing, health care policy, and healthcare systems. It promotes critical thinking and executive leadership crucial for an advanced nurse practitioner.
University of Southern Indiana
The University of Southern Indiana has an expansive selection of online nurse practitioner programs. The university’s college of nursing offers the learning tracks listed below.
- Master of Science in Nursing
- Master of Science in Nursing-Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
- Master of Science in Nursing-Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Master of Science in Nursing-Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
- Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner
- Master of Science in Nursing-Nursing Education
- Master of Science in Nursing-Nursing Management and Leadership
- Master of Science in Nursing-Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Online students can earn their graduate degree in nursing at Lamar University. The public school’s hours of coursework involve foundations of nursing practice and offer specializations for advanced practice roles. Lamar University offers concentrations in nursing education and nursing administration. They also have a Master of Science in Nursing-RN to MSN, allowing those with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or nursing diploma to pursue an MSN program as long as they meet other requirements.
Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University is one of the best nursing schools in Kansas. The school offers two master’s degree programs, including a Master of Science in Nursing Administration and Nursing Education.
Jacksonville State University
JSU offers a Master’s of Science in Nursing program that has a concentration in nursing education. Students can choose a particular population of people to study, such as children, geriatric patients, or patients with chronic illnesses. This program is aimed at nurses who want to be educators and help other health practitioners sharpen their skills.
Options to Help Pay for the Best Online MSN Programs
For some, a $5,500 average yearly tuition fee is still hard to deal with. Luckily, there are several ways to cut down costs through scholarships and student loan programs.
Nurse Corps Scholarship Program
This is a scholarship program offered by the Health Resources and Services Administration for graduate nursing students. The scholarship applies to graduate-level nurse practitioner programs or bridge programs and requires a two-year service commitment from the beneficiary after graduation.
Nursing Student Loans (NSL)
This is a service offered by the Health Resources and Services Administration to nursing students. Both undergraduate and graduate nursing students can apply for this low-interest and long-term student loan. Only full-time students are qualified for this loan, while part-time students can opt for a scholarship program instead.
Tips for Saving Money While Attending Online MSN Programs
- Avoid commuting. You will still go outside for supplies and groceries even if you are studying online. To save on gas money or transportation costs, avoid commuting and choose to walk or ride a bike to the nearest store.
- Cook your food. Ordering via food delivery apps is not just unhealthy, it’s also expensive. Cooking your meals allows you to be more flexible with what you eat and your food budget.
- Try homemade coffee. Coffee will always be a part of every student’s journey. However, grabbing Starbucks every time you need that caffeine boost will be costly in the long run. Try making your coffee and save $5 every time you drink it.
- Don’t stay at home. Attending online classes means that you don’t have to leave your room or house, which typically leads to a higher electricity bill. If you can, work at your university library. You can use the Internet for your online classes and even charge your devices for free.
Find the Online MSN Program That’s Right for You
Advanced degrees are necessary to further your nursing career as a health professional. Besides getting a BSN Degree, earning a Master of Science in Nursing will allow you to reach your career goals. When looking for the most affordable online MSN programs, prospective students must consider the university’s accreditation and the cost for the entire program based on the cost per credit rate.
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Cheapest Online MSN Programs FAQ
Registered and experienced nurses can still apply for an MSN program even without graduating from a BSN Degree program. However, they first should have at least an associate degree or one to two years of full-time experience working in a healthcare facility.
Online MSN courses encompass core nursing theoretical foundations, nursing theory, and other specialized classes designed to teach expertise in a clinical setting. Some of the most popular programs include subjects like advanced health assessment, advanced pharmacology, advanced pathophysiology, and nursing administration. Several schools also offer a family nurse practitioner concentration.
Program accreditation helps to ensure that the offered MSN curriculum or course is up to standard. The institution should primarily be recognized for MSN programs by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Besides that, schools with certificates of recognition from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) are proof of their quality education.
To be recognized as an advanced practice registered nurse, the nurse should first earn a post-baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited for APRN education. Further training and certification are required to be recognized as a specialist in a particular field, such as an anesthetist, midwife, or nurse practitioner.
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