Top 10 Shortest RN to MSN Online Programs


RN to MSN programs are flexible and affordable education options tailored to the needs of working registered nurses (RNs). They help RNs earn graduate nursing degrees in a condensed format. These programs are ideal for nurses who want to advance their careers and education without spending too much time or money.

This guide will explore the top 10 shortest RN to MSN online programs in depth. We’ll discuss tuition, accreditation, program length, and more to help you find an online RN to MSN that suits your needs.

An RN to MSN program is a graduate-level bridge nursing program. These programs allow Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) trained RNs to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) directly. Therefore, they can skip attending a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.

Despite “skipping” a BSN, RN to MSN nursing students still take bachelor’s-level courses. However, the classwork is accelerated and condensed. Universities design RN to MSN courses for working professionals, and most offer full or part-time attendance options.

The programs included in this list are all available online. However, each has some in-person practicum requirements. 

Typically, programs in nursing education or nursing administration will require fewer clinical hours than nurse practitioner (NP) programs.

With seemingly countless options available, choosing an online RN to MSN program may feel overwhelming. So, we curated a list of some of the fastest RN to MSN online programs for ADN-trained nurses.

We consider many factors in our ranking methodology, such as:

1. Union University

Union University offers RN to MSN tracks in nursing education or administration. Both are available entirely online (except for some in-person clinical components) to full or part-time students. All programs are cohort-based so that you will move along a specific progression.

2. Charleston Southern University

Students at Charleston Southern University can earn an MSN in nursing leadership or nursing education in just 19 months. Also, the school offers a 10% tuition discount to employees of several local healthcare systems.

The CSU is deeply rooted in Christian beliefs and practices, meaning classes may have religious undertones. If religion is a determining factor in your education, this may impact whether CSU suits your needs.

  • Tuition: $625 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 19 months
  • Accreditation: ACEN
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Contact Info:

3. Chamberlain University

Chamberlain College of Nursing offers two RN to MSN options. Students may choose between a traditional, slower program or the accelerated RN to MSN degree.

Students interested in completing a faster, more intense program will love Chamberlain’s RN to MSN. Students can finish the program in roughly 14 months. However, the accelerated RN to MSN has stricter admission requirements, which are important to remember when applying.

Additionally, Chamberlain offers deep discounts to military students and alums that can help reduce tuition costs.

4. Capella University* – Sponsored

Capella University partners with over 600 healthcare employers, allowing RN to MSN students excellent networking opportunities upon graduation. These partnerships also provide students with program discounts to help reduce overall tuition costs. Capella RN to MSN students take 66 total credits and attend a final capstone practicum in person.

As one of the shortest online RN to MSN programs, Capella offers two paths for students. The “Flex Path” allows students to enroll in one or two courses at a time and complete them at their own pace. Conversely, the “Guided Path” enrolls students in one to three courses every ten weeks, which may be too slow a pace for some students.

  • Tuition: $450 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 14 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Contact Info: 855-244-2906

5. University of Mary

University of Mary’s Nursing Leadership and Management RN to MSN allows students to earn an MSN  in just 20 months while working full-time. Throughout the program, students must complete 500 hours of in-person clinical experience. 

  • Tuition: $480 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 20 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Contact Info: 800-288-6279

6. The University of Mississippi Medical Center

The University of Mississippi offers several RN to MSN programs, the shortest of which is Nursing Education. RN to MSN students must complete 360 in-person practicum hours to earn real-world experience. UMMC is the state’s only academic health sciences center, and students have access to four major hospitals.

  • Tuition:
    • Resident: $545 per credit hour
    • Non-resident: $1,598.67 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 5 semesters
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline:
    • Summer: February 15th
    • Fall: March 31st
    • Spring: October 15th
  • Contact Info:

7. Southern New Hampshire University*

Southern New Hampshire University’s RN to MSN programs allow students to complete in as little as a year and a half. However, the FNP track takes roughly two years to complete. 

The programs at SNHU boast 100% doctorally prepared faculty. Five program start dates are available to students with no waiting list or entrance exams required.

  • Tuition: $637 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 1.5 years
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Contact Info:

 8. Herzing University*

Herzing University offers eight MSN concentration options to interested RN to MSN students. While students can complete most programs in 20 weeks, others, including NP programs, may take over 28 months. 

Additionally, U.S. News & World Report ranked Herzing as one of the best online nursing programs in 2023. As a testament to this excellence, the school pledges your clinical placements. So, it will find clinical sites for your required rotations throughout the program.

  • Tuition: $615 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 20 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Contact Info: 800-596-0724

9. Walden University*

WU offers nine RN to MSN nursing specialty programs with varying completion dates. Walden University students can complete the shortest RN to MSN online program in just 20 months. 

Additionally, students can access a massive network of clinical sites and preceptors in their local area. They also get a dedicated clinical placement team to help them find a preceptor site and complete paperwork.

  • Tuition: $480 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 20 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Contact Info: 844-765-7831

10. Liberty University*

The RN to MSN program at Liberty University offers multiple nursing specialization options entirely online. The flexible program allows you to curate your studies around your work schedule. Unlike other RN to MSN tracks, Liberty University awards students a BSN during the program.

  • Tuition: $330 per credit hour
  • Program Length: 24 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Contact Info: 888-223-5082

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