The fastest 1 Year online MSN programs are accelerated degrees that offer a fast and flexible path to earning a master’s in nursing. Schools and universities that offer a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program that is available entirely online, clearly recognize that nursing professionals are busy working individuals.
Best Health Degrees has ranked the following 10 best accelerated online MSN programs:
- Saint Francis Medical Center
- Vanderbilt University
- University of Arizona
- Union University
- Liberty University
- Roberts Wesleyan College
- Southern New Hampshire University
- Herzing University
- Western Governors University
- Kennesaw State University
Continue reading for full reviews!
Our Method: Ranking the Best Accelerated BSN to MSN Programs
Accelerated MSN programs online are a challenge to compare. But, to rank the best 1 year online MSN programs, Best Health Degree’s editors sought out accredited colleges and universities offering a quicker way to get a master’s in nursing education.
Along with speed, though, our analysts ranked programs according to 5 criteria: Cost, Graduation Rate, Job Placement, Student Reviews, and also Salary Potential. We use accurate data from IPEDS, Niche, and also College Scorecard. So, students can trust their accelerated BSN to MSN programs to provide a real return on investment.
Our editors first ranked accredited accelerated BSN to MSN programs in July 2022. This ranking was updated November 2023.
1. Saint Francis Medical Center
Saint Francis Medical Center’s College of Nursing offers a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with an accelerated academic path.
The program from SFMC is for nursing professionals who hold an associate’s degree or a diploma in nursing with a significant amount of experience and a baccalaureate degree from a different discipline than nursing. Degree candidates must enter the program with a minimum of 59 pre-nursing education credits. Then, the core curriculum includes the completion of 33 semester hours.
Saint Francis Medical Center opened in 1876. It is the teaching hospital within the University of Illinois’s College of Medicine. Additionally, the medical center is among the top hospitals in Illinois for the recovery of organs. Saint Francis Medical Center is a level I trauma center and is also the largest hospital in the Peoria regional area.
Degree: Accelerated MSN
Interested: Check here to find out more about 1 year MSN programs!
2. Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University’s School of Nursing offers a 1 year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to a Master of Science of Nursing (MSN) degree program. Furthermore, this is one of the fastest BSN to MSN programs students can complete entirely online.
Vandy’s accelerated BSN to MSN programs offers nursing professionals an opportunity to add a master’s specialty degree in just a year. This 1 year online MSN program prepares graduates for careers in many nursing health care professions. They find employment as Midwives, Nursing Informatics, Nurse Practitioners, and also Psychiatric Nurses. Students complete 40 credit units over 4 consecutive semesters. However, students who choose dual specialties may take one extra semester.
Vanderbilt University started in 1873 as Central University. Cornelius Vanderbilt was a shipping magnate who provided the university’s first endowment of $1,000,000, which is approximately $20,000,000 in current dollars. So, the school changed its name to honor him. The school’s 325+-acre campus is home to nearly 13,000 students. Additionally, more than 4,000 academic staff members operate its ten colleges.
Degree: BSN to MSN – 1 year
Interested: Check the program site for more on this BSN to MSN online fast track!
3. University of Arizona
The University of Arizona College of Nursing offers a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program that is entirely online. U of A’s MSN accelerated track in Clinical Systems Leadership takes about fifteen months to complete.
Furthermore, the 1 year online MSN program has accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the state of Arizona’s Board of Nursing. Courses in this advanced degree in healthcare administration include Foundations of Systems Leadership, Health Information and Patient Care Technologies, and also Evidence-Based Practice Improvement. US News recognizes the U of A’s affordable online MSN program among the top 50 in the entire country.
The University of Arizona opened in 1885 when Arizona was not yet a state. Today, the university operates 19 schools and colleges, including a law school and also two medical facilities. Additionally, its 375-acre urban campus is home to nearly 45,000 students. The Council for Aid to Education (CAE) also recognizes U of A for its financial support of students in need.
Degree: MSN – 15 months
Interested: Check here to find out more about this BSN to MSN online fast track!
4. Union University
Union University’s 1 year online MSN programs prepare graduates with the skills and aptitudes in nursing specialties. These MSN concentrations include an MSN in Administration, an MSN in Education, an MSN Nurse Practitioner, and also an MSN/MBA dual degree option.
These graduate degree programs also prepare students for a doctorate degree, for those interested. In about 16 months, graduates learn how to integrate theory and research methodologies with practical experiences to become the next generation’s nursing leaders. Furthermore, Union has accreditation from the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Union University opened in 1823 as a private institution of higher learning affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Its urban campus is home to more than 3,250 students. Union University runs a Scholarship Banquet that includes prominent speakers like President Bush, Colin Powell, and also Margaret Thatcher. US News recognizes Union University among the top universities in the US Southern Region for nearly two decades.
Degree: MSN – 3 concentrations – 16 months
Interested: Check the program site!
5. Liberty University
Liberty University offers an MSN accelerated academic track to earn a degree in Nursing Administration. Students must finish at least 42 credit units through LU’s distance learning platform.
LU’s MSN in Nursing Administration has accreditation from the CCNE. Liberty University provides a generous transfer credit policy of up to 50% of the degree’s total credit requirements. On average, students complete Liberty University’s MSN program in about two years.
Liberty University started in 1974. Furthermore, Liberty is one of the largest private institutions of higher education that has affiliations with the Christian Church. The Lynchburg campus is home to more than 15,000 students; however, other 90,000+ students study online. Liberty University’s Freedom Tower is 275 feet tall and the largest standing structure in Lynchburg, VA.
Degree: 1 Year Accelerated MSN – 1 year
Interested: Check out the MSN Nursing Administration program!
6. Roberts Wesleyan College
Roberts Wesleyan College offers two separate online Masters of Nursing (MSN) degree programs. These accelerated BSN to MSN programs offered by RWC include a Master of Science (MS) in Nursing Education and a Master of Science (MS) in Nursing Leadership & Administration.
Each of these online graduate nursing programs requires the completion of 39 credit units and 20 months to complete. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) has accredited RWC’s MSN degree programs.
RWC opened in 1866 and remains affiliated with the Free Methodist Church. The school started as a seminary by a social activist named Benjamin Titus Roberts. This private institution of higher learning is located in the western portion of New York State and is home to more than 1,700 students. The Northeastern Seminary was also chartered by RWC. Today, it operates as a graduate college offering an MA in Theology, a Master of Divinity, and Doctor of Divinity.
Degree: 2 concentrations – 20 months
Interested: Check the program site!
7. Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University offers an accelerated RN to MSN degree program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). This program prepares students for roles as educators and administrators.
Degree candidates take classes online using a sophisticated distance-learning platform that is easily accessible and available every day. Coursework includes Patient Assessment, Population Health, Legal & Ethical Considerations in Health Care, and a final capstone at the end of all coursework. Graduates find rewarding work as Nurse Leaders and Nurse Educators, among other options. SUNY graduate nursing degrees are:
SNHU started in 1932. However, much of its recent impressive growth is due to its distance learning divisions. The school operates with six colleges and schools, with the College of Online & Continuing Education headquartered in Manchester, NH. The school’s press release noted that online enrollment in 2001 grew to more than 80,000 students.
Degree: MSN – accelerated
Interested: Check the program site!
8. Herzing University
Herzing University offers an online accelerated Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program with three academic concentrations. Herzing’s MSN sampling includes an MSN Family Nurse Practitioner, an MSN Nurse Educator, and an MSN in Nursing Leadership & Administration.
Each online master’s in nursing concentration takes about 24 months to complete. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits all three of Herzing University’s graduate nursing degree academic tracks. These accelerated BSN to MSN programs offer working nurses great flexibility and convenience in light of a nursing professional’s busy schedules.
Herzing University opened in 1965 as a private higher learning institution specializing in computer training. Currently, the university operates with nine campuses across 7 different states. The school offers healthcare, nursing, business, legal studies, and technology programs. Herzing University has received accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Degree: 3 concentrations – less than 2 years
Interested: Check the program site!
9. Western Governors University
Western Governors University offers a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program that is entirely online. Accelerated BSN to MSN programs, like Western Governors University’s, take approximately eleven months to complete.
To be eligible for WGU’s graduate program online, degree applicants must already have earned their baccalaureate nursing degree. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits Western Governors University’s graduate nursing degree distance-learning degree programs. Students graduate prepared to work in varied health care settings like schools, agencies, hospitals, and also businesses.
Western Governors University started in 1997 as a private online institution of education. The online school’s administration has headquarters in Utah, and its current student population exceeds 110,000 students. WGU offers online undergraduate and graduate degrees in the areas of Health Professions, Information Technology, Education, and also Business.
Degree: MSN – 11 months
Interested: Check the program site!
10. Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw State University offers an accelerated online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program which a special emphasis on Leadership in Nursing. KSU’s online graduate nursing degree program is entirely online, and students can complete it in as little as fifteen months.
KSU’s distance learning graduate degree program focuses on nursing issues like ethical decision-making, Conflict Management, Healthcare Policy, and also Leadership Strategies. Students must complete a minimum of 40 credit units to graduate with their MSN in Leadership in Nursing.
Kennesaw State University started in 1963. It is a member school of the University of Georgia. The university operates with two campuses in Georgia cities of Kennesaw and Marietta. Annual enrollment exceeds 35,000, which makes KSU the 3rd largest school in the Peach State. KSU’s campus is also home to a sculpture that weighs more than 345,000 pounds, entitled Spaceship Earth.
Degree: MSN – Leadership in Nursing – 15 months
Interested: Check the program site!
How Do Colleges Make an MSN Program Shorter?
The coursework offered by nursing schools and universities through their distance learning platforms provides the same quality education offered by the professors who instruct on-campus students. This was an initial concern at the advent of online learning. However, time shows that online degree programs are simply a different format. They offer the same level of education as traditional on-campus nursing education programs for nurses who are too busy to even attend traditional classroom teaching methodologies.
Many accelerated online MSN tracks are a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) format. Furthermore, some of the most in-demand careers in nursing are available in accelerated formats. And, to be eligible to enroll in some MSN degree programs, degree applicants must be a Registered Nurse and already hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (MSN). In addition to fast track BSN to MSN online programs, there are accelerated options for Registered Nurses (RN) to earn their MSN online. Also, both types are some of the most affordable online MSN programs!
There are a few time-tested ways to reduce the time required to complete your Master of Science Nursing degree, sometimes in only twelve months. The shortest MSN program generally applies to one of the following time-reduction tactics:
Revised Degree Formats
nursing schools now offer classes that run for only six or eight weeks, rather than the more traditional semesters that lasted far longer. The fastest MSN program classwork tends to be a bit more intensive, but you get to progress through the material in no time.
Updated Credit Transfer Policies
For students with college-level nursing-related coursework, a transfer policy is a great way to shorten the degree path and reduce the costs to attain your degree. So, an online MSN program may offer nurse-specific transfer credits.
Credit for Work Experience
Another strategy used by the shortest MSN program options is creating a program that objectively provides credit for the degree applicant’s previous work experience. Since many MSN students became nurses long before, they may have many years of experience to use for credit.
Reduced Clinical Requirements
Some nursing schools offer online MSN programs without clinical for certain MSN specialties.
There are many legitimate ways to reduce the time and cost of earning a Master of Science in Nursing degree through a distance learning platform using any one of the suggestions noted above. Remember though, the committed effort required to earn an MSN from an accelerated degree program reaps tremendous rewards on those ready for the challenge.
What are the Benefits of an Accelerated MSN Program?
Earning your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in an accelerated MSN degree program has some great benefits. Below are some of the benefits a BSN to MSN online fast-track degree program offers.
Tuition Expenses are lower
First, most online degree programs have less expensive tuition than traditional on-campus programs. Additionally, if you take fewer credits, then your overall tuition cost will be less. This is where the transfer and work credit policies can help!
Convenience and Flexibility
Classes are accessible 24/7 from anywhere with an Internet connection. So, busy working nursing professionals can go to school around their work schedule.
Online students don’t have to go to campus every week. This saves you time. But, it also saves you money on the costs to commute either by bus, train, subway, or gas for your car.
Are Online MSN Programs Easier than On-Campus?
Do you want to know the easiest online nurse practitioner program available? Great question, but quite challenging to answer.
While some online MSN programs, in general, are challenging to attain, however, there are schools with easier MSN programs. The easiest online nurse practitioner program is the MSN degree program that meets your career objectives, with tuition expenses that land within your budget,
What are the Admission Requirements for Accelerated MSN Online Programs?
Admission requirements for accelerated online MSN programs vary by institution and type of program. However, general requirements for most schools include the list below.
- official transcripts
- a 3.0 undergraduate GPA or grade point average
- an active and unrestricted nursing license/unrestricted RN license
What Do You Learn in an MSN Program?
A typical MSN program consists of core classes and specialized classes in a focus area. Students may also complete a capstone project, thesis, and a practicum or clinical placement, depending on the program.
Core courses in an MSN program cover topics like advanced health assessment, nursing theory, advanced pathophysiology and genetics, and health and public policy for advanced nursing practice.
These classes expand a student’s knowledge base and cultural perspective. Projects and practicums offer an opportunity to reinforce classroom education using hands-on experiences.
and evidence-based practice as well as current issues and trends facing professional nursing practice. A capstone will give you the opportunity to demonstrate the synthesis of administrative leadership and nursing competencies through a master’s project or thesis.
What are Nurse Specializations?
In an MSN program, nurses can choose a specialized area of practice. Online MSN degrees or an RN to MSN program typically offer these areas of concentration.
Examples are Midwifery, Advanced Holistic Nursing, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care, Public Health Nursing, Advanced Nursing Practice, Legal Nurse Consultant, Nursing Informatics, Nursing Research, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Executive, Clinical Nurse Leader, Nurse Administrator, Nurse Educator, and Anesthesia.
- Nurse Anesthetist learn more
- Nurse-Midwife learn more
- Nurse Practitioner learn more
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner learn more
- Nurse Informaticist learn more
What is the Job Outlook with an Accelerated MSN?
Are career prospects and salaries for MSN program graduates good? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the overall job outlook for individuals with an accelerated MSN degree is great! For the ten-year period covering 2020 to 2030, the employment of nurse practitioners will grow 52%. This growth far outpaces all occupations’ overall average growth rate of 8%.
|Medical and Health Service Manager||$101,340||32%|
How Long Does it Take to Earn an Accelerated MSN Online Degree?
Accelerated MSN online degree programs vary in length depending on prior education, the type of program, and the school or institution. Direct-entry MSN programs typically take the longest because these students are new to nursing. An RN to MSN nursing student usually starts with an associate degree or two years of prior education. And a BSN to MSN is shorter because students start with a bachelor’s or BSN degree.
Who Accredits 1-Year Online MSN Programs & Why Does Accreditation Matter?
Accreditation of nursing programs demonstrates the program offers quality education. An accredited school meets the standards for content, and teaching methods have proven to be successful. The best 1-year online MSN programs generally have accreditation from either the ACEN or the CCNE.
- Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
- The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Graduates of an advanced practice nursing program can sit for certification exams. For example, the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) grads can take the FNP Certification Examination. It is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).
Can I Get an Accelerated MSN if I Have a Bachelor’s in Another Field?
There are generally three general categories of online MSN programs. For the most part, most Master of Science in Nursing degree programs offered as a fast track option fall into one of the following online degree program formats:
- BSN to MSN fast-track online degree program
- RN to MSN accelerated track online degree program
- Second-degree nursing programs without prerequisites
Prerequisites for Most MSN Programs
Those schools and universities offering an RN to MSN with bachelor’s in another field allow MSN degree candidates to avoid re-taking prerequisites they have already successfully passed. Second-degree nursing programs without prerequisites programs are a great transition degree that allows working professionals to easily transfer to the nursing profession from another industry.
This transition-type MSN degree program helps the nursing industry stay on top of the many nursing shortages faced in many geographic areas across the country. An alternative degree some choose is an affordable online MHA degree.
MSN degree candidates should remember to keep their eye on the prize. Tremendous job opportunities often bring rewarding responsibilities and more lucrative salaries and compensation packages.