Online Nursing Degrees

Pursuing a nursing degree online is a quick and effective way to take the next step in your professional career. Regardless of whether you eventually want to become an RN or hold a PhD, you can find an online nursing program that suits your career ambitions.

An online nursing degree allows distance learners to study at their own pace and to take classes without disrupting their current professional obligations or personal responsibilities. Most programs offer courses asynchronously, which gives students the flexibility to study and complete assignments at their own convenience.

Students in a distance learning nursing program will find that the skills required to succeed in online education mirror those needed in nursing. Online students must have the dedication to study and engage with difficult material, and the self-discipline to work hard with minimal supervision. Successful online students must be detail-oriented, strong communicators, and critical thinkers. All of those attributes will also serve graduates well in their careers.

Graduates will leave school prepared to enter a growing industry. As the Baby Boomer population ages, positions in nursing are expanding rapidly: the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that resident nursing positions will grow by approximately 16% through 2024. To learn about the degrees available, and the positions you can fill once you obtain certification, be sure to check out our guide below.

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Jonathan Steele Nursing

“The online format taught me to self direct my personal study, something that I still do to this day.”

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Online Nursing Degree Overview

Nursing Degrees at a Glance

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Associate $12,216 17.75% 2+ years $52,200 $64,500 4.8%
Bachelor's $16,348 9.42% 4+ years $56,600 $73,600 2.1%
Master's $17,419 7.57% 2+ years $82,000 $89,000 1.8%
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

Nursing is one of the top-paying fields for recent graduates; the average starting salary for associate and bachelor’s degree holders exceeds $50,000 per year. Registered nurses (RNs) check patients’ symptoms, administer medications, and perform diagnostic tests. Nurses with a master’s degree have more responsibilities than RNs. They diagnose and treat illnesses, order X-rays, and write prescriptions. While some states require nurse practitioners to work under licensed physicians, others allow them to work independently.

Online Nursing Degrees


Online Associate’s Degree in Nursing

Pursuing an online associate degree in nursing (ADN) is the quickest way to become a nurse, and online nursing degree programs take roughly 2-3 years to complete. ADNs typically include courses in both nursing and liberal arts. After earning an ADN, students must pass the NCLEX-RN to work as a resident nurse.


    Anatomy, Psychology, Chemistry, Nutrition, and Emergency Care




    Hospital Nurse, Clinic Nurse, Home Care Nurse, Travel Nurse, and Ambulance Nurse




    16% growth from 2014 to 2024

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

An online bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) typically takes four years to complete. Many RNs earn their online BSN part-time while they work. As with the ADN, BSN students must take liberal arts courses in addition to their online nursing degree classes. RNs with BSNs and ADNs perform similar work. However, nurses holding a BSN have better employment opportunities, especially in states that require RNs to hold a BSN. The BSN is also useful for nurses looking to advance to leadership positions.


    Health Assessment, Physiology, Biochemistry, Pharmacology, and English




    Private Hospital Nurse, Physician Office Nurse, Home Health Care Nurse, and Public Hospital Nurse




    16% growth from 2014 to 2024

Online Master’s Degree in Nursing

Students hoping to become Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) must earn a master’s degree. There are four types of APRN: Nurse Practitioners (NP), Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM), Certified Nurse Specialists (CNS), and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA). Full-time, online Master’s of Science in Nursing programs take roughly two years to complete and are ideal for professionals wanting to specialize in a specific branch of nursing.


    Healthcare Systems, Research Design, Legal and Ethical Issues in Health Care, Pathophysiology, and Nursing Education


    Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Education, Health Promotion, Leadership and Administration, and Family Nurse Practitioner


    Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Midwife, Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Administrator, and Nurse Informaticist




    31% growth from 2014 to 2024 because of recent healthcare legislation, an increased emphasis on preventive care, and demand for healthcare services from the aging baby-boom population

Get Seal
For the 2016 rankings, has greatly refined its approach to evaluating schools and their respective programs. Our innovative method of assessing schools is what makes our rankings so distinctly authoritative. On the surface, every ranking we produce employs a basic formula: Academic Quality + Online Offerings + Cost and Student Aid = Final Score. This final score determines where a school ends up in our rankings. Of course, there's a lot more than meets the eye. Visit our methodology page to discover the data points that shape our formula and to learn more about our process.

Nursing Master’s Degree Rankings

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost Address & Contact Info School Links Acclaim for Online Programs School Description
1Georgetown UniversityWashington$$$$$37th and O St NW
Washington, DC 20057-0001
(202) 687-0100

Georgetown University, located in Washington D.C., offers an online master’s of science in nursing (MSN) degree program with several track options, including adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (23-month program), family nurse practitioner (19-month full-time program or 27-month part-time program), nurse-midwifery women's health nurse practitioner (27-month program), and women's health nurse practitioner (27-month program). Each track requires students to come to campus two or three times to complete on-campus intensives. These are three-to-five day visits during which students complete skills assessments with faculty. Students also participate in clinical training through workshops, high-fidelity simulators, and standardized patients.

Online MSN courses are delivered by video conferencing technology in a live format that facilitates collaborative learning. Small class sizes with a student-to-faculty-ratio of 12:1 help students form strong relationships with classmates and faculty. Upon completion of the program, students are eligible to sit for the national certification exam in their area of specialty.

2University of Maryland BaltimoreBaltimore$$$$$620 West Lexington St
Baltimore, MD 21201-1627
(410) 706-3100

The University of Maryland Baltimore offers online MSN program specialties in nursing informatics and in health services leadership and management. The master’s of science in nursing informatics program teaches nurses to improve the care and outcomes of patients by developing, implementing, and evaluating information technology; this prepares them to be leaders who can conceptualize, design, and use computer-based information systems. Alternatively, the master’s of science in nursing health services leadership and management program prepares graduates to manage the delivery of health care in acute care, long-term, ambulatory, and home health care settings. The school also offers an accelerated RN-to-MSN online degree program, which can be undertaken part-time or full-time. The coursework for all three of these MSN programs can be completed online, and the required practicum hours can be fulfilled at a site near a student’s home.

3Texas Tech University Health Sciences CenterLubbock$$$$$3601 4th Street
Lubbock, TX 79430
(806) 743-1000

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center's school of nursing, located in Lubbock, Texas, offers online MSN programs with specialty tracks in nursing education and nursing administration. The master’s of science in nursing education track prepares graduates for positions in practice and academic settings. This program is completed through online coursework and practicums. Students learn how to strengthen the learning process by incorporating evidence-based teaching strategies and technologies. Alternatively, the master’s of science in nursing administration track prepares students for management positions across a variety of public and private settings. Students acquire high-level skills in leadership and management with a focus on evidence-based practice to ensure safety and improve the efficacy of health care delivery.

4Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimore$$$$$525 North Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205
(410) 955-4766

Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland, was the country's first research university and remains a leader in the fields of nursing education, practice, and research. Johns Hopkins offers an online master’s of science in nursing degree program with a specialty track in health systems management. Students can complete this program on a full-time or part-time basis. The online MSN program strongly emphasizes evidence-based practice, and students can tailor the program's curriculum to focus on information technology, management and administration, case/population management, or health policy. In addition to core requirements, students are required to complete a four-credit management elective and a two-credit financial management theory course. Johns Hopkins is ranked first in the nation among nursing schools in the amount of funding it is awarded by the National Institutes of Health and through federal research grants.

5Stony Brook UniversityStony Brook$$$$$310 Administration Building
Stony Brook, NY 11794
(631) 632-6000

Stony Brook University in New York offers online master’s of science in nursing degree programs with specialty tracks in nursing education, nursing leadership, nurse practitioner, and nurse midwifery. Although the online MSN degree is provided through the university's distance education program, the curricula for each of these specialty tracks include some on-site requirements. The master’s of science in nursing education program trains students to educate nurses of all experience levels in clinical settings and nursing schools. The master’s of science in nursing leadership program prepares nurses to assume leadership roles within the nursing and health care industries. Students in the advanced practice nurse practitioner program can choose from several focuses, including adult-gerontological health, family health, and psychiatric/mental health. Finally, the nurse midwifery program prepares students to provide care for women and newborns with a focus on normal birth. All specialty programs are delivered through an executive cohort model with online coursework and on-site immersions.

6University of MaryBismarck$$$$$7500 University Dr
Bismarck, ND 58504
(701) 255-7500

Located in Bismarck, North Dakota, the University of Mary is a private, Christian, Catholic, Benedictine university that welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds. Mary was an early adopter of distance-education programs, which focused on helping nontraditional students. The university currently offers several online master’s of science in nursing programs that are open to nurses with a wide variety of educational backgrounds. Offerings include an ADN-to-MSN degree program in nursing leadership and management, a BSN-to-MSN degree program with specialty tracks in nursing leadership and management and nurse educator, an MSN in nursing and health care informatics, and a dual-degree MSN-MBA in health care administration. All of University of Mary's online MSN degrees are designed to accommodate the schedules of working professionals and can be completed entirely online with no residency requirements. Accelerated coursework options are also available.

7The University of Texas Medical BranchGalveston$$$$$301 University Blvd
Galveston, TX 77555-0129
(409) 772-1011

The University of Texas Medical Branch, located in Galveston, Texas, offers an online master’s of science in nursing program that prepares graduates to improve and influence health care policy through research and clinical practice. UTMB's MSN degree has seven specialty tracks, including adult/gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, executive nurse leader, and family nurse practitioner. All tracks (except for the executive track) share a common seven-course core curriculum; specialties build on this core to prepare nurses for advanced practice. Coursework is offered online through the Blackboard learning management system, and students can complete the required clinical practice hours in their own geographic area. However, several visits to the Galveston campus are required to obtain specific clinical experiences and assessments. The above programs require between 39 and 49 semester credit hours to complete. Graduate students may transfer up to 12 credit hours into their nursing program.

8George Washington UniversityWashington, DC$$$$$1918 F Street, NW
Washington, DC, DC 20052
(202) 994-1000

George Washington University is located in Washington, D.C. The school’s nursing program focuses on improving health care-related policy decisions to provide better health care for underserved communities around the globe. To accomplish this goal, GW offers an online master’s of science in nursing degree program with specialty tracks in adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, nurse-midwifery (offered in collaboration with Shenandoah University), and nursing leadership and management. All coursework for these MSN online programs can be completed remotely; however, some specialty tracks require students to complete multiple on-campus components for skills intensives, which are accomplished at simulation training centers through assessments. All online MSN degree tracks are offered with both full-time and part-time enrollment options. GW also offers an RN-MSN bridge option that allows students with an associate degree in nursing (or a non-nursing bachelor's degree) to enter a master's program.

9Ohio State UniversityColumbus$$$$$190 N. Oval Mall
Columbus, OH 43210
(292) 646-8600

Located in Columbus, Ohio State University is one of the country's premier research institutions. It offers an online master’s of science in nursing degree program with specialty tracks that prepare students to work as family nurse practitioners, neonatal nurse practitioners, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. The coursework for these MSN online programs can be completed remotely without any residency requirements. Graduates complete coursework, research, and clinical experiences in various settings, including at clinics, hospitals, private practices, government agencies, and managed care organizations. Graduates are eligible to take certification exams in various specialty areas and are prepared to work in a variety of clinical settings ranging from private practices and to managed care organizations and governmental agencies. Distance learners are supported by a variety of services, including academic advising, library access, and options to study abroad. Online students are also eligible to join the Council of Graduate Students.

10University of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboro$$$$$1400 Spring Garden St
Greensboro, NC 27402-6170
(336) 334-5000

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro offers an online master’s of science in nursing with concentration options in nursing administration and nursing education. Designed for working registered nurses, coursework is delivered in both asynchronous and synchronous online formats. Class sizes are small and both concentrations boast job placement rates of more than 90%. The nursing administration concentration includes 425 clinical practicum hours, while the nursing education concentration requires 225 clinical practicum hours. The locations of clinical practica are determined by a student's area of interest and their geographic location. Students may also be interested in the dual MSN/MBA degree in health management, which is offered jointly by the school of nursing and the school of business and economics. The dual degree includes a mix of online and on-campus coursework.

11Sacred Heart UniversityFairfield$$$$$5151 Park Ave
Fairfield, CT 06825-1000
(203) 371-7999

Sacred Heart University, located in Fairfield, Connecticut, offers an online master’s of science in nursing degree program with four specialization tracks: clinical nurse leader (CNL), nursing management and executive leadership (NMEL), nursing education, and family nurse practitioner (FNP). These programs are designed for professional nurses and can be completed at a student's own pace as long as they are finished within a period of six years. Additionally, students do not need to declare a specialization until halfway through the program, giving them time to explore their options.

The CNL track includes 348 hours of role immersion, while the NMEL and nursing education tracks have 120 clinical practicum hours. The FNP track requires students to attend an on-site orientation and two on-site competency assessments. Coursework for the other specializations can be completed entirely online, and practicums can be completed in the student's geographic area. Sacred Heart also offers an online RN-BSN-MSN program that combines BSN and MSN studies.

12Maryville University of Saint LouisSaint Louis$$$$$650 Maryville University Drive
Saint Louis, MO 63141
(800) 627-9855

Maryville University, in St. Louis, Missouri, offers an online master’s of science in nursing degree program with five specialty track options: family nurse practitioner (FNP), adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner (AGPCNP), adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (AGACNP), pediatric (primary care) nurse practitioner (PNP), and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP). Because these tracks are designed for working professional, all coursework can be completed online with no residency requirements. Practicums can also be completed at a facility that is local to a student. All tracks require students to take many of the same core courses, but the clinical hour requirements and electives vary. The FNP, AGPCNP, and AGACNP programs admit students six times a year, while the PNP and PMHNP programs have three entry points per year. Additionally, Maryville University's online MSN program does not require students to submit GRE or GMAT scores for admission.

13Chatham UniversityPittsburgh$$$$$Woodland Rd
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
(412) 365-1100

Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Chatham University is a private school that offers an online master’s of science in nursing degree program with specialty tracks in leadership, education, and informatics. Each speciality requires students to take a series of five specialized three-credit classes, in addition to the core MSN coursework. The program is delivered completely online through 14-week courses. The final two semesters of this online MSN program include practicums with a preceptor who works in the student's desired area of specialty. Students are required to complete at least 120 hours with their preceptor.

Students may choose to enroll in the program on a full-time or part-time basis. Full-time students can complete the program in four sequential semesters, while part-time students can earn their degree in six semesters.

14University of Colorado Denver - Anschutz Medical CampusDenver$$$$$1380 Lawrence Street, Lawrence Street Center, Suite 1400
Denver, CO 80217-3364
(303) 556-5600

The University of Colorado - Denver's college of nursing offers one of the best MSN online programs in the country with specialty tracks in leadership and health care informatics. Both tracks can be completed online with no residency requirements, and students can work with faculty to set up clinical practicums in their geographic area. The leadership track, which is referred to as the innovation in leadership and administration in nursing and health care systems program, prepares students to become leaders who promote social justice by increasing the access, quality, and socio-cultural acceptability of health care through relationship-centered caring, advocacy, and empowerment. Alternatively, the health care informatics concentration teaches students to plan, select, design, and implement emerging technologies to advance consumer engagement, support clinical decision making, promote safety, and drive quality care. Distance learners interact with their teachers through webinars, video conferencing, and social networking tools. Students who live in a state that is a member of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education may be eligible for in-state tuition rates.

15Mount Carmel College of NursingColumbus$$$$$127 So. Davis Ave
Columbus, OH 43222-1504
(614) 234-5800

Mount Carmel College of Nursing, located in Columbus, Ohio, offers an online master’s of science in nursing degree program with a track in nursing education. This online MSN program was designed for students who hold a bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited program and want to either teach nursing in an academic setting or take on staff development duties in a health care setting. Students learn to apply relevant nursing education research and examine the ethical and legal issues surrounding the role of a nursing educator. Students conclude their education with a 150-hour practicum. The program can be completed by part-time students in three years over the course of seven semesters. It is recommend that applicants have at least one year of recent clinical experience.

16University of PittsburghPittsburgh$$$$$4200 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
(412) 624-4141

The University of Pittsburgh, located in the city’s Oakland neighborhood, offers two of the best MSN online programs through its school of nursing: the master’s of science for clinical nurse leaders (CNL) and the master’s of science in nursing informatics. The CNL degree program's didactic portion can be completed entirely online, and the 420 required clinical hours can usually be obtained at a facility within the student's own community. Pitt's nursing informatics track emphasizes leadership development in nursing by teaching students how to manage and process data in order to create information databases and build knowledge. Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the nursing informatics certification exam. Both MSN concentrations can be completed in part-time or full-time formats. Some courses require that exams be proctored, but distance learners can work with Pitt Online to find an approved testing center that is located near their home.

17University of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotte$$$$$9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28223-0001
(704) 687-2000

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte offers one the best MSN online programs with specialties in community/public health, nursing administration, and nursing education. These programs can be completed on a part-time basis in 27 months, 27 months, and 30 months, respectively, and all specialty tracks can be completed entirely online. The community/public health focus teaches students how to assess communities and populations, identify high risk groups, and develop culturally-sensitive and realistic community-based nursing procedures. The administration specialty prepares nurses for administrative roles, such as nurse executives or quality improvement managers, at community agencies, health care facilities, and schools of nursing. Finally, graduates of the education track can enter academic positions teaching nursing at the entry and RN-to-BSN levels. Students traditionally begin their program in the summer term but can enroll before any semester. UNC at Charlotte also offers an accelerated RN-to-MSN degree program.

18Michigan State UniversityEast Lansing$$$$$
East Lansing, MI 48824-1046
(517) 355-1855

Michigan State University, located in East Lansing, offers an adult gerontology clinical nurse specialist program with a nurse education concentration. This prepares nurses to carry out the responsibilities of clinical nurse specialists and develops their skills as educators. MSN program coursework is delivered entirely online through the D2L course management system. However, students are also required to attend a one-day on-campus orientation at the start of the program. Students can complete their required clinical experiences at a location near their home. 2016 graduates of this program had a 100% pass rate for the AG-CNS and ACCNS-AG certification exams. This program has a fall start date and applications are accepted until March 1. Only residents from Michigan state can apply for admission into this MSN degree program.

19University of Central FloridaOrlando$$$$$4000 Central Florida Blvd
Orlando, FL 32816
(407) 823-2000

The University of Central Florida is located in Orlando and offers an online master’s of science in nursing degree program with specialized nursing leadership and management and nurse educator tracks. Both of these concentrations can be completed online, but students are required to visit the Orlando campus for program orientation and to present their master's evidence-based project. UCF also offers an MSN specialty track in nursing and health care simulation. This program requires students to attend intensives on campus, but most coursework is delivered online. The nursing and health care simulation track can be completed on a full-time basis in four semesters or on a part-time basis in five semesters. Graduates of these programs are prepared to assume a variety of roles, including nursing managers, health care administrators, and chief nursing officers.

20Samford UniversityBirmingham$$$$$800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229-2240
(205) 726-2011

Samford University is a Christian school located in Birmingham, Alabama. It offers an online master’s of science in nursing with a nurse educator specialization. The curriculum for this program can be completed by full-time students in five semesters. Distance learners must also visit the Birmingham campus to attend three required sessions over the course of the program and a mandatory three-day on-campus orientation at the beginning of their coursework. Practicum experiences are part of the program's core curriculum and can be arranged to be completed at a facility close to a student's home.

Students admitted into this program may be able to obtain funding through the federal Nurse Faculty Loan Program. These funds are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Upon graduating, students who teach for four years at a school of nursing can have up to 85% of their loans forgiven.

21Saint Xavier UniversityChicago$$$$$3700 W 103rd St
Chicago, IL 60655
(773) 298-3000

Saint Xavier University, located in Chicago, Illinois, was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1846. Education at SXU is inspired by its Catholic identity and Mercy heritage. The university offers an online master’s of science in nursing with specialization track options in clinical leadership and executive leadership. SXU’s school of nursing has been designated by the National League for Nursing as one of the Centers of Excellence, which is a prestigious distinction in nursing education. The clinical leadership track is designed for nurses who want to stay close to patient care and combines advanced clinical nursing skills with evidence-based practice and leadership tools. Alternatively, the executive leadership track teaches students to become leaders in nursing administration and covers the organizational and administrative aspects of the nursing practice.

22Indiana University-Purdue University - IndianapolisIndianapolis$$$$$425 University Blvd
Indianapolis, IN 46202-5143
(317) 274-5555

Indiana University - Purdue University, located in Indianapolis, offers an online master’s of science in nursing with a specialty track in nursing education. This program prepares students to teach at nursing and technical schools, community colleges, hospitals, and in private industry settings. Offered through the Indiana University school of nursing, the nursing education program includes coursework in nursing education theory, principles, and practices. The program culminates with a capstone cluster. 225 supervised practicum hours are also required, which can be completed in the student's local geographic area. The university utilizes the online learning management system Canvas, which provides many options for collaborative learning through problem-based coursework and web-conferencing. This degree can be completed by full-time students in two years and by part-time students in three years. Graduates of the program are eligible take the National League for Nursing's certified nurse educator examination.

23University of KansasLawrence$$$$$Strong Hall, 1450 Jayhawk Blvd, Room 230
Lawrence, KS 66045
(785) 864-2700

The University of Kansas, located in Lawrence, offers an online master’s of science in nursing degree program with tracks in nursing informatics, organizational leadership, and public health nursing. All required coursework is delivered fully online, but new graduate students are required to attend a one-day on-campus orientation program that is held the week before classes begin. As part of the curriculum, all MSN students are also required to complete a two-credit-hour research project under the supervision of a graduate faculty member. Each specialty area includes practicum experiences, which provide students an opportunity to apply their acquired skills and knowledge in one or more health care settings. Depending on the student's chosen track, the MSN degree program requires between 37 and 39 credit hours. Full-time students can complete the online MSN program in two years, while part-time students can earn their degree in three to four years.

24University of St. FrancisJoliet$$$$$500 N Wilcox St
Joliet, IL 60435-6188
(815) 740-3360

The University of St. Francis is a Catholic university located in Joliet, Illinois. The school offers an online master’s of science in nursing degree. This program gives students the option to choose from four online concentrations: family nurse practitioner, psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner, nursing administration, and nursing education. All of these MSN specialty tracks build competencies in promoting patient-centered care, synthesizing theoretical concepts, engaging in scientific inquiry, and carrying out evidence-based practice. Graduates will be prepared to assume leadership roles in the field of nursing and incorporate their educational experiences and research into practices that are reflective of the dynamic needs of diverse populations. The University of St. Francis also offers an accelerated online RN-BSN-MSN program for registered nurses with a non-nursing baccalaureate degree.

25The University of Texas in ArlingtonArlington$$$$$701 S. Nedderman Dr.
Arlington, TX 76013
(817) 272-2011

The University of Texas at Arlington offers an online master’s of science in nursing with specialty track options in nursing administration and nursing education. The nursing administration track can be completed in as little as 18 months, while the nursing education track can be completed in 19-21 months. UTA also offers accelerated online MSN degree programs in several nurse practitioner tracks, including family nurse practitioner, pediatric primary care, pediatric acute care, adult gerontology acute care, and adult gerontology primary care. A majority of the courses in these programs are offered in sequential five-week sessions through an online, asynchronous learning environment. For students interested in a more traditionally-paced online learning format, the neonatal nurse practitioner program is an option. Furthermore, the UTA offers a flexible, accelerated online RN-to-MSN program, which can be completed by full-time students in 36 months.

Online Doctorate Degree in Nursing

The terminal degree in the field, students pursuing a doctorate generally want to become independent practitioners. Because there are various specializations, the length of time required to complete these nursing degrees online varies. There are 3 types of doctoral online nursing degrees: (1) Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP); (2) Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS); and (3) Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD). The DNP focuses on patient health and welfare, while the DNS and PhD are are more research-oriented.


    Scientific Foundations, Epidemiology, Clinical Decision-Making, Health Policy, Legal and Ethical Environment


    Advanced Practice Leadership, Healthcare Systems Leadership, Nursing Informatics, and Nursing Research


    Healthcare Administrator, Nurse Scientist, Nursing Faculty, Chief Nursing Officer, and Manager of Informatics





Online Nursing Choose Your Career

Average Nursing Salaries


Nurse Anesthetist (APRN)

Salary: $153,780
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
19% 38,200 Masters Must be licensed and nationally certified

A nurse anesthetist gives anesthetic care to patients undergoing surgery. As a group, anesthetists earn a significantly higher average salary than other nurses. Their compensation level is due to the unpredictable nature of anesthesia. Every individual reacts differently to being put under, and doses must be calculated precisely by factoring in variables, like weight, age, body fat percentage, and gender. APRNs have a difficult, but highly rewarding career.

Nursing Assistant

Salary: $25,090
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
17% 1,545,200 Associates Must be state certified

Nursing assistants work in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospices, hospitals, correctional institutions, and other healthcare settings. They help patients perform daily tasks and work under a nurse’s supervision. Because nursing assistants have extensive daily contact with their patients, they play an integral role in updating supervising nurses on vital patient information.

School Nurse

Salary: $39,035
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
16% 16,506 Bachelor's Must be state licensed and certified

School nurses care for students who get sick or injured at school. They take vital signs, record symptoms, and administer basic medical aid. They also educate students on basic health care issues.

Neonatal Nurse

Salary: $54,133
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
19% 3,100 Bachelor's Must be state licensed and certified

Neonatal nurses care for newborn babies. They may look after healthy infants, provide specialized care for premature or ill babies, or work only with seriously ill newborns. Neonatal nurses must be RNs with a bachelor’s degrees in nursing.

Pediatric Nurse (RN)

Salary: $66,220
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
19% 200,823 Associates Board certification by state

Pediatric nurses provide preventative and critical care to children and adolescents. An associate degree is the minimum required education, though a bachelor’s is recommended. Those with more advanced degrees may earn a higher salary. Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (PNPs) perform physical exams, diagnose illnesses and injuries, and provide education and support to families. Certification is available from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB).

Online Nursing Degree in Action

Jonathan Steele Nursing

Jonathan Steele received his nursing degree online from Regents/Excelsior College. He is certified in bloodless medicine and surgery, and is currently the executive director a Here, he discusses the many benefits of online nursing degrees as well as the challenges faced by students who choose to pursue their nursing degrees online.

Why did you pursue your nursing degree online?

For me, the first benefit was cost, as my degree was a fraction of what other colleges cost. Second, I missed all the poor and boring lectures. Unfortunately, I also missed the great lectures. I avoided the politics and the personalities that can slow the learning process down. Most of all, it was pure study and none of the fluff that is often associated with the college experience.

What were the biggest advantages in studying online?

I was able to focus on learning and found that the tests were almost always perfect tests. In the few brick and mortar classes I took, the tests were often poorly written. If I tried to wing an answer based on grammar, I could get it wrong. Also, many tests questions were poorly written and ambiguous. This was not the case with the tests I took through Regents.

Were there any challenges stemming from studying online?

The only challenge was not having a microscope for microbiology. I signed up for a class in a brick and mortar college to get the needed hands-on experience for that particular class.

There were some people who felt my learning experience was subpar. I simply reminded those who question my education to put me next to someone who was not motivated to self-direct their learning and decide who is the better prepared nurse.

How did the online format help prepare you for your career?

It taught me to self-direct my personal study, something that I still do to this day. I am constantly wanting to learn more and explore new areas of nursing research. It prepared me to be able to go into areas of nursing that few had gone before me. As I pioneered the hydration field over the past several years, there are more and more who are jumping on the movement with Saline Salons and various saline products coming into the market place.

I teach people all over the world how to teach others how manage their water and salt intake to optimize their health.

Bridge Programs

Students who already hold a nursing degree but wish to pursue advanced certification can enroll in online bridge programs. By pursuing advanced nursing degrees online, students can avoid superfluous work and earn their degree quickly.

  • LPN to ADN:

    Licensed practical nurses work under the supervision of RNs. LPNs can spend an extra 1-2 years of study to complete an ADN, which qualifies them for the RN exam. Some programs only admit students who have taken certain prerequisites.

  • LPN to BSN:

    Students in an LPN to BSN bridge program typically finish in 2-4 years, depending on whether they study full-time and how many prerequisite courses they’ve completed. Some online nursing degree programs require that students already hold an ADN. Others only require students to complete nursing prerequisites.

  • RN to BSN:

    RN to BSN programs are convenient for working professionals. These students already have an effective grasp of the material they will be working on, and can rely on their experience in the field to help them complete the nursing degree online program and earn advanced certification.

  • RN to MSN:

    Nurses who hold ADNs can earn their bachelor’s and master’s nursing degrees online at the same time in 2-3 years. (Some programs skip the BSN.) Students in these bridge programs start with undergraduate work and eventually progress to master’s level material.

  • RN to DNP:

    An RN to DNP program is an unusual but often useful career path. Typically, students entering these programs already have their BSN, though many schools will admit students with ADNs as long as they hold a bachelor’s degree of some kind. RN to DNP students take an increased number of classes at the start of the program. The length of these programs varies. They’re often offered as hybrid-programs, where the first half leads to a MSN, and the second half to a DNP. These nursing degree online programs typically take 4-5 years to complete.

Online Nursing Professional Requirements

Nursing certifications provide the opportunity to augment professional growth, job satisfaction, salary potential, and professional competency. Certifications vary largely depending on level of degree, population being served, and intended career path. Below are some of the most common types of certifications and tests for nurses.

State Board Certification

State certification grants applicants the legal authority to become a professional nurse. Voluntary certification is available in specialty areas of nursing.

Is it required?

All 50 states require some form of state certification for nurses.

How long will it take?

Varies per state, expect approximately 2 weeks from the time you apply to the time you receive your license.

National Certification

Most national certifications are associated with professional organizations interested in raising professional standards. Individuals achieve certification through an assessment process. National certifications typically must be renewed periodically and acceptance varies from hospital to hospital. The type of certification depends on the profession and specialization.

  • CMCN (Certification in Managed Care Nursing):

    The CMCN is executed by the American Board of Managed Care Nursing (ABMCN). Applicants must demonstrate a base level of knowledge of the following areas of nursing: Managed Care Overview, Health Care Management, Health Care Economics, and Patient Issues. The CMCN certification must be renewed every 3 years.

  • CPHQ (Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality):

    The CPHQ is the only nationally accredited certification in healthcare quality. Healthcare quality professionals analyze data, improve performance, manage risks, and improve patient safety. They play an integral management role in caring for patients.

  • CCM (Certified Case Manager):

    Case Management Nurses organize patients’ long-term care. Case managers have the proficiency and professional experience to care for patients with complex or debilitating medical conditions.

  • CHPN (Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse):

    The CHPN was created for seasoned hospice and palliative care nurses. Candidates must have completed 500 hours of hospice and palliative nursing practice in the previous twelve months or 1,000 hours in the past two years.

  • CNE (Certified Nurse Educator):

    The Academic Nurse Educator Certification Program fosters excellence among academic nurse educators. CNE certification recognizes academic nursing education as an advanced and specialized area of nursing and helps educators continue their professional development.

Is it required?


How long will it take?


Maintaining Certification

Certifications must be renewed every five years online or by mail up to one year before the prior certification’s expiration. Applicants may not be eligible practice beyond this expiration date.

Is it required?


How long will it take?

Varies by certification