How Much Does It Cost to Get a Masters in Nursing?

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Masters in Nursing?

Key Takeaways

  • Students attending a public university pay around $18,000 for a master’s in nursing.
  • Attending a private college for a master’s in nursing can cost over $90,000.
  • It will take approximately 30 and 70 credit hours to complete a master’s in nursing degree.

In this article, we answer the question, “How much does it cost to get a master’s in nursing?” With multiple variable costs involved, it can be tough to set a budget. This article aims to break down all the expenses to help you plan your educational finances effectively.

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Featured Programs

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Master’s in Nursing?

Getting a Master in Nursing (MSN) can be a big investment. The demand for qualified nurses is high, with jobs like nurse practitioners and nurse midwives projected to grow by 38% from 2022 to 2032. The cost of an MSN program can vary widely.

On the lower end, students pay around $18,000. For more expensive programs, especially at private universities or for students coming from out of state, the cost could get close to $100,000. The cost ultimately depends on where and how you decide to study. Full-time students can complete their MSN in one to two years, which is faster yet might involve higher tuition.

Generally, you can expect to finish between 30 and 70 credit hours to get that degree in your hand. Studying part-time can stretch out the time it takes to graduate, which sometimes can mean paying more in general. If you choose a school not in your home state or a private college, you might be required to pay at the higher end of the range.

Here are a few points to consider:

  • Number of credit hours: 30 to 70
  • Type of institution: Public, in-state, out-of-state, or private
  • Mode of study: Full-time, part-time
  • Cost range: Approximately $18,000 to over $90,000
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Factors Affecting the Cost of an MSN Degree

Several factors determine the cost of obtaining an MSN degree. This section will guide you through the different aspects that contribute to the expenses of your MSN education and potential options for financial assistance.

Let’s look at some of the major factors that affect the cost of an MSN degree.

Type of Institution

Public schools often charge lower tuition rates than private institutions, especially for state residents. The tuition fees for out-of-state students at public universities are generally higher, significantly affecting general educational costs. Financial aid opportunities vary between these types of schools.

Program Format

Online MSN programs may offer more flexibility and lower costs compared to on-campus options. However, technology fees could add to your budget.

Conversely, hybrid programs combine online classes with on-campus education, which could add up the costs of both in-person and online education.


The MSN specialty you choose can influence the general cost due to varying lengths of study, coursework, and certification exams. More advanced specializations may require extra training that adds to the general cost of an MSN degree.

Enrollment Status

While full-time students can complete their MSN faster, part-time enrollment might allow for continued employment. However, part-time degrees typically tend to be more expensive than traditional full-time MSN programs due to the length of the program and other associated costs.


The institute’s location where you get your MSN program impacts tuition and living costs. Urban areas may offer more diversity in schooling options yet usually have higher expenses than rural counterparts.

Program Length

Most MSN programs last between 18 and 24 months for full-time students, part-time students may take longer. Credit requirements and specialization impact the length of the program and the associated costs.

Clinical Requirements

Clinical practice is a core part of the MSN program, introducing additional expenses such as transportation and equipment. These hands-on experiences are important and vary in cost.

Technology Requirements

MSN students typically need certain technologies, such as computers and software. Some resources may be obtained at reduced rates or free through universities, while others may require full purchase or subscription.

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Miscellaneous Charges

Other miscellaneous fees involved in a MSN degree are:

  • Books
  • Housing, which varies significantly by location
  • Transportation, which depends on proximity to campus
  • Application fees, technology fees, lab fees, and graduation fees, which are often not included in tuition

Licensing and Certification Costs

After graduation, MSN students must pass the NCLEX, which requires a $200 registration fee. Exam prep can range from $25 to over $500, depending on available resources and student needs.

Health Insurance

Medical coverage is vital for MSN students, especially when involved in clinical practices. Affordable insurance options include employer plans, university offerings, or marketplace options.

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What Are the Financial Aid Options Available for MSN Students?

If you’re worried about the expenses associated with an MSN degree, exploring and applying for various financial assistance programs can help lower the financial burden of this degree. Financial aid, scholarships, and other program funding options are some avenues you can explore.

Remember that tuition doesn’t include other expenses like books, supplies, and living costs. So, if you’re thinking about getting your MSN, it’s wise to start by researching the programs you’re interested in and preparing a budget that considers these factors.


Scholarships are monetary awards given to students to help fund their education. Unlike loans, scholarships don’t have to be repaid. The different types of scholarships for MSN students include:

  • Merit-based scholarships: Awarded based on a student’s achievements
  • Need-based scholarships: Allotted to students with financial need
  • Specialization-specific scholarships: Aimed at students pursuing a particular nursing specialty

To increase their chances of securing a scholarship, students should focus on maintaining a high GPA, obtaining solid recommendations, and preparing a strong personal essay.

Now, let’s look at some noteworthy scholarship programs for MSN students:

American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Scholarships

The AACN offers scholarships for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral nursing programs at AACN member schools. These scholarships often focus on specific areas of nursing practice or leadership development.

National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) Scholarships

If you’re a Black nursing student, the NBNA offers scholarships specifically for you. Membership in the organization is typically required, and these scholarships prioritize students with financial need and a commitment to serving underserved communities.

American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) Scholarships

The AANP awards scholarships to registered nurses enrolled in a master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) who aim to become nurse practitioners.

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

While not exclusively for nursing students, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund offers financial assistance to Hispanic students pursuing degrees in various healthcare fields, including nursing.

Nurse Corps Scholarship Program

Another program from the HRSA, the Nurse Corps Scholarship, provides full tuition and a stipend for students who commit to working in underserved areas after graduation. This program is a great option for nurses passionate about serving those in need.

Remember, each scholarship has its own eligibility criteria and application deadlines. Researching these programs thoroughly will increase your chances of securing funding for your nursing education.


Grants are funds provided to students for education, unlike loans, which don’t require repayment. They are awarded by federal and state governments, private organizations, and educational institutions.

Specific nursing student grants include the following:

HRSA Nursing Grants

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) offers grants to support nursing education and training. These grants are typically awarded to schools of nursing that use these funds to provide financial assistance to students in need.

Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program

This program, also from HRSA, isn’t a traditional grant. Registered nurses and advanced practice nurses working at designated facilities with critical nursing shortages can receive loan repayments for a portion of their nursing school debt. This program incentivizes nurses to work in underserved communities while helping them manage student loans.

Woman wearing green nursing scrubs with a stethoscope around her neck while holding a laptop

AACN Grants

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) offers grant programs to support nursing schools. These grants can be used for various purposes, including curriculum development, faculty training, and student scholarships. While not directly awarded to students, AACN grants ultimately benefit them by strengthening nursing programs and potentially increasing financial aid opportunities.

Student Loans

Student loans are borrowed funds that students must repay after finishing their degrees. Federal loans include options like:

Direct Unsubsidized Loans  

These federal loans are a good starting point. Students qualify based on financial need, and the government pays the interest while you’re in school. Repayment typically begins six months after graduation.

Direct PLUS Loans

Unlike unsubsidized loans, direct PLUS loans aren’t based on financial need. This type of loan covers the full cost of attendance minus any other financial aid the student receives. However, PLUS Loans have higher interest rates than unsubsidized loans, so it is important to borrow responsibly.

Health Professions Student Loans (HPSL)

Offered by nursing schools and funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, HPSL loans come with attractive benefits. They typically have lower interest rates than Direct Unsubsidized or PLUS Loans, and interest doesn’t accrue while you’re in school or during a grace period after graduation.

It’s vital that students understand the commitment that comes with loans and explore repayment options, such as income-driven repayment plans, loan forgiveness programs, and strategies for loan management.

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What Are the Career Options for Nursing Graduates?

Nursing professionals have a bright future ahead. Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) with an MSN degree are expected to see even higher growth rates. With an MSN, you can pursue a variety of career paths, from progressing in current positions to specializing in specific areas of nursing.

Career FieldAverage Annual Salary (USD)
Informatics Nurses$98,409
Nurse Anesthetists$235,798
Nurse Midwives$129,650
Nurse Practitioners$124,325
Nursing Managers$122,800

Informatics Nurses

Informatics nurses play a vital role in healthcare by working with electronic medical records and software applications. They are responsible for improving medical hardware and software use and serving as a bridge between medical staff and technology providers.

Woman wearing nursing scrubs, posing for a photo outside the hospital

Nurse Anesthetists

Nurse anesthetists have critical responsibilities, including administering anesthesia and overseeing patient care during surgeries. They assess patient histories, monitor vital signs, and assure safety throughout anesthesia procedures.

Nurse Midwives

Nurse midwives deliver important care during phases of pregnancy, including before, during, and after childbirth. Their duties include family planning, neonatal care, labor management, and support for women and families.

Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners act as primary or specialty care providers and play a vital role in healthcare. They coordinate care plans, diagnose conditions, and carry out treatments in a way that’s similar to physicians.

Nursing Managers

Nursing managers are responsible for leading nursing teams, maintaining the quality of care, and adhering to healthcare regulations. They take care of hiring, scheduling, and reviewing the performance of nursing staff.

Registered Nurses

Registered nurses are the backbone of patient care, responsible for documenting medical histories and administering treatments. An MSN degree often results in higher salaries for registered nurses.

Related Questions

How Long Does It Take to Go from RN to MSN?

Typically, an RN to MSN program takes about two to three years to complete full-time. Part-time students may take three to five years, depending on the program’s structure and personal commitments.

How Much Does an MSN Graduate Make Each Year?

Salaries for MSN graduates can vary widely. Median salaries range from approximately $73,000 for RNs to $140,000 for nurse anesthetists. These figures can differ based on specialization, experience, and geographic location.

How Long Does It Take to Be an MSN?

Students enrolled full-time in an MSN program can typically complete the course in about two years, while part-time students may require four years. However, the duration can vary depending on the program structure and the student’s pace.


The cost of a master of science in nursing varies by school, location, and whether a student chooses an online or an in-person program. Despite the costs, attaining an MSN can lead to higher salaries, better job positions, and the ability to provide incomparable care to patients.

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