Use the school listings to evaluate costs, curricula, and quality factors. Learn how online Arizona RN to MSN programs are structured. And discover who offers the cheapest RN to MSN programs in Arizona.
While you’re here, you may also want to skim through our discussion of Arizona’s healthcare landscape and our large section on jobs for Arizona RN to MSN graduates. In particular, we’ve highlighted urban & rural opportunities and provided links to local job boards & wage reports.
You might even consider joining a few AZ nursing associations & organizations. A number of these organizations can help with scholarships, preceptor advice, and career mentoring.
Online RN to MSN Programs in Arizona
All of the Arizona universities in our school listings are willing to offer online RN to MSN programs. Just keep in mind that GCU, NAU, and UOPX will want to see a non-nursing bachelor’s degree before they will consider you. (UA is happy to accept ASN or ADN candidates.) In addition, here are a few more points worth mentioning:
- Grand Canyon University: All of the non-NP concentrations at GCU are available in an 100% online format, with short course lengths (e.g. 5 weeks for bridge classes and 8 weeks for graduate courses). However, if you’re interested in the online FNP or AGACNP tracks, be sure to read the program disclosures on the MSN pages. There are a few states where GCU’s online program does not meet licensure requirements. In addition to clinical practicums, NP concentrations also include 2 mandatory on-campus experiences (1-3 days) where you’ll be able to receive hands-on clinical training and prepare for certification.
- Northern Arizona University: NAU offers the online MSN – Generalist in 2 models. In the traditional model, students select a semester-based course schedule and pay tuition based on credit hours. In the competency-based model, students can set their own schedules and pay a six-month, flat subscription rate for all coursework. (Because of the training that’s involved, the online FNP track is only offered in the semester-based model.) Regardless of their choice, all online students have full library access and 24/7 tech support.
- University of Arizona: UA’s RN to MSN in Clinical Systems Leadership is 100% online with no campus components. Classes are offered in an asynchronous format (i.e. no mandatory log-in times), but alumni often mention how much they liked the discussion boards, distance meetings, and group projects. In the final capstone, students create a patient-centered care management plan under the mentorship of a faculty member.
- University of Phoenix: In UOPX’s RN to MSN pathway, non-NP concentrations are 100% online, but the FNP track contains a mandatory 5-day residency for the course in health assessment. Depending on the specialty, California students may also have different course lengths and clinical components.
Cheapest RN to MSN Programs in Arizona
Our ranking of the most affordable Arizona RN to MSN programs is based on one data point: per graduate tuition rates. But it’s only an estimate! Each program will have a different number of total credits, different fees, and even different tuition structures. For example, GCU’s six bridge courses are billed at the undergraduate rate.
- Grand Canyon University: Non-NP specialties (NP tuition rates are higher than NAU and roughly equivalent to UA)—View Tuition Rates
- University of Phoenix: View Tuition Rates
- Northern Arizona University: View Tuition Rates
- University of Arizona: View Tuition Rates
Looking at public options? At UA and NAU, there’s no difference between resident and non-resident tuition rates for online graduate nursing programs.
Arizona’s Healthcare Landscape
Arizona—land of sunshine, deserts, and some complicated healthcare challenges. Overall, the state is fairly healthy, with good metrics in a number of areas, including low rates of cancer deaths and obesity.
But in cities like Phoenix and Tucson, one of the major issues is the looming shortage of healthcare professionals. Arizona is a prime destination for seniors & retirees, and the state is struggling to keep up with the demand for primary care physicians. Primary care NPs and nurses in relevant hospital specialties (e.g. AGACNP) are also needed.
Another long-standing concern is the state of healthcare for rural residents and American Indians.
- A quick look at the state’s County Health Rankings is enough to prove the point. Rural counties with reservations (e.g. La Paz, Navaho, and Apache) frequently have the lowest rankings in health outcomes & health factors.
- Arizona usually receives failing grades in the U.S. Rural Health Report Card, with Ds or Fs for mental health, physical health, mental health access, and primary care access. The age-adjusted mortality rate in rural areas can be 21% higher than the rate in urban counties.
- The Arizona Department of Health Services publishes annual reports on the Health Status Profile of American Indians in Arizona. In 2017, these residents ranked worse than the statewide average in 47 of 65 health indicators and died much younger than others. Cirrhosis & chronic liver disease, diabetes, poor prenatal care, and post-neonatal mortality were just some of the issues in play.
This is why you’ll see Arizona nursing schools advocating for better rural healthcare, more American Indian nurses and midwives, and a clearer understanding of contributing factors. One of these factors could be the lack of mental health providers. In certain Arizona counties, there may be no mental health facilities and only 1-2 psychiatrists. Something to bear in mind if you’re an aspiring PMHNP!
Jobs for Arizona RN to MSN Graduates
Career Outlook for RN to MSN Graduates
We’re happy to report that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) keeps a close eye on job & wage data for Nurse Practitioners and Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary. You can even use the employment maps to compare AZ regions with neighboring states.
As you might expect, the prime market for Arizona NPs is the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metropolitan area—approximately 68% of the state’s nurse practitioners and 57% of its nursing instructors work in this region.
- They practice in most of the Best Hospitals in Arizona (e.g. Mayo Clinic, Banner Medical Centers, St. Joseph’s Hospital, etc.) and Magnet Facilities (e.g. HonorHealth Medical Centers).
- They teach in some of the state’s largest universities, including Grand Canyon University in Phoenix and Arizona State University in Tempe.
- And they’re paid well. Nursing instructors in Arizona have some of the highest annual mean wages in the country.
If you want to stretch further, Flagstaff has Northern Arizona University and the Flagstaff Medical Center. And Tucson has the University of Arizona, TMC Healthcare, the Northwest Medical Center-Tucson, and Banner University Medical Center Tucson. UA is a big university with a big reach, which may explain why ~29% of the state’s nursing instructors are centered in that city.
As we mentioned, rural areas are in real need of doctors and nurses—in 2018, the entire eastern part of the state only had 70 NPs. That’s a shame, because NPs in Arizona have full independent practice authority and are recognized as primary care providers (see the Arizona Board of Nursing’s Advanced Practice Resources section for more details).
If you’re willing to work in rural settings, UA’s Center for Rural Health is a good place to start for information. The CRHWorks: Workforce Data & Analysis has a helpful map of Primary Care Professional (PCP) shortage areas. Arizona also offers a couple of State Loan Repayment Programs (SLRPs) to primary care & rural healthcare professionals.
Career Resources for Future APRNs
Arizona Nursing Job Boards
- AzNA Career Center: Job listings for Arizona nurses, including NPs, nurse educators, and nurse leaders
- ANPC Career Center: Job listings for Arizona NPs
- AzONE Career Center: Job listings for Arizona nurse leaders & executives
Arizona APRN Salary & Wage Data
- Annual Mean Wages for Arizona Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations: Categories can include “Nurse Practitioners,” “Nurse Midwives,” and “Nurse Anesthetists”
- Annual Mean Wages for Arizona Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary
- AANP National Compensation Survey: Available to AANP members
Arizona Nursing Organizations
State Board of Nursing
Arizona Nursing Associations & Coalitions
- Arizona Foundation for the Future of Nursing (AzFFN)
- Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA)
- Arizona Nurses Association (AzNA)
- Arizona Nurse Practitioner Council (ANPC)
- National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN): Arizona Chapters
- National Black Nurses Association (NBNA): Arizona Chapter
Arizona Nursing Specialty Organizations
- American College of Nurse-Midwives – Arizona Affiliate (Arizona ACNM)
- American Psychiatric Nurses Association – Arizona Chapter (APNA Arizona)
- Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses – Arizona (AWHONN Arizona)
- Arizona Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AZANA)
- Arizona Emergency Nurses Association (Arizona ENA)
- Arizona League for Nursing (AZLN)
- Arizona Organization of Nurse Executives (AzONE)
- Arizona PeriAnesthesia Nurses Association (AZPANA)
- School Nurses Organization of Arizona (SNOA)
- Student Nurses Association of Arizona (SNAAZ)
Nursing School Overview
GCU is a private, non-profit Christian university in Phoenix. It held a for-profit designation between 2004-2018, so you may find references to that fact on the web. The College of Nursing and Health Care Professions places an emphasis on Christian values in its coursework and its nursing programs are well-known in the Arizona area. It has a Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching and an Office of Field Experience to support students with practicum placements (although you may still need to find your own preceptor & site). Though GCU is unranked by U.S. News & World Report, there are plenty of independent reviews and message board threads about its online graduate nursing programs, including NP concentrations. Reviewers tend to say faculty are supportive & invested in students, teaching materials are relevant & interactive, and the curriculum is challenging & rigorous. If you're interested in NP concentrations, we recommend you ask the program coordinator for recent certification exam pass rates. The 2017 statistics we saw in GCU's program disclosures were fairly low (e.g. 52%-78%), but they may have improved.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
GCU's online Bridge to MSN program is designed for RNs who hold a bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing. The non-nursing baccalaureate should be from an accredited, GCU-approved college or university. Candidates should have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above and a current & unencumbered RN license in their state of residence or Canadian province (excluding Quebec). NP applicants must also submit a letter of intent and a CV that proves they are currently employed in a relevant setting and have 2 years of full-time RN experience in that role. All students start with an undergraduate portion that consists of 6 online courses (18 credits in total); each course is 5 weeks long. The length and format of the MSN will depend on the concentration. Non-NP specialties have 9-10 online courses (36-40 credits); each course is 8 weeks long. You'll tackle professional practicums in your home community and an evidence-based practice project. (Leadership students can also choose to pursue an accelerated MSN/MBA). NP concentrations have 13 courses (53 credits); most courses are 8-16 weeks long. During the MSN portion, you'll complete 675 clinical practicum hours and 2 on-campus experiences that include hands-on clinical training and certification preparation (1-3 days each).
Nursing School Overview
NAU is a public university with a main campus in Flagstaff. That means the School of Nursing is particularly interested in rural healthcare - NAU has made a public commitment to teaching American Indian nurses and folks in the online graduate programs are trained to work at advanced levels of practice in rural areas. Students in the Generalist track can opt for traditional payments based on credit hours, or they can choose a competency-based model with a flat subscription rate. For funding, FNP students may wish to look into the school's nursing scholarships. You'll usually find NAU in the top 80 of U.S. News & World Report rankings for Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs. According to those stats, the online MSN is taught by seasoned faculty, with an average of 8 years of online teaching experience (75%+ have PhDs or terminal degrees). There's often a goodly portion of minority students (e.g. 29%) and a reasonable 4-year graduation rate. But perhaps most importantly, NAU states that its FNP licensure pass rates are high (e.g. 90%+). If you're trying to decide between GCU and NAU for this NP specialty, browse through recent independent reviews and nursing message board threads. Many folks have had the same debate!
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
NAU allows RNs with an an associate degree in nursing and a non-nursing bachelor's degree to apply to its online MSN. Candidates must have an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution, a 3.0 GPA in all nursing coursework, and a current RN license in good standing. FNP students should have an RN license in Arizona or the eligibility to obtain an Arizona license or the ability to meet Arizona Board of Nursing regulations regarding multistate licensure. NAU will also want to see certain undergraduate prerequisites (e.g. statistics, research and public health nursing) and 3 letters of recommendation. Finally, NAU suggests that FNP applicants have 3-5 years of general nursing practice experience, but it will consider candidates with less. Once accepted, students in the Generalist track take 11 courses (30 credits) and complete an evidence-based practice project. Courses cover areas such as rural health, nursing leadership, and family nursing. The FNP concentration has 15 courses (48 credits) and contains practicums and an evidence-based practice project. Travel may be required to rural communities for clinical experiences. The MSN must be completed within 6 consecutive years.
Nursing School Overview
UA is a public research university in Tucson and a big player in the world of nursing. The College of Nursing can often be found in the top 30 of U.S. News & World Report's rankings for Best Nursing Schools and the online graduate programs usually achieve a top 50 spot. Faculty for the online MSN are both experienced in leadership positions and qualified - all of them have a Ph.D. or terminal degree. We particularly like the fact that the college's research interests (e.g. data & systems, health determinants & precision science) dovetail nicely with clinical leadership concerns. If you'd like outside perspectives, there are number of independent reviews about UA nursing on the web. Almost all of them say the programs are fast-paced, intense, and full of world-class faculty and staff. The only downside that some folks reported was the cost. So you may want to talk to your employer about the possibility of tuition reimbursement.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
UA's 100% online program is open to RNs with an associate degree in nursing from an accredited institution (e.g. ACEN, CCNE, or the international equivalent). Candidates should also have a current & unrestricted RN license, a 3.0 GPA or higher on the last 30 credits of the ASN or ADN, and at least 2 years of full-time RN work experience within the last 5 years. The application will need to include a resume or CV. The RN to MSN program is designed to be speedy - students in the ADN track begin by taking 3 undergraduate bridge courses (11 credits) and then tackle 8 graduate-level courses (31-33 credits). The MSN coursework covers areas such as patient care technologies, healthcare environments, and business dynamics. Almost all courses are 7 weeks long, but there's a 16-week capstone project at the end (students create a patient-centered care management plan under the mentorship of a faculty member). If you take 2 courses per term, you can complete the entire program in 2 years/24 months.