Skim through the practical summaries in our school listings and follow the links to determine costs and curricula. Learn if you’re eligible to enroll in online Illinois RN to MSN programs. Use the rankings of the cheapest RN to MSN programs in Illinois to start planning your budget.
Or you can start thinking about the future. We’ve assembled some background on Illinois’s healthcare landscape and put together a section on Illinois nursing jobs & wages with links to plenty of APRN employment resources (e.g. local job boards, salary surveys, etc.). While you’re in exploration mode, you may want to consider joining relevant IL state nursing organizations.
Online RN to MSN Programs in Illinois
A healthy portion of Illinois colleges & universities in our school listings offer online or hybrid RN to MSN programs. But they all have their quirks. Here are some points to consider when making your choice:
- DePaul University: DePaul’s program is offered completely online, with the exception of clinical hours in your community. However, it’s not available to residents in certain states.
- Lewis University: Three of Lewis’s concentrations are offered in an online format: PMHNP, Healthcare Systems Leadership, and Nursing Education. The others involve campus components.
- Olivet Nazarene University: ONU’s online RN-MSN program has two program starts per year and its schedule takes advantage of accelerated classes. Read graduate reviews and talk to alumni before committing.
- Saint Xavier University: SXU is part of NC-SARA, which means its 100% online Special Entry Option MSN can be offered in all states except California. Students in certain states (e.g. Colorado) will need to verify clinical approval with individual practicum sites as special restrictions may apply.
- University of St. Francis: All of USF’s MSN programs are offered online, but due to State Board of Nursing requirements and a shortage of clinical placement sites, students who wish to enroll in the Nursing Educator or FNP specialties must reside in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New Mexico, or Wisconsin. Some restrictions apply to the Nursing Administration program.
Cheapest RN to MSN Programs in Illinois
This ranking of the most affordable Illinois RN to MSN programs is based on which university has the lowest per credit graduate tuition rate. But it’s just an estimate! Other cost factors will include the total number of program credits, additional fees, and undergraduate tuition rates for bridge coursework. Remember, too, that you may be able to transfer credits or ask for a portfolio review on specific bridge courses.
- Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing: View Tuition Rates
- Olivet Nazarene University: View Tuition Rates
- DePaul University: View Tuition Rates
- Elmhurst College: View Tuition Rates | Saint Xavier University: View Tuition Rates
Since all of the programs in our listings come from private universities with religious affiliations, you’ll be seeing base rates that are a little higher than public universities. Be sure to ask about School of Nursing discounts and scholarships.
Illinois’s Healthcare Landscape
Aspiring APRNs who have lived and worked in Illinois know that the state’s healthcare landscape can’t be summed up in one easy statement. Even a quick look at the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)’s Illinois Public Health Community Map bears witness to that. For example:
- Rural counties—especially those in southern Illinois—are grappling with a high prevalence of diabetes, high teen birth rates, and high percentages of children in poverty. Rural hospitals in these areas are financially constrained and especially reliant on Medicare.
- Areas such as Winnebago County (home of Rockford) are struggling to address non-fatal and fatal overdoses, especially those concerning heroin. The Opioid Data Dashboard shows just how tough the problem has become.
- Obesity rates in Illinois have been steadily climbing rapidly over the years and homicide deaths remain above the national average.
Meanwhile, Chicago is a world unto itself. In addition to opioids and HIV/AIDS, nurses are tackling issues such as gun violence, drug abuse among youth, and a mental health crisis that encompasses everything from severe housing problems to poor nutrition and neglect. You can explore the issues in more depth with the Chicago Health Atlas, which was created by City Tech Collaborative and the Chicago Department of Public Health. It has extremely detailed profiles of Chicago neighborhoods.
But there’s good news, too. Various organizations, including Southern Illinois University’s Center for Rural Health and Social Service Development (CRHSSD), are taking steps to address rural challenges. Continued healthcare investment in Chicago is driving research and innovation in healthcare technologies and studies (e.g. UIC’s Cancer Research Alliance with AbbVie). The city government is invested in its Healthy Chicago 2.0 plan. And collaborative efforts such as West Side United have brought together local healthcare providers (e.g. Rush University Medical Center, Amita Health, Cook County Health, etc.).
Jobs for Illinois RN to MSN Graduates
Career Outlook for RN to MSN Graduates
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) keeps a close eye on job & wage data for Nurse Practitioners and Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary. If you glance at the employment maps, you’ll notice that the Chicago metropolitan area has one of the highest employment levels of nurse practitioners and nursing instructors in the country.
That’s no surprise, considering the number of hospitals and universities in the city! For example, the Illinois Medical District encompasses 560 acres of research facilities, labs, and other healthcare bodies, including four hospitals. Organizations such as Amita Health and Northwestern Memorial HealthCare employ thousands of healthcare professionals.
You’ll find more detailed insights at the Illinois Nursing Workforce Center, which often issues workforce survey reports from RNs and APRNs that dive into the state of nursing (e.g. geographic distribution, salary numbers, work settings, etc.). For instance, outside of Chicago and its neighboring counties, other job hotspots for Illinois APRNs include Rockford & Winnebago County, Springfield & Sangamon County, and Peoria County.
We also recommend you do a little on-the-ground research. In recent years, Illinois hospitals have faced growing expenses and a combination of issues related to costs (e.g. rise in Medicare populations, reduced payments from private insurers, bad debt, etc.). This has led to mergers, cuts, and job reductions. Chicago is still an almighty powerhouse when it comes to healthcare, but it’s not immune to market forces.
Career Resources for Future APRNs
Illinois Nursing Job Boards
- ANA-Illinois Job Search: Openings for Illinois nurses
- ISAPN Career Center: Job listings for Illinois APRNs
- IONL Career Center: Job listings for Illinois nurse leaders
Illinois APRN Salary & Wage Data
- Annual Mean Wages for Illinois Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations: Listed under “Nurse Practitioners” and “Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary”
- AANP National Compensation Survey: Available to AANP members
Illinois Nursing Organizations
IL Nursing Associations & Coalitions
- Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium (CBNC)
- Chicago Chapter National Black Nurses Association (CCNBNA)
- Illinois Association of Colleges of Nursing (IACN)
- Illinois Coalition of Nursing Organizations (ICNO)
- Illinois National Association of Hispanic Nurses (Illinois NAHN)
- Illinois Nurses Association (INA)
- Illinois Nurses Foundation (INF)
- Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing (ISAPN)
- Philippine Nurses Association of Illinois (PNAI)
IL Nursing Specialty Organizations
- American College of Nurse-Midwives – Illinois Affiliate (Illinois ACNM)
- American Psychiatric Nurses Association – Illinois Chapter (APNA Illinois)
- Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses – Illinois (AWHONN – Illinois)
- Illinois Association of Nurse Anesthetists (IANA)
- Illinois Association of School Nurses (IASN)
- Illinois League for Nursing (ILN)
- Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders (IONL)
- Illinois Public Health Nurse Administrators (IPHNA)
- Illinois Society of Perianesthesia Nurses (ILSPAN)
- Student Nurses Association of Illinois (SNAI)