Examine the school listings to decide if the concentrations suit your goals. Learn more about your options for hybrid & online RN to MSN programs in Maryland. And discover which university has the cheapest Maryland RN to MSN tuition rates.
Planning for life after graduation? Debating between a job in Baltimore or an independent rural practice? Have a look at our discussion of Maryland’s healthcare landscape and the extensive section on jobs for Maryland RN to MSN graduates. To increase your chances of employment success, you may also wish to begin joining relevant MD nursing associations & organizations.
Online RN to MSN Programs in Maryland
A couple of MD universities have developed 100% online RN to MSN programs in Maryland. Each School of Nursing has specific admissions requirements, so we recommend you examine the profiles in our school listings to determine if you’re eligible to apply. Here are a few extra points to consider:
- Stevenson University: Stevenson is eager to cater to working nurses. Online courses are primarily offered in 8-week sessions (with the exception of one undergraduate course that requires 45 clinical hours) and there are 6 different start dates per year. Since this is a private school, tuition prices are the same for in-state and out-of-state residents.
- University of Maryland-Baltimore: UMB’s program is flexible. You can take courses online, or you can decided to attend some classes at UMSON in Baltimore or the Universities at Shady Grove. Check with the program coordinator to see which courses are offered in each location. Full-time and part-time scheduling is available and in-state residents pay considerably less than out-of-state residents.
Keep in mind, too, that Salisbury University appears to have gone the hybrid route. According to the program website, most MSN classes are offered online using a combination of synchronous and asynchronous distance learning techniques. You may be able to finish a considerable chunk of the degree without visiting the campus.
Cheapest RN to MSN Programs in Maryland
To develop this ranking of the most affordable Maryland RN to MSN programs, we compared per credit graduate tuition rates. But please take it with a grain of salt! Each program will have a unique number of credits, different transfer policies, and different fee structures. For instance, Stevenson Online charges separate rates for undergraduate coursework and graduate coursework and has no fees whatsoever.
- Stevenson University: View Tuition Rates
- Washington Adventist University: View Tuition Rates
- Salisbury University: In-State (Out-of-State is higher)—View Tuition Rates
- University of Maryland-Baltimore: In-State (Out-of-State is much higher)—View Tuition Rates
Maryland’s Healthcare Landscape
Despite its small size, Maryland is a complicated place for healthcare. On the one hand, medical centers like Johns Hopkins and UM are some of the best in the world. The state has chosen to adopt an innovative all-payer model that is expanding to a total cost of care model. It benefits from its proximity to Virginia and D.C. hospitals. And nurse practitioners have considerable leverage and autonomy to practice independently.
But national health statistics tell a sobering tale. According to America’s Health Rankings, the state suffers from a high violent crime rate, a high infant mortality rate, and ever-increasing drug deaths. The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics often places it in the top 15 of states for low birthweight and pre-term birth rates. And the BCBS Health Index Map is frequently one mass of red, with hypertension, high cholesterol, and depression registering as major areas of concern.
The primary driver behind these data—as any RN in Maryland will already know—is Baltimore. Every year, the Baltimore City Health Department issues white papers on the State of Health in Baltimore, and every year the same problems keep cropping up. In 2018, in Baltimore City:
- 1 in 3 children and almost a quarter of the city’s population lived below the Federal Poverty line.
- 1 in 3 high school students were either obese or overweight.
- Life expectancy could differ by up 19 years between neighborhoods like Roland Park and those like Downtown/Seton Hill and Greenmount East.
- HIV diagnosis rates were more than twice that of the state.
- About 11% of city residents were estimated to abuse or be dependent on drugs or alcohol.
The opioid crisis has been particularly damaging for Baltimore. In 2011, the city’s overdose death rate was 22.7 per 100,000 people. In 2017, it was 85.2. And it climbed even higher in 2018. That gave Baltimore the unenviable title of having the highest overdose fatality rate of any city in the United States.
And it’s not the only issue. If you examine the County Health Rankings for Maryland, you’ll often see a cluster of less healthy counties around the southern corner, near the Delaware border. These correspond to areas monitored in the U.S. Rural Health Report Card, where poverty rates can be almost 5% higher than in urban areas and low birthweights are a commonplace occurrence.
In short, aspiring nurse leaders and APRNs in Maryland will have plenty of challenges to tackle in public health education, rural primary care & midwifery, urban pediatric care, and mental health (especially for drug users, single mothers, and kids growing up in Baltimore).
Jobs for Maryland 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. If you’d like a bird’s-eye-view of how Maryland is doing in comparison to its neighbors, be sure to check out the employment maps on both pages (hover over an area to see the actual data).
As you might expect, the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson area employs the greatest number of nurse practitioners (e.g. 65%) and nursing instructors (e.g. 83%) in the state. This is also where you’ll find some of the highest wages in the country, especially for nurse educators.
If you’re interested in a hospital job, be sure to check out U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the Best Hospitals in Maryland the ANCC’s list of Magnet Facilities in Maryland. It’s a given that both of these lists usually include JHU, the Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, and the UM Medical Center in Baltimore. But there are plenty of other Baltimore, Towson, Easton, and Salisbury-based options to consider.
We also want to note that Maryland passed a Nurse Practitioner Full Practice Authority Act in 2015. Before authority can be granted, a Maryland NP must have a regulated collaborative relationship for 18 months with a physician or NP with full practice authority. But after that, Maryland NPs can independently prescribe and dispense drugs and act as primary care providers.
If you’re thinking of running your own show, NPAM has a list of Nurse Practitioner Owned Practices. Some of these owners may be willing to offer advice and mentorship as you plan your career path.
Career Resources for Future APRNs
Maryland Nursing Job Board
- MNA Career Center: Job listings for Maryland nurses, including APRNs and nurse leaders
- NPAM Career Center: Job listings for Maryland NPs
- MONL Career Center: Job listings for Maryland nurse leaders, directors & executives
Maryland APRN Salary & Wage Data
- Annual Mean Wages for Maryland Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations: Categories can include “Nurse Practitioners,” “Nurse Midwives,” and “Nurse Anesthetists”
- Annual Mean Wages for Maryland Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary
- AANP National Compensation Survey: Available to AANP members
Maryland Nursing Organizations
State Board of Nursing
Maryland Nursing Associations & Coalitions
- Maryland Hospital Association (MHA)
- Maryland Nurses Association (MNA)
- National Black Nurses Association (NBNA): Maryland Chapters
- Nurse Practitioner Association of Maryland (NPAM)
Maryland Nursing Specialty Organizations
- American College of Nurse-Midwives – Maryland Affiliate (Maryland ACNM)
- Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses – Maryland (AWHONN Maryland)
- District of Columbia/Maryland National League for Nursing (DC/MD NLN)
- Maryland Area Association of Occupational Health Nurses (MAAOHN)
- Maryland Association of Nurse Anesthetists (MANA)
- Maryland Association of Nursing Students (MANS)
- Maryland Association of School Health Nurses (MASHN)
- Maryland Emergency Nurses Association (MDENA)
- Maryland Organization of Nurse Leaders (MONL)
Nursing School Overview
Salisbury is a public university and a well-known member of the University System of Maryland. The School of Nursing can't compete with UMB in terms of reputation, but it does have one of the highest five-year averages for NCLEX pass rates in Maryland and a reputation for solid training. For example, alumni have found jobs in big regional hospitals (e.g. Johns Hopkins, UM Hospital, CHOP, etc.), the NIH in Bethesda, and further afield. The school's experienced faculty work for local community health organizations and advisory boards and undergraduates often participate in community service projects. Graduate nursing students are also encouraged to publish their work in major journals. Modest scholarships are available and graduate nursing tuition rates for Maryland residents are fairly reasonable. In recent years, SU has also received funding (as part of the Maryland Nurse Support Program) to improve faculty teaching and mentoring within the school. Feel free to compare SU's U.S. News and World Report's rankings for nursing programs with other familiar MD names (e.g. Stevenson). They can be quite similar.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
For this RN to MSN program, Salisbury is looking for academically talented RNs with an associate degree in nursing. Applicants must submit official transcripts, evidence of current & unencumbered RN licensure in the State of Maryland or a compact state, a current resume or CV, two professional references, and a 1-2 page essay describing their academic & professional goals. Salisbury will accept up to 60 academic transfer credits for the associate degree. The program starts with 12 credits of required undergraduate nursing courses (e.g. health assessment). If you earn a GPA of 2.75 or higher on those bridge courses, you will take 6 remaining undergraduate credits (e.g. senior seminar + internship). The graduate portion of the program consists of 12 credits in MSN core courses, 21-24 credits in the major, and 3 credits for a thesis, internship, or capstone. The MSN often takes 2-3 years to finish on a full-time basis (part-time study is available). Most classes are online - check with the program coordinator to see how many courses you can take through distance learning. Upon completion of the MSN, students are awarded 30 additional credits based on their active unencumbered Maryland or compact license.
Nursing School Overview
Stevenson is a private university in Baltimore County with two campuses (one in Stevenson and one in Owings Mills). Despite its private roots, the School of Nursing and Health Professions usually offers tuition rates that are comparable to public prices at Towson and Salisbury, and are even lower for students who can take advantage of the tuition discount with partnership organizations. Stevenson Online has also eliminated all fees and streamlined the program with 8-week courses. You can dig into actual data on the MSN by viewing Stevenson's U.S. News & World Report's ranking for Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs - the university is often found in the #125-#130 range. Online graduate nursing classes tend to be small (e.g. 9 students) and diverse (e.g. 29% minority students), and taught by faculty with a solid background in distance education (e.g. average of 7 years of teaching online courses). Most students finish the MSN within 2.5 years, though part-time students can take much longer. According to Stevenson Online, 92% of alumni - across all disciplines - are working or attending graduate or professional school within 6 months of graduation.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
Stevenson's 100% online RN to MSN is designed for RNs who wish to earn a BSN on their way toward achieving a master's degree. Applicants must be current RNs in good standing and have a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA on any past undergraduate work. The application should also include a personal statement. The RN to MSN program page has a full list of the 10 undergraduate bridge courses that are required for the BSN portion - the 400-level Health in the Community course includes a mandatory 45-hour clinical in a setting that's selected with the guidance of faculty. Candidates are eligible to transfer up to 70-credit hours from a community college or up to 90-credit hours from a 4-year institution (if applicable). In addition, 30 upper-division nursing credits are awarded to RNs with an active, unencumbered Maryland or compact state license upon enrollment. After you've earned the BSN, you can tackle the master's degree in your concentration of choice. The MSN consists of 36 graduate-level credits.
Nursing School Overview
UMB is a public university in Baltimore and a national powerhouse in the field of nursing. The University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) was founded in 1889, making it one of the oldest and largest nursing schools in the country. UMSON frequently achieves outstanding results in U.S. News & World Report rankings, including top 5 spots for Nursing Informatics and Nursing Administration and a top 15 spot for Best Nursing Schools. The school has 26 clinical simulation labs, 300+ clinical learning sites, 3 organized research centers, and a National Institute for Nursing Research-funded OASIS center. It's also right down the road from the University of Maryland Medical Center, the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, and the Baltimore VA Medical Center. In fact, many of its undergraduate alumni end up being employed at the UM Medical Center (e.g. 23%). UMB's tuition rate reflects the quality of the program, but merit & donor-funded scholarships are available. You'll find oodles of independent reviews of UMB's graduate nursing programs on the web. Reviewers tend to rave about the quality of the teaching, the connections to local hospitals, and the support that they receive. If you're willing to travel to the UMSON campus, you'll also be able to take advantage of networking and mentoring opportunities (e.g. seminars, tutoring, presentations, etc.).
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
UMB's online RN to MSN is an accelerated program that allows RNs to earn both a BSN and an MSN in a shortened time-frame. It's open to RNs with a diploma or associate degree who have a background and interested in pursuing leadership positions, as well as RNs with a non-nursing bachelor's degree. To apply, all candidates must have an overall undergraduate and undergraduate science GPA of 3.0 or above, certain prerequisites, and a valid and unrestricted RN license in the U.S. The application will also need to include 1 professional recommendation, a resume or CV, and an essay. If you're accepted, you'll take 31 credits of bridge courses to earn the BSN (2 semesters). To reduce the time you'll need for the master's degree, the BSN portion includes 6 credits of graduate-level coursework instead of BSN electives. The remainder of your studies will be devoted to the MSN, which is 38-40 credits depending on the concentration. According to the program website, you can take classes online or mix them up with in-person classes at UMSON in Baltimore or Universities at Shady Grove. Full-time and part-time study options are available, but you must complete the full course of study within 6 years to earn the BSN & MSN.
Nursing School Overview
As the name suggests, WAU is a seventh-day Adventist liberal arts university in Takoma Park. The Department of Nursing explicitly states that it is committed to providing a quality Christian nursing education to all its students and reviewers of the BSN program often mention how much they appreciate the Christ-centered approach, small classes, and friendly educators. In addition, the department has ties to clinical sites in the Adventist HealthCare system and Holy Cross Hospital. As of 2019, the university is CCNE-accredited. However, it lost its ACEN accreditation in 2014 when it failed to meet five out of six minimum standards. It frequently goes unranked by U.S. News & World Report. And it put its MSN in Nursing Education on hold in 2019 pending required enrollment. If you're interested in the graduate programs, we'd recommend you talk to recent alumni, chat to nurse leaders in the Adventist HealthCare system, and find out who will be teaching your courses.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
WAU's program is designed for RNs who hold an associate degree in nursing from a State Board of Nursing-approved program or a non-nursing bachelor's degree. All candidates should have an RN license in good standing, a cumulative 3.0 GPA or above on all cognates, evidence of recent employment as an RN, and credits from undergraduate prerequisites (listed on the RN to MSN program website). The application will also need to include a written statement of career projects, 2 professional letters of reference, and a current professional resume. Once accepted, you'll be required to complete a series of undergraduate bridge courses (27 credits), including a 6-credit elective in religion. If you pass those with a 3.0 GPA or above, you can continue to the 45-credit MSN. This consists of 27 credits in core MSN coursework and 18 credits in the concentration; all concentrations include practicums and a final research thesis or capstone project.