Browse through the school listings to find info on costs, curricula, and quality markers. Learn if you’re eligible to apply for online Massachusetts RN to MSN programs. Or discover where the cheapest RN to MSN programs in Massachusetts can be found.
Wondering if the MSN is worth it? To help you map out your career, this guide also contains a discussion of MA’s healthcare landscape and a comprehensive job section. Here you’ll find links to APRN job boards & salary data, and a full list of MA nursing organizations & associations.
Online RN to MSN Programs in Massachusetts
Online RN to MSN programs in Massachusetts are primarily devoted to NP specialties, especially the FNP. Because admissions requirements can vary, we recommend you examine the profiles in our school listings to see if the degree will suit your needs. While you’re putting together a shortlist, here are a few extra points to consider:
- Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences: MCPHS participates in SARA, but online program availability varies by state. If you’re applying from outside of Massachusetts, talk to the program coordinator to make sure you can apply. We also want to point out that this part-time program includes 4 mandatory on-campus residencies (1-3 days in length)—a new student orientation, an MSN orientation, a third residency, and a final residency that coincides with graduation.
- Regis College: Regis participates in SARA, but there are some limitations. For example, the online MSN is offered in all U.S. territories and states except Louisiana, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington. The master’s portion of the program is 100% online, with no residency requirements, but we recommend you ask the program coordinator if campus visits are required for the undergraduate portion.
- Simmons University: [email protected] is still in the process of receiving approval for its online programs from some states, so you’ll need to call the university directly to determine the status in your state. If you’re accepted, you’ll participate in face-to-face instruction (e.g. live weekly online classes), self-paced coursework, and a mandatory campus immersion weekend prior to beginning clinical hours. Simmons tries to limit virtual classes to ~17 students.
Keep in mind, too, that some of the programs in our school listings are hybrid in nature. For example, although Elms College’s RN-MSN and RN-BSN-MSN programs contain some on-campus components, the MSN was designed to be delivered online. What’s more, Worcester State University’s blended MS combines online and face-to-face instruction. If you can bear the commute, you will have options.
Cheapest RN to MSN Programs in Massachusetts
This ranking of the most affordable Massachusetts RN to MSN programs is based on per graduate tuition rates. That’s why Worcester State University tops the list—it’s one of the rare MA public schools that’s willing to offer an RN to MSN program. But please take the remaining rankings as a ballpark. You’ll notice that each program in our school listings has a different number of credits and different transfer policies.
- Worcester State University: View Tuition Rates
- Elms College: View Tuition Rates
- Regis College: View Tuition Rates
Feeling a little intimidated by tuition numbers for private universities? We’ve done our best to highlight alternative funding opportunities (e.g. partner discounts, scholarships, etc.) in the school profiles. And don’t take anything off the table until you’ve talk to your current employer about tuition reimbursement possibilities.
Massachusetts’s Healthcare Landscape
Ask ten Massachusetts APRNs what they think of the state’s healthcare landscape and you’re bound to get ten different opinions. On the one hand, Massachusetts is known for its achievements:
- The Boston metropolitan area is full of top-notch medical institutions and research facilities, many of which have been developing outreach posts in suburbs.
- The effects of the state’s 2006 health reform initiative, which preceded the Affordable Care Act, have resulted in an extremely high percentage of insured residents (e.g. over 95%).
- Obesity rates are low, immunization coverage among children is high, and the state gets good grades in the Rural Health Report Card.
On the other hand, it’s far from perfect. The opioid epidemic has hit the state hard, and healthcare providers are struggling to combat the leap in drug overdose deaths. Another major challenge is mental health. In the BCMS National Health Index, depression is frequently listed as the top health condition of concern for Massachusetts, particularly in rural areas.
Barriers to access and a dearth of behavioral health providers have contributed to the crisis. According to the results of a 2018 Massachusetts Health Reform Survey, more than a 1/3 of patients seeking mental health or substance use disorder services went without the needed care.
Massachusetts Nursing Challenges
Meanwhile, the MNA has been working on a number of legislative issues, including a fight against the closure of hospitals & units that provide essential services and a push for greater transparency in hospital profits, operating margins & CEO salaries. Overworked Massachusetts nurses also want the state to lower current patient to nurse ratios and provide answers to their concerns about unsafe staffing conditions.
The first issue (i.e. consolidation) has created a knock-on problem—there are fewer and fewer clinical settings where Massachusetts nurses can gain solid experience during their degree. This has been a particular issue in Western Massachusetts, where many settings are at their capacity. Some MA programs are turning away nursing candidates because they don’t have enough places to train them.
But there’s always hope. For example, to help opioid users, Massachusetts hospitals have been adding bridge clinics, addiction consult services, and outpatient substance use services. This may lead to an increased demand for PMHNPs. Before you decide on a program, talk to your mentors about where you’ll most be needed.
Jobs for Massachusetts RN to MSN Graduates
Career Outlook for RN to MSN Graduates
Generally speaking, you’re looking at a great career set-up. Massachusetts is known as the “Ed & Med State,” which means it’s full of opportunities for nurses with advanced training. In addition to medical center openings, there are plenty of primary care positions.
On the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)’s pages for Nurse Practitioners and Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary, you’ll see that the Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH metropolitan area has some of the highest employment levels of these two categories in the country. Even Worcester and Springfield are able to sustain a large number of NPs.
Having said that, landing a job isn’t always easy. Massachusetts is full of well-trained, well-educated, and highly experienced nurses, which means hospitals often have their pick of candidates. If you’re planning on attending a lesser known School of Nursing, you may have to work that much harder to distinguish yourself. It pays to ask the MSN program coordinator some hard questions about career assistance.
Wondering where the best places to work are? You may wish to consult U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the Best Hospitals in Massachusetts and the ANCC’s list of Magnet Facilities in Massachusetts. You’ll notice a number of familiar Boston area names here (e.g. Mass General, Brigham & Women’s, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, etc.), but don’t discount the secondary cities. The Baystate Medical Center in Springfield and the UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester are far from shabby.
Career Resources for Future APRNs
Massachusetts Nursing Job Boards
- MNA Liquid Compass: Job listings for Massachusetts nurses, including APRNs
- MCNP Career Center: Job listings for Massachusetts NPs
- ONL Career Center: Job listings for New England nurse leaders & executives
Massachusetts APRN Salary & Wage Data
- Annual Mean Wages for Massachusetts Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations: Listed under “Nurse Practitioners” and “Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary”
- AANP National Compensation Survey: Available to AANP members
Massachusetts Nursing Organizations
State Board of Nursing
MA Nursing Associations & Coalitions
- Massachusetts Action Coalition (MAAC)
- Massachusetts Association of Colleges of Nursing (MACN)
- Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners (MCNP)
- Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA)
- Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA)
- National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN): Massachusetts Chapters
- National Black Nurses Association (NBNA): Massachusetts Chapters
MA Nursing Specialty Organizations
- American College of Nurse-Midwives – Massachusetts Affiliate (Massachusetts ACNM)
- American Psychiatric Nurses Association – New England Chapter (APNA New England)
- Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses – Massachusetts (AWHONN – Massachusetts)
- Massachusetts Association of Nurse Anesthetists (MANA)
- Massachusetts Association of Occupational Health Nurses (MAOHN)
- Massachusetts Association of Public Health Nurses (MAPHN)
- Massachusetts Emergency Nurses Association (MENA)
- Massachusetts School Nurse Organization (MSNO)
- Massachusetts Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (MASPAN)
- Massachusetts Student Nurses Association (MSNA)
- Organization of Nurse Leaders (ONL); formerly MONE