Compare the prices, curricula, and quality factors of each program in our detailed school listings. Learn more about online RN to MSN options in Minnesota. And discover where the cheapest Minnesota RN to MSN programs can be found.
While you’re here, you may also wish to read up on Minnesota’s healthcare landscape and jobs for Minnesota RN to MSN graduates. In addition to highlighting employment hotspots and APRN workforce trends, we’ve provided links to local job boards. You can even expand your networking web by joining MN nursing organizations & associations.
Online RN to MSN Programs in Minnesota
We found two universities that are willing to offer online RN to MSN programs in Minnesota. Bethel’s pathway is purely devoted to nurse-midwifery, but Capella offers a number of concentrations in non NP-specialties. Each program has its own quirks, so have a look at our school listings for full details. Here are a few main points to keep in mind:
- Bethel University: Bethel’s ACME-accredited program is primarily online, but there are 3 mandatory on-campus intensives in St. Paul (around 1 week per year). Students can study full-time or part-time and there are no courses in the summer. Keep in mind that Bethel is a Christian school, so coursework is taught with a faith-based perspective. This program fulfills licensure requirements in the state of Minnesota. Out-of-state students will need to check with their own Board of Nursing.
- Capella University: Capella is a for-profit university, but it is CCNE-accredited. (See the profile for thoughts on for-profit programs.) It also offers two unusual pathways for online study. Students in the GuidedPath take 1-3 courses per 10-week quarter and participate in weekly assignments, activities, and course discussions. Students in the FlexPath can study for an unlimited number of courses per 12-week billing session, pay a flat tuition fee per session, and set their own deadlines. That means there are no course discussion or group assignments in the FlexPath.
Cheapest RN to MSN Programs in Minnesota
This ranking of the most affordable Minnesota RN to MSN programs is based on one data point: the per credit graduate tuition rate. But please use it only as a ballpark figure! You’ll need to factor in the total number of credits, any additional fees, and tuition rates for undergraduate coursework (they may be different). Remember, too, that you may be able to transfer credits or ask for a portfolio review on selected courses.
- Capella University: View Tuition Rates
- Winona State University: View Tuition Rates
- Bethel University: View Tuition Rates
Despite the fact that WSU is a public university, the tuition rate for graduate nursing programs is the same for in-state and out-of-state students.
Minnesota’s Healthcare Landscape
In the Twin Cities and Rochester, the presence of big hospitals and medical centers has led to an excellent standard of care for Minnesotans. According to America’s Health Rankings and the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the state has a great track record in a number of areas, including a low percentage of uninsured residents.
Even Minnesota’s 60 rural counties can boast of achievements. In the 2018 U.S. Rural Health Report Card, Minnesota received an A+ for its rural healthcare efforts, including an A+ for rural health access and outcomes. Minnesota has 78 hospitals designated as Critical Access Hospitals (CAH), the third highest number in the nation. And in 2015, the state government passed a Minnesota Telemedicine Act to improve access to care.
Where Minnesota has been struggling is the opioid crisis. From 2008-2018, drug deaths in the state increased 100%. The Minnesota Department of Health even has an Opioid Dashboard to keep track of the issue. Numbers reached a peak in 2017, when there were 733 deaths, before dropping some in 2018. Nevertheless, residents in northern counties and Minneapolis are still feeling the effects.
Rural Minnesotans in the northeast, in particular, lack access to Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) centers, mental health experts, and plain-old primary care providers. According to an MDH Workforce Report, in 2018 there were 277 people for every APRN in urban areas of Minnesota, compared to almost 7 times that many people in the most rural areas of the state. If you’re interested in rural service, you’ll be very welcome!
Jobs for Minnesota RN to MSN Graduates
Career Outlook for RN to MSN Graduates
You’ll find a treasure trove of job information about Minnesota APRNs in three places:
- The Minnesota Board of Nursing publishes Nursing Workforce Data, including an Annual Education Report that contains certification pass rates for each university.
- The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) occasionally issues detailed Nursing Workforce Reports on APRNs.
- And the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks job & wage data for Nurse Practitioners and Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary. The state-by-state maps are always enlightening.
All of these sources agree that the major hotspots for Minnesota APRNs and NPs are the Twin Cities metropolitan area and Rochester.
- The Twin Cities area alone employs around 62% of the state’s nurse practitioners. These folks are working in many of the Best Hospitals in Minnesota, as well as Magnet Facilities such as Abbott Northwestern and Children’s Minnesota.
- Thanks to the clout of universities such as UM, the Twin Cities area has one of the highest employment levels of nursing instructors in the country.
- Because of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester NPs are extremely well-paid, earning some of the best mean wages in the U.S.
Minnesota APRNs also have a great deal of autonomy. After 2,080 hours within the context of a collaborative agreement with a physician, they can earn full independent practice authority. NPs are recognized as primary care providers and may independently prescribe prescription drugs. Complete rules on the scope of practice are laid out by the Minnesota Board of Nursing.
This means you’ll find plenty of MSN and DNP graduates who can provide advice on the pros & cons of private practice. According to a recent MDH workforce report, 75% of APRNs who owned or co-owned an individual or group private practice were working in urban areas and 25% were in rural Minnesota. The majority of these owners were CRNAs (e.g. 56%), but NPs weren’t far behind (e.g. 33%).
Note: If you’d like to join the ranks of advanced practice nurses who are serving in rural or underserved areas, check out Minnesota Health Care Loan Forgiveness Programs.
Career Resources for Future APRNs
Minnesota Nursing Job Boards
- Minnesota APRN Coalition Career Center: Job openings for Minnesota NPs & APRNs
- MNNP Career Center: Job openings for Minnesota RNs, NPs, nurse educators, and nurse leaders
- MOLN Career Center: Job listings for Minnesota nurse leaders & executives
- MN Hospital Jobs: Openings for healthcare professionals in MHA hospitals & healthcare systems
Minnesota APRN Salary & Wage Data
- Annual Mean Wages for Minnesota Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations: Categories can include “Nurse Practitioners,” “Nurse Midwives,” and “Nurse Anesthetists”
- Annual Mean Wages for Minnesota Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary
- AANP National Compensation Survey: Available to AANP members
Minnesota Nursing Organizations
State Board of Nursing
Minnesota Nursing Associations & Coalitions
- Minnesota APRN Coalition
- Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA)
- Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA)
- Minnesota Nurse Practitioners (MNNP)
- National Black Nurses Association (NBNA): Minnesota Chapter
Minnesota Nursing Specialty Organizations
- American College of Nurse-Midwives – Minnesota Affiliate (Minnesota ACNM)
- American Psychiatric Nurses Association – Minnesota Chapter (APNA Minnesota)
- Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses – Minnesota (AWHONN Minnesota)
- Minnesota Association of Nurse Anesthetists (MNANA)
- Minnesota Association of Occupational Health Nurses (MAOHN)
- Minnesota-Dakota Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (MNDAKSPAN)
- Minnesota Emergency Nurses Association (Minnesota ENA)
- Minnesota Organization of Leaders in Nursing (MOLN)
- School Nurse Organization of Minnesota (SNOM)
Nursing School Overview
Bethel is a private, evangelical Christian liberal arts university in Arden Hills with a faith-based outlook. It offers just a few graduate programs in nursing and claims to be the only online Christian midwifery program in the country. For example, students are taught how to integrate the Christian faith into their care for women and families. The MSN program is ACME-accredited and often earns a top 30 spot in U.S. News & World Report's rankings of Nursing-Midwifery programs. In past years, Bethel has achieved respectable certification pass rates on the AMCB exam (but maybe not as good as the University of Minnesota - ask the program coordinator for the most recent statistics) and excellent pass rates on the NCLEX. In addition, many instructors and adjunct faculty are currently practicing as midwives in local areas. When it comes to practicums, Bethel has a Clinical Coordinator who acts as the liaison for any student concerns. Graduates may end up working for employers such as Healtheast, Mayo Clinic, Allina Health, Essentia Health, the Minnesota Birth Center, Ridgeview Medical Center, and the like.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
Bethel's combined BSN & MS online bridge program in Nurse-Midwifery is designed for RNs who hold a non-nursing bachelor's degree in any subject. In addition to their baccalaureate, candidates should have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, MAT or GRE scores, a prerequisite college-level statistics course, and a current RN license. The entire RN to MS is 78 credits and takes 3-4 years to complete. Students start by taking 7 undergraduate bridge courses (21 credits) over the course of 1 year. These courses are 100% online with 5-10 students per class. After that, students can choose a full-time track (2 years) or part-time track (3 years) for the cohort-based, 57-credit MSN. Graduate coursework is primarily online, in classes of 12-15 students, with all summers off. However, there are three on-campus intensives in St. Paul (e.g. 1 week per year) where students can receive hands-on training. Students also participate in three rotations of clinical practicums lasting 16-18 weeks. The BSN and MS are awarded after all coursework is complete.
Nursing School Overview
Capella is a for-profit, online university that's headquartered in Minneapolis. Its online graduate programs in nursing are CCNE-accredited, but it doesn't have any "brick & mortar" factors that we often analyze for quality (e.g. nursing research centers, community outreach programs, affiliations with university medical centers & hospitals, etc.). However, it does have a School of Nursing and Health Sciences Advisory Board to ensure the curriculum is up to scratch. Where Capella wins is price. The GuidedPath is offered at tuition rates that are comparable to inexpensive public schools, and the self-paced FlexPath is even cheaper. With the FlexPath, students can take unlimited courses, set their own deadlines, and avoid course room discussions and group assignments. In recent years, Capella has also offered a $3,000 Master's Capella Progress Award. Before you commit to a for-profit program, we suggest you take a look at all the conversations about Capella on nursing message boards and review websites (there are plenty!) and talk to your mentors. Reviews of Capella's online MSN and the instructors are often positive, but earning a for-profit degree may have consequences when it comes to job hunting. Some employers may wish to see a qualification from a non-profit school. You should also ask Capella if you'll be able to sit for common certification exams (e.g. CNE, CENP, etc.) and request statistics on pass rates.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
Capella's streamlined online RN to MSN allows RNs to earn an MSN without having to complete a BSN beforehand. Candidates should have a minimum of 135 completed undergraduate credits, a current and unrestricted RN license to practice in the United States, and a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher. No GRE or GMAT scores are required. Up to 12 graduate credits can also be transferred. Once accepted, all students complete a 66-credit online program: 3 bridge courses (12 quarter credits), 8 core MSN courses (34 quarter credits), and 5 MSN specialization courses (20 quarter credits). Each concentration includes an MSN practicum and capstone. Practicums for most concentrations are 100 hours, with the exception of Nursing Informatics, which is 200 hours. Practicums can take place at a professional site within a learner's home community, but students are responsible for finding an appropriate preceptor to oversee the practicum experience.
Nursing School Overview
WSU is a public university in Winona and the oldest member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. The Department of Nursing is well-known around the area, and it usually achieves excellent NCLEX pass rates (e.g. 91% and above in recent years). If you'd like to know more about each MSN concentration, WSU has a helpful Graduate Nursing FAQs section. For instance, Nurse Educator coursework is designed to fulfill MnSCU teaching & learning requirements. When it comes to practicums, WSU has a Clinical Placement Coordinator and clinical affiliations with a number of local healthcare facilities (e.g. Allina Health, Mayo Clinic, Mercy Medical Center, Gundersen Lutheran Health System, etc.). Many NOL graduates find employment at these sites, as well as organizations in the Twin Cities area. We didn't see many independent reviews of WSU's graduate nursing programs on the web, but there's a 95%+ job placement rate for BSN undergraduates and most of them seem very happy with their experience. One reviewer noted that the Rochester campus was ideally placed for clinicals at the Mayo Clinic, but the Winona campus might be a better choice for training in rural work and independent care.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
WSU's hybrid program is open to RNs with an associate degree or diploma in nursing. Applicants should also have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, 1 year of professional nursing experience, and evidence of a current, unencumbered RN license. Minnesota licensure is typically required for all clinical courses. In this pathway, students must be admitted and enrolled - without provision - in WSU's RN-BS Completion program first. In the BS portion of the program, Pathway students take 9 courses (33 credits) over 1 year on a full-time schedule or 2 years on a part-time schedule. 4 of these courses are combined 400/600 level courses that are designed to reduce the total number of credits that a student needs to earn in the master's. After finishing the BS portion, students can proceed to the MS. This will take 2 years on a full-time schedule or 3 years on part-time schedule. The Nurse Educator concentration includes 300 total clinical hours and the Nursing and Organizational Leadership (NOL) concentration includes 420 total clinical hours. Core coursework in both concentrations is delivered in a face-to-face format in Rochester (with ITV feeds to Winona) and in a hybrid form with online elements. Specialty coursework is also hybrid - NOL students meet 4 time per semester on campus and Educator students have some in-class time.