Use our detailed school listings to evaluate admissions requirements, costs, and quality factors. Discover which public & private universities now offer online RN to MSN programs in North Carolina. And learn where the cheapest North Carolina RN to MSN programs can be found.
While you’re here, you may also wish to browse through our sections on North Carolina’s healthcare landscape and jobs for North Carolina RN to MSN graduates. We’ve included links to employment & wage maps, local job boards, and salary reports, and a list of NC nursing associations & organizations.
Online RN to MSN Programs in North Carolina
A number of North Carolina universities are going the distance and offering online RN to MSN pathways. The most prominent example is:
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: UNC-Chapel Hill launched its Online MSN in Health Care Leadership and Administration (HCLA) in 2019—and that concentration is the only track available to RN to MSN students. Although it’s primarily online, the HCLA program includes on-campus immersion experiences each semester. These 1–5 day sessions are intended to support program objectives and foster growth toward professional goals. UNC is part of NC-SARA, so you should be able to apply from almost any state, but it’s always best to check.
We also want to point out that if you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree (e.g. BA or BS) and an associate degree or diploma in nursing, you can apply for certain online MSN programs in North Carolina. These include:
- Appalachian State University: ASU’s program is for aspiring nurse educators. Online MSN courses are delivered in synchronous and asynchronous formats (i.e. no mandatory log-in times) and practicums can be completed in the student’s home community. ASU doesn’t offer any clinical concentrations, and it’s a part of NC-SARA, so State Authorization is fairly straightforward. However, the program may not be available to California residents.
- Queens University of Charlotte: Queens’s 100% online MSN program is focused on leadership & education concentrations. There is no campus or residency requirement and students can complete the classroom portion of the program on their own time. The MyCourses management system also allows for instant messaging, Skype web conferencing, shared blogging, and mobile access.
Before you make a decision, examine the school listings and talk to the program coordinator to see what prerequisites or other qualifications may be required.
Cheapest RN to MSN Programs in North Carolina
This ranking of the most affordable North Carolina RN to MSN programs is based on per credit graduate tuition rates. And we’ll be the first to admit it’s just a ballpark figure! The final cost of the program will depend on the total number of credits, additional fees, your residency status, and a number of other factors (e.g. how many credits you can transfer from your previous undergraduate work). Keep in mind, too, that UNC-Chapel Hill offers scholarships for graduate studies.
- University of North Carolina at Pembroke: In-State (Out-of-State is much higher)—View Tuition Rates
- Appalachian State University: In-State (Out-of-State is much higher)—View Tuition Rates
- Queens University of Charlotte: View Tuition Rates
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: View Tuition Rates
North Carolina’s Healthcare Landscape
North Carolina has long-presented healthcare professionals with a puzzle. In the Research Triangle/Triad and places around Charlotte, it has outstanding hospitals, state-of-the-art research projects & facilities, and plenty of university-led healthcare centers (e.g. Duke, UNC, Wake Forest, etc.). This is where you’ll see well-educated populations, high wages, and strong health outcomes.
But these two spots account for a small portion of North Carolina:
- Almost all of the state is usually in the red in the BCBS Health Index Map (i.e. less healthy than the national average). Only areas like Durham, Wake & Orange and a cluster of counties around Mecklenburg are thriving.
- In United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings, North Carolina has recently been cited as having a high percentage of uninsured residents, rising drug death rates, and even rising rates of premature death.
- When it comes to leading causes of mortality, the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) often places the state in the top 10 of the nation for stroke and kidney disease.
North Carolina Nursing Challenges & Opportunities
One key area where aspiring APRNs and nurse leaders may be particularly welcome is midwifery/prenatal care. According to the NCHS and America’s Health Rankings, the state has an alarmingly high prevalence of low birthweight babies. Infant mortality rates and pre-term birth rates are also high. In response, organizations like Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) have launched physician/nurse initiatives such as the Pregnancy Medical Home (PMH) program.
Experienced North Carolina nurses can also make a difference is the countryside. In the 2018 U.S. Rural Health Report Card, North Carolina received an abysmal overall grade (D), with failing grades for stroke mortality (D-), primary care access (D+), uninsured rates (D-) and low birthweight (F). The state’s Office of Rural Health Programs is doing its best to address some of the issues, but more practitioners are needed in the field to make a real difference.
Interested in improving public health? You may want to take a look at what’s happening with the North Carolina Healthcare Foundation (NCHF)’s Community Initiatives (e.g. AccessHealth NC and Health People, Health Carolinas) and the NCDHHS’s drive for Healthy Opportunities. Initiatives like these are increasingly focused on preventative care & early intervention.
Another trend to watch is North Carolina’s move toward alternative payment models and healthcare payment reforms. This may result in significant changes to care delivery in the coming years. The North Carolina Healthcare Association (NCHA)’s Bill Tracker is a useful tool in this arena.
Jobs for North Carolina RN to MSN Graduates
Career Outlook for RN to MSN Graduates
We give the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) a lot of credit for tracking job & wage data for Nurse Practitioners and Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary on an annual basis. But we praise it even more for creating employment maps on these pages. They can be particularly helpful if you’re trying to make a decision about moving to a region!
- As you might expect, there are a fair amount of nurse practitioners in Durham-Chapel Hill (~18%) and the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia metropolitan areas (~25%).
- Thanks to the presence of Duke and UNC, the Durham area also has an extremely high concentration of nursing instructors.
- But these cities aren’t your only options. Asheville, Raleigh, and Greensboro-High Point have enough hospitals, residents, and universities to provide a goodly number of NP jobs.
One way to start your search for a hospital job is to compare U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of Best Hospitals in North Carolina with the ANCC’s list of Magnet Facilities in North Carolina. Names like Duke University Hospital in Durham, UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, Cone Health in Greensboro, and UNC Rex Hospital in Raleigh frequently crop up.
Interested in running your own primary care practice? Hoping to work in rural health? The NC Board of Nursing has full details on the scope of practice for North Carolina nurse practitioners. As of 2019, North Carolina NPs were recognized as primary care providers, but they were also required to have a collaborative practice agreement with a supervising physician. Check with the Board for the latest developments—certain lawmakers have been pushing hard for NP autonomy.
North Carolina also administers a State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) that’s intended to support mental health providers who wish to provide primary and psychiatric care to people in rural and underserved areas. NPs/PMHNPs are eligible to apply.
Career Resources for Future APRNs
North Carolina Nursing Job Boards
- NCNA Career Center: Job listings for North Carolina nurses, including APRNs, nurse educators, and nurse leaders
- NCNPN Career Center: Job listings for North Carolina NPs
- NCONL Career Center: Job listings for North Carolina nurse leaders & executives
- NCHospitalJobs: Openings for healthcare professionals in North Carolina hospitals and health systems
North Carolina APRN Salary & Wage Data
- Annual Mean Wages for North Carolina Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations: Categories can include “Nurse Practitioners,” “Nurse Midwives,” and “Nurse Anesthetists”
- Annual Mean Wages for North Carolina Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary
- AANP National Compensation Survey: Available to AANP members
North Carolina Nursing Organizations
State Board of Nursing
North Carolina Nursing Associations & Coalitions
- National Black Nurses Association (NBNA): North Carolina Chapters
- North Carolina Healthcare Association (NCHA)
- North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA)
- North Carolina Nurse Practitioner Network (NCNPN)
North Carolina Nursing Specialty Organizations
- American College of Nurse-Midwives – North Carolina Affiliate (North Carolina ACNM)
- American Psychiatric Nurses Association – North Carolina Chapter (APNA North Carolina)
- Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses – North Carolina (AWHONN North Carolina)
- North Carolina Association of Nurse Anesthetists (NCANA)
- North Carolina Association of Nursing Students (NCANS)
- North Carolina Association of Occupational Health Nurses (NCAOHN)
- North Carolina Association of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (NCAPAN)
- North Carolina Emergency Nurses Association (NCENA)
- North Carolina League for Nursing (NCLN)
- North Carolina Organization of Nurse Leaders (NCONL)
- School Nurse Association of North Carolina (SNANC)
Nursing School Overview
ASU is a large public university in Boone with a sturdy reputation - it often appears in the top 10 of U.S. News & World Report's rankings for Best Regional Universities South. Because it's public, graduate tuition rates for in-state students are also eminently affordable. Founded in 2006, the Department of Nursing is quite young, but it's determined. In the past few years, students have achieved a 94% pass rate on the NCLEX exam (3-year average), rising to 100% in 2019. If you wish to reach out to certain professors, you can read more about ASU's nursing faculty on the departmental website.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
ASU's online MSN is open to RNs who hold a baccalaureate in a non-nursing field (e.g. BA or BS). In addition to that bachelor's degree, candidates should have an associate degree or diploma in nursing from an accredited program, a current & unrestricted RN license in North Carolina or a state participating in the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) with North Carolina, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.5 (or 3.0-3.5 with satisfactory GRE or MAT scores), certain prerequisites (e.g. research and statistics), and 1 year of nursing experience before beginning the program. The application will need to include a resume, personal statement, and 3 letters of reference. Ask the program coordinator what other undergraduate credits may be required. The 39-credit MSN is a part-time, 100% online program and it can be completed in 2 years (6 consecutive semesters, including summers with practicums). The first practicum is clinical, and the second is focused on nursing education concentration. The degree finishes with a thesis or research project.
Nursing School Overview
Queens is a small private university in Charlotte with an active Presbyterian School of Nursing. The school and its 20+ full-time faculty members produce the third largest number of new RNs among higher education institutions in North Carolina. In recent years, seven online MSN faculty members have been honored in the North Carolina Great 100 Nurses list. And graduate discounts are available to Queens alumni. We didn't find many independent reviews of the graduate nursing programs, though there's plenty of discussion on message boards and review sites about the BSN. Because of this, we recommend you get in touch with recent Queens MSN alumni and hear what they have to say. You can also ask the program coordinator about success rates on qualifications such as the CNE certification exam.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
Queens is another university that is willing to consider RNs with a non-nursing bachelor's degree for its online MSN program. In addition to a BA or BS, applicants should have an associate degree in nursing from an accredited nursing program, a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher, and evidence of a current & unrestricted RN license in the state where they intend to complete their practicum requirements. No GRE is required. Check with the program coordinator to learn what other prerequisites or undergraduate credits may be required for ASN/ADN candidates. All concentrations in the 100% online MSN are 37 credits. With 8-week courses - and the occasional 16-week course - you can earn the degree in 2 years. Clinical practicums can be completed in a setting that's convenient to you, but MSN students are responsible for finding qualified preceptors.
Nursing School Overview
UNC-Chapel Hill is a public research university in Chapel Hill and flagship campus of the University of North Carolina System. The School of Nursing has an outstanding reputation - you'll usually find it in the top 5 of U.S. News & World Report rankings for Best Nursing Schools and Nursing Administration. It receives similar nursing rankings from the American Health Council and Shanghai Ranking's Academic Ranking of World Universities. In 2018, it had a 97% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX. Professors are deeply experienced, research is prioritized (e.g. work in the Biobehavioral Laboratory), and the school is active in community outreach initiatives. It runs a mobile health clinic for vulnerable populations in Wake County and its faculty work with Area Health Education Centers and teach in healthcare educational programs. The MSN is not as cheap as other public offerings in North Carolina, but graduate scholarships are available. The online program is relatively new, so it will take some time to acquire a reputation. However, reviews for the on-campus programs are almost uniformly positive, with praise for the nurturing environment and excellent professors.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
RNs with an associate degree or diploma in nursing are eligible to apply for UNCCH's online RN to MSN pathway. Candidates must also have a current RN license in North Carolina or a compact state equivalent, at least 51 undergraduate credits in certain prerequisites (e.g. general education), a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 (priority is given to those with a GPA of 3.0 or higher), at least 1 year of paid clinical experience as an RN prior to matriculation, and leadership experience within a healthcare setting (e.g. serving as a committee member). Each application should include a resume or CV, a professional statement, and 3 letters of recommendation. Admission priority will be given to RN to MSN students who commit to full-time study, enabling them to graduate in 3 years. RN to MSN students start with 3 online undergraduate bridge courses (12 credits) followed by graduate-level courses for the MSN (33 credits). Most of the MSN coursework is online, but the program includes required on-campus immersion experiences each semester (1-5 day sessions). Practicums can be completed in a location convenient to the student.
Nursing School Overview
UNCP is a public liberal arts university in Pembroke and part of the UNC system. That means tuition rates for graduate students in the Department of Nursing are remarkably reasonable. Unlike UNC-Chapel Hill, it's not a big school. The College of Health Sciences was only established in 2018 and graduate enrollment can be under 30 students. But the department is very proud of its NCLEX pass rates (e.g. 100% in 2019), its Weinstein Health Sciences Building, and its nursing faculty. You may have also noticed that it's one of the few schools to offer the unusual concentration of Rural Case Manager. Pembroke is in Robeson County, and the university is very keen to address health disparities in the southeastern part of the state.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
RNs with an associate degree or diploma in nursing from an approved nursing program are eligible to apply to this hybrid RN-MSN program. All candidates must have an unencumbered RN license in North Carolina and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on any undergraduate work. 1 year of RN practice is recommended. Prior to enrollment in the MSN portion of the program, students will also need to submit a packet with GRE or MAT scores, 3 letters of recommendation, a resume or CV, and a statement of purpose. UNCP wants to see 63 semester hours of general education coursework (these credits can be transferred from your previous degree). The remainder of the program is made up of 30 semester hours of validation credits (granted for your ADN or diploma), 25 semester hours of BSN bridge coursework, and 39 semester hours of MSN coursework. To accelerate the BSN portion, 6 graduate credit hours can be substituted for 2 undergraduate courses. The 39-credit MSN is delivered in an executive format, with some face-to-face courses at the beginning and end of the semester and the remainder of the work online. Full-time or part-time study is available. Full-time students can complete the MSN portion in 2 years. You can also choose to "opt out" of the RN to MSN pathway after you meet the requirements for a BSN.