Use the school listings to evaluate the cost, curricula, and admissions requirements. Discover important things to know about online Pennsylvania RN to MSN programs. And compare tuition rates for the cheapest RN to MSN programs in Pennsylvania.
But wait, there’s more! We’ve put together a discussion of Pennsylvania’s healthcare landscape and a job section that’s intended to help you plan for the future. It contains ideas for job hunting and links to important resources (e.g. Pennsylvania APRN job boards, wage & salary data, etc.). You may even decide it’s time to join relevant PA nursing associations.
Online RN to MSN Programs in Pennsylvania
We’re pleased to report that Pennsylvania has more online RN to MSN programs than any other state in the country. Each one will have its own admissions requirements (e.g. non-nursing bachelor’s vs. associate degree or diploma), so check the school profiles first to see if you qualify for entry. Here are a few more points to keep in mind:
- Chatham University: Chatham’s Online RN to MSN is offered through the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, which has answers to many FAQs about its distance learning programs.
- Drexel University: Drexel has great concentrations, but students from certain states are ineligible for the online MSN—read the section on state regulations for more details. There are also short residency requirements for the CNL, Nursing Education, and Healthcare Quality options.
- La Roche University: Out-of-state and international candidates should be aware that all of La Roche’s online MSN concentrations have an on-campus component.
- La Salle University: Bridge coursework for the RN to MSN is online. Some of La Salle’s MSN programs are offered in an online format (e.g. NP specialties); other concentrations will be hybrid or on-campus.
- Messiah College: The majority of online coursework at Messiah is conducted asynchronously (i.e. log in whenever you like), with some synchronous sessions throughout the year.
- Robert Morris University: Concentrations in RMU’s Online RN to MSN focus primarily on education and leadership. There’s a particularly interesting concentration in Nursing Education: Simulation.
- University of Pittsburgh: At Pitt, CNL candidates have the option to choose face-to-face or online, but the Nursing Informatics concentration is only offered online.
- Wilkes University: Wilkes’s Online RN to MSN has a number of NP concentrations (e.g. AGPCNP, PMHNP, FNP), but students in these tracks will need to attend short on-campus residencies. Wilkes also has answers to many Online Nursing Programs FAQs.
Cheapest RN to MSN Programs in Pennsylvania
This ranking of the most affordable Pennsylvania RN to MSN programs is based on per credit graduate tuition rates. But it’s just an estimate! Each program in our listing has a unique number of total credits. Many will have additional fees and different undergraduate tuition rates for bridge coursework. And some will even accept transfer credits and a portfolio review on selected bridge courses.
- Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania: In-State (Out-of-State is comparable to Chatham & La Roche)—View Tuition Rates
- Messiah College: View Tuition Rates
- Wilkes University: View Tuition Rates
- Chatham University: View Tuition Rates
- La Roche University: View Tuition Rates
We also want to point out that Messiah College has no extra fees. That means what you see is what you get when you multiply the tuition rate by the total number of credits.
Pennsylvania’s Healthcare Landscape
Pennsylvania is a tale of three regions. If you examine PA on the BCBS Health Index Map, you’ll see that the northeastern part of Pennsylvania is relatively healthy, especially in areas bordering southern New York. But the Philadelphia area and the rural west tend to lag behind. High cancer rates, disparities in healthcare access for Hispanics, and a large percentage of drug overdose deaths are just some of the problems that the state has been trying to address.
Philadelphia faces its own unique challenges. Even with all of the world-class hospitals, inequality has long been the city’s bugbear. It’s been called the biggest poor city in the country, a title which invariably comes with related healthcare issues such as poor nutrition, low insurance rates, and mental health crises. In recent years, certain neighborhoods have experienced rocketing poverty rates and plummeting incomes. See the Census’s American Community Survey (ACS) for more details.
But there’s always hope. Despite the closure of Hahnemann University Hospital, big Pennsylvania universities continue to maintain strong ties with healthcare providers (e.g. Tower Health and Drexel). The Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health (PORH) is spearheading improvements in Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) for rural communities. The Philadelphia Health Partnership is pumping grant money into non-profits that aim to improve the health and well-being of underserved Philadelphians. And PAC is leading nursing initiatives in areas such as patient safety, nurse residency programs, diversity mentorship, and more.
Jobs for Pennsylvania RN to MSN Graduates
Career Outlook for RN to MSN Graduates
Hospital cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are obvious hotspots for newly qualified APRNs. If you look at the employment maps in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)’s pages for Nurse Practitioners and Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary, you’ll see that the Philadelphia metropolitan area has some of the highest job levels in the country for these professionals. Around 20% of the state’s NPs work in the city, including places like CHOP and the Albert Einstein Medical Center. Check out the U.S. ranking of Best Hospitals in Pennsylvania to compare options.
Universities are another lucrative source of opportunity, especially for nurse educators and APRNs affiliated with their medical institutions (e.g. Temple University Hospital). UPenn, Penn State, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center are massive statewide employers; Temple, Drexel, and Thomas Jefferson University are always big in Philadelphia. In fact, Pennsylvania often employs more nursing instructors & teachers than almost any other state bar New York.
As always, rural hospitals and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) struggle to compete with city centers. However, in 2019, the state launched a Pennsylvania Rural Health Model, which allows Medicare and other participating payers to pay rural hospitals on a global budget. The hope is that the initiative will keep at-risk hospitals open and preserve health professional jobs. If Pennsylvania NPs succeed in their efforts to practice without the oversight of a physician, the flow of APRN jobs to rural areas may also increase.
Career Resources for Future APRNs
Pennsylvania Nursing Job Boards
- PSNA Career Center: Openings for Pennsylvania nurses, including APRNs
- PCNP Career Center: Job listings for Pennsylvania NPs
- PONL Career Opportunities: Job listings for Pennsylvania nurse leaders
Pennsylvania APRN Salary & Wage Data
- Annual Mean Wages for Pennsylvania Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations: Listed under “Nurse Practitioners” and “Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary”
- AANP National Compensation Survey: Available to AANP members
Pennsylvania Nursing Organizations
State Board of Nursing
PA Nursing Associations & Coalitions
- National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN): Pennsylvania Chapters
- Pennsylvania Action Coalition (PAC)
- Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse Practitioners (PCNP)
- Pennsylvania Higher Education Nursing Schools Association (PHENSA)
- Pennsylvania Indian American Nurses Organization (PIANO)
- Pennsylvania State Nurses Association (PSNA)
- Southeastern Pennsylvania Area Black Nurses Association (SEPABNA)
PA Nursing Specialty Organizations
- American College of Nurse-Midwives – Pennsylvania Affiliate (Pennsylvania ACNM)
- American Psychiatric Nurses Association – Pennsylvania Chapter (APNA Pennsylvania)
- Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses – Pennsylvania (AWHONN – Pennsylvania)
- Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists (PANA)
- Pennsylania Association of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (PAPAN)
- Pennsylvania Association of School Nurses and Practitioners (PASNAP)
- Pennsylvania Emergency Nurses Association (PAENA)
- Pennsylvania League for Nursing (PLN)
- Pennsylvania Organization of Nurse Leaders (PONL)
- Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania (SNAP)