Use our school listings to evaluate the costs and curricula of each RN to MSN or RN-BSN-MSN pathway. Learn more about online RN to MSN programs in Washington State. And discover which Washington university is willing to offer the cheapest RN to MSN program.
Coming from out-of-state? Our discussion of Washington’s healthcare landscape and our comprehensive section on jobs for Washington RN to MSN graduates contain tons of links to healthcare resources, wage data, and local job boards. You may also wish to get in touch with relevant WA nursing organizations & associations.
Online RN to MSN Programs in Washington
We found one private university that was willing to offer a dedicated online RN to MSN program in Washington State. The full profile of Gonzaga can be found in our school listings, but here are a few extra points to consider.
- Gonzaga University: Almost all of Gonzaga’s RN to MSN program is delivered in an asynchronous, 100% online format (no set log-in times). However, there is a mandatory 2-day, on-campus immersion included in the MSN practicum. It can also be completed on a part-time or full-time basis. Anyone interested in the online program should check the State Authorization page to make sure they’re eligible to apply. The university cannot admit students from a number of states.
Do you live in Washington or Oregon? Bear in mind that the public options in our listings (e.g. UWT and WSU) are hybrid, with online coursework and video conferencing. WSU even offers its program at multiple campuses throughout the state.
Cheapest RN to MSN Programs in Washington
To calculate this ranking of the most affordable Washington RN to MSN programs, we looked at per credit graduate tuition rates. But please use it only as a ballpark figure! You’ll need to factor in the total number of credits, any additional fees, and different undergraduate tuition rates for bridge coursework.
- University of Washington-Tacoma: In-State (Out-of-State is much higher)—View Tuition Rates
- Washington State University: In-State (Out-of-State is much higher)—View Tuition Rates
- Gonzaga University: View Tuition Rates
Washington is not a cheap state—even resident graduate tuition rates at public universities can be expensive—so check out the scholarship links in our school listings. You may also be able to transfer credits on selected undergraduate courses.
Washington’s Healthcare Landscape
By most healthcare standards, Washington is thriving. According to America’s Health Rankings and the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), it’s got a great track record in measurable data points. Premature death and childhood poverty rates are low, physical activity is high, and new babies are relatively healthy (e.g. low rate of preterm births). The state has one of the lowest obesity rates for youth in the nation.
This is true in both cities and fields. The state usually receives solid grades in the U.S. Rural Health Report Card, especially for all-cause mortality, and the BCBS Health Index Map is a lovely shade of blue for almost all counties.
However, you may notice that rural patients in Washington often lack access to mental healthcare and “Major Depression” is frequently cited as the most impactful condition on the BCBS map.
The state is aware of the problem, which is why it passed a flurry of laws in 2019 to fix the mental healthcare system. To improve access, the legislation included provisions for UW to create a 150-bed hospital for psychiatric care and for the Department of Health to license new intensive behavioral health treatment facilities & respite centers in local communities.
In that same year, the state also passed bills that were intent on lowering the cost of healthcare for residents on Obamacare, increasing transparency in drug pricing, and creating a new long-term care system. You can’t fault them for sitting on their hands!
The ARNPs United of Washington State’s Washington State Legislative Summary and the WSNA’s section on Legislative Affairs have more details on issues that pertain to nurses. Aspiring nurse leaders and APRNs should find plenty of opportunities to help improve mental healthcare, expand telemedical services, and address Seattle’s homelessness crisis.
Jobs for Washington RN to MSN Graduates
Career Outlook for RN to MSN Graduates
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) monitors job & wage data for Nurse Practitioners and Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary on an annual basis. We particularly like the employment maps on these pages, since they allow viewers to compare neighboring regions and states.
As you might expect, the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area is the main center of jobs for advanced nurses. Around 61% of the state’s NPs and 63% of its nursing instructors work in this area, earning some of the highest wages in the country. This is also where you’ll find UW, Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle Children’s, and the UW Medical Center.
Having said that, the cost of living in the Seattle area can be astronomical and traffic is a well-known nightmare (think bridges & bottlenecks). If you’re hoping to work in Pill Hill, which is home to the Virginia Mason Medical Center and the Swedish Medical Center, you’re may have to get creative with your housing.
But Seattle isn’t your only option. In U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the Best Hospitals in Washington State and the ANCC’s list of Magnet Facilities in Washington State, you’ll find plenty of good centers in smaller cities, including Providence Health & Services in Spokane, Everett, and Olympia, and PeaceHealth in Vancouver and Bellingham. In fact, Spokane is often one of the top-paying area for NPs in the country.
Thinking about running your own practice? Washington NPs have full independent practice authority and are recognized as primary care providers. You may even want to apply for Washington Health Corps programs, which provide loan forgiveness and scholarships. These are open to professionals seeking employment in rural & underserved areas.
Career Resources for Future APRNs
Washington Nursing Job Boards
- PSNPA Career Center: Job listings for APRNs and NPs in Washington, Oregon, and California
- WSHA Hospital Jobs: Openings for healthcare professionals in Washington State hospitals
- NWone Career Center: Job listings for nurse leaders & executives in Northwest states
Washington APRN Salary & Wage Data
- Annual Mean Wages for Washington Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations: Categories can include “Nurse Practitioners,” “Nurse Midwives,” and “Nurse Anesthetists”
- Annual Mean Wages for Washington Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary
- AANP National Compensation Survey: Available to AANP members
Washington Nursing Organizations
Washington Nursing Associations & Coalitions
- ARNPs United of Washington State
- National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN): Washington Chapter
- Puget Sound Nurse Practitioner Association (PSNPA)
- Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA)
- Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA)
Washington Nursing Specialty Organizations
- American College of Nurse-Midwives – Washington State Affiliate (ACNM WA)
- American Psychiatric Nurses Association – Washington Chapter (APNA Washington)
- Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses – Washington (AWHONN Washington)
- Northwest Organization of Nursing Executives (NWone)
- Northwest PeriAnesthesia Nurses’ Association (NPANA)
- Nursing Students of Washington State (NSWS)
- School Nurse Organization of Washington (SNOW)
- Washington Association of Nurse Anesthetists (WANA)
- Washington State Association of Occupational Health Nurses (WSAOHN)
- Washington State Council of the Emergency Nurses Association (WA-ENA)
Nursing School Overview
Gonzaga is a private Jesuit university in Spokane. The Department of Nursing has been delivering distance education programs in nursing for 30+ years, which means Gonzaga can usually be found in the top 100 of U.S. News & World Report's rankings for Best Online Graduate Nursing programs. According to that data, programs have a competitive acceptance rate (e.g. 55%), small class sizes (e.g. 11 students), a strong retention rate, and a reasonable duration time (e.g. most students finish the MSN in 3 years). Alumni may also have a sizeable amount of debt, which is why we recommend you look at School of Nursing & Human Physiology scholarships and the payment plan. What's more, Gonzaga offers a 10% discount on the program to active duty service members, spouses of active duty service members, and veterans. You'll find heaps of opinions about Gonzaga nursing graduate programs on independent review sites and message boards. Most of the comments refer to NP specialties - not healthcare leadership - but folks often discuss the pros & cons of the online atmosphere. To get a real sense of the experience, you may wish to ask if you can "sit in" on an online class.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
Gonzaga's online RN to MSN is open to RNs with an associate degree in nursing from an accredited program. There's no BSN in this program - the only degree you'll earn is the MSN. In addition to an ADN or ASN, candidates should have a current & unencumbered RN license, a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (if it's below that number, you can include an explanation in your application), 2 letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume or CV. The entire RN to MSN program is 45 credits and takes 3 years (9 semesters) to complete on a full-time basis. Part-time study is available, but students must finish the MSN portion within 5 years. There are 15 credits of undergraduate bridge courses, including a mandatory Community Health practicum. These online courses are 8 or 16 weeks. The MSN portion is 30 credits, with concentration courses that incorporate Jesuit principles. All graduate-level online courses are 8 weeks. You'll also complete a leadership practicum in your home community and a mandatory, two-day immersion on the campus. Gonzaga has a list of clinical contacts for practicums, but it is up to the student to find a preceptor and practicum site.
Nursing School Overview
UWT is a public university in downtown Tacoma and a satellite campus of the University of Washington. On its website, the School of Nursing & Healthcare Leadership states that it places an emphasis on small class sizes, flexible formatting, and direct mentoring. Clinical faculty come from a range of outside agencies & practices and UWT nursing professors are involved in research projects in all kinds of areas. Modest nursing program scholarships are available. Prospective MN students can also take advantage of one-on-one admissions advising (in-person or telephone). We only found a few independent reviews of UWT's nursing programs, but they were uniformly positive. One healthcare leadership student said the program had high expectations, supportive professors, and was worth every cent.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
Designed for high-achieving RNs with an associate degree or diploma in nursing, UWT's ADN-BSN-MN is offered in an hybrid format - part online, part on-campus. But there is also an option for RNs with a non-nursing bachelor's degree to enter the MN directly. Candidates for the ADN-BSN-MN pathway must be graduates of an NLN- or ACEN-accredited program and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. The application will need to include 3 references, a goal statement, and a resume or CV. Alternatively, RNs with a non-nursing bachelor's degree can demonstrate competency in key areas by writing 2 petitions to the Admissions Committee. Once accepted, ADN-BSN-MN students complete ~45 credits of undergraduate work for the BSN (1.25 years of full-time study or 2 years of part-time study, including summers). To accelerate this portion, 2 graduate-level courses can be substituted for BSN coursework. The standard 2-year MN consists of 11 courses - 8 core courses and 3 concentration courses, as well as credits for advanced fieldwork/practicums (47-50 credits in total). Students work collaboratively with UTW's clinical coordinator to select practicum sites. And you'll have the option to choose between a thesis or a scholarly project for your capstone.
Nursing School Overview
WSU is a public research university in Pullman and one of the oldest land-grant universities in the West. It's also a strong pick for nursing. The College of Nursing is an NLN Center of Excellence in Nursing Education and it can often be found in the top 35 of U.S. News & World Report's rankings for Best Nursing Schools and the DNP. The college has high-tech Clinical Performance and Simulation labs, 100+ faculty members, and an active research arm. For example, it receives a great deal of funding from the NIH. Nursing students are also encouraged to support WSU's community partners through clinics and outreach projects. It's not cheap, but College of Nursing scholarships and assistantships are available. If you live in certain counties in Oregon, you also may be eligible for in-state tuition through the Border Bill (this tuition break only applies to folks who are studying part-time at the WSU Vancouver or WSU Tri-Cities campus).
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
WSU's hybrid RN-MN program is open to RNs with a non-nursing bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. The program is offered at all of WSU's College of Nursing sites, including Spokane, Yakima, Tri-Cities, Walla Walla, and Vancouver. In addition to the baccalaureate, RN-MN candidates should have a current RN license in Oregon or Washington (you must have WA licensure by the start of the program), a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, current nursing experience (preferably 2 years), and minimum grades on certain prerequisites (e.g. chemistry, anatomy & physiology, etc.). The entire program takes ~2 years to complete on a full-time basis and 3-3.5 years on a part-time basis. If you're conditionally accepted, you'll be asked to take 2 undergraduate bridge courses: Professional Nursing Concepts & Issues and Community Health Nursing Concepts. You can then apply for the MN with a goal statement and your CV or resume. The MN portion is 32 credits with a master's clinical project or 35 credits with a master's thesis. You can also choose between an Advanced Population Health practicum or an internship. Video conferencing and online coursework are included as part of the program.