8 Best RN-to-MSN Programs in Illinois – 2024


Written By: Editorial Staff @ NursingProcess.org

Do you feel as though your associate degree is holding you back from pursuing a rewarding nursing career in Illinois? You can change that by enrolling in one of the RN-to-MSN programs in Illinois. RN-to-MSN programs combine elements of the BSN curriculum and MSN curricula, and the Masters’ of Science in Nursing degree you’ll receive will be no different from a traditional MSN. Graduates of accelerated programs in the Land of Lincoln earn $118,570 annually and work in multiple practice settings throughout the state as nurse practitioners, nurse executives, and nurse educators. Take the first step toward an exciting new career trajectory by reviewing this list of the 8 best RN-to-MSN programs in Illinois for 2024.


WHAT ARE THE BEST RN-TO-MSN PROGRAMS IN ILLINOIS (ONLINE & CAMPUS) FOR 2024?

(Based on our ranking methodology, the following are the 8 Best RN-to-MSN Programs in Illinois (Online & Campus).)

1. University of Illinois at Chicago - Chicago


Specialties Offered: Clinical Nurse Leader and Women's Health


Program Details: If you are a registered nurse who is aspiring to become a healthcare leader in Illinois, then enrolling in the University of Illinois at Chicago’s RN to MSN program is an excellent idea. The program is counted among the best RN-to-MSN programs in Illinois, and offers two specializations; Clinical Nurse Leader and Women's Health.

Regardless of the specialization you choose, you can complete the program, either part-time or full-time. The curriculum builds on your RN education and includes core MSN courses and courses related to your specialization. The program is offered in a hybrid format, blending online and on-campus courses.

The Clinical Nurse Leader specialization emphasizes care coordination, outcomes measurement, risk assessment, quality improvement, and evidence-based practice. Upon completion of this RN-to-MSN program in Illinois, you will be eligible to take the national certification exam.

The RN to MSN women’s health specialization also includes core MSN and specialty-specific courses. The women’s health specific coursework includes courses in advanced women’s health nursing, maternal newborn nursing, women’s health promotion, women’s health research, and advanced pharmacology.

Admission Requirements: To be eligible for the University of Illinois at Chicago RN-to-MSN, you must foremost have a current RN license. Also, you must have an accredited diploma or ADN with a minimum GPA of 3.0. You must also be prepared to submit your transcripts, resume, personal statement, and letters of recommendation.


Must-Know Highlights For Potential University of Illinois at Chicago RN-to-MSN Students

• University of Illinois at Chicago’s MSN program is ranked among the best in the nation as per the U.S. News & World Report.
• University of Illinois at Chicago is equipped with a state-of-art simulation lab. The simulation lab is one of the largest simulation labs in the nation. RN-to-MSN students gain ample learning experience in this safe, hospital-like clinical learning environment.
• University of Illinois at Chicago RN-to-MSN students receive solid support in terms of mentoring, tutoring, and enrollment services.


2. DePaul University - Chicago


Specialties Offered: Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Administration, and Nursing Education


Program Details: DePaul University offers one of the best online RN-to-MSN programs in Illinois and there are several reasons why its RN-to-MSN training stands out. High-quality online education within a supportive virtual learning environment effectively allows registered nurses to build on their advanced nursing knowledge. Here, nurses can choose between four specialization options, including adult gerontology, family health, nursing administration, and nursing education.

Regardless of the specialization you choose, you’ll first complete the bridge courses in theoretical components of nursing, nursing research, pathophysiology, and ethical & political engagement in nursing, health assessment, and nursing informatics & technology application. Thereafter, you’ll take the core courses in biostatistics & epidemiology, pharmacology, and graduate research synthesis. This RN-to-MSN program in Illinois awards graduates two degrees, a BSN and an MSN.

Admission Requirements: To be considered for DePaul University’s RN-to-MSN, applicants must have an ADN or a nursing diploma from an accredited college. Also, an active and unencumbered RN license is required. Besides, applicants must be prepared to submit their official transcripts, resume, and letters of recommendation to complete the application requirements.


Must-Know Highlights For Potential DePaul University RN-to-MSN Students

• Potential DePaul University RN-to-MSN students will be part of a strong alumni network with more than 3000 nurses working at prominent places across the state.
• DePaul University RN-to-MSN graduates report an excellent graduation rate, with more than 90% of students finding suitable placements within six months of graduation.
• Because DePaul University’s RN-to-MSN program is offered in partnership with Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, students can explore plenty of interprofessional learning experiences.


3. Loyola University Chicago - Maywood


Specialties Offered: Nursing & Health Care Administration


Program Details: Loyola University Chicago offers registered nurses an opportunity to advance to the in-demand field of nursing & healthcare administration. The program shapes your nursing career to make you a leader in health care. You’ll not only climb the career ladder but will be able to impact change in healthcare delivery.

Among the best RN-to-MSN programs in Illinois, Loyola’s RN-to-MSN is a 51-credit program that starts with 21-credit BSN courses. The BSN courses which form a bridge between the ADN and MSN courses cover topics such as community health, health assessment, nursing research, nursing ethics, healthcare transitions, and leadership for professional nursing practice. The BSN coursework also includes a course in population health informatics and advanced quality & safety in healthcare.

Thereafter, the graduate-level courses teach you about topics in social justice, nursing research, healthcare delivery & organization, leadership & administration in healthcare, healthcare outcomes, program planning & marketing in healthcare, and healthcare policy. The graduate-level courses in Nursing & Health Care Administration also include classes in fiscal management in healthcare organizations and nursing & healthcare administration.

Admission Requirements: Loyola University Chicago RN-to-MSN program is designed for students with an active RN license from the U.S. Also, the cumulative GPA of applicants in their ADN or nursing diploma must not be below 2.5. This RN-to-MSN program in Illinois also requires you to submit your official transcripts along with an online application.


Must-Know Highlights For Potential Loyola University Chicago RN-to-MSN Students

• Loyola University Chicago RN-to-MSN students need not worry about the hassle of finding a clinical site as the school secures clinical placements for students.
• Loyola University Chicago RN-to-MSN students can apply for financial aid to make their RN-to-MSN education affordable. The school offers several scholarships and funding opportunities for which students must contact the financial aid office.
• Loyola University Chicago RN-to-MSN students earn two degrees, a BSN and an MSN within as little as two and a half years.


4. University of St. Francis - Joliet


Specialties Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Administrator, and Nursing Educator


Program Details: Another one of our best RN-to-MSN programs in Illinois is offered by the University of St. Francis. With four specialization options, the University of St. Francis’s RN to MSN program prepares you for advanced nursing careers in family health, psychiatric mental health, nursing administration, or nursing education, based on the RN to MSN specialty you choose.

Regardless of the RN to MSN specialty you choose, you will complete the program through a flexible online format. Therefore, working nurses will easily be able to juggle a full-time job along with earning a master's in nursing.

If you choose either of the nurse practitioner specialties, you must complete around 47 to 56 credit hours. Whereas, students opting for the nursing administration track need to complete 36 to 42 credits. The RN to MSN program in nursing education requires completion of 40 to 49 credits.

Admission Requirements: Admission into the University of St. Francis RN-to-MSN program requires you to have completed an ADN or nursing diploma with a GPA of at least 3.0. Also, you must possess an active and unencumbered RN license.


Must-Know Highlights For Potential University of St. Francis RN-to-MSN Students

• University of St. Francis RN-to-MSN program is rooted in Franciscan values of respect, compassion, and service.
• University of St. Francis RN-to-MSN students are groomed by a caring faculty who are experts in their respective fields of advanced practice nursing.
• University of St. Francis RN-to-MSN students can explore several financial aid opportunities to make their RN-to-MSN education affordable.


5. Bradley University - Peoria


Specialties Offered: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Administration, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner


Program Details: Bradley University should be on your list if you are keen on applying to one of the sought-after online RN-to-MSN programs in Illinois. Whether you find your calling in adult gerontology care, family health, psychiatric mental health, or nursing administration, here, you’ll be equipped with the tools to excel in your chosen field of advanced nursing practice.

If you choose any of the NP tracks, you’ll require completing around 60 credits, whereas the RN to MSN program in nursing administration comprises 39 to 40 credits. Regardless of the RN to MSN path you choose, you’ll start with nine credits of bridge courses in nursing research, community health nursing, and the conceptual basis for professional nursing practices. After completing the bridge courses, students move into the graduate portion of the program. The graduate courses will depend on your chosen area of focus. Depending on the RN-to-MSN specialization you choose, you’ll complete this RN-to-MSN program in Illinois within 2.5 to 3.5 years.

Admission Requirements: Bradley University’s RN-to-MSN is open to RNs with an accredited ADN or nursing diploma. This RN-to-MSN program in Illinois also requires your GPA to be at least 3.0. Further, to apply, you must be prepared to submit a copy of your RN license and your official transcripts.


Must-Know Highlights For Potential Bradley University RN-to-MSN Students

• Bradley University has been committed to excellence in nursing education and research since 1897.
• Bradley University RN-to-MSN students study in a student-centric environment under the mentorship of an outstanding faculty.
• Bradley University’s RN-to-MSN program not only enjoys the flexibility of 100% online classes but also allows you to choose preceptors for your desired area of clinical training. Moreover, you complete the clinicals within your geographical location.


6. Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing - Peoria


Specialties Offered: Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator, Nursing Management Leadership, and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner


Program Details: Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing offers another of our faith-based RN-to-MSN programs in Illinois. With an environment rooted in Christian values, here, RN to MSN students are nurtured to achieve professional as well as personal success. The school offers direct and indirect patient care specializations in highly rewarding fields of advanced nursing. So, based on your calling, you can choose either adult gerontology acute care, family health, neonatal care, or psychiatric mental health care, or instead opt for the indirect patient care roles in nursing education and nursing management.

All the RN to MSN tracks are two years long, starting with foundation courses and progressing to more advanced graduate-level topics. To start with, students take courses in theoretical foundations, biostatistics, analysis evidence-based, healthcare informatics, and the roles & issues in advanced practice nursing. Additionally, students also learn about advanced pathophysiology, advanced pharmacotherapeutics, and organizational management & leadership. Upon completion of the program, you will be eligible to take the national certification exam.

Admission Requirements: To qualify for Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing, you must have an active and unencumbered RN license. Also, students must have an ADN or a nursing diploma with a minimum GPA of 3.0. This RN-to-MSN program in Illinois also requires you to submit transcripts, a resume, a personal statement, and letters of recommendation.


Must-Know Highlights For Potential Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing RN-to-MSN Students

• Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing RN-to-MSN program offers students ample interprofessional learning opportunities at the medical center where students regularly interact with other healthcare students and faculty.
• Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing has been training compassionate nurses for more than 100 years. The RN to MSN program expands on this rich experience and produces some of the state’s most competent graduate nurses.
• Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing RN to MSN students study in small-sized classes where individualized attention is allowed. Little surprise that the program reports an excellent graduation rate.
• Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing RN-to-MSN students practice clinical skills at some of the nation’s leading healthcare centers.


7. Elmhurst University - Elmhurst


Specialties Offered: Nurse Administrator, Nurse Educator, and Clinical Nurse Leader


Program Details: Elmhurst University offers one of the well-known RN-to-MSN programs in Illinois. The school being located in the heart of the Chicago area offers students a galore of opportunities post-graduation. The RN to MSN program is offered with specialization options, including nursing administration, nursing education, and clinical nurse leadership. Regardless of the specialization, the program starts with bridge courses, after which MSN core and specialization-specific courses follow.

During the two-year RN to MSN program, the first year includes courses in the theories of nursing, applied research, clinical leadership, healthcare systems, and population-based practice. In the second year, you’ll take the courses in your chosen specialization. If you choose the nursing administration specialization, you’ll learn about healthcare technology and advanced topics in nursing administration & management. On the other hand, the clinical nurse leadership specialization emphasizes clinical leadership in the healthcare environment. The nurse educator specialization prepares you for curriculum development & evaluation.

Admission Requirements: Elmhurst University’s RN to MSN program is open to ADN-prepared registered nurses who have a GPA of at least 3.0. This RN-to-MSN program in Illinois also requires applicants to have at least two years of clinical practice in the last two years. Additionally, completion of pre-requisite courses in statistics, research, and health assessment is required. Applicants must also be prepared to submit official transcripts, a copy of their current RN license, a personal goal statement, and three recommendation letters.


Must-Know Highlights For Potential Elmhurst University RN-to-MSN Students

• Elmhurst University nursing school ranks among the top in the Midwest region as per the U.S. News & World Report.
• Elmhurst University RN-to-MSN students study in small-sized, highly interactive classes where students develop a close connection with their professors. The individualized mentorship makes the learning experience rather fruitful.
• Elmhurst University RN-to-MSN program is guided by Christian traditions. Graduates leave the program prepared to provide care for the person as a whole, tending to the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspects.
• Elmhurst University RN-to-MSN students can make their education affordable by applying for financial aid opportunities, scholarships, loans, and grants.


8. Olivet Nazarene University - Bourbonnais


Specialties Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Education, and Transformational Leadership


Program Details: Olivet Nazarene University prepares registered nurses for the next step in their nursing careers by offering three in-demand specializations. The program trains you in family health, nursing education, and transformational leadership. Whether you choose to become a family nurse practitioner, prefer to influence the future workforce of nurses, or are inclined towards playing leadership roles, the university prepares you for successful career advancement.

The program starts with the BSN core and progresses to MSN core and specialty-related courses. This RN-to-MSN program in Illinois takes anywhere from 24 to 36 months, depending on the specialty you choose.

All the RN to MSN programs start with core courses covering topics such as nursing informatics, ethical decision-making, theoretical & professional foundations for nursing, and evidence-based practice.

The FNP-related courses emphasize the primary healthcare management of patients across the lifespan. The nursing education-related courses emphasize curriculum design, assessment & evaluation. Whereas if you choose the leadership track, you’ll master concepts in transforming leadership in nursing and healthcare financial & resource management. Depending on the RN to MSN specialization, you’ll complete around 33 to 54 credits.

Admission Requirements: Olivet Nazarene University’s RN-to-MSN program is open to applicants having a valid RN license, official transcripts, and a GPA of 2.75. Also, the program requires nurses to have at least 2000 hours of nursing experience before starting the graduate-level courses. Besides, like all other RN-to-MSN programs in Illinois, applicants must have an ADN or a nursing diploma from an accredited university.


Must-Know Highlights For Potential Olivet Nazarene University RN-to-MSN Students

• Olivet Nazarene University RN-to-MSN students can start the program at any time convenient as the courses start every six weeks.
• Olivet Nazarene University is one of the leading Christian universities in the nation. RN to MSN students will gain an education that is grounded in the values of service, integrity, and compassion.
• Olivet Nazarene University RN-to-MSN students are mentored by an expert faculty that comprises scholars and active practitioners.


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