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10 Cheapest Online Graduate Nursing Programs for Out-of-State Students

Devon Haynie

The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College, The Short List: Grad School and The Short List: Online Programs to find data that matter to you in your college or grad school search.

When it comes to the field of nursing, climbing up the professional ladder is often contingent on earning a master's degree.

The credential can boost salaries and open the door to careers as nurse practitioners, clinical care specialists, managers and other roles. For those who want to study while working, enrolling in an online graduate nursing program can be a more flexible option. And for cost-conscious consumers, there are certainly some affordable programs.

[Learn how to get into a top online graduate nursing program.]

Students looking for affordable out-of-state tuition will pay less than $350 per credit at the 10 public schools below, according to data submitted to U.S. News in an annual survey. The total program cost for the programs will vary, of course, depending on how many credits it takes to complete a program.

Massachusetts' Fitchburg State University offers students the biggest deal per credit out of the 78 public, ranked schools that reported the data to U.S. News, charging out-of-state students only $167 in 2014-2015. But the East Coast school is an anomaly; most online graduate nursing schools with the best per-credit bargains are based in Southern and Midwestern states, like Missouri, Texas, Georgia and Indiana.

[Weigh the costs of an online master's in nursing.]

On average, these 10 schools charge out-of-state students $276 per credit. Their tuition rate seems like a bigger steal when compared with the average among the 78 schools that reported the data. Among all of those schools, out-of-state students are charged an average of $714 per credit.

Louisiana's McNeese State University is the most expensive per credit for out-of-state nursing graduate students, charging $1,950.

[Get tips on paying for an online education.]

Below are the 10 online graduate nursing programs with the lowest out-of-state, part-time tuition on a per-credit basis. Schools designated by U.S. News as Unranked were excluded from this list. U.S. News did not calculate a numerical rank for these programs because they did not meet certain criteria that U.S. News requires to be numerically ranked.

Several programs on the list were designated as Rank Not Published in the U.S. News Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs rankings. U.S. News calculates, but does not publish, a numerical rank for RNP schools.

School name (state) Part-time, per-credit, out-of-state tuition (2014-2015) U.S. News rank
Fitchburg State University (MA) $167 RNP
West Texas A&M University $193 RNP
Lamar University (TX) $235 74 (tie)
Fort Hays State University (KS) $251 RNP
University of North Dakota $286 RNP
Missouri State University $305 RNP
Georgia College & State University $318 18 (tie)
University of Southern Indiana $325 36 (tie)
Delta State University (MS) $334 93 (tie)
University of Missouri--Kansas City $343 18 (tie)

Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News Nursing School Compass to find tuition data, complete rankings and much more. School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.

U.S. News surveyed 133 schools for our 2014 survey of online graduate nursing programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News' data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News' rankings of Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The tuition data above are correct as of April 14, 2015.

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