Capella University Online MSN & RN-to-MSN Programs

The School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Capella University offers a master of science in nursing (MSN) program and an RN-to-MSN program with four specializations: care coordination, nursing education, nursing informatics, and nursing leadership and administration. These programs include 100 percent online coursework with one to two local practicums.

Capella also offers three post-bachelor’s graduate certificates with three specializations: care coordination, nursing informatics, and nursing leadership. These certificates comprise 20 quarter credits and can be completed in about 12 months. Those who complete the certificate programs may apply them to the corresponding MSN degree in the future.

In addition to the different MSN specializations, nurses may choose the GuidedPath or FlexPath as their study route. Each path includes all concepts and is competency-based; however, the payment plans and study plans differ significantly. FlexPath is not available to graduate certificate students.

GuidedPath students may choose to take up to three courses per quarter depending on other commitments and the desired speed of completion. GuidedPath is a traditional learning path including weekly assignments and class discussions.

FlexPath students may take up to two courses at a time and move on as soon as a course is finished. Tuition is charged every 12 weeks, and points are assigned for each completed course. There is no waiting between courses; students may take as many courses in a 12-week period as they can. Knowledge and previous experience can affect how quickly a course is completed.

FlexPath is designed for self-motivated learners who work well independently and wish to reduce the time to completion or cost of their degree. Nursing students work one-on-one with faculty to complete course competencies, and no letter grades are assigned.

The MSN can be completed in 13 months with FlexPath and transfer points. Through GuidedPath, the MSN can be completed in about 2.5 years by taking one course per quarter, or faster, taking up to three courses per quarter. The RN-to-MSN can be completed in about 17 months with FlexPath and about three years taking one course at a time with GuidedPath. Students have many choices regarding the speed of completion and desired credit load.

Core courses for all MSN specializations include topics such as communication, healthcare policy, economics, collaboration, decision-making, case analysis, evidence-based practice, quality improvement, patient-centered care, interprofessional care, biopsychosocial concepts, and leadership in care coordination. Students then complete specialized courses for their chosen path.

The care coordination specialization educates nurses in patient assessment and evaluation. Areas covered include care planning, care coordination, transitional care, patient monitoring and analysis, and best practices for meeting the needs of care teams, patients, and their families. Participants in the care coordination track complete a 100-hour clinical practicum. Graduates may go on to positions such as case manager, care manager, care coordinator, or nursing coordinator.

The nursing education specialization prepares nurses to teach in online nursing programs and hospital-based nursing institutions. Graduates may be eligible to take the Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) exam through the National League for Nursing (NLN). The program integrates nursing standards from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and is based on the NLN Competencies for Nursing Education.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The MSN and RN-to-MSN programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Capella University has partnerships with over 400 healthcare employers from hospitals and clinics to insurance providers.

What to Expect from the Capella University Online MSN and RN-to-MSN Programs

Admission Requirements: The Capella University MSN requires completing a BSN with a minimum GPA of 2.8. RN-to-MSN applicants must have earned an associate’s degree in nursing with a minimum GPA of 2.8. Proof of unencumbered RN licensure in the United States, a valid government-issued ID, an application and application fee, and all required documentation including official transcripts are part of the application process. No GRE/GMAT or work experience are required. Proof of English language proficiency is required if applicable.

Please note that residents of Alabama may not participate in these online nursing programs.

Study Plan: The Capella University online MSN consists of 13 courses, while the RN-to-MSN comprises 16 courses. GuidedPath students may begin their program each quarter in the fall, winter, spring, or summer. FlexPath students may begin courses once a month for their first course. Courses last ten weeks each with the ability to take one to three courses per quarter.

The MSN can be completed in 13 months to 2.5 years depending on the number of transfer credits, GuidedPath or FlexPath, and the speed of course completion. The RN-to-MSN can be completed in 18 months to three years depending on the same parameters. MSN and RN-to-MSN students complete an MSN practicum and capstone course with 100 to 200 clinical hours required.

The post-bachelor’s graduate certificates comprise 20 credits and can only be completed through GuidedPath. Certificate completion takes one year.

Online MSN Curriculum: The Capella University online MSN comprises 54 credits. Core courses for all specializations include communication, collaboration, and case analysis for master’s learners; economics and decision-making in healthcare; healthcare law and policy; evidence-based practice for patient-centered care and population health; quality improvement of interprofessional care; biopsychosocial concepts for advanced nursing practice I-II; and MSN practicum and capstone.

Care Coordination: Students in this specialization complete 100 local clinical hours. Specialty courses include an introduction to care coordination; structure and process in care coordination; healthcare models used in care coordination; leadership in care coordination; and ethical and legal considerations in care coordination.

Nursing Education: Students in this specialization complete 100 local clinical hours. Specialty courses include the nurse educator role; teaching and active learning strategies; integrating technology into nursing education; curriculum design, development, and evaluation; and assessment and evaluation in nursing education.

Nursing Informatics: Students in this specialization complete 200 local clinical hours. Specialty courses include fundamentals of nursing informatics; analysis of clinical information systems and application to nursing practice; advancing healthcare through data mining; managing the nursing informatics life cycle; and MSN practicum.

Nursing Leadership and Administration: Students in this specialization complete 100 local clinical hours. Specialty courses include leadership and management for nurse executives; healthcare quality and safety management; advanced finance and operations management; healthcare informatics and technology; and leading the future of healthcare.

Online RN-to-MSN Curriculum: The Capella University online RN-to-MSN comprises 66 credits. RN bridge courses include health assessment and promotion for disease prevention in population-focused health; an introduction to nursing research, ethics, and technology; and leadership for nursing practice. Students then follow the courses listed for the MSN and specializations.

Online Graduate Certificate Curriculum: The Capella University online graduate certificates comprise 20 credits each. Five courses are completed, mostly coming from the specialization courses for the various specialties. The nursing informatics courses replace the MSN capstone with the course evidence-based practice and technology for nursing.

Online Experience: Capella University online courses may include readings, case studies, recorded lectures, interactive activities, and simulation exercises. Online courses may also include live web conferencing, online discussion boards, and group projects.

Online student resources may include faculty support, academic coaches and advisors, peer-mentoring, tutoring, writing support, enrollment and financial aid counselors, disability services, an online library, and technical support. Military support staff, a career center, and an alumni association are available.

On-Site Requirements: There are no on-site requirements as the Capella University online MSN, RN-to-MSN, and graduate certificates offer 100 percent online coursework. MSN and RN-to-MSN students complete one to two clinical practicums locally.

Paying for the Capella University Online MSN and RN-to-MSN Programs

The Capella nursing programs cost $440 per quarter-credit plus fees. Applicants should contact the Capella University School of Nursing and Health Sciences for current costs and military or other discounts.

To fund graduate degrees, nursing students may wish to secure unsubsidized graduate student loans by applying through the FAFSA. They may also seek private loans, inquire about tuition reimbursement programs, and seek organizational, community, and aid through scholarships and grants.

Capella University Care Coordination Graduate Certificate (Post-Bachelor's)

  • Complete the five specialty courses from the MSN to earn your care coordination graduate certificate
  • Apply the certificate courses to the full MSN program
  • No GRE, work experience, or campus visits are required
Program Essentials
Degree Level Post-Bachelor's Certificate
Program Start Dates Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Credits Needed to Graduate 20
Time to Complete? Graduate in 12 months.
100% Online? Yes
Program Accreditation None
Program Admissions
Level of Education Required? Bachelor's degree
GRE or GMAT Required? No GRE required
Work Experience Required? No
Program Tuition
Credit Hours 20
Average Cost Per Credit $440.00
Estimated Program Tuition * $8,800.00

Capella University Nursing Informatics Graduate Certificate (Post-Bachelor's)

  • Complete five nursing informatics specialty courses to earn your nursing informatics graduate certificate
  • Study topics such as fundamentals of nursing informatics, evidence-based practice and technology, health care data mining, and analysis of clinical information systems
  • Apply completed courses to the full MSN in Nursing Informatics
Program Essentials
Degree Level Post-Bachelor's Certificate
Program Start Dates Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Credits Needed to Graduate 20
Time to Complete? Graduate in 12 months.
100% Online? Yes
Program Accreditation None
Program Admissions
Level of Education Required? Bachelor's degree
GRE or GMAT Required? No
Work Experience Required? No
Program Tuition
Credit Hours 20
Average Cost Per Credit $440.00
Estimated Program Tuition * $8,800.00

Capella University Nursing Leadership Graduate Certificate (Post-Bachelor's)

  • Designed for BSN graduates who wish to move into nursing leadership and management roles
  • The credits earned can be applied to the MSN in Nursing Leadership and Administration
  • Utilize the Vila Health simulated care environment through Capella University to practice leadership and management skills such as problem-solving, communication and collaboration, and evidence-based decision-making
Program Essentials
Degree Level Post-Bachelor's Certificate
Program Start Dates Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Credits Needed to Graduate 20
Time to Complete? Graduate in 12 months.
100% Online? Yes
Program Accreditation None
Program Admissions
Level of Education Required? Bachelor's degree
GRE or GMAT Required? No GRE required
Work Experience Required? No
Program Tuition
Credit Hours 20
Average Cost Per Credit $440.00
Estimated Program Tuition * $8,800.00

* Tuition is calculated based on credits, at the currently published tuition rate. For programs with variable tuition rates, we use the out of state, part-time student rate. Tuition number represents the cost of tuition for the entire program, not per semester or year. Total cost of tuition does not include additional fees.

Sara Navratil
Sara Navratil
Writer

Sara Navratil is a freelance writer and a Certified Canfield Success Principles Trainer. She's the owner of Sara Liza Life, a company dedicated to helping people rewrite their lives. She enjoys researching and writing about healthcare-related topics, including information on online MHA programs. When not working she likes to read, bake, and spend time with her family.