Online Nursing Administration Programs: RN-to-MSN, MSN Nurse Executive

Online Nursing Administration Programs: RN-to-MSN, MSN Nurse Executive

Nursing administration programs prepare nurses to take on nurse leadership roles, such as chief nursing officer, nurse administrator, nursing department director, and other administrative roles. In 2019, the average salary for a healthcare administrator was $115,160, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Typical job responsibilities for nursing administration program graduates include staff management and leadership, reviewing or drafting budgets and financial statements, quality and performance oversight, and communication and collaboration with other departments.

Nurse executives often hold a master of science in nursing (MSN) with a speciality in administration. Depending on their background, they can follow different paths to this degree, including a standard path from a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree, a dual degree program, such as a combined MSN/MBA, or a bridge RN-to-MSN program.

Students typically finish a master of nursing administration in two years. The curriculum covers legal, financial, and ethical aspects of healthcare delivery as they apply to nursing strategy and management. General management topics include leadership, budgeting, informatics, and data analytics.

Online nursing administration programs offer geographic and scheduling flexibility for nurses who wish to work while studying. Check out the list below for more information about online programs in nursing administration.

Top Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

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  1. Stony Brook University

    Stony Brook, NY



    Located in Stony Brook, New York, this university's MSN in nursing leadership prepares nurses to assume leadership positions across all levels of the field. The public university's School of Nursing curriculum consists of distance education with onsite requirements.

    Graduation requirements for the 36-credit program include core classes (quality improvement and healthcare policy), research (applications in clinical nursing research), and nursing leadership (communication and relationship management, business skills, and a leadership seminar). The program includes a clinical placement.

    Applicants must hold a BSN with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Materials required for submission consist of transcripts from previously attended institutions, a resume, three recommendation letters, a current RN license, and a statistics course.

    Stony Brook is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

    Learn more about Stony Brook University

  2. University of Michigan

    Ann Arbor, MI



    U-M's undergraduate enrollment on its main campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan, totals 31,266, while graduate enrollment tops 16,824. The university's School of Nursing offers a 33-credit master of science in nursing in leadership, analytics, and innovation online. This degree works in tandem with a four-day, on-campus intensive and a two-day, in-person orientation.

    The program targets data-driven nurse leaders interested in tackling detailed, analytic decision-making activities. Coursework consists of leadership foundations, applied biostatistics, quality science and performance analytics, and healthcare systems evaluations. Degree requirements include in-person immersions, providing hands-on job training.

    Admission requirements include a BSN degree from an accredited institution (with an average 3.0 GPA), a personal statement, a current resume, official transcripts, and three recommendations. Applicants may qualify to transfer up to six master's level credits.

    U-M is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The program boasts accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

    Learn more about University of Michigan

  3. George Washington University

    Washington, DC



    GW in Washington, D.C. educates more than 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Founded in 1821, GW's online component offers its MSN in leadership and management to professional nurses interested in strategic thinking and guiding organizations through change.

    The 36-credit program may be studied on a full- or part-time basis. The professional core focuses on health policy and quality and population health concepts. The research area teaches evidenced-based practice and biostatistics. Field-specific classes include health information and technology and health economics and finance. Degree requirements include a leadership capstone practicum.

    Applicants must hold a nursing license and bachelor's degree in nursing from a regionally accredited institution, with a 3.0 minimum GPA. Admission requirements include two recommendation letters, a current resume, a statement of purpose, and transcripts.

    GW is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Program accreditation is through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

    Learn more about George Washington University

  4. University of Cincinnati

    Cincinnati, OH



    UC is an urban, public institution in Ohio that serves a diverse community of 46,798 students across 14 colleges. Taught through the university's main campus in Cincinnati, the online MSN in nursing administration prepares graduates to leverage evidenced-based practice and decision-making to evaluate healthcare programs, and manage complex issues in healthcare and leadership.

    The program's minimum credit requirement varies based on previous education and placement levels. Most learners must complete at least 40 credits. Coursework includes healthcare organizational leadership, biostatistics, healthcare policies, and strategic leadership and management. Students also participate in clinical practicums.

    Application requirements include an active RN license with at least one year of experience preferred, plus a BSN from an accredited nursing school with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Required materials include transcripts, recommendations, and a resume. Prerequisites include a statistics course.

    University of Cincinnati is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), with programming accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

    Learn more about University of Cincinnati

  5. Texas A&M International University

    Laredo, TX



    Situated in the Texas border town of Laredo, TAMIU's online MSN in nursing administration prepares students for nurse executive roles in a variety of healthcare and other settings. The international university educates more than 8,400 undergraduate and graduate students.

    The 31-credit online nursing degree takes as little as 10 months to complete. Studies include research methods, health quality outcomes, population health, and healthcare policy and social justice. A nurse executive integrative leadership practicum completes the degree.

    Candidates interested in the program must hold a BSN from a nationally accredited institution, a Texas RN license, and at least one year of experience. Additional requirements include an undergraduate statistics course and official transcripts.

    TAMIU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Program accreditation is through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

    Learn more about Texas A&M International University

Applying to an Online Nursing Administration Program

Applicants to online nursing administration schools typically need a bachelor’s in nursing with at least a 3.0 GPA, a current valid and unencumbered nursing license, work experience as a registered nurse (RN), transcripts, at least two recommendations, and an application that includes an essay or personal statement explaining why the student wants to become a nursing administrator.

Dual MSN/MBA programs may require standardized test scores, though they sometimes waive this requirement for students with a high GPA. Schools also look for evidence of leadership aptitude and high ethical standards in the application.

Some online nursing administration programs have a “bridge” component for students with an RN and work experience as a nurse, but without a BSN degree. This bridge program includes the content typically included in a BSN program.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the top paying states for medical and health services managers?

    In 2019, the states with the highest compensation for medical and health services managers were the District of Columbia, New York, Hawaii, California, and Massachusetts. In the District of Columbia, the average annual salary was $150,040, followed by New York at $147,000, Hawaii at $133,320, California at $133,040, and Massachusetts at $132,960, according to the BLS.

  • What is the difference between nursing management and administration of nursing?

    Nursing management responsibilities typically include oversight of a team of nurses and responsibility for that team’s performance. Nursing administration responsibilities include higher level decision making and broader responsibility for team or department planning, budgets, and collaboration with other hospital programs or services. Different credentialing organizations provide nursing administration and nursing management certification.

  • What are the qualities of a good nurse manager?

    A good nurse manager has absolute ethical integrity and prioritizes patient health and safety. They combine their knowledge of clinical care and issues with an understanding of business practices and administration to make the right decisions for patients, staff, and the organization. They cope well with pressure and rapidly changing situations. Effective nurse managers communicate effectively with staff at all levels of the organization.

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    Accreditation ensures that a program meets certain educational quality standards based on the knowledge and skills that graduates must possess to succeed in their profession. For nursing administration graduate school programs, the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) is the primary accrediting body. CAHME accreditation applies to both on-campus and online nursing administration programs.

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