An MSN-MBA dual degree blends nursing and business education into one program. Graduates qualify for advanced leadership roles that impact patient outcomes, resource allocation, institutional policy, and strategic planning.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 32% increase in jobs for medical and health services managers between 2019-2029.
The Urban Institute reports that the number of U.S. residents 65 and older will more than double over the next 40 years. This aging population increase creates soaring demand for professionals with MSN-MBA credentials. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 32% increase in jobs for medical and health services managers between 2019-2029.
MSN-MBA programs are a path to high-profile roles in the rising field of healthcare management and administration. This guide covers this specialized study path to prospective students considering healthcare and business careers.
What Is a Joint MSN-MBA Program?
Dual degrees combine two areas of study into a single program. Graduates emerge with double degrees — one in each field. In MSN-MBA programs, learners earn a master of science in nursing and a master of business administration.
Most professionals who complete MSN-MBA dual degrees enter healthcare management careers in clinical administration, nursing management, and executive management.
MSN and MBA dual degrees address the unique organizational challenges healthcare administrators face. Nursing coursework develops advanced clinical skills and experience, while the business component teaches important management concepts. Together, these curricula provide students an enriched perspective on healthcare management and nursing.
Most professionals who complete MSN-MBA dual degrees enter healthcare management careers in clinical administration, nursing management, and executive management. MSN-MBA degree-holders can also pursue C-suite nursing positions.
These challenging programs attract licensed nurses seeking to diversify their advancement prospects or transition into management. MSN-MBA degrees are also ideal for professionals seeking to develop their leadership qualities and positively impact healthcare operations.
Why Get an MSN-MBA Dual Degree?
Many schools offer concentrated MBA degrees that emphasize healthcare management. However, these programs do not develop the clinical practitioner experience an MSN offers. MSN-MBA graduates possess a unique blend of knowledge that may qualify students for more career opportunities than candidates with only one of these degrees.
Beyond this valuable balance of advanced clinical and management knowledge, MSN-MBA degrees offer the following additional benefits:
- Lower Stress: Many jobs in the medical field, though well-compensated, can be fast-paced, stressful, and lead to high burnout rates. Healthcare managers and executives tend to enjoy similarly high incomes with less emotional and physical strain.
- Organizational Impact: Adding an MBA to an advanced clinical practice credential offers nurses the chance to improve patient outcomes through their influence on organizational operations.
- High Employability: Separately, MSN and MBA degrees rank among the most marketable qualifications. However, once combined, these degrees offer graduates even more career opportunities. For example, the BLS projects an especially strong employment growth outlook for healthcare managers and administrators.
Jobs for MSN-MBA Graduates
Professionals with MSN-MBA dual degrees work in the public and private sectors. They typically find work in nursing leadership positions or healthcare executive roles.
In general, those who pursue nursing leadership positions oversee hiring and training initiatives, supervise clinical care standards, and implement method-based solutions for improving organizational performance and patient health.
Executive-oriented paths take a stronger focus on procedures, regulations, and compliance. Professionals also manage finances for the organization’s nursing staff.
Examples of positions available to MSN-MBA degree-holders include:
Explore Nursing Careers
Nurse practitioners (NPs) hold specialized licenses to deliver an expanded set of medical services. Some nurses supplement NP licensure with MBAs as they advance toward supervisory, management, and executive roles.
Required Education: MSN or doctor of nursing practice (DNP); RN licensure | Job Outlook (2019-29): +45% | Median Annual Salary: $117,670
Registered nurses (RNs) and NPs can transition into administrative roles focused on managing and supervising other nurses. These professionals allocate human and financial resources, advance institutional care standards, ensure regulatory compliance, and liaise between nursing teams and organizational executives.
Required Education: BSN or MSN; RN licensure | Job Outlook (2019-29): +32% | Median Annual Salary: $104,280
Chief Nursing Officer
This C-suite role is the top nursing management position in the healthcare field. Some healthcare institutions employ chief nursing officers to provide advanced advisory insights, administer human and financial resources, and work with other top executives.
Required Education: An MSN; MSN/MBA; or a DNP | Average Annual Salary: $133,623 as of May 2021
What to Expect From MSN-MBA Programs
Like most dual degrees, MSN-MBA programs feature higher credit requirements and demand greater time investments than a standalone master’s degree. Because institutions usually calculate tuition on a per-credit basis, MSN-MBA dual degrees also tend to cost more than non-dual degree options.
MSN-MBA students typically complete 60-78 credits total. Completion timelines range from 2.5-4 years for full-time students, while part-time students often take five or more years.
Applicants usually need at least a BSN with a 3.0 minimum undergraduate GPA. Some schools also require an active, unencumbered RN license. Prospective students may also need to submit GMAT or GRE scores, a resume, professional recommendations, or a personal statement.
Academic prerequisites sometimes include college-level coursework in statistics. Competitive programs may schedule admission interviews to evaluate candidates before offering admission.
Should I Get an MBA or an MSN (or Both)?
Prospective applicants often ask, is an MSN-MBA worth it? However, there is no universally correct answer. Each individual must consider how the degree(s) can help them achieve their learning and career goals.
For example, experienced nurses who want to pivot from active practice into business management may prefer a business degree, like an MBA or master of healthcare management.
However, nurses looking to advance their clinical education may benefit from standalone MSN degrees.
Dual tracks are demanding and intensive. These programs typically appeal to ambitious learners seeking to earn advanced credentials in preparation for executive nursing and business roles.
MSN-MBA vs. MSN vs. MBA
|Areas of Study
||Advanced clinical nursing practice
||Business administration and enterprise management
||Both nursing and business administration
||Bachelor of science in nursingRN licensure
||Bachelor’s degree in accounting, business, economics, finance, or related fieldSome MBA-only programs accept applicants from non-business backgrounds
||Bachelor of science in nursingMany schools prefer or require RN licensure
|Typical Full-Time Program Completion Timeline
Popular MSN-MBA Courses
MSN-MBA programs are usually composed of three course types: core, elective, and culminating project. Core classes are foundational courses all students must take. Elective classes let students customize their degrees to their academic and professional interests.
Culminating experiences require students to complete a capstone project or research thesis. Many programs also include a practicum in which students apply classroom learning in a real-world setting.
Many MSN-MBA dual degrees feature similar courses. Examples of common classes include:
- Managerial Economics
- Students typically complete this foundational requirement early in their MSN-MBA dual programs. This course teaches students the fundamentals of microeconomics and its application to healthcare. Students explore decision-making principles like marginal analysis, regression analysis, and optimization.
- Leadership in Nursing
- This course introduces theoretical and practical models that demonstrate applied principles of nursing leadership in complex institutional environments. Specific topics may include culture-building, team management, conflict resolution, and management during periods of change.
- Administrative Informatics
- In this class, students explore the technological and analytical tools for evaluating institutional performance. Learners study patient safety, risk assessment and mitigation, and resource allocation.
How Much Will an MSN-MBA Dual Degree Cost?
Tuition costs vary by institution. Public schools charge significantly less than private institutions, especially for in-state students. Private universities apply the same tuition rates to all learners, regardless of residency.
MBA programs often feature higher per-credit tuition rates than other graduate degrees, with some costing more than $2,000 per credit. However, MSN degrees typically cost less.
Some schools set per-credit fees somewhere between the costs for standalone MSN and MBA degrees. Other institutions market themselves as affordable alternatives to higher-priced dual degrees, charging $400-$500 per credit.
In any case, obtaining a dual degree is a significant financial investment. Those seeking financial aid should first explore scholarships, fellowships, and grants. Options like federal and private loans are also available, but require repayment with interest.
Discover Nursing Scholarships
Choosing the Right MSN-MBA Graduate Program
While rankings of the best MSN-MBA programs are a useful starting point, prospective students should also consider other factors when choosing a school. These include:
- The program’s curriculum
- Experiential learning opportunities such as practicums
- Financial aid availability
- The relative competitiveness of admissions
- Class sizes, student-to-teacher ratios, and course delivery formats
Any institution on a prospective student’s list should hold national or regional accreditation, ensuring the school meets standards of academic excellence. Some programs also hold programmatic accreditation, demonstrating how well the degree prepares students for careers in the field. Look for programs with endorsements from organizations such as:
Should You Get Your MSN-MBA Degree Online?
MBA-MSN programs usually include practicum requirements which learners must complete in person. Beyond these program components, students can take most or all of their classes online. Online programs offer considerable flexibility, but students must demonstrate self-sufficiency, organization, and time management skills.
Many learners enrolled in MSN-MBA dual degrees are very familiar with nursing concepts but have limited exposure to business studies. Therefore, some may prefer the interactive experience of on-campus learning, which offers more direct opportunities for students to ask questions and engage with their instructors.
Hybrid formats blend traditional and digital course delivery. These programs balance the advantages of self-directed online learning with in-person access to peers and faculty.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a dual MSN-MBA worth it?
Yes! Although dual MBA-MSN programs take more time than either degree would on its own — and usually cost more — students leave the program with advanced knowledge in two in-demand fields. Thus, graduates qualify for highly paid positions with robust growth projections, creating the potential for a very favorable return on investment.
How long is an MSN-MBA program?
Full-time students can complete the requirements for both degrees in 2.5-4 years. Part-time degree-seekers usually need at least five years to earn all their credits.
Should I get my MSN or MBA?
MSN degrees focus exclusively on topics directly related to clinical nursing practice. MBAs focus on training for managerial and executive duties. Dual programs merge the two, creating a rigorous and enriched learning experience with an excellent job outlook for graduates.
What can I do with an MBA and MSN?
Professionals who hold both MSN and MBA credentials qualify for high-level management and executive positions, plus C-suite roles in healthcare organizations. Specialized, healthcare-focused MBA programs offer comparable training but do not develop the nursing management skills that MSN degrees provide.
2021’s Five Best MSN-MBA Dual Degree Programs
Those looking to pair nursing and business training can benefit from dual master’s degree programs that combine the best of both worlds. The following schools on our list of the five best MSN-MBA programs for 2021 hold national or regional accreditation. Accredited institutions meet certain standards of excellence in higher education. Additionally, certain programs maintain industry-specific standards in the nursing and business fields.
The ranked list of the best MSN-MBA dual degrees includes accreditation from the following agencies:
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- Maryland Higher Education Commission
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)
- The American Organization of Nurse Executive Competencies (AONE)
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
View our ranking methodology
University of Maryland, College Park
College Park, MD
UMD enrolls more than 40,700 students and employs 14,000 faculty members in its College Park, Maryland, campus. Known for its commitment to social entrepreneurship, UMD offers 102 undergraduate majors and 115 master's programs.
Dual Master of Science in Nursing with a Health Services Leadership and Management specialty and a Master of Business Administration
The health services leadership and management degrees prepare students for healthcare management roles as administrators and senior managers. Graduates become familiar with strategic planning, financial analysis, resource management, and governance in the healthcare field.
After graduation, students receive an MSN degree from UMD's School of Nursing and an MBA from Robert H. Smith School of Business at UMD or the University of Baltimore Robert G. Merrick School of Business.
Applying to UMD
Students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit a letter of recommendation and an essay. Prospective applicants must also hold a valid, unrestricted nursing license.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public | Accreditation: MSCHE, Maryland Higher Education Commission | Tuition: $850/credit (in state); $1,490/credit (out of state) | Required Credits: 66-72 credits | Program Length: Two years (full time); Up to seven years (part time) | Delivery Format: Hybrid
Based in Lynchburg, Virginia, and founded in 1971, Liberty enrolls more than 100,000 students annually, including 30,000 military students. Students choose from more than 700 programs of study and over 450 online programs.
Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Business Administration Dual Degree
Liberty's master of science in nursing and master of business administration dual degree explores important healthcare administration issues, such as balancing medical costs, the economic factors of healthcare, regulations, and ethical considerations.
The 60 credit program features courses in business, contemporary issues in human resources management, financial and resource management for nurse leaders, and nursing administration. Graduates can pursue careers as clinical managers, health information officers, healthcare policy consultants, nursing administrators, and healthcare advocates.
Applying to Liberty
Prospective applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, complete 27 credits of prerequisites in business, and hold a current RN license. Students must also submit a personal statement, a letter of recommendation, and proof of one year of nursing practice.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Private | Accreditation: SACSCOC, CCNE | Tuition: $565/credit | Required Credits: 60 Credits | Program Length: 2.5 years | Delivery Format: 100% online
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Founded in 1891 in Greensboro, North Carolina, UNCG enrolls nearly 20,000 students annually. The school features 125 undergraduate majors, 80 graduate programs, and a student-to-faculty ratio of 20-to-1.
Dual Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Business Administration.
The Bryan School of Business and Economics and UNCG School of Nursing provide a dual-degree MSN and MBA program for students interested in healthcare administration. The 62-credit program offers one-on-one support to students regardless of their location. The online degree allows graduates to pursue an array of career opportunities in healthcare administration or a doctorate of nursing practice degree.
Students take classes in financial and managerial accounting, research methods in nursing, financial management in healthcare, and strategic management.
Applying to UNCG
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in nursing with a minimum 3.2 GPA and one year of full-time nursing experience. Prospective students must also submit GRE or GMAT scores, a personal statement, three nursing references, and a resume or CV.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public | Accreditation: SACSCOC, AACSB, CCNE | Tuition: $29,740 total (in state); $51,230 total (out of state) | Required Credits: 62 credits | Program Length: 4 years | Delivery Format: 100% online
Based in Morgantown, West Virginia, and founded in 1867, WVU enrolls over 29,000 students over three campuses. The public institution features 359 academic programs and over 450 student organizations.
Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Business Administration Dual Degree
The WVU School of Nursing and The John Chambers College of Business and Economics provide students a dual MBA and MSN program with an executive focus. The eight-semester degree requires the completion of 57 credits in managerial and team skills, evidence-based practice, and lifespan health promotion.
Graduates may opt to sit for the Nurse Executive, Advanced Certification (ANCC), or the Certification in Executive Nursing Practice (AONE) exams after holding a nursing administration position for at least two years.
Applying to WVU
Prospective applicants must hold a bachelor of science in nursing with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a current, unrestricted RN license in a U.S. state. Students must complete prerequisites in undergraduate statistics.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Public | Accreditation: HLC, AACN, American Organization of Nurse Executive Competencies, AACSB | Tuition: $5,535/semester | Required Credits: 57 credits | Program Length: 8 semesters | Delivery Format: Online (synchronous and asynchronous)
A Catholic and Benedectine institution in Bismarck, North Dakota, the University of Mary offers more than 15 master's degrees and 60 undergraduate majors to its nearly 4,000 students.
Dual Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Administration program
The University of Mary nursing program partnered with the business school to offer the MSN and MBA in healthcare administration dual degree.
Students choose from online, in-person, or blended classes that incorporate service and Benedictine values into nursing leadership practices. Classes include healthcare organizations and finance, professional roles in advanced nursing, and resilient nursing leadership.
All students complete a graduate student assessment class and capstone prior to graduation.
Applying to Mary
Prospective applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum of a 2.75 GPA, an unencumbered RN license, and submit official transcripts.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Private | Accreditation: HLC, CCNE | Tuition: $550/credit | Required Credits: 60 credits | Program Length: 7 semesters | Delivery Format: 100% online, on campus, or hybrid
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