Nurses pursue graduate degrees to advance their careers and increase their salaries. MSN-MBA online programs let nurses earn a business administration and nursing degree simultaneously. Nurses with an MBA can pursue lucrative roles, such as healthcare executives. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for healthcare executives is projected to grow 20% by 2026. The high demand benefits MSN-MBA graduates, who combine nursing expertise with business administration training.
MBA-MSN dual degree programs online offer a convenient, flexible way to earn in-demand degrees. This article explains the structure of an MSN-MBA dual degree, the job and salary outlook for graduates, and scholarship opportunities for nurses earning their MSN-MBA degrees.
Why Get an MSN-MBA Dual Degree?
Completing an MSN-MBA dual degree program demonstrates advanced skills in nursing and business. These complementary fields lead to lucrative careers in healthcare management, consulting, and administration. Earning an MBA also prepares nurses for careers outside of healthcare. During a dual degree, students take courses in both programs.
The Best Online MSN-MBA Programs
1. Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins offers a flexible MSN-MBA online program. The dual degree can be completed in 3-6 years. The MSN program offers a health systems management track students can design to meet their interests in administration, technology, policy, or public health. The MBA program allows students to select six electives for a further customized education. The program emphasizes decision making and organizational policy.
The program requires 65 credit hours and 376 clinical hours. Residencies in Baltimore, Maryland, are required, which includes three days during the business communication and leadership courses, and one-and-a-half days during the negotiation course. Students take nursing and business courses concurrently.
A BSN with a 3.0 GPA and satisfactory GRE or GMAT scores are required for admission. Applicants must have an active RN license and two years of work experience, with recommendations.
2. University of Texas – Tyler
Part of the University of Texas system, UT-Tyler is located in east Texas. Tyler boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 18-to-1, and offers access to resources at campuses in Longview, Paradise, and Houston.
Students earn their MSN-MBA online in three years when attending full time. The degree requires 63 credit hours and 112.5 clinical hours. Coursework includes translational science, legal and financial management, care delivery, and leadership. Students select three electives and complete a capstone course. There are no residency requirements; students may complete the practicums in their own communities.
UT-Tyler charges out-of-state tuition for nonresident students. BSN graduates may apply to the program for spring or fall start dates. GMAT scores and a minimum 3.0 GPA are required. Applicants must also submit three professional letters of recommendation, proof of licensure, and an essay.
3. West Virginia University
The West Virginia University School of Nursing is located in Morgantown. WVU has an extensive medical system, WVU Medicine, and the campus hosts a hospital and multiple clinical facilities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention run a research facility on the campus. These facilities provide valuable learning opportunities for students.
Students earning their online MSN-MBA dual degree take advantage of on-campus experiential opportunities during four multi-day residencies. The 67-credit program can be completed in 8-11 semesters. Online coursework is offered in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. An executive project and two practicums are required.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis for a fall start date. Graduates are eligible for the nurse executive, advanced certification or the certification in executive nursing practice exams. The executive focus major meets competency requirements for multiple nursing and business organizations, positioning graduates for employment in executive roles.
4. Benedictine University
Benedictine University is a Catholic University in the Benedictine tradition with campuses in Illinois, Arizona, China, and Vietnam. Offering one of the top MSN-MBA online programs, Benedictine has a 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.
Students earn their degree in two-and-a-half to four years, depending on enrollment status. The program requires 78 credit hours, and students must complete MSN requirements before taking MBA coursework. Classes are offered asynchronously, and there are no residency requirements. MSN coursework requires 36 credits in interpersonal relationships and cultural competency, leadership, and safety. Students complete 140 clinical hours in their chosen area of nursing and develop an applied project. The MBA curriculum consists of 42 credits in management, economics, and accounting. Coursework provides an opportunity for case analysis and integration of executive nursing skills.
5. Indiana Wesleyan University
Indiana Wesleyan University is an evangelical Christian institution of The Wesleyan Church. The main campus is in Marion, and the school has locations in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio.
The MSN-MBA online program is offered in a fully online, accelerated format. The 60-credit program can be completed in 22 months. Students progress through the program in a cohort, taking one course at a time until all courses are completed. A minimum of 210 practicum hours are required; students locate their own practice sites and must maintain a valid nursing license. A project demonstrating the integration of nursing and administration skills is also required.
Applicants must have a BSN or 10 years of experience as an RN. Additionally, 1,000 hours of nursing practice is required. IWU does not charge an application fee and the program offers three start dates (January, April, and June). To be eligible for graduation, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA.
6. Jacksonville University
Jacksonville University is in northeastern Florida. The online MSN and MBA dual degree is administered by the Nathan M. Bisk Center for Professional Studies, which is a part of the downtown Jacksonville campus.
Students complete a total of 55 credits, which consists of 37 business credits and 18 nursing credits. Essential courses in accounting, economics, quantitative methods, human resources, and the legal environment are required before enrolling in upper-level coursework. The business program includes courses in strategy, global business, and service operations. The nursing program has a research focus and includes coursework in technology and advanced leadership. A practicum is required.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Three start dates are available each year. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA in nursing, a GRE score of 290 (or a higher GPA), and a current Florida RN license; out-of-state applicants must be eligible for endorsement.
7. University of Mary
The University of Mary is a private Catholic Benedictine university with a main campus in Bismarck, North Dakota, and additional locations in Arizona, Montana, Minnesota, Kansas, Rome, and Peru.
The MSN-MBA online program is offered in an accelerated format and can be completed in seven semesters. Students complete 22 courses for a total of 60 semester credits. Coursework covers topics in developing resilient leadership, critiquing research, and evidence-based nursing and business practices. The required 500 experiential hours give students the opportunity to apply their learning through service projects and leadership experiences. During the capstone, students work as a part of a clinical team to develop a service project that serves the community. Students report their findings to the review board.
An undergraduate GPA of 2.75 and a valid RN license are required to apply. The application includes two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a goal statement.
8. California University of Pennsylvania
Cal U is located on a rural campus 35 miles south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Online students have access to dedicated support staff, library resources, and the Global Online learning platform. The alumni network helps online students connect with graduates around the world.
The online MSN and MBA dual-degree program at Cal U does not require residency and can be completed in two and a half years. Students who have not taken an introductory course in financial accounting and economics will need to complete the prerequisite. Otherwise, the program consists of 54 credit hours, which includes coursework in nonprofit financial management and disease prevention. A 150-hour practicum and a capstone project are required. The practicum can be completed at your place of employment.
Applicants must have a BSN with a 3.0 GPA and an active RN license. Online students may be eligible for reduced out-of-state tuition.
9. Grand Canyon University
Founded as a Baptist university, GCU is now a missionary Christian university. The main campus is located in Phoenix, Arizona, with locations throughout the state.
The 66-credit program does not require a residency or a practicum. During the capstone course, students complete an evidence-based practice project in which they identify a problem, develop a proposal, and write a report. The 16 additional courses cover topics in leadership theory, management, and ethics in nursing. Courses are eight weeks long, and multiple start dates are available.
Up to 12 credits may be transferred to the MSN MBA online program. Admission requirements include a 2.8 GPA or a GMAT score of 500 or a GRE score of 1,000. Online students pay the same rate of tuition regardless of residency.
10. Liberty University
Liberty University is a nonprofit evangelical university founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell. Located in Virginia, Liberty has been providing distance education since 1985.
The MSN-MBA online degree requires 60 credits and can be completed in two-and-a-half years. The fully online program consists of eight-week courses with multiple start dates each year. Students complete 30 credits in nursing and 30 credits in business. Four courses in nursing administration are required, covering topics in professional roles, leadership, and resource management. A nursing administration capstone project is also required. Business coursework includes organizational design and international business.
Liberty transfers up to 30 credit hours to the program. Applicants must provide a valid nursing license and a written recommendation from a nurse supervisor. Transcripts showing a minimum 3.0 GPA are also required. Application fees are waived for military service members and spouses and veterans.
MSN-MBA Online Programs: An Overview
Enrolling in an MSN and MBA dual degree online prepares nurses for healthcare management positions. This section introduces the structure of a dual degree program, the admission process for MSN-MBA students, and the curriculum requirements. These details may vary by school and program.
What is a Dual Degree Program?
Dual degrees let graduate students earn two degrees simultaneously and in less time than it takes to earn each degree separately. Programs identify curriculum overlap between an MSN and an MBA, allowing students to apply certain credits toward both degrees. For example, coursework in healthcare leadership and management fulfill the requirements for an MSN and MBA. Nurses seeking career advancement, particularly nurses interested in management positions, benefit from these programs.
Admission Requirements for an Online MSN-MBA Program
The admission requirements for online MSN-MBA programs varies. However, all programs expect incoming students to hold a current, unencumbered RN license. Admission guidelines may also set minimum GPAs and standardized test scores for full admission. Many programs require prerequisite courses, particularly for candidates without a BSN. Programs may also ask for essays, letters of recommendation, and proof of work experience. To gain admission to an MBA program, MSN students may need to submit GMAT scores.
How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online MSN-MBA Program?
MSN-MBA online programs let students complete two degrees simultaneously and in less time than it takes to earn each degree separately. For example, while earning a separate MSN and MBA might require over 70 credits, a dual degree lets graduate students complete both with under 60 credits. This option helps nurses advance their careers quickly. Students enrolled in an MSN to MBA online bridge program can finish both degrees in less than three years.
The length of an MSN-MBA dual degree program varies depending on several factors, including internship and clinical hour requirements, required credits, and program structure. For example, some programs feature individually paced learning, where students complete classes at their own pace. Other programs require cohort learning, where students must complete coursework at the same pace as their peers. Students should research the requirements for each prospective program.
Concentrations Offered for an Online MSN-MBA Degree
A healthcare administration concentration emphasizes the skills, knowledge, and abilities required for leadership positions in healthcare organizations. Students learn principles of business leadership and how to apply them in a healthcare setting.
Careers this concentration prepares for: Healthcare administrator, program director, healthcare executive
A healthcare informatics specialization trains MSN-MBA students in using data, informatics, and quantitative research to improve efficiency and patient outcomes. Students strengthen research, analytical, leadership, and management skills.
Careers this concentration prepares for: Program director, healthcare administrator, nursing consultant
In a specialized nursing administration program, the MSN and MBA coursework emphasizes managing staff, overseeing program administration, and managing finances. Graduates work in leadership roles as administrators, directors, and consultants in healthcare organizations.
Careers this concentration prepares for: Nurse administrator, program director, nursing consultant
Example Courses for Online MSN-MBA Students
MSN-MBA online programs design curricula to train students in advanced medical practice and build leadership and management skills. Many programs offer specialized healthcare courses in the MBA program, preparing graduates for leadership positions within healthcare organizations. While courses vary by program, the following list includes common MSN-MBA courses.
Online MSN Courses:
- Advanced Health Assessment: Nursing students explore best practices in conducting comprehensive health assessments. The course may provide tools for assessing patients of all ages and conditions or focus on populations within the student’s concentration. Students use simulations and clinical experience to build health assessment skills.
- Health Informatics: MSN students learn how to collect and use health informatics, including conceptual training on informatics. Topics may include healthcare information systems training, theoretical models for informatics, healthcare computing, and data management. The course may also cover ethical issues in healthcare informatics.
- Evidence-Based Nursing: Nursing students study how to apply theoretical knowledge to practice. The class may incorporate clinical experience with research-based studies on healthcare practice. Students build research skills, expand knowledge of patient care methods, and learn about the needs of vulnerable populations.
Online MBA Courses:
- Healthcare Management: MBA students study how to manage healthcare facilities, including the organizational structures of healthcare systems, governance issues, and management practices. The course may cover trends in healthcare management, effective management skills, and directing and staffing medical facilities.
- Health Economics: Classes on health economics introduce master’s students to supply, cost, and demand determination in healthcare systems. Students study economic decision making, economic issues that affect healthcare, and behavioral models that influence health economics. After completing the class, students understand health economics from conceptual and analytical perspectives.
- Financial Management for Healthcare Organizations: MBA students study strategic finance topics that affect healthcare organizations, such as cost concepts, costing systems, and budgeting. The course may also cover cost and revenue predictions for healthcare organizations, inventory management, and performance evaluation. Students build business and management skills relevant to healthcare management careers.
MSN-MBA online programs incorporate internships and clinical experiences to build hands-on experience. As part of the MSN requirements, nursing students typically complete clinical hours in their specialization under the supervision of a preceptor. To meet the MBA requirements, students usually complete an internship. The required number of hours vary by program. Working nurses may be able to meet both requirements at their current place of employment. Online programs work with students to find local internships and clinical experiences.
Certifications and Licenses This Program Prepares For
- Board Certified in Healthcare Management: The American College of Healthcare Executives offers board certification for candidates who have been members for a minimum of three years, hold a master’s degree, and boast five years of executive healthcare management experience. Applicants must also show 36 hours of continuing education; demonstrate community, civic, and healthcare engagement; and provide two references.
- Licensed Healthcare Administrator: Graduates interested in managerial positions can pursue a healthcare administrator license. In most states, candidates must hold an accredited degree with coursework in healthcare administration or management, plus pass an exam. Some states also require work experience. An MSN-MBA degree meets the educational requirements.
- Board Certified Registered Nurse (RN-BC): RNs can pursue board certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The process includes a clinical knowledge exam; candidates can choose a specialized exam based on their field. Once nurses earn the RN-BC designation, they must complete continuing education credits to keep the credential.
Accreditation for Online MSN-MBA Programs
Colleges, universities, and programs undergo independent accreditation reviews to measure their effectiveness and quality standards. Regional and national accreditation evaluates an entire college or university; the Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation list accredited institutions.
In addition to institutional accreditation, nursing programs also undergo specialized reviews from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. These nonprofit, independent agencies assess student learning outcomes, faculty qualifications, and graduation requirements.
Students considering an MSN-MBA program should choose an accredited university and nursing program. Many licenses and certifications require an accredited degree, and many employers only hire graduates from accredited programs. Accreditation ensures that nursing students receive high-quality training.
Job and Salary Outlook
Job Opportunities for MSN-MBA Graduates
Job Opportunities for MSN-MBA Graduates
By earning a graduate degree in nursing and business, graduates are prepared to work in top healthcare positions. MSN-MBA graduates can become healthcare administrators or healthcare executives, leading hospitals or other medical facilities. These positions often offer six-figure salary opportunities. Graduates can also become nurse consultants or program directors.
Median Annual Salary: $98,350
Healthcare administrators manage a facility, including its budget, staff, and resources. They ensure that facilities follow applicable laws and regulations.
Median Annual Salary: $104,700
Healthcare executives manage hospitals and other facilities. They blend business knowledge with healthcare experience to improve their facility.
Median Annual Salary: $86,747
Nurse consultants work for medical facilities to identify problems and propose solutions. They need a background in healthcare and business.
Median Annual Salary: $110,930
Nurse practitioners act as advanced practice registered nurses, offering primary care in a variety of specialties. In some states, nurse practitioners can diagnose conditions and prescribe medication.
Median Annual Salary: $80,115
Healthcare program directors lead a department or program related to health or medical care. They oversee the budget, manage staff, and develop program goals.
Source: PayScale, BLS, Nov. 2018
How Much Do MSN-MBA Graduates Make?
With master’s degrees in nursing and business, graduates can pursue lucrative careers in healthcare administration, management, and other leadership roles. Salaries vary by professional experience and title. Hospital administrators with experience can earn six-figure salaries. The following table lists the median salaries for five MSN-MBA careers by experience level.
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary||Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years)||Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years)||Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)|
|Healthcare Program Director||$80,115||$62,000||$74,000||$88,000|
Joining professional organizations helps nursing students network with other nurses, pursue certifications, and complete continuing education requirements. Members also benefit from professional development resources. Many organizations offer scholarships, publish research, and provide clinical practice guidelines. Professional organizations may also offer career services and job boards.
American Nurses Association: The largest professional organization of nurses in the country, the ANA dates back to 1896. The association provides publications, certifications, and professional development resources for nurses and nursing students.
Emergency Nurses Association: Emergency nurses benefit from the education resources, scholarships, and clinical practice resources offered by the ENA. The association also supports policies designed to improve emergency healthcare.
American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: The AACN organizes annual conferences, events, and other networking opportunities for critical care nurses. The association also offers certifications, confers awards, and provides continuing education programs for members.
Financing Your Online MSN-MBA Program
Nursing students can pay for their degrees with savings, loans, and scholarships. Some students work during the program and use their income to cover tuition and other expenses. Master’s students can submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to qualify for federal financial aid opportunities, which include loans, grants, and work-study programs. State programs may also provide financial support for nursing students, particularly those planning careers in high-demand fields. Nursing students also benefit from scholarship opportunities offered by private organizations and foundations.
Scholarships for MSN-MBA Students
Who Can Apply: The Emergency Nurses Association offers this scholarship to emergency nurses pursuing an MSN with a focus in administration, including online MSN-MBA programs. The ENA offers two scholarships each year.
Who Can Apply: Nursing students earning a graduate degree in nursing, including students enrolled in MSN-MBA online programs, qualify for this award offered by the American Cancer Society. Applicants must plan to work in oncology nursing and can renew the award for up to two years.
Who Can Apply: Offered by the American Red Cross, this scholarship funds volunteers or employees of any American Red Cross Unit. Students completing a graduate degree in nursing qualify and can use the award to pay for tuition, books, and academic fees.
Who Can Apply: The program awards one $2,500 scholarship each quarter to a nursing student. Students earning graduate degrees and planning to work as nurse educators receive particular consideration. Applicants should already be enrolled in an AACN-accredited program.
Who Can Apply: Master’s nursing students in an accredited program can apply for this scholarship. Both full-time and part-time students are eligible if they have completed at least 12 credits toward their degree with a minimum 3.6 GPA. The application process includes a personal essay and goal statement.
Who Can Apply: Students pursuing a graduate degree in nursing qualify for this scholarship, including MSN to MBA online bridge program students. Applicants submit an essay describing their nursing career goals and how the scholarship would help them reach those goals. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Who Can Apply: Members of the National Black Nurses Association pursuing a graduate degree qualify for several scholarship opportunities. To apply, applicants submit an official transcript, an essay, two letters of recommendation, and a headshot.
Who Can Apply: Members of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses qualify for several scholarship opportunities, including scholarships for graduate students in nursing. The committee evaluates applicants based on their financial need, academic standing, and course of study.