Dual DNP/MBA Nursing Programs
When one hears the word "nurse" they may picture a caregiver performing bedside care tasks and working closely with physicians to ensure patient care needs are met. However, nursing is much more than that. It encompasses a wide range of specialties and career options, and even offers the opportunity to advance up the career ladder to a more expanded clinical and administrative role.
The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (DNP) is considered the "terminal" degree for nurses. In other words, it is the highest degree a nurse can earn in the field. However, nurses may also move laterally – they can earn a higher degree in other fields as well to help augment their practice. The process of earning two degrees at the same time in a specialized program is called a "dual degree".
One of the most commonly chosen dual degrees to pair with a DNP is a Master's in Business Administration (MBA) degree. This degree allows nurses to take on a more administrative role to create policies, help run healthcare organizations, and identify and address the healthcare needs of specific populations – all with a unique nursing touch.
The decision to return to school for a higher degree, especially a dual degree, is a momentous one. Nurses should consider several things when choosing a program:
- Do DNP/MBA Programs Offer Campus or Online Options? Nurses who seek higher degrees are often already out in the workforce. Depending on their work and family responsibilities, nurses now have the luxury of choosing which type of program works best for them. While online programs are more flexible and convenient, in-person programs allow nurses to interact face-to-face with instructors and peers, which provides the nurse which a means of support. Additionally, some nurses learn best by in-person, didactic instruction. The choice is highly individualized.
- Is the DNP/MBA Program Accredited? Ensuring the program has proper accreditation is extremely important, as it can affect licensure. Some programs may have local accreditation, but nationally accredited programs should be selected as it demonstrates the program meets national standards in nursing. The main certifying agencies are the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
- DNP/MBA Course Topics – Many nurses research what course topics are involved with a dual DNP/MBA degree; they may wish to see if the course topics are of interest before enrolling, and also how extensive the program is. Depending on the nurse's starting point (i.e., starting out with a BSN vs. MSN), advanced-practice nursing foundation courses may need to be completed, as well as courses in accounting, finance, and marketing.
- Tuition & Fees – This is one of the most researched topics for nurses when considering a higher degree. Graduate-level programs can be very expensive, not just for tuition but for the associated costs of supplies, technology, and fees. The cost varies from state to state and from school to school, so prospective students should really do their homework when considering tuition cost. The good news is that most schools offer some type of financial aid.
Many nurses opt for the online DNP/MBA option, particularly those who want to reach higher managerial and administrative roles within the healthcare arena but have busy lives to manage as well. Online program options offer numerous advantages, including the following.
Online learning is a fantastic way for nurses to earn a higher degree. Nurses don't always work nine-to-five. They work evenings, weekends, and holidays. Because nurses may have shifts scheduled any time or day of the week, online programs are set up so the nurse can study and complete learning modules on their own time, when they can. They also complete their studies at their own pace, which helps improve success.
Tuition and Costs
In some cases, online DNP/MBA programs are less expensive than on-campus programs. Many schools offer a flat rate for tuition, which helps those who live out-of-state. Additionally, the costs associated with commuting and parking is also eliminated. Most schools offer scholarships and financial aid/student loans as well.
Accessibility and Convenience
The accessibility and convenience of online programs is a significant selling point. Anywhere there is a computer and internet access, nurses can work towards their degree. Logging in on weekends, holidays, and evenings is a benefit for busy nurses, many of whom have families to take care in addition to work responsibilities. Online programs also present an opportunity for those living out of state or in rural communities to work toward their career goals as well.
Online programs allow nurses to study at their own pace. This translates to (potentially) faster completion. Those wanting to move at a slower pace should be aware that some schools place restrictions on how long one has to complete the program (i.e., up to six years). Prospective students should research before enrolling.
The specific curriculum for a dual DNP/MBA program can vary between schools. Students can expect to spend around nine semesters (including summer sessions) if attending full-time. Additionally, 1000 clinical practicum hours are usually required to earn a DNP, as well as a capstone project.
The first portion of the program includes the foundation courses for graduate-level nursing as well as business administration. Core concepts may include:
- Healthcare policy
- Business and operations management
Additionally, if the nurse does not yet hold a master's degree, core advanced-practice nursing courses are also required (if the program is open to BSN nurses).
DNP/MBA Classes and Courses
While exact classes may vary, most DNP/MBA programs will contain a mixture of highly advanced nursing courses alongside complex business courses. Johns Hopkins University offers a dual DNP/MBA program with the following required courses:
- Statistical analysis
- Business communication
- Accounting & financial reporting
- Economics for decision making
- Corporate finance
- Information systems
- Marketing management
- Advanced nursing health policy
- Decision models
- The firm and macroeconomy
- Problem identification
- Operations management
- General business electives
- Nursing inquiry
- Leadership in organizations
- Business law
- Translating evidence into practice
- Project development
- Business Leadership
- Analysis and evaluation of individual and population health data
- Clinical data management
In addition to the above courses, practicum hours and a DNP project are required to complete the program. Some of the MBA courses require a residency as well.
The cost to attend a dual DNP/MBA program varies between schools, and sometimes even per course. For example, some schools charge a different amount for MBA courses than for nursing courses. Most schools are transparent when it comes to tuition and costs – Johns Hopkins has a detailed breakdown of fees to include loan costs, books, travel fees, and other expenses. However, the charge per credit for the program only is $1,772.
Along with basic tuition, students should also be aware of the following costs:
- Parking (if not an online program)
- University fees
- Out-of-state tuition
Prospective students are highly encouraged to research each school's tuition fees as well as any scholarship or financial aid programs available before enrolling.
Nurses with a dual DNP/MBA degree usually gravitate toward leadership and management positions. They can be a director of nursing, healthcare or nurse administrator, or nurse executive/CEO. They can also work in consulting. They make policies and procedures, identify patient care needs, evaluate the quality of care as well as risk concerns and develop ways to improve. These nurses are responsible for making a change within an organization to align with current evidenced-based practices, which ultimately leads to improved patient care outcomes.
Organizations and Resources
- American Association for Nursing Leadership
- Clinical Nurse Leader Association
- Association of MBAs
- Doctors of Nursing Practice
Colleges and universities all over the nation offer dual DNP/MBA programs. Check out our state-by-state list of available programs below to find the right fit for you, and get started on your dream nursing career today.
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Center Valley, PA 18034
(610) 282-1100 x2838
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