Best MSN in Nursing Administration – 2023
Nurses interested in a leadership or management position would benefit from earning a Master's in Nursing Administration. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median pay (as of 2020) for those in medical and health services management is $104,280 per year, which makes the master's degree in nursing administration a lucrative choice. Additionally, the BLS also reports that the job outlook for those in this field is expected to grow 32% by 2029, which is considered much faster than average. With career options spanning nursing managers to directors and more, it's easy to see why the MSN-level nursing administration pathway is the perfect career advancement tool for motivated nurses.
Like nursing education, nursing administration programs are highly sought after by colleges to fulfill the severe leadership shortage necessary for a growing nursing profession in the coming years. If anything, the past year and into the foreseeable future will test nursing leadership’s resolve to curb the pandemic while catering to professional growth on the front line and beyond.
Many RNs find themselves drawn to the management and administrative side of healthcare. Earning a Master's of Science in Nursing Administration can set ambitious nurses up for high-level roles within hospitals and medical organizations. It is imperative, however, that a prospective student find the right program. That's why we have ranked the top online/hybrid MSN in Nursing Administration programs in the nation. A rewarding career as a Nurse Administrator starts with one of the high-quality programs below.
For more information on our top nursing school rankings, visit our Methodology Page (https://www.registerednursing.org/rankings-methodology/).
University of St. Francis
Nurses who complete the online MSN degree in Nursing Administration at the University of St. Francis will likely be looked up to by their unit. Students learn how to effectively manage a high-functioning nursing and healthcare team that consistently meets or exceeds quality and patient-care standards.MSN Programs
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Online/Hybrid
- Nursing Administration Online/Hybrid
- Nursing Educator Online/Hybrid
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Online/Hybrid
- RN BS to MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Online/Hybrid
- RN BS to MSN: Nursing Administration Online/Hybrid
- RN BS to MSN - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Online/Hybrid
- Students must complete a capstone course to graduate.
- A modern university with a traditional, Catholic heritage.
- The degree includes courses in finance, economics, law and human resources.
The University of Texas at Arlington
Ambitious nurses can better learn to lead and manage quality-focused teams when they finish their online MSN in Nursing Administration at The University of Texas at Arlington. The degree combines knowledge areas of nursing theory, research, and informatics with leadership, financial management, and healthcare policy.MSN Programs
- Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Online/Hybrid
- Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Online/Hybrid
- Doctor of Nursing Practice Online/Hybrid
- Education Online/Hybrid
- Family Nurse Practitioner Online/Hybrid
- Nursing Administration Online/Hybrid
- Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Online/Hybrid
- Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Online/Hybrid
- RN to MSN: Nurse Administrator Online/Hybrid
- RN to MSN: Nurse Educator degree track Online/Hybrid
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner MSN Online/Hybrid
- A 3.0 GPA is preferred for applicants.
- A minimum of two years of clinical experience is required.
- Designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by Dept. of Ed.
Queens University of Charlotte
By blending business, nursing and leadership best practices, students in the online MSN in Nursing Administration at the Queens University of Charlotte learn how to lead expectations-exceeding clinical teams. The advanced degree includes 6 core nursing courses with 6 specialized leadership ones.MSN Programs
- Courses are delivered via an asynchronous format for working nurses.
- Students learn about “The Business of Clinical Care.”
- A private university in North Carolina known for its small class sizes.
Azusa Pacific University
Nurses seeking to lead others can further develop their capabilities in this area when they go after their MSN in Nursing Administration at Azusa Pacific University. The 100% online offering instructs students on healthcare administration, change leadership, and improving quality and patient safety.MSN Programs
- Two practicum experiences are included.
- A Yellow Ribbon and Military Friendly school.
- A leading Christian university.
Learners can enhance their natural leadership talents when they enroll in the MSN in Nursing Administration degree at Ramapo College. The 90% online program includes Healthcare Economics, Strategic Management, practicums, and other leadership courses.MSN Programs
- The degree can be earned in about 2 years.
- Three start dates per year are offered.
- A public liberal arts college in New Jersey.
Nurses who choose to go back to school for their master’s degree might not know quite where to start when researching nursing administration programs. The following considerations provide a foundation that hopefully helps the decision-making process:
- Does the MSN-Nursing Administration Program Offer Campus or Online Options? Most nurses looking to earn a master's degree are already working. Some nurses may work twelve-hour shifts, nights, weekends, or holidays. Nurses may need a program with flexible times or even online courses. There are many online options for nurses seeking a degree in nursing administration.
- Is the MSN-Nursing Administration Program Accredited? Ensuring accreditation is essential when choosing an MSN program. Nursing programs in the United States must be accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), or by local/regional entities. Prospective students should visit their state's board of nursing to determine which accreditations are acceptable for licensure and practice.
- MSN-Nursing Administration Program Course Topics- Many students may be unsure if the course content is what they are looking for. There are many management and executive-level careers for nurses, so those looking into nursing administration should make sure it is the right course of study for them. Common nursing administration concepts include informatics, organizational management, healthcare finance, and quality and safety in the healthcare setting.
- Associated Tuition Costs– Tuition and associated costs can be a huge factor when selecting a master's program. Fees vary significantly between schools and are largely dependent on location. Students should not only look at the tuition rates but also any associated university fees, as well as residency status. Out-of-state residents may pay higher rates, even with online programs. The good news is that most schools have financial aid options and offer part-time positions to help offset the cost.
Learn about post-master’s nursing administration certificate programs.
There are many advantages to selecting an online master's program. The following describes the numerous perks of online programs.
Nurses work odd hours. They may work days, evenings, nights, holidays, weekends, and on-call. When choosing to return to school, many nurses need flexibility when studying and attending classes. Master's degree students also need to squeeze in clinical practicums.
Online programs offer a great deal of flexibility. Students may study anytime; they only need a computer and internet access. Students can also learn at their own pace. Many students are concerned that there is a decrease in the ability to collaborate with peers or instructors, but most online programs facilitate support between faculty and students.
Online programs are not always 100% online; some require a mandatory orientation on campus, and some may require "block" scheduled days (i.e., several consecutive days on campus per semester). However, most schools recognize that students must often continue working, offering weekends and flexible scheduling.
Learn about other options, such as online APRN programs.
Tuition and Costs
As stated earlier, tuition costs for a master's in nursing administration can vary greatly. Location is a massive determinant of tuition cost. Fees may vary based on state and even city. Although not always the case, some online programs offer flat tuition fees regardless of resident status. In other words, a resident of California may pay the same tuition rate as a New York resident at a New York-based program. This is variable, so students should research tuition rates carefully.
Tuition fees are one cost, but students may pay additional fees such as:
- University fees
- Study materials
- Graduation fees
- Technology fees
- Technology equipment costs (e., laptops, webcam, etc.)
With online programs, however, students save on the costs associated with commuting and parking on-campus.
Accessibility and Convenience
Convenience is one of the main reasons why students choose online programs. They can log on anytime, study anytime, and work on and submit projects any time. Assistance from peers and faculty is only a click away.
Online programs also reduce or eliminate the time required to commute, park, and walk to class. Battling traffic, inclement weather, and on-campus congestion is a thing of the past with online study. Online programs also greatly benefit those living in more remote or rural areas.
Most master's in nursing administration programs are between 35 and 48 credits. Many programs can be completed in as little as 18 months or less. However, the time to completion may be longer for part-time students. The beauty of online programs is that students can study at their own pace, so completion time is up to them. It's important to note, however, that some schools place limitations on the time to completion – for example, some schools require the program to be completed within five or six years. Self-paced learning also helps to facilitate faster completion.
The online curriculum in MSN nursing administration programs can vary depending on the school. Some programs are 100% online, and no campus visitation is required. Some have minimal campus visitation requirements, such as a mandatory orientation session or block "intensive" days on campus. Some programs are hybrid, offering some courses online and some on-campus.
Many programs offer a sample curriculum online so prospective students can visualize the course of study based on full or part-time status.
Accreditation of Master's in Nursing Administration Programs
The CCNE and ACEN are the two nationally recognized accreditation bodies recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. They work to establish educational standards for nursing programs. Attending a program recognized by these agencies ensures licensure and that education credits are transferable to other educational institutions. Moreover, employers do look at a candidate's educational background and a school's accreditation.
Master's level nursing programs usually begin with core courses related to advanced-practice nursing. Courses include:
- Advanced pathophysiology
- Advanced Pharmacology
- Advanced health assessment
- Role development
- Healthcare policy
Students also learn executive-level nursing skills in specialization courses. Course topics may include:
- Leadership and Management
- Quality and Risk
- Advanced finance and operations
- Organizational structures
- Human Resources
Students must also complete a specific number of supervised clinical practicums. This requirement allows students to apply evidenced-based methods to practice. Usually, students must find an approved preceptor, but sometimes schools assist in placement. A minimum of 1000 hours is generally required to graduate.
The tuition and costs of an MSN program can vary significantly between schools. Base tuition (i.e., per credit hour) can range from a few hundred per credit to over a thousand per credit. For example, the University of Phoenix lists tuition at $540 per credit. The program is a minimum of 36 credits, so students can expect to spend around $20,000 for the program for education only. However, additional fees may be required, so students must prepare for those costs. Most schools are transparent on their website with tuition rates and fees, so performing a little research would behoove any prospective student when planning to return to school.
Nurses looking to get into the field of administration have several career options. The role a nurse administrator plays in a facility may include the following:
- Develop facility-wide policies and procedures
- Provide oversight to an entire healthcare facility
- Plan and implement budgets
- Participate in and utilize research to facilitate evidenced-based practice
- Manage quality metrics
- Utilize the latest technology in healthcare delivery
Specifically, careers for nurses with a master's in nursing administration may include:
- Nurse Administrator or Healthcare Administrator– Completes executive-level administrative duties in a department or organization, usually reporting to a CEO and often overseeing nurse/healthcare managers.
- Nurse Manager or Healthcare Manager– Responsible for a specific department or unit in a healthcare facility. Usually works directly with front-line staff and patients. They assist in implementing workflows and provide ongoing oversight.
- Charge Nurse– This type supervises the nursing staff in a department or ward. While charge nurses tend to have hands-on roles, they also handle several managerial and administrative duties.
- Director of Nursing– Usually an upper-level executive position. Provides oversight to multiple care areas and sometimes an entire facility. Assists in using evidence-based practice to develop policies and workflows.
- Chief Nursing Officer– One of the highest levels in nursing. This type of nurse executive supervises patient care throughout an entire facility. Develops ways to work efficiently but maintain quality and reduce risk. Manages the budget for a facility or organization. Sets goals for quality measures and develops plans to reach those goals.
- Health Information Manager- Informatics nurses in this role help develop and maintain electronic medical records. They provide critical insight when assisting in developing new programs and software. They also help to protect confidential health information to maintain patient privacy.
Read more in our Expert Guide to Nursing Leadership
Organizations and Helpful Resources
- Clinical Nurse Leader Association
- American Organization of Nursing Leadership
- National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration
Other Nursing Degree Programs
- Nurse Practitioner Programs
- Dual MSN/MBA Degree
- MHA Degree
- MSN Degree
- DNP Degree
- Clinical Nurse Leader Programs
There are a wide variety of nursing administration programs available across the country; see our detailed list below and find the best nursing administration program that’s right for you.
Jump to Your State Listings
Are we missing your school's program or need to update information listed? Please contact us so we can make the necessary changes.