In 2017, healthcare became the country’s largest employer. Because of this growth, healthcare facilities need more skilled managers. The number of medical and healthcare services managers is projected to grow as much as 20% from 2016-2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, surpassing many other careers in the U.S. labor market. Medical and healthcare services managers earn a median salary of nearly $100,000.
The number of medical and healthcare services managers is projected to grow as much as 20% from 2016-2026, according to the BLS, surpassing many other careers in the U.S. labor market.
If you work as a nurse and hope to advance your career or increase your earning potential, consider pursuing a master’s degree in nursing administration. The degree imparts business, technology, communication, and management skills needed to lead a nursing team, hospital department, or healthcare organization.
Should I Get a Master's in Nursing Administration?
Advanced degrees not only increase a professional’s earning potential, but also help job seekers find careers in management. In the case of nursing administration, a master’s degree helps nurses gain the leadership skills to oversee and direct nursing departments. Nursing administration programs teach students how to implement policies, guide collaborative teams, bridge cross-cultural healthcare barriers, and design workplace strategies.
Students in nursing administration programs must decide whether they want to pursue their degrees through an online or on-campus program. An online master’s degree in nursing administration may attract nurses who already work full time. The distance-learning approach allows students to decide how much coursework they can handle per semester, and when they study and watch lectures. Learners with busy schedules appreciate pursuing an advanced degree at their own pace.
Students who enter graduate school immediately after earning their bachelor’s degree might consider on-campus programs. These offer a traditional approach with onsite lectures. The traditional approach also allows students to connect with classmates. If you have not yet worked in nursing, you might prefer the hands-on experience provided by on-campus labs, and these programs also provide ample networking opportunities. Professors who know you well may introduce you to professionals already in the field, or they may write recommendation letters for you.
What Can I Do With a Master’s in Nursing Administration?
Skills learned in nursing administration programs easily transfer to other career paths. Graduates could work as health management consultants or information systems managers for healthcare facilities. Students who aim to enter this field must possess a variety of skills. They should have the organizational and leadership skills of a manager, which means they can communicate clearly, plan, and solve conflict. They also must possess the qualities of a good nurse. They must be empathetic, skilled at multitasking, and calm under pressure.
- Medical and Health Services Manager
These professionals direct operations at hospitals or clinics. They manage either the entire healthcare facility or one department. Nursing administrators typically run the nursing department at a hospital or other healthcare institution. Employers often prefer job candidates with at least a master’s degree.
Median Annual Salary: $98,350
Projected Growth Rate: 20%
- Administrative Services Manager
These employees may have a variety of roles within a healthcare organization. They might supervise personnel who work in administrative capacities in a healthcare facility’s nursing department, ensure records are kept accurately and efficiently, and ensure the nursing department does not run out of necessary supplies.
Median Annual Salary: $94,020
Projected Growth Rate: 10%
- Social and Community Services Manager
Some healthcare organizations do not fall under the umbrella of hospitals or nursing homes but operate as community clinics that offer health services for low-income individuals. Sometimes, nurse administrators find jobs at these locations. People who work in administrative roles at these clinics are called social and community services managers.
Median Annual Salary: $64,100
Projected Growth Rate: 18%
- Computer and Information Systems Manager
If students opt to pursue a nursing administration degree with an emphasis in informatics, they may qualify to become computer and information systems managers. In the healthcare context, these professionals direct technological and data analysis operations for their departments in hospitals or other health facilities. Since many people in this field have an advanced degree, earning a master’s degree helps job candidates on this career path.
Median Annual Salary: $139,220
Projected Growth Rate: 12%
- Management Analyst
Some nursing administrators prefer to be self-employed and go the route of management analyst. In this case, they are known as nurse management consultants. Healthcare facilities may hire consultants if they need an expert’s help in solving a problem. Nurse management consultants visit the facility, investigate the problem, and propose solutions.
Median Annual Salary: $82,450
Projected Growth Rate: 14%
How to Choose a Master's in Nursing Administration Program
When it comes to applying for graduate school, prospective students should carefully examine the strengths, weaknesses, and financial resources of every program. Graduate school is an investment, and students should make the right choice.
Cost is an important consideration. Research both the estimated tuition cost and the school’s extra fees. Scrutinize your finances and be honest about what you can afford. However, remain wary of simply choosing the most affordable graduate school. Ask the school about financial aid options. Schools may extend significant scholarship opportunities that offset the sticker price.
It’s important to also analyze the program itself. Does it follow a traditional, on-campus format, or does it offer coursework online? Can you enroll part time? What does the curriculum entail? Read the course catalogue to learn about class topics and check whether the program offers concentrations. Certain career paths, such as information systems management for healthcare organizations, might require students to take specialized courses such as technology or informatics. Browsing the course catalogue also tells you if the program requires a practicum or other hands-on experience. If you choose an on-campus program, consider location and whether you must move.
Programmatic Accreditation for Master’s in Nursing Administration Programs
When searching for potential schools, prospective students should look for programs with accredited status. During the accreditation process, certain agencies visit schools and evaluate whether students receive a valuable education. These accreditation agencies assess professors, coursework, and the class quality. If the agencies’ representatives believe programs fulfill their mission of giving students a useful education, they give those programs their stamp of approval. But if the programs lack quality, the agencies take away accreditation.
When it comes to graduate programs in nursing administration, students should research programs with accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. If the program does not list its accreditation status online, prospective students should call the school to double check. Students who graduate from unaccredited programs will likely face more difficulty finding employment. Plus, if these students choose to pursue a doctorate, Ph.D. programs do not accept credits from unaccredited schools.
Master's in Nursing Administration Program Admissions
Every student has a different process for applying to graduate nursing administration programs. After students carefully consider cost, concentrations, coursework, professors, format, and location, they must narrow down their pool of programs to the best-fitting choices.
Some students may not wish to develop a shortlist of schools, choosing instead to apply to every school on their radar. However, this approach will only consume applicants’ time and cause them unneeded stress. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some students may wish to apply to only one school. Students should avoid this approach too, in case the school dismisses their application. Instead, students should choose a few schools, including at least one safety school and one dream school. This approach saves applicants time and stress.
- Bachelor’s Degree: Master’s in nursing administration programs expect applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Faculty like to know that their students possess knowledge in the field, which comes in handy when managing a healthcare facility.
- Professional Experience: Some master’s programs in nursing administration require applicants to have at least one year of professional experience. Even if the program does not expect professional experience, applicants must usually hold active nursing licensure.
- Minimum GPA: Most programs require or recommend students to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA during their undergraduate programs.
- Application: The application itself usually consists of an online form. Applicants must provide personal information, their educational histories, and their past work experience.
- Transcripts: Graduate programs ask students to submit transcripts from their undergraduate colleges. Admissions representatives require transcripts because they want to assess how well students did with previous coursework.
- Recommendation Letters: Admissions offices often ask applicants for recommendation letters. Professors or previous bosses may write the letters, and you should give them at least a month to complete them.
- Test Scores: In most cases, graduate programs in nursing administration do not require students to take the GRE. Instead, they expect students to prove they know the nursing and healthcare industry through their undergraduate education and professional experience.
- Application Fee: Most master’s programs in nursing administration require a fee along with the application. Fees typically range from $25-$50. If you cannot afford the application fee, the admissions office may potentially waive the application fee.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's in Nursing Administration Program?
Every master’s degree in nursing administration features different coursework, concentrations, and professors with unique lesson plans. This section outlines some variations of what you can expect.
|Nurse Educator||Some nursing administrators aim to take on the responsibilities of nurse educator as well. This concentration allows students to educate and manage nursing professionals. Education and management fit naturally together, as both approach the nursing industry through leadership positions. Both help registered nurses develop and learn throughout their careers via professional development.||Nurse educator, nursing consultant|
|Organizational Leadership||A concentration in organizational leadership takes a deep dive into concepts such as budgeting and strategic planning. Students learn how to implement processes and policies that support nursing staff. They also learn how to maximize potential for services in healthcare facilities, all through thorough organization and planning.||Nurse executive, medical and health services manager|
|Informatics||Nursing informatics involves technologies, recordkeeping, and data analysis specific to healthcare systems. Students who pursue a nursing administration degree with an emphasis in informatics will likely take technology courses along with their administration courses. They learn how to manage information systems and how to oversee personnel.||Healthcare computer and information systems manager|
|Public Health Nursing||This concentration prepares students for working with healthcare organizations that serve low-income or underserved populations. Students learn how to assess communities and identify high-risk groups. They also learn how to manage grant-writing programs, and they master the skills to run organizations that serve cross-cultural communities.||Social and community services manager, public health manager|
|Global Health||Students who specialize in global health usually desire to work with international healthcare companies or non-governmental public health organizations. This emphasis area teaches them how to connect with foreign populations. It also trains students how to manage organizations that operate in multiple countries, which can be difficult to navigate when organizations have different public policies to consider.||International medical and health services manager|
Courses in a Master’s in Nursing Administration Program
Nursing administration programs do not use one set of curriculum across the board. Each program offers its own course selection. The course descriptions below provide a glimpse at the classes you will find when researching nursing administration programs.
- Healthcare Informatics for Nurses
Healthcare organizations typically function through particular systems that track patient records, operations, and finances. Students can take courses in healthcare informatics if they want to learn how to handle the information technology and data analysis systems in hospitals or other healthcare facilities.
- Ethical and Legal Dimensions of Healthcare
Professionals working within healthcare management often must make difficult decisions. This class prepares students for the ethical considerations of challenging choices. It also teaches students their legal obligations and rights.
- Health Policy
The American healthcare system invites particularly polarizing debates at both federal and state levels of government. Health policy changes often appear difficult to understand. Courses train students to thoroughly understand how the current regulations affect healthcare organizations and what it means for administrators.
- Leadership in Healthcare Systems
Nurses who work in an administrative capacity consider leadership a crucial and fundamental skill. Leadership courses help students understand how to navigate management in the uniquely complex healthcare field. Students learn how to manage inter-departmental conflict, supervise employees, and communicate across various cultures.
- Strategic Planning in Healthcare Organizations
The ultimate goal of healthcare organizations involves offering patients the best possible health outcome. The more efficiently a facility uses its resources, the better health outcomes patients receive. This means administrators must maintain excellent strategic-planning skills. This course trains future managers how to organize their planning in order to run the most capable healthcare facility.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s in Nursing Administration?
Master’s programs in nursing administration typically take two years to complete. Other schools offer accelerated programs, which allows students to complete the program in 12-18 months.
Several factors determine how quickly students finish their master’s degree. Students who enroll part-time stay in school for a longer period of time, while students who take many credit hours may graduate sooner. The program format also affects the length of time students need to earn their degrees. Online programs allow students more flexibility with course scheduling. Many distance-learning programs offer accelerated, seven-week semesters. On-campus programs typically take two years to complete.
Finally, some graduate programs require students to complete a practicum or professional project before graduation. Occasionally, students draw this final experience out over several years. Even if they finish their coursework on time, they might not complete their program until years later.
How Much is a Master’s in Nursing Administration?
Each school demands different prices for students. A nursing administration master’s degree typically requires students to pay $300-$500 per credit hour. The typical program also requires students to complete 36 credit hours before graduating, which means full tuition costs range from $10,800-$18,000. However, some schools can cost up to $880 per credit hour. Other schools expect students to complete 37-40 credit hours. These factors can significantly increase the cost of graduate school.
Students should also factor in other costs such as textbooks and technology, facility, and distance-learning fees. Students must determine whether they can pay for housing, food, and bills while attending school. If not, they may have to apply for student loans or continue to work full time while simultaneously attending classes.
Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Nursing Administration Prepares For
- Nurse Executive Certification
Offered by the American Nurses Association (ANA), this certification tests professionals on their skills in managing daily operations of a nursing healthcare unit or department. Nurses with this certification have skills in human capital and financial management. They also understand legal issues and consumer decisions in the realm of healthcare and public policy.
- Nurse Executive, Advanced Certification
Much like the Nurse Executive Certification, this certification tests concepts such as personnel policies, organizational theory, and strategic sourcing. It requires candidates to hold a master’s degree and at least two years of professional experience.
- Nursing Professional Development Certification
This certification is ideal for nursing administrators who wish to add teaching continuing education to their skill set. It evaluates candidates’ knowledge of teaching and learning models, as well as their abilities in leadership, communication, and education design.
- Nursing Home Administrator License
Some nursing administrators may want to work in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. In order to follow this career path, they must first obtain their nursing home administrator license. Eligibility differs by state. If you feel curious about the eligibility requirements in your state, visit the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB) website.
- Residential Care/Assisted Living Administrator License
Run by the NAB, this certification assesses professionals’ ability and knowledge of managing either a residential care or an assisted living facility. Some states require certification. Call your state’s licensure office to verify requirements.
Resources for Nursing Administration Graduate Students
The American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) gives members access to a searchable research library. Students can find webinars, articles, reports, and blog posts to help them with their coursework.
Students can use this academic journal as a resource when conducting research. The journal publishes articles on topics such as leveraging professional development to meet a healthcare organization’s strategic goals.
The AONE runs this institute for students and early-career nurse administrators. Participants attend summits to learn about management and leadership.
The Center for Ethics provides text of the nurses’ Code of Ethics as well as foundational and supplemental documents regarding nursing ethics on its website.
Nurses working in leadership positions can access useful webinars on this site.
Professional Organizations in Nursing Administration
If students feel interested in joining a professional organization, they can find many nursing administration associations as well as a plethora of nursing associations and healthcare management associations. These organizations offer certifications that students may find necessary in their job search. Associations also typically host conferences or other educational events where students can network and learn from seasoned professionals. These groups typically offer discounted or free membership to students.