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An aging U.S. population is likely to lead the healthcare industry to grow at an exceptional rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the addition of 2.4 million jobs in this sector between 2019 and 2029, which translates to 15% growth — well above the average projected growth rate across all industries. With a master's in nursing administration, graduates can take full advantage of this demand.
An online master's in nursing administration prepares nursing professionals to take on administrative roles or move into management professions. This degree can lead to many promising careers. Read on to learn more about program details and career options.
For more information, check out our master's in nursing administration program guide.
What Are the Best Online Master's in Nursing Administration Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:
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|1||Stony Brook University||Stony Brook, NY|
|2||George Washington University||Washington, DC|
|3||University of Mary||Bismarck, ND|
|4||University of Colorado Denver||Denver, CO|
|5||University of St. Francis||Joliet, IL|
|6||Clarkson College||Omaha, NE|
|7||University of Houston||Houston, TX|
|8||Sacred Heart University||Fairfield, CT|
|9||University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston||Galveston, TX|
|10||Liberty University||Lynchburg, VA|
- How We Rank Schools
At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.
Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Nursing Administration Programs
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Stony Brook University
|Stony Brook, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 74%||
Stony Brook oversees more than 250 programs, many of which offer online courses. The university awards a master of science in nursing leadership that prepares graduates to oversee patient services and programs in many healthcare settings. As a hybrid program, this program requires distance learners to attend some on-campus immersions.
Program coursework covers topics like communication and relationship management; legal, ethical, and regulatory issues; and quality improvement, safety, and healthcare technologies. Students learn to apply statistical methods and scholarly inquiry to nursing research. They gain hands-on experience by completing intensive clinical placements.
To earn admission into this online program, applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and a professional RN license with at least one year of relevant experience. They must also submit three recommendation letters.
George Washington University
|Washington, DC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 82%||
A leading research institution, GW offers programs across its 10 schools and roughly 100 laboratory centers. Distance learners can earn an online master of science in nursing with a nursing leadership and management specialty. Throughout a 36-credit curriculum, students learn how to strategically guide policy decisions and help organizations navigate change.
Required courses include healthcare quality processes, biostatistics for healthcare research, and population health concepts. Students also examine the crucial roles health information and technology play in the U.S. healthcare system. Although this master's in nursing administration program does not require campus visits, learners need to complete two 150-hour practica.
Admission requirements include an unencumbered RN license and a regionally accredited bachelor's degree earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit a personal statement, a current resume, and two recommendation letters.
University of Mary
|Bismarck, ND||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
Located in Bismarck, North Dakota, Mary serves approximately 4,800 students in over 70 programs each year. The university delivers online degrees through the Canvas platform, including an online master's degree in nursing leadership and management. Designed for working nurses with BSN degrees, the program allows full-time students to graduate in 16 months.
The 36-credit curriculum includes courses like healthcare across the population, resilient nursing leadership, and evidence-based practice for strategic decision-making. Students also analyze how economic issues affect healthcare organizations.
Applicants need a 2.75 minimum undergraduate GPA. Additional requirements include a professional goals statement, a resume, and two references. Mary's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
University of Colorado Denver
|Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
CU Denver launched its first distance learning program 1996. The university now offers more than 60 online certificates and degrees, including an online MSN in leadership. Flexible, asynchronous courses enable professional nurses to maintain their busy work schedules while enrolling full time. Participants can graduate in less than two years.
The 30-credit curriculum covers topics like relational communication, systems and leadership theory, and foundations of healthcare informatics. Students gain practical skills and expand their professional network by completing an internship. Graduates are eligible to sit for the ANCC and AONL nurse executive certification exams.
CU Denver requires applicants to have an accredited bachelor's degree in nursing. Prospective students with a GPA below 3.0 must also submit GRE scores.
University of St. Francis
|Joliet, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 62%||
USF operates its flagship campus in Joliet, Illinois, and serves about 4,000 students each year. Distance learners can complete the university's online master's degree in nursing administration, which prepares graduates to effectively manage hospital personnel and patient care delivery services. Using a hybrid delivery method, USF's nursing administration program requires distance learners to take half of their coursework (including the practicum) on campus.
The program's curriculum includes required courses like biostatistics and nursing research, population health, and human resources management. The program culminates in a capstone experience in which students plan and implement a quality improvement initiative.
In addition to an active RN license, applicants need a bachelor's degree earned with at least a 3.0 GPA. They must also submit an essay, two recommendation letters, and a resume.
|Omaha, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
Founded in 1888 as a nursing school, Clarkson College carries on this academic tradition by offering a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs for health professionals. Graduate-level options include an online master of science in nursing with a nursing healthcare administration concentration. This patient-focused program prepares students to collaboratively implement complex strategies in advanced practice nursing positions.
This master's in nursing administration program includes courses like applied statistics, human resources/organizational behavior, and project management. Students also learn to develop strategic marketing plans. They gain practical skills by completing service experiences and a capstone practicum.
Admission requirements include an accredited bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants also need to submit proof of an unencumbered RN license, a scholarly essay, a resume, and two recommendation letters. The program does not require GRE scores for admission.
University of Houston
|Houston, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
UH powers distance learning with the Blackboard Learn platform, offering over 40 online undergraduate and graduate degrees. One such option is an online master's degree in nursing administration. Throughout the program's 36-credit curriculum, students gain the research and clinical skills needed to provide evidence-based healthcare.
Required coursework covers topics like biostatistics and informatics. Students also delve into healthcare finance, organizational behavior, and delivery systems. The program culminates in a 135-hour leadership practicum in which students work with nurse preceptors to demonstrate their ability to navigate complex healthcare systems.
Applicants need a current and unencumbered Texas RN license. Prospective students do not need to submit GRE or MAT scores if they have a 3.0 GPA or higher.
Sacred Heart University
|Fairfield, CT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 70%||
Based in Fairfield, Connecticut, SHU delivers online certificates and degrees through the Blackboard Learn platform, including an online master's in nursing with a nurse management and executive leadership specialization. Focusing on healthcare quality and safety, this 36-credit program prepares graduates for high-ranking positions in workforce development, human resources management, and nursing education.
Students take four core classes, including evidence-based practice and healthcare policy/ethics. The remaining credits consist of specialized courses that teach participants how to manage financial resources and create professional work environments. The program culminates in a 120-hour clinical practicum.
The program offers six start dates throughout the year and does not require GRE scores for admission. Unlike many MSN programs, which require a BSN, applicants only need a diploma or an associate degree in nursing.
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
|Galveston, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
UTMB offers 13 career-focused programs through its School of Nursing, including an online master of science in nursing with an executive nurse leader track. Students in this program benefit from research-focused courses and opportunities to interact with experts in the field, preparing them to design and implement new approaches to strengthen individual and community health.
The curriculum includes courses like leader as communicator, informatics and quality improvement, and healthcare economics and finance. Although students may fulfill the majority of degree requirements online, this program requires a 2-3-day campus visit each semester.
Admission requirements include a BSN with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants also need at least one year of work experience as a licensed RN in the state in which they plan to complete their practicum.
|Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
Liberty serves approximately 80,000 students each year from its flagship campus in Lynchburg, Virginia, and online through the Blackboard platform. The university's graduate offerings include an MSN with a nursing administration specialization.
The program's 36-credit curriculum includes courses in organizational design and structure, health policy and ethics, and managing population health. Students also analyze contemporary issues in financial and human resources management within the healthcare sector. Each course lasts eight weeks. The program culminates in an integrative capstone seminar. Learners can graduate in about 18 months.
Applicants need an active RN license and at least one year of work experience. The program accepts up to 18 transfer credits and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Nursing Administration Program?
These programs typically provide graduates with an MSN degree, which requires 30-45 credits and takes under two years to complete.
In most cases, an online master's in nursing administration program typically provides graduates with an MSN degree, which requires 30-45 credits and often takes under two years to complete. Many MSN programs allow students to focus their training in a specific field, such as nursing administration.
A master's in nursing administration trains students in a variety of nursing management roles and responsibilities, and emphasizes leadership and business skills. These programs usually feature a clinical or practicum component, as well as significant practical training with various administrative tools and technologies.
Since nursing administration is often a specialization of its own within a more general nursing program, additional concentrations aren't usually available. Some programs may offer nursing leadership, health informatics, or public health specializations. Additionally, students may be able create their own additional focus by strategically choosing focused electives and practicum settings.
MSN degrees may differ based on their admission requirements and program scope. For example, traditional MSN programs leverage prior BSN training, whereas RN-to-MSN programs also cover material typically covered in a four-year degree.
Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Nursing Administration Programs
For admission into a master's in nursing administration program, applicants need a nursing license. Many MSN programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's in nursing as well. Additional requirements may include professional recommendations, GRE scores, and a minimum GPA.
Some programs may require applicants to have professional experience, such as one year in a healthcare related position. Find out more in our Graduate Admissions Guide.
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Nursing Administration Program?
Course options in a master's in nursing administration can vary based on the school. However, the following section highlights courses that commonly appear in most programs.
- Healthcare Policy
In healthcare policy courses, students learn about healthcare regulations, how policy is formed, and how policy is enforced. Learners look at the processes and institutions involved in policy development, as well as ethical issues in healthcare policy and advocacy.
- Health Informatics
Health informatics courses teach learners how to use data to draw better conclusions, improve care delivery, and make informed healthcare decisions. Students learn to use various healthcare record technologies, applications, and platforms. Some courses may cover cybersecurity and information privacy as well.
- Nursing Leadership
Nursing leadership courses prepare degree-seekers for management positions in various healthcare settings. Students learn about professional regulations and ethics, along with the role's administrative responsibilities. Learners also work on developing their communication skills, leadership abilities, and motivational strategies.
- Financial Management
Financial management courses explore the financial decisions that nursing leaders need to make. Students may learn about facility inventory management, staffing, and budgeting. These courses may also examine the use of financial information for budgeting and productivity assessments.
- Human Resources Management
Human resources management courses teach students about the strategies and issues involved in managing people within a healthcare setting. Degree-seekers learn how to communicate with staff effectively, mediate conflicts, and enhance productivity. They also examine workplace diversity, compensation and benefits, and labor laws.
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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Nursing Administration Degree?
After completing a master's in nursing administration, graduates can apply their skills to the nursing field or a healthcare-adjacent profession. Most career options feature strong outlooks, as registered nursing and medical services management boast high median annual wages and above-average projected growth rates.
See where a master's in nursing administration can take you. Learn more about health services careers.
- Medical and Health Services Manager
Medical and health services managersoversee healthcare services and departments, including finances, staffing, and inventories. They ensure that their organization follows regulations and work to improve organizational processes. According to BLS data, 33% of these managers work in hospitals, 12% work in physicians' offices, and 10% work in nursing care facilities.
- Administrative Services Manager
Administrative services managers oversee administrative staff, facility operations, and equipment needs for an organization. They may also schedule maintenance, keep records, and ensure that employees follow health and safety regulations. According to the BLS, 13% of these managers work in healthcare.
- Human Resources Manager
Human resources managers help organization management and staff members communicate and work cohesively. They may oversee staffing, handle workplace conflicts, provide training and development, and manage compensation and benefits. According to the BLS, 8% of these professionals work in healthcare and social assistance.
- Social and Community Services Manager
Social and community services managers oversee programs and organizations that serve the general public. They may work with market research to determine community needs, assess program effectiveness, develop campaigns, and pursue funding for their initiatives. According to BLS data, 29% of these managers work in individual and family services and 11% work in nursing and residential care facilities.
- Compensation and Benefits Managers
Compensation and benefits managers handle staff payroll responsibilities for organizations. They ensure their organization follows labor laws and analyze data to make sure compensation is fair and competitive. According to the BLS, 7% of these professionals work in healthcare.
Nursing Administration Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Nursing Administration Programs
- Is a master's in nursing administration worth it?
A master's in nursing administration helps graduates qualify for some of the most in-demand management and administrative roles in healthcare. Many available careers boast strong salaries and projected growth rates, making the degree very desirable.
- What can I do with a master's in nursing administration?
A master's in nursing administration can help registered nurses advance into management and administrative positions. Graduates can also apply their skills and knowledge to other fields that interact with the healthcare industry. Some learners may pursue a doctoral degree after completing an MSN.
- How much money can I make with a master's in nursing administration?
Salary potential depends on location, experience, and the specific role. The median annual salary for health services managers, for example, was $100,980 in 2019, more than $60,000 higher than the median annual salary for all occupations.
- What are the highest paying jobs with a master's in nursing administration?
The highest paying job for professionals with a master's in nursing administration is compensation and benefits manager. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $122,270 in 2019, more than three times higher than the median annual salary for all occupations.