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Dual MBA & MSN Degree Programs

Nurses looking to advance their careers may want to consider an MSN/MBA dual degree program, which combines business leadership with practical clinical knowledge. Find out about the courses commonly included, career possibilities, program length, and more.

What Is a Dual MSN/MBA Degree?

The combination of in-depth healthcare knowledge from a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with the leadership skills and business sense earned in a Master of Business Administration (MBA) can make for an experienced, well-rounded professional, fit for any number of positions in the healthcare industry. MSN/MBA dual degree programs provide exactly this, augmenting a nurse's existing patient-centered experience with management ability; a greater familiarity with ethics, laws, and policy surrounding healthcare; research and data analysis skills; and an eye for efficiency. Graduates of MSN/MBA dual degree programs could have a more patient-centered approach to healthcare than those from other healthcare-centered business programs as a result. Both degrees can typically be earned in between two and three years as part of these dual degree programs, faster than they could be earned separately.

Students in MSN/MBA programs may be required to obtain clinical experience, which could require cooperation from local healthcare facilities. MSN/MBA programs are sometimes offered online. Regardless of program format, applicants must be registered nurses with valid nursing licenses and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, as opposed to an associate's degree in nursing.

What Courses Will I Take While Earning a Dual MSN/MBA Degree?

The exact classes that students take are different from university to university and may be impacted by previous education and experience. Core courses in MSN/MBA dual degree programs tend to share much in common, however:

  • Advanced nursing covers the role of advanced practice nurses in the modern healthcare system, looking back at the history of the profession, the laws and regulations surrounding it, and advocacy on behalf of patients.
  • Healthcare leadership teaches nurses leadership skills as they apply to success in healthcare environments, be they clinical facilities or larger-scale organizations. Management and organizational dynamics often feature heavily.
  • Evidence-based practice encourages nurses to apply research-based approaches to decision making, both at the patient care level and the organizational level. Students often have to identify problems, perform research, and propose solutions based on those results.
  • Healthcare finance looks at the particular financial issues in the healthcare industry, evaluating issues such as cost and pricing, different business models in healthcare, and budget development.
  • Marketing management examines issues relating to marketing, such as research, promotion, industry analysis, and pricing decisions.
  • Operations management offers a closer look at how organizations operate and what managers can do to increase efficiency, plan strategically, and more.

What Careers Might Dual MSN/MBA Degrees Lead to?

The ability to practice nursing with the management, leadership, and business knowledge obtained from an MBA make MSN/MBA dual degree program graduates well suited to managerial positions with healthcare providers, healthcare-oriented government organizations, and even entrepreneurial endeavors in healthcare.

Nursing Administrator

Nursing administrators act as intermediaries between management and nursing staff in healthcare organizations. They may be responsible for hiring, setting budgets, and managing the nurses operating under them. Nursing administrators can suggest improvements to increase efficiency. Maintaining a high quality of care for patients is key among these duties. According to the salary gathering website Payscale.com, the median salary for nursing administrators was $88,165 as of February 2020. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that medical and health services managers, the category nursing administrators fall under, could see as much as an 18% employment growth over the period from 2018 to 2028.

Chief Nursing Officer

Chief Nursing Officers, or CNOs, are one of the highest positions a registered nurse can achieve, on par with other similar job titles, such as Chief Financial Officer, within healthcare organizations. They lead nursing departments in hospitals and other healthcare organizations, ensuring that shifts are adequately staffed, nurses are behaving safely and operating under legal and regulatory guidelines, and that budgets are set for their department. CNOs may assist in the development of strategic plans and put their usually extensive experience to work shaping the future of the entire department. The salary gathering website Payscale.com placed the median salary for Chief Nursing Officers at $127,762 as of March 2020. Chief Nursing Officers are also considered medical and health services managers for the purposes of BLS statistics and may see the same 18% level of growth between 2018 and 2028.