2023 Best Online Masters in Nursing Leadership Programs [MSN Guide]

Home » 2023 Best Online Masters in Nursing Leadership Programs [MSN Guide]

Ready to start your journey?

If you’re an experienced nurse and want to transition into a leadership role in healthcare, you might consider earning a masters in nursing leadership.

Best Online Masters in Nursing Leadership Programs

There is a growing need for nurses who have the clinical experience to manage and teach others as well as the business and management skills to help run their organization.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Professionals with an MSN in Nursing Leadership have career options available in numerous industries, including but not limited to healthcare settings.

Online Masters in Nursing Leadership Programs

Woman pursuing Online Masters in Nursing Leadership

Pursuing a masters in nursing leadership online can help broaden your knowledge, skills, and professional opportunities as an experienced and registered nurse.

Within the healthcare industry, organizations need nurses who can use their experience to train and mentor other nurses. Nursing leadership programs also help you develop the financial and business skills needed to establish and manage budgets and help an organization meet its financial goals.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

You can also develop the management and communication skills needed to help you function as a team leader and a professional representative of your organization. Successful nurse leaders possess strong leadership, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, planning, and organizational skills.

The core concepts of your program will likely include:

  • Nursing theory
  • Nursing leadership
  • Ethics in healthcare
  • Research and technology
  • Organizational structure

Courses you may take as part of your program include finance and operations management, nursing theory, health politics and policy, quality improvement, and database design. Some programs may offer focused tracks that allow you to narrow down your field of study into areas such as:

  • Health administration
  • Clinical research
  • Health policies
  • Clinical nurse leadership

Graduates may find careers in various settings, including healthcare facilities, health insurance companies, educational institutions, and government agencies, to name a few. Potential leadership roles for nursing professionals include:

  • Nurse manager
  • Nurse educator
  • Director of nursing
  • Information manager
  • Health director

With career opportunities on the rise, graduates may find employment in public and private industries and within local, state, and federal government agencies. Individuals with the unique combination of clinical nursing experience and business and management skills are in high demand in many organizations.

Nursing Leadership Careers & Salaries

Nursing Leadership Careers & Salaries

Earning your masters in nursing leadership online could lead to a number of career opportunities that allow you to use your nursing experience in a new way.

Graduates who wish to stay more directly involved in patient care may find opportunities in hospitals, home health agencies, nursing home facilities, or ambulatory care offices. While nurse managers are not always directly involved in patient care, they ensure that operations run smoothly so nurses can focus their time and energy on high-quality patient care.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, below are some careers that could be related to nursing leadership.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Chief Executives $179,520
Training and Development Managers $120,130
Medical and Health Services Managers $101,340
Administrative Services and Facilities Managers $99,290
General and Operations Managers $97,970
Postsecondary Education Administrators $96,910
Postsecondary Nursing Instructors and Teachers $77,440
Social and Community Service Managers $74,000
Training and Development Specialists $61,570
Career and Technical Education Teachers $61,160

Careers in this field tend to pay higher than average salaries, with job opportunities on the rise for the foreseeable future.

Graduates interested in educating others may find employment as instructors, professors, or clinical nurse leaders in community or technical colleges or universities. Those who are interested in using technology in healthcare may find employment as healthcare statisticians, analysts, or information managers.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

You might also seek to enact change on a larger scale through policy formation in hospitals, healthcare companies, or government agencies.

Master of Science in Nursing Curriculum & Courses

People pursuing their Nursing Leadership Masters Degree

While courses vary in MSN in Nurse Leadership programs, below are some common courses you may take as part of your program:

  • Nursing Theory: This course focuses on the history of nursing theories and their application to nursing practice, research, leadership, and education.
  • Health Ethics and Law: In this course, you’ll explore ethical and legal issues in areas like patient rights, confidentiality, organizational responsibility, and more.
  • Healthcare Informatics and Technology: This course provides the knowledge and skills to use health information technology to improve and enhance patient care.
  • Finance and Operations Management: In this course, you’ll focus on managing an organization’s financial budget, including labor management, equipment, and supplies.
  • Economics of Healthcare: This course provides the analysis tools to understand the economic challenges in our healthcare system.
  • Leadership and Management for Nurse Executives: This course examines the role and skills for success, including communication, management, and critical thinking.
  • Healthcare Quality Management: This course explores the evolution of issues such as patient safety, quality measurement, accreditation, and continuous quality improvement.
  • Database Design and Development: In this course, you’ll become familiar with the types of databases used in healthcare and their usage, design, and structure.
  • Health Policy, Politics, and Perspective: This course focuses on US healthcare policy, political challenges, and the lifecycle of the policy-making process.
  • Quality Improvement of Interprofessional Care: In this course, you’ll investigate initiatives for quality improvement, focusing on identifying and measuring outcomes.

Some masters in nursing leadership and management programs may offer a group of core courses, with specific courses in focus areas such as informatics or clinical leadership.

Admissions Requirements

Man preparing requirements for Nursing Leadership Masters

While admissions requirements vary from program to program, below are some common requirements of online MSN in Leadership programs:

  • Bachelors in nursing
  • Minimum college GPA
  • Letters of recommendation from a professional source
  • Unencumbered registered nursing license
  • GRE or GMAT scores (only some schools require them)

In addition to the above requirements, some programs also require a resume, an online application, an interview, a statement of intent, and a background check.

Nursing Leadership Programs Accreditation

University offering Nursing Leadership Masters

Regional accreditation ensures that a school, its faculty, and its course offerings meet a predetermined standard of quality. Regional accreditation is the most widely accepted type of accreditation. It can potentially affect the additional educational opportunities and employment opportunities you might explore.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Should you pursue a doctorate after your masters, some schools may only recognize masters degrees from a regionally accredited institution. You can visit the US Department of Education’s website for additional school accreditation information.

Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Accreditation

Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Accreditation

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is the accrediting organization for nursing programs. This programmatic accreditation is a process of ensuring a school’s nursing programs meet predetermined criteria.

Schools accredited by CCNE have proven to meet national requirements and follow educational best practices in nursing. Doctoral programs as well as certification boards may require applicants to hold degrees from CCNE accredited programs. You can learn more about CCNE accreditation on the CCNE website.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Nursing Leadership Masters financial aid

As you look into masters in nurse leadership programs, you can also look into financial assistance resources. If you’re currently employed as a registered nurse, your employer might offer financial assistance, tuition reimbursement, or reduced tuition with cooperating educational programs.

Teaching hospitals may also offer tuition assistance or reduced tuition to nurses enrolled in their programs. In addition, there’s funding available through state and federal loans or grants for students who qualify. You may also explore work-study programs, which allow you to work to help pay for your program. To learn more about possible financial opportunities, you can visit the Federal Student Aid website.

What Is a Nursing Leadership Masters Degree?

Medical Services Manager with degree in masters of nursing leadership

A nursing leadership masters degree is a graduate program that provides experienced nurses with additional skills not typically taught in a BSN nursing program. These advanced skills can help nurses transition to upper-level administration, management, and leadership roles in various organizations.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

The coursework can help you develop skills in critical thinking, communication, financial and business management, and professional development, among others. Some programs also allow students to explore other ways of using their nursing experience, including pathways in education, technology, and policy formation.

What Can You Do with a Masters in Nursing Leadership?

General & Operations Managers discussing with staff

Graduates of online MSN in Leadership programs may find career opportunities in various settings, including healthcare facilities, insurance companies, and educational institutions.

You may choose to use your skills to improve an organization’s operations, ensuring high-quality patient care through quality improvement and nurse management. You might also choose a career path in education, either in an educational institution or as a clinical lead in a healthcare setting.

To enable change on a larger scale, some nursing professionals seek opportunities with government legislative agencies through policy creation and reform. Based on data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, careers for medical and health services managers are on the rise, with much faster than average growth anticipated over the next ten years.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s in Nursing Leadership Online?

Woman taking Best Online Masters in Nursing Leadership

The length of time needed to complete your masters in nursing leadership online will depend on several factors, including your schedule and whether a thesis is required.

If a program consists of 36 credit hours and has no thesis requirement, you may be able to complete it in 1 year of full-time enrollment, including summer courses. If your program does requires a thesis, it will likely take longer to complete. If your schedule only allows you to take courses part-time, this could extend the length of your program as well.

Is a Masters in Nurse Leadership Degree Worth It?

Hospital's Chief Executives discussing

Yes, a masters in nurse leadership degree is worth it for many students. Experienced nurses can use their experience to expand their career opportunities in new and exciting ways.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for medical and health services managers is expected to grow 28% over the next ten years, which is much faster than average. If you want to expand your job opportunities, increase your job security, and improve the quality of patient care on a large scale, then this may be a fitting degree path for you.

Universities Offering Online MSN in Nursing Leadership Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Allen College

Allen College

Allen College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Benedictine University

Benedictine University

Benedictine University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Capella University

Capella University

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Cedarville University

Cedarville University

Cedarville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Drexel University

Drexel University

Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Excelsior University

Excelsior University

Excelsior University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

George Washington University

George Washington University

George Washington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Gonzaga University

Gonzaga University

Gonzaga University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Houston Baptist University

Houston Baptist University

Houston Baptist University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Ohio University

Ohio University

Ohio University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Roberts Wesleyan University

Roberts Wesleyan University

Roberts Wesleyan University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Sacred Heart University

Sacred Heart University

Sacred Heart University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Saint Xavier University

Saint Xavier University

Saint Xavier University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Colorado – Anschutz

University of Colorado Anschutz

The University of Colorado – Anschutz is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Indianapolis

University of Indianapolis

The University of Indianapolis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of North Carolina – Greensboro

University of North Carolina - Greensboro

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Western Governors University

Western Governors University

Western Governors University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Wilmington University

Wilmington University

Wilmington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Getting Your MSN in Leadership and Management Online

Man taking MSN in Leadership and Management Online

Unlike an online accelerated RN to BSN or on campus program, which is designed for nurses new to the profession, pursuing your masters in nursing leadership online may provide you with additional career opportunities that utilize your clinical nursing experience in numerous ways.

You may seek opportunities in education or technology fields, with government agencies, or in high-level careers within the healthcare system. Nurses specifically interested in entering the nursing education field may benefit from an on-campus or online masters in nursing education program that a growing number of universities offer. Some even offer on-campus or online doctorate in nursing education programs as well.

There is also a growing demand for nurses with additional skills in management, communication, business, and financial management that could improve an organization’s overall operations.

If you wish to take on a leadership role that applies your prior clinical experience, you can start exploring online MSN in Leadership programs from accredited universities.

Ready to start your journey?
Kathryn Byrne
WRITTEN BY
Kathryn Byrne
Kathryn holds a Bachelor's degree in English Education from the University of Delaware, and an ESL certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language from Duke University. Kathryn has spent her entire career in education, with a focus on helping students of all ages ensure they have the necessary skills to maximize their educational opportunities.