If you're a BSN-prepared nurse with plans to advance your career and develop your leadership capabilities, an MSN in nursing administration is probably right for you. You might be looking to take the next step in your professional development or transition into an advanced role in administration and management. Maybe your employer requires an MSN for your next promotion, or you want to bolster your skills due to a promotion you've already received.
Whatever your reason, earning a master's in nursing administration prepares you to facilitate quality patient care in a variety of healthcare environments. You can become an effective administrator at all levels of leadership, capable of managing nursing teams, nursing units, care departments and entire health systems.
An MSN in nursing administration is a versatile degree. Learning online is versatile too. It's convenient, flexible and affordable, allowing you to maintain your current job without interruption. If you're curious about studying online or you want to learn more about career options and tuition, follow the links below.
What Is an MSN in Nursing Administration?
As a BSN nurse, you already understand the core foundations of evidence-based practice and nursing leadership. If you're interested in expanding your knowledge, advancing your career and moving further into a leadership role, a master's in nursing administration might be right for you. Programs like the online MSN in Nursing Administration at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) prepare you to work in a variety of healthcare settings, supporting and managing care teams. You'll also gain advanced skills in informatics, organizational behavior and leadership while preparing for a nurse executive role.
Whether you plan to lead a hospital unit or direct a specialized care team, the MSN in nursing administration will provide the tools and credentials you need to practice integrative leadership, effectively balancing staff and patient needs within the operational framework of multiple healthcare models.
What Will I Learn From a Master's in Nursing Administration Program?
Online or on-campus, nursing administration master's programs prepare you for a variety of leadership roles. No matter the healthcare setting, you'll be well-versed in managing nursing teams to facilitate patient care. You'll explore methods for effective communication, gain knowledge of healthcare law and finance, and develop your leadership skills. You will also explore the business and management of healthcare operations, all while considering public health, patient wellbeing and culturally sensitive care.
Basically, you'll learn to combine the economics, policies and ethics of healthcare with patient advocacy and nurse management. This preparation can help you become a well-rounded administrator with the skills you need to make a profound impact on quality care.
TAMIU's MSN in Nursing Administration consists of 10 courses, totaling 31 credit hours. With a focus on population health, healthcare policy, social justice and quality outcomes, the curriculum supports TAMIU's progressive international agenda for global study. You'll take the following classes:
- Theories Influencing Practice, Research and Advanced Role
- Healthcare Policy and Social Justice
- Research Methods and Statistical Analysis
- Organizational Behavior
- Transformational Leadership
- Finance for the Nurse Executive
- Health Care Informatics
- Health Quality Outcomes
- Population Health
- Nurse Executive Integrative Leadership Practicum
The final course is a 180-hour practicum, so you'll have an opportunity to learn by doing. After implementing your newfound skills and knowledge in a care setting, you'll be fully prepared for an administrative, management or executive role.
This degree will help you to broaden your perspective of how to manage nursing in the business world of healthcare.
Spotlight on Chief Nursing Officers: Redefining Leadership
Nurse leadership is an ever-evolving field. Much of that evolution can be traced to the landmark report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) — now known as the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). While it has influenced new standards that call for an 80% BSN-prepared workforce, that's only one of the report's key messages. Another focuses entirely on nurse leaders, who are also on the frontline of care.
The IOM states that their unique perspective is essential to healthcare, arguing that effective nurse leaders "must speak the language of policy and engage in the political process effectively." Chief nursing officer (CNO) Lamont M. Yoder agrees. He told the American Organization of Nurse Executives (now the American Organization of Nurse Leaders [AONL]) that nurses' focus on patients "perfectly suits us to help lead the shift to value-based care. But to do that, we also need to develop acumen in business, human resources, finance, and more."
CNO Carol Bradley made a similar observation. "Nursing executive practice used to be narrowly confined to the inpatient setting," she told AONL. "[Now] our clinical leadership role has become more recognized and valued, resulting in an expanded influence."
IOM recommendations are changing the scope of nurse leadership as well. CNO Carol Boston-Fleischhauer explained in an Advisory Board interview that nurse leaders in the 1980s were dedicated to inpatient nursing care alone. Thirty-five years later, they're "part of the C-suite, working directly with the chiefs of medicine, finance, strategy, IT, and quality, among others, to drive achievement of strategic as well as operational goals."
What Is Accreditation and Why Does It Matter in Nursing?
Accrediting agencies are independent organizations. They evaluate universities and degree programs to make sure they meet standards for quality of education, ethical operations and fiscal responsibility. Nursing students at unaccredited universities aren't eligible for federal financial aid, they can't apply for military education benefits, and they may struggle to find a job in nursing after graduation. As U.S. News & World Report points out, employers don't want to hire unaccredited degree holders, and they will do their research to confirm your program's status.
Texas A&M International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The online MSN in nursing administration at TAMIU is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). You can (and should) verify university and program accreditations through a reliable third-party source, such as the U.S. Department of Education.
Why Should I Consider an Accredited Online Nursing School for My MSN?
An accredited online MSN in nursing administration program is great for aspiring nurse leaders, as well as new and established administrators. It offers nurses an opportunity to successfully transition from a clinical role to a leadership role. It will also allow you to expand your administrative skillset.
Regardless of your job title, an online master's in nursing administration degree from an accredited school or program will position you to become a strong advocate for nurses and patients. It can also open a path to new career opportunities and promotions. You can earn the Nurse Executive Advanced Certification (NEA-BC), issued by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). You'll also become eligible to earn the Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP) certification, issued by the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL).
MSN graduates from accredited programs also gain a competitive edge in the job market, and can increase their earning potential. According to PayScale (July 2019), the average annual salary for nurses with a MSN in administration is $98,000. BSN nurses earn around $81,000 on average.
This degree will open doors to leadership and management positions in the healthcare setting.
Will I Complete Clinicals or Practicum Hours for My MSN in Nursing Administration?
Most nurse admin programs include some form of practical learning. Unlike RN clinicals, which are focused on the foundations of patient care, admin clinicals are focused on integrated leadership. While MSN programs may refer to clinicals as a practicum or practice experience, you'll graduate with proven administrative competencies either way.
For the master's practicum at TAMIU, you'll work to streamline quality care from a management perspective while also taking fiscal concerns into account. From there, you will collaborate with your professor and preceptor to design a customized field project.
Learn a behavioral approach that motivates and inspires followers to achieve performance beyond expectations.
How Can I Complete My Practicum If I Go to School Online?
While every school is different, many online MSN programs allow you to complete your practicum at a site of your choosing. TAMIU does this as well, and you can select a site that's convenient for you. You'll also select your own preceptor, someone who works in a leadership or management role and holds a master's degree. Both your clinical site and your preceptor will need to be approved by your MSN program.
Learn more about our MSN Nursing Administration online program!
I Want to Complete My Practicum at My Place of Work. Is That Allowed?
That depends on your program. TAMIU's online MSN in Nursing Administration does allow for a practicum at your current workplace. Your site and preceptor still need to be approved, and you aren't allowed to complete practicum hours while you're on the clock. Other than that, you're good to go.
What Can I Do With an MSN Degree in Nursing Administration?
Nursing administration is a highly versatile field with multiple career paths. Whether you're an adept clinician, policy maven, technical wizard or public health advocate, you have options with an admin MSN:
- If you're clinically inclined, you can become a practice manager, leader of a care unit or department head.
- If you're interested in healthcare policy, you might become a nurse executive, or you might work for a nonprofit or government agency.
- If you're technically inclined, you can go into informatics, telemedicine or health IT.
- If you're passionate for public health, you might lead a hospital community outreach initiative, or you could join a nonprofit or government agency with a population health focus.
- If you love research or you're academically inclined, you can go on to earn a Ph.D. in nursing or a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP). Nurses with doctorates can become nursing program faculty, healthcare researchers, policy leaders and executives.
It's important for nurses to have a voice that is respected by all disciplines and communities. With healthcare continuously changing, it's foreseeable in the future that nurses will be the primary care provider under their own license, and not an MD.
Which Jobs Are Available to Nurses with an MSN in Administration?
There are a wealth of opportunities available to nurses with an MSN in administration. The following sample is taken from a Burning Glass Technologies report on jobs for master's-prepared healthcare administrators in the state of Texas:
- Clinical Manager
- Director of Surgical Services
- Clinical Director
- Health Director
- Director of Nursing
- Medical Director
- Health Manager
- Director of Oncology
- Case Management Director
- Emergency Department Director
- Chief Medical Officer
- Director of Clinical Services
- Practice Manager
- Program Director
What's the Difference Between a BSN Salary and an MSN Salary?
Across the United States, nurses with an MSN in administration earn an average of $17,000 more per year than BSN-prepared nurses. Salary, however, isn't determined by educational attainment alone. It's also determined by location. The following table compares BSN and MSN salaries across several Texas cities:
|City||Average BSN RN Salary||Average MSN RN Salary|
Source: ZipRecruiter (June 2019)
The salaries listed above are averages for all possible MSN career tracks. Wages for medical and health services managers, however, are even higher.
How Much Will I Make as a Medical and Health Services Manager?
Medical and health services managers, as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor's O*Net OnLine, include clinical directors, health information management directors, health managers, nurse managers, nursing directors, practice administrators and program managers. A master's degree is required for most jobs in this category.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2018 mean pay for medical and health services managers in Texas was $105,450. The BLS also reports mean pay in the following metropolitan areas:
- Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington: $103,430
- Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land: $117,830
- Killeen-Temple: $112,520
These salaries are in line with pay rates for high-level management positions, including the role of CNO, which typically requires a master's degree. When you consider salaries for these occupations, the wage gap between nurses with a BSN and MSN widens further.
Which High-Level Management Roles Are Available to MSN Nurses?
The list below includes a sampling of top management roles for MSN nurses, along with their average salaries:
- Emergency Room Nurse Manager: $93,593
- Executive Director of Nursing: $97,975
- Clinical Informatics Manager: $99,811
- Surgical Services Manager: $106,823
- Operating Room Nurse Manager: $111,519
- Chief Nursing Officer: $136,350
Source: ZipRecruiter (June 2019)
Spotlight on the Nurse Executive
Your first year as an RN probably came with new challenges and new lessons. Transitioning into an executive role will undoubtedly deliver similar opportunities for professional growth. As nurse-turned-CEO Susan Distefano told HealthLeaders magazine, "It's admittedly a different approach. I'm not physically laying hands on patients, but I feel like I'm still improving patient care because I'm working on policy and decisions that have a broader impact. I still feel like I'm close to the patients."
So what makes new nurse executives successful? Strategic thinking, commitment to competency, a proactive approach and a keen business sense.
Life in the C-Suite is ultimately about managing healthcare from a big-picture perspective and communicating your goals to hospital staff. Nurse executives understand how to turn their vision into an actionable plan by bringing nurses, staff, physicians and executives together to improve working conditions and patient care. As CNO Erin LaCross explained to HealthLeaders, "You are that voice that is speaking on behalf of the nurses, on behalf of the patients, and bringing the physicians to the table. You're bringing everybody to the table who needs to be there."
What Are My Job Prospects as a Nursing Administration MSN Graduate?
A career in healthcare administration is a sound choice now and for the future. In fact, the BLS predicts that jobs in the medical and health services management field will grow 18% by 2028, with 71,600 new jobs created. Compare the same forecast to a predicted 5% rate of growth across all other occupations, and the career outlook for healthcare managers is even more impressive.
Job prospects for nurse administrators are strong for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the entire healthcare industry is expanding. This is partly due to the Affordable Care Act and largely due to a rapidly aging population. Both factors place heightened demand on the industry. At the same time, the nurse's role has expanded beyond traditional bedside care to incorporate advances in technology and care delivery. Thus, in the wake of growing patient needs and an increasingly complex healthcare system, the call for nurse-driven leadership is stronger than ever.
What's the Career Outlook for MSN Nurse Administrators in Texas?
The career outlook for nurse administrators in Texas is among the best in the nation — second only to California. A Burning Glass Technologies report on healthcare administration in Texas, based on more than 4,500 relevant job openings posted between June 2018 and May 2019, predicts a 22.89% rate of growth in this career sector over the next eight years. When it comes to healthcare administration jobs nationwide, growth over the same period is expected to be 10.27% — less than half the rate in Texas, though still very strong.
These promising figures are reflected by the BLS as well. In its 2018 assessment of occupational employment statistics, the BLS notes that both Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington (#6) and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land (#8) are among the top metropolitan areas for medical and health services managers in the United States. When it comes to the highest concentration of jobs in the field, Killeen-Temple also lands in the top 10.
Texas residents with a master's in nursing administration are positioned to benefit most from current employment conditions and future projections. Burning Glass Technologies predicts that Texas will add more than 45,000 healthcare administration jobs by 2028.
Employment Trends in Texas
Figures represent employment growth for career outcomes typically associated with a master's degree in a healthcare-related area. Data from 2014 to 2018 is actual; 2028 is projected.
What Does Tuition for an Online Master's in Nursing Administration Cost?
There are several factors that influence tuition, including the number of credit hours needed to graduate. A program with 30 credit hours at a rate of $500 per credit, for instance, costs less than a 39-credit program at a rate of $425 per credit.
State residency and the difference between public and private schools also affect tuition. Private schools tend to charge higher rates, but some also offer the same tuition to in-state and out-of-state students. Public schools often cost less, but they may charge higher rates for out-of-state students, even online.
Either way, expenses vary from university to university, even for the same degree in the same state. The following sample explores tuition rates for online MSN in nursing administration/nursing leadership programs in the state of Texas:
|University||Program Credit Hours||Cost Per Credit Hour|
|Texas Christian University||36||$1,710|
|Concordia University||30 to 34||$550|
|University of Texas El Paso||33||$500|
|University of Texas Rio Grande Valley||36||$444.44|
|University of Texas Medical Branch||39||$428.56*|
|Texas A&M International University||31||$335.81|
* Includes fees
Tuition rates taken from university websites
As shown above, tuition can vary by almost 500%, with out-of-pocket expenses climbing as high as $61,560. Texas residents enrolled in TAMIU's online MSN in Nursing Administration pay $10,410.11 in tuition for the same degree.
Is Financial Aid Available to Online Students?
What If I Already Have Student Loans?
As long as your current federal loan debt remains under the limit and you're not in default, you can still apply for additional aid. You can also apply for loan deferment, which allows you to suspend payments on your existing loans while you're enrolled (at least part-time) in an accredited college or career school.
Are There Any Scholarships for Online Nursing Students?
Yes. Nurse.org has a helpful directory of links to scholarships and funding for nurses. You can also find scholarships and loan forgiveness programs using the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) guide.
Scholarships are pretty straightforward. You simply receive funding if you're selected. Loan forgiveness, on the other hand, typically requires a service agreement after you graduate. Many such programs ask you to work in an underserved area for a year or two in exchange for funding. If you're interested, you can find additional loan forgiveness programs though the Texas Department of State Health Services and U.S. News & World Report. The latter provides a helpful breakdown of options, so you can select the program that's right for you.
Does My Employer Offer Tuition Reimbursement?
If you work for a large hospital or your employer offers a generous benefits package, tuition reimbursement is likely an option. Essentially, your employer will pay a portion of your tuition, and you won't have to pay those funds back. If you're a new hire, there may be a waiting period before you become eligible, and some hospitals may ask you to commit to work for the organization for a set period of time after graduation. Every hospital is different, so review your benefits package or speak to someone in your human resources department.
Many Texas healthcare employers offer tuition reimbursement, and the list below is only a small sample. Funding can be as high as $5,250 per calendar year.
- Menninger Clinic
- Texas Health Resources
- Baylor Scott & White
- Doctors Hospital
- Valley Baptist Health System
- Touchstone Communities
- Mercy Health
- Methodist Health System
- HCA Healthcare
Can I Apply Military Education Benefits to an Online Degree?
Whether you're a veteran, current service member, military spouse or dependent, your education benefits can apply to online degrees. Just make sure your university is accredited and approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Navigating the benefits process can be complicated, but the VA offers a helpful guide for veterans and their families. Most universities also offer support services, and you can always reach out for personalized assistance.
TAMIU's Office of Veterans Affairs works with active duty service members, veterans and their families to assist with the benefits application process and certify enrollment for the VA. The office also offers support for the transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, as well as Dependents Educational Assistance program applications or Hazlewood Exemptions.
For more information, reach out to a TAMIU enrollment specialist at 844-872-8712.
How Long Does it Take to Earn an MSN in Nursing Administration Online?
Your path to graduation depends on your course load (how many classes you take at a time), but it also depends on your course schedule. On a traditional semester calendar, for instance, classes take around 15 or 16 weeks to complete. Earning your master's this way will take two to three years on average. In an accelerated program, however, courses are only 7 to 8 weeks, which cuts the completion time in half.
Students can complete TAMIU's accelerated online MSN in Nursing Administration in as few as 10 months. Even if a lighter course load works best with your schedule, you can probably graduate in under two years.
I'm Already Busy. How Do I Make Time for My Degree?
An online degree is a great choice for busy nurses, especially if you work on-call hours or unpredictable shift rotations. You can "attend class" at three in the morning, three in afternoon, or any time that works for you. Course materials and class discussions are accessible anywhere with internet access, even from your phone or tablet. You might use your phone to catch up on reading assignments while waiting to pick up your children from school, or complete your studies before and after work. You may even decide to join class discussions or view video lectures during breaks. With this approach, you won't just succeed, you'll maintain time for friends, family and yourself.
If it sounds overwhelming, don't worry. After all, your preceptors and professors, like most MSN-prepared nurses, were already working professionals when they returned to school for their degree. By balancing work, school and family for a year or two, they advanced their careers for decades to come. It's worth it, and you can likely do it too.
The most important advice I can give is to be persistent. You will have challenges, but work through them and ask for help if you need it.
How Much Time Will I Need to Study?
You can get a good estimate of your study time based on federal recommendations for college courses. The U.S. Department of Education defines a single credit hour as representative of two hours of coursework completed (outside of class) every week. This guideline is based on a traditional semester, and it doesn't count in-class activities.
Since accelerated MSN courses cover the same material as traditional courses in half the time, you should plan to study a few extra hours per week. Where a traditional three-credit course, for instance, requires around six to nine hours of study and in-class time, the accelerated version requires around nine to 12 hours.
This estimate includes about three hours of "in-class" activities, such as viewing video lectures, completing course modules and participating in class discussions. You'll spend the remaining hours on reading, studying and completing course assignments. Every student is different, however. If a particular topic is challenging, give yourself a little extra time. If you're comfortable with the subject, you might not need as much study time.
Are Professors Who Teach Online As Qualified As On-Campus Professors?
University nursing programs often employ the same professors for their online and on-campus programs. Universities that don't take this approach still hire online nursing educators with the same level of education and experience as their on-campus counterparts.
Some professors in TAMIU's MSN in Nursing Administration program are exclusively dedicated to online education, while others teach online and on-campus. Either way, they all hold doctoral degrees, mostly in nursing practice or nursing science. Nurse educators begin their careers as RNs, so they not only have clinical experience, they also understand the challenges of balancing a career in healthcare while earning a graduate degree. That's why TAMIU professors are available to students via phone, email, chat and sometimes text. Most respond within 24 to 48 hours.
I want students to be very engaged in the course, with their peers and with me. Students can meet each learning objective through the process of discussion, research, exams and projects.
So There's Really No Difference Between an Online Degree and an On-Campus Degree?
As long as your program is accredited, the only difference is the format, flexibility and convenience. Your degree is in nursing administration, no matter where or how you study. In other words, your diploma will be an MSN, not an online MSN.
Learn more about our MSN Nursing Administration online program!
How Do Online Courses Work?
Online courses are delivered through a web-based learning management system (LMS), often Canvas or Blackboard. You simply log in and click on the course you want to enter. From there, you'll find links to course materials like the syllabus, course modules or video lectures. You'll find class forums for discussion, as well as links to download readings or upload assignments. Like any other website, it takes a few minutes to get used to the layout. After that, you'll be navigating your online classroom with ease.
My Computer Is Getting Old. Do I Need a New One?
All you need is a reliable computer that can manage basic functions, like running software and browsing the internet. Just make sure you can upload and download documents and view videos. When it comes to software, your computer will need to run word processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs.
If you run into any issues, don't worry. Tech support is available to online students at TAMIU. Whether you've encountered a problem with Blackboard, a software application, hardware or connectivity, you can reach out to the Help Desk for assistance.
Are There Any Other Support Services Available to Online Students?
Every university is different, but many provide tech support, digital library access and librarian assistance. Texas A&M International University offers the same, and also sets itself apart with career support services.
Online students at TAMIU enjoy digital access to mock interviews, job searches, career counseling and resume review. If you happen to live near the main campus in Laredo, you're welcome to attend on-campus job fairs and recruitment events.
Career support for online students is as effective as it is unique. Every nursing student at TAMIU has a job offer by graduation.
What Are the Admissions Requirements for an MSN in Nursing Administration?
Every accredited MSN nursing administration program sets its own admissions policies, so requirements will vary. Even so, you can expect some combination of the following criteria:
- A BSN from an accredited college or university
- A grade point average (GPA) that meets program standards
- A valid, unencumbered RN license
- Clinical experience that meets minimum program requirements
- Letters of recommendation
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores
- Completion of a college-level statistics course
- Criminal background check and drug screening
Admission to TAMIU's online MSN in Nursing Administration requires an accredited BSN, a minimum GPA of 3.0 on all upper division nursing coursework, an unencumbered RN license in Texas, one year of RN work experience, completion of an undergraduate statistics course, a criminal background check, and a drug screening. You don't need letters of recommendation or GRE scores to apply.
When Can I Enroll?
It depends on your program. You may be able to enroll once a year, three times a year, or six times a year. Some traditional graduate degree programs only accept new students for the fall semester. Others are more flexible, allowing new students to enroll in the fall, spring and summer terms. Accelerated online programs, like TAMIU's MSN in Nursing Administration, split each term in half. You can start classes during Fall I, Fall II, Spring I, Spring II, Summer I or Summer II. The application and enrollment calendar is updated regularly, and you can apply online.
Learn more about our MSN Nursing Administration online program!
U.S. Department of Education:
Am I Eligible for Deferment?
Am I Eligible to Receive Financial Aid?
Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Getting Out of Default
How Much Can I Borrow?
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