Online MSN/MHA Dual-Degree Programs

Plenty of entry-level positions are available to nurses who hold only an associate degree, but nurses looking to advance in the field often pursue further education, such as bachelor’s degrees, additional nursing diplomas, or a master’s degree in nursing administration. Many associate degree holders pursue a master’s in nursing and in healthcare administration simultaneously through dual graduate degree programs, many of which are available online.

While MSN and MHA programs each offer unique learning outcomes, they provide a combination of nursing and administrative skills that prepares students for leadership roles in healthcare.

MSN programs typically focus on nursing education, as an MSN is the minimum requirement for nurse educators and administrators. Most MHA programs emphasize healthcare administration in the context of financial planning as well as the structure of the healthcare system. Nurses with MHA degrees typically manage staff, records, and shift scheduling. While MSN and MHA programs each offer unique learning outcomes, they provide a combination of nursing and administrative skills that prepares students for leadership roles in healthcare. After completing MSN-MHA dual-degree programs online, graduates often work as patient safety directors, managers of programs, staff development directors, nursing educators, or directors of nursing.

What is an MSN/MHA Degree?

Students completing a dual master’s degree program online develop foundational knowledge in areas of accounting, leadership, management, and economics. Students also develop their understanding of nursing practice, ethics, and organizational structure in a healthcare environment. Learners completing a MSN-MHA dual-degree program online study advanced practice techniques and leadership theory to develop their nursing and management skills.

Is an Online Master's in Health Administration and Nursing Right for Me?

Professional success in healthcare administration requires persistence, patience, and skill. Earning a master’s in nursing administration online requires significant time and financial commitments. Careers in nursing administration require advanced interpersonal skills, management skills, and knowledge of nursing practice and management techniques.

Administrative nurses often create and adjust schedules, field complaints, answer questions, develop staff, and supervise patient care. Positions in administrative healthcare involve caring for patients, managing staff members, and assisting with the development and execution of financial, strategic, and organizational plans.

Earning Your Degree Online

Many institutions across the country offer dual master’s degrees online. Students who choose to earn their master’s in nursing administration online typically have greater scheduling flexibility than on-campus students. Learners in asynchronous courses can access lectures and course materials anywhere and anytime; learners can complete assignments at home, during work breaks, or on vacation.

Many students enrolled in MSN-MHA dual-degree programs online are working registered nurses. The flexibility of online programs and the option for distance learners to take fewer courses simultaneously allow online students to work full time or meet personal obligations while earning their degrees. Additionally, online learners interact with peers from diverse locations and backgrounds.

Admissions Requirements

Applicants entering an MSN-MHA dual-degree program online must have a current RN license and must meet undergraduate GPA requirements, which vary by program. Some schools allow applicants to meet GPA requirements through alternative testing. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree. Some programs accept students with a bachelor’s degree in an area other than nursing; however, these applicants must typically have several years of work experience in the healthcare industry.

What Can I Do With an Online MSN/MHA Degree?

Registered nurses with a nursing administration degree qualify for supervisory and management roles. After completing a dual master’s degree program online, graduates typically have more employment opportunities. The healthcare industry includes a variety of leadership roles in areas such as research and statistics, finance and accounting, and communication and marketing.

To succeed in any leadership role in the field, professionals need a strong work ethic, a sense of accountability, and a desire to promote public health. After completing MSN-MHA dual degree programs online, graduates often work in supervisory or directorial roles in settings such as hospital networks, long-term care facilities, insurance agencies, and government offices. Below are three common career paths for graduates of master’s in nursing administration online programs.

Hospital Administrator

Hospital administrators keep hospital environments running smoothly. Theses professionals typically address aspects of finance, human resources, staff management and development, and strategic planning.

Clinical Nurse Manager

Clinical nurse managers coordinate nursing staff schedules, address questions and complaints, and work with other clinical managers to create new hospital policies and improve overall patient care.

Hospitalist Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner

These professionals work with hospitalized patients. Responsibilities typically include diagnosing problems, administering care, and ensuring all medical needs are met. They may also oversee other staff members.

Best Jobs For MSN/MHA Graduates by Salary Potential

Entry-Level (0–5 Years) Mid-Career (5–10 Years) Experienced (10–20 Years) Late-Career (20+ Years)
Hospital Administrator $71,000 $94,000 $97,000 $123,000
Clinical Nurse Manager $73,000 $78,000 $82,000 $85,000
Hospitalist Advanced $98,000 $103,000 $111,000 $111,000

What to Expect From an Online Master's in Nursing and Health Administration

Because MSN-MHA dual-degree programs combine two programs generally housed in different schools and taught by different faculty, curricula vary considerably by school. Additionally, online formats often allow for even more flexibility. Program length, course objectives, and the overall education experience of students completing MSN-MHA dual degree programs online are not the same at every school. However, most MSN-MHA programs share some elements, including the approximate credit requirements and general learning outcomes.

About the Program

Students earning a dual-degree master’s in hospital administration and master’s in nursing administration online typically complete 50 to 70 credits. Exact credit requirements vary by school. Completion time depends on credit requirements and program structure, but most full-time students graduate within three years. Students explore areas of leadership and management, study advanced nursing topics, and gain skills in finance, planning, and policy making.

Program Curriculum

Students completing MSN-MHA dual-degree programs online prepare for leadership roles in the healthcare industry. Curricula typically include advanced studies in nursing and business management. Students learn specialized skills applicable to healthcare practice, and they study administrative concepts, methods, and theories. MSN programs typically require a clinical residency, which often aligns with MHA capstone requirements. Studies in nursing practice and management prepare students for positions in nursing schools, nursing staff supervision, hospital management, and healthcare organization management. Although curricula vary by school, the courses below are common to most dual-degree MSN-MHA programs.

  • Operations Management: Learners study managerial concepts and common issues that arise in the management of healthcare organizations and other service environments. Students learn methods to streamline organizational effectiveness.
  • Leadership Development: Ideal for aspiring healthcare administrators or managers, this course explores leadership models and theories and their effectiveness in the workplace.
  • Economics in Healthcare: Often offered as a survey course, this class examines micro- and macroeconomics concepts and the role of economic markets in healthcare. Students are prepared to make financial decisions within an organization.
  • Ethics in Healthcare Services: Students examine the structure of healthcare in the United States, focusing on issues such as cost, quality, and accessibility. This study of the industry’s ethical framework is important for all healthcare leaders.
  • Marketing: Marketing knowledge is essential for hospital administrators and healthcare directors. This course examines principles, theories, concepts, and skills related to marketing management, marketing research, and marketing strategy.

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