Online MSN MPH Dual Degree Programs

Registered nurses (RNs) seeking to advance their careers and take on high-level roles in healthcare can benefit from earning a dual master’s in public health and nursing. A master of science in nursing (MSN) degree typically focuses on developing the proficiency of RNs. RNs earning their MSN complete specialized training to prepare for advanced certification. A master of public health (MPH) program teaches students the fundamentals of promoting and improving health outcomes in community settings. This often entails collecting and using data to track the course of disease through an area, or educating a community on preventative health strategies. A joint master’s in public health and nursing provides students with expertise in both areas in a condensed period of time.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 31% increase in job opportunities for advanced practice nurses by 2026

The need for this specialization continues to grow at a much higher-than-average rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 31% increase in job opportunities for advanced practice nurses by 2026, and 16% growth for health educators and community health workers. MSN/MPH program graduates go on to work at the intersection of both fields and thus offer a unique and highly sought-after skill set enhanced by graduate-level training. Nurses with an MPH degree often take on leadership roles in public health nursing, community education, epidemiology, or maternal and child health policy development.

What is an MPH/MSN Degree?

Dual nursing master’s degree programs, such as combined MSN/MPH programs, cover a significant amount of information in two distinct fields. Through the MSN portion, nurses refine their skill set, develop a practice speciality, and prepare for advanced licensing. MPH coursework delivers a more broad-spectrum and theory-based education. Coursework often includes public health theory and practices, environmental health, biostatistics, and epidemiology. Students leave the combined program with a comprehensive understanding of both direct patient care practices and the broader public health field.

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

Selecting a graduate program is an incredibly personal decision. A master’s in public health and nursing online program prepares you to assist communities and individuals with improving their health outcomes, but also requires a substantial amount of knowledge, dedication, persistence, and patience. The degree typically takes three years to complete, and students must balance challenging coursework in two distinct fields. It’s important to make sure that the program you choose fits both your interests and strengths.

Nurses in a public health role may work in direct patient care, take on administrative roles in community preventative health, or attempt to control the spread of disease through a geographical area. Each of these roles appeals to different personalities. For example, those working directly with patients need excellent communication skills and advanced medical knowledge, while an administrative role requires big-picture thinking and leadership skills. With the numerous options available for MPH and nursing programs, you can select a program that specifically prepares for the role that suits your interests.

Earning Your Degree Online

Completing a master’s in public health and nursing online program rather than attending a traditional on-campus program is a convenient option for many students. RNs enrolled in master’s in nursing and public health online programs often need to continue working while completing their coursework. Their sometimes erratic schedules and long hours make attending a traditional program challenging. Most online programs make working while studying possible by offering asynchronous coursework that students can complete at their own pace and at times convenient to them. Learners with families can also accommodate both their home and academic obligations.

Additionally, students don’t need to regularly commute to campus when earning an online degree, saving time and money. Online learners can conveniently access their educational materials from anywhere at any time. Distance learning also opens up a world of connections outside of the classroom. Faculty and classmates may live and work around the globe, and both educational and professional opportunities may present themselves within your unique network.

Admission Requirements

Prospective students must fulfill several admission requirements before applying to a master’s in public health and nursing program. Candidates typically need to earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and hold active licensure as an RN. While some nurses hold an RN license without a BSN, joint master’s programs generally require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree. Applicants must submit official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Many programs require a minimum GPA of 3.0 and recent GRE scores, though some schools may waive the GRE requirement for students with a certain GPA from their undergraduate coursework.

What Can I Do with an MSN/MPH Degree?

Students earning a dual MSN and public health degree can pursue a variety of professional opportunities, often involving promoting public health, educating communities, or working with children and families. This dual degree gives RNs the chance to learn new evidence-based medical techniques while learning how to analyze societal norms and how they shape public health interventions. Careers include becoming a public health nurse, an epidemiologist, a public health analyst, or the director a public health agency. To be successful, students need strong communication skills, interest in research, and an understanding of medical and public health ethics and regulations.

Graduates may work locally or globally, and tend to concentrate on a specific population or in a medical speciality that fits their interest area, such as child and maternal health or community-based preventative health initiatives. Government agencies, nonprofits, hospitals, trade schools, and national healthcare organizations employ professionals with this dual focus. Each type of employer offers different schedules, work environments, and directives. Students hoping to work directly with individual patients may choose to become public health nurses, while graduates with an administrative focus may pursue leadership roles in global health agencies.

Public Health Nurse

A public health nurse holds an advanced specialization and often focuses on patient and community health education. These professionals seek to increase public awareness of preventive medicine and teach patients the foundations of healthy living.

Public Health Analyst

Public health analysts conduct and analyze research and then use their findings to implement health solutions. They also help connect patients with services in order to improve health outcomes.

Public Health Specialist

Public health specialists work in a variety of roles to improve individual and community health. They often provide training workshops, facilitate policy development, and perform data, location, and environment assessments.

Best Jobs for MSN/MPH Graduates by Salary Potential

Entry-Level (0-5 Years) Mid-Career (5-10 Years) Experienced (10-20 Years) Late-Career (20+ Years)
Public Health Nurse $51,000 $56,000 $62,000 $61,000
Public Health Analyst $55,000 $78,000 $83,000 $61,000
Public Health Specialist $46,000 $46,000 $49,000 $84,000

Source: PayScale

What to Expect from a Master's in Nursing and Public Health Online

Master’s in nursing and public health online programs differ widely in format, length, and concentration options. Students can generally expect to take entry-level and advanced concentration courses through both the nursing and public health departments. While a few programs offer completely online options, most require on-site work experience, a practicum, or clinical experience hours supervised by an advanced practice nurse. Some schools also require capstone projects; these projects demonstrate a student’s understanding of the overlaps of medicine and public health, and projects can often apply to the final requirements for both degrees. It’s important to research each degree carefully to ensure that you understand the requirements and outcomes.

About the Program

MSN/MPH programs focus on educating nurses to take on leadership positions. Typically, students apply to and enroll in both the nursing and public health programs at a specific school, and then further declare their specialities. As schools often allow credit transfer between the two departments, students can graduate in less time than if they completed their degrees through two separate programs. In a school that allows shared credits between departments, the program may only require 44 total credits. Programs generally take 18-36 months to complete. Because of this flexibility, learners can tailor their educational experience to meet their professional interests and desired graduation date.

Program Curriculum

With combined expertise in nursing and public health theory, MSN/MPH students develop a powerful skill set that contributes to major improvements in overall community health and positively influences policy making and resource allocation. In a typical structure, the curriculum consists of a core selection of coursework covering foundational knowledge in both fields. Students then select a speciality within both nursing and public health enhanced by elective coursework. Depending on specialization options, a nurse may train as an advanced practitioner in their MSN program and then gain additional expertise in a topic like developing healthcare solutions for high-risk populations in their public health program. Read on for details of sample course offerings in MSN/MPH programs.

Example Courses:

  • Public Health Theories and Framework: This course covers the theoretical foundations of public health and how these theories impact major health issues like cancer and HIV/AIDS. Students also learn to analyze health structures and implement improvement methods.
  • Community Health Education: As advanced nurses commonly manage patient education, this class teaches them educational theory and how to run community health education programs. The course also examines how to evaluate the efficacy of previous teaching methods.
  • Fundamentals of Epidemiology: Epidemiology is the study of the spread and possible control of diseases and other health-related conditions. This class examines research methods and study design and how to effectively apply them to human systems to evaluate infectious disease.
  • Culturally Responsive Nutrition Promotion for Latinos: This type of elective course sits at the intersection of public health and nursing. Students in this course learn to develop and enforce a nutritional program that simultaneously promotes health and respects cultural preferences.
  • Context of Healthcare for Advanced Practice Nursing: This course investigates the different roles and responsibilities of nurses in advanced clinical or managerial positions. It focuses on advancing healthcare efficacy, evaluations, and outcomes.

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