Why This Matters


    While 65% of jobs in this field require only a bachelor’s, 12% require a master’s. A master’s degree will also make you more competitive when applying for jobs with lower education requirements.


    While 33% of nurse administrators work in hospitals, close to 40% work in other environments including doctor’s offices. They hire and train nurses and oversee the financial health of the business.


    Top jobs for MSN nurse administrators include Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) and Nursing Director, which earn about $126,000 and $114,000 per year, respectively.

Our Research

This list covers over 50 of the nation’s top master’s programs that focus on nursing administration. All of the options featured in this guide offer online programs between 30 and 90 credits.

In addition to school accreditation with federally recognized regional entities, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), all nursing programs must be approved by the state board of nursing. They must also be accredited by at least one of the two governing bodies, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Each organization sets the standards for nursing education, including new roles and responsibilities as well as research.

  • 52 hours to write this article
  • 150 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 254 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Online Master’s in Nursing Administration Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

All programs offering Master of Science degrees in nursing must be accredited by ACEN or CCNE, which is governed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). The MSN degree has several disciplines such as nurse practitioner (NP). The difference between a nurse administrator and an NP is that the NP is a patient-facing role. They provide advanced practice to diverse populations while nurse administrators, who are also registered nurses, are more like executives in the organization, in charge of hiring and policy implementation.

The outlook for nurse administrators is bright, as the job growth is much faster than average, especially with the increasingly complicated medical landscape.

All nurse administrators must be fully licensed RNs and can have any number of certifications, including the Nurse Executive Certification (NE-BC) for RNs with at least two years of experience working in a managerial capacity. For those with the NE-BC and more than two years of administration, there’s the Nurse Executive, Advanced Certification (NEA-BC).

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching online masters in nursing administration programs:

  • Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? Online MSN programs are known for being flexible, allowing students to learn full or part time as well as accommodating professional and personal commitments. Admissions are rolling throughout the year.
  • What licensing or certifications are required? In addition to the NE-BC and NEA-BC, administrative officials with extensive skills and knowledge can become a Certified Healthcare Administrative Professional (cHAP). MSN graduates with at least two years in nursing leadership positions can also become Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP) or a Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML).

Keep track of what information you need for each program as well as submission deadlines. Submit your application to the school as soon as you have everything in order to avoid missing the cut-off.

While online nursing programs are more affordable than their traditional counterparts, you can find scholarships, grants, and other opportunities to reduce out-of-pocket expenses by filling out your FAFSA application.