Compare School Options

Most schools have rolling admissions and financial help so you can start your degree in a few weeks!

Registered nurses wanting to advance in their careers and take on more responsibility should consider earning an online master’s in nursing administration. Nursing administrators decide how healthcare facilities should operate, drawing on their clinical experience, business savvy, and managerial skills.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth of 28% (much faster than average) for medical and health services managers from 2022 to 2032, with a median annual salary of $104,830.

Most schools estimate that their online master’s degree programs take one to three years to complete, but this depends on the number of required credits and how many you take each year. Some programs have about 30 credits, while others have more than 60. Generally, graduate school tuition is around $20,500 per year.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Nursing Administration Program

Choose your area of study

Nursing administration is often available as a concentration option in Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs. The first step in choosing an online MSN in nursing administration program is deciding on your specific career goals. Graduates can work at hospitals, insurance offices, rehabilitation facilities, outpatient clinics, and other healthcare facilities. Look for programs offering courses and in-person experiences that match what you would like to do after you graduate.

While this degree typically is for licensed registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, there are some master’s degree programs that cater to those who do not have this other degree. Some accelerated and direct-entry programs, for instance, allow students to enroll if they have a degree in a subject other than nursing. They often need to complete additional coursework, such as physiology, human anatomy, and statistics, and secure a registered nursing license during their studies.

Research schools and programs

You should only apply to institutions that have been approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Those who attend a school that isn’t regionally accredited may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Your master’s in nursing administration program should also be accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. These programmatic accrediting organizations have particularly high standards for nursing education. You’ll need to attend a school with this programmatic accreditation to earn your nursing license as well.

You should also research each program’s policies for supervised clinical practice hours. Ask how the school facilitates this requirement. Does the school assist online students in securing a clinical placement, or can students meet this requirement at any facility, such as your current workplace?

Online students should have a well-rounded educational experience. What support services does the school offer for online students, such as career services or mentoring? Are there networking opportunities, such as an alumni association?

To learn more about any schools that you’re interested in, you can visit the school’s website, contact an admissions counselor, follow the school on social media, or attend an in-person or virtual open house.

Prepare for tests and applications

Each program varies in its application requirements and process. However, most online master’s degree programs in nursing administration require:

  • A bachelor’s degree or higher in nursing
  • Transcripts from previous colleges
  • Letter(s) of recommendation from academic and professional references
  • A resume or record of employment history
  • A personal essay or statement of purpose describing your achievements and plans

Some programs also require students to submit standardized test scores, such as those from the GRE. If you need to take the GRE, prepare and sit for the exam while researching schools.

Before submitting an application, always contact an admissions counselor to ensure you have the most accurate information regarding requirements and deadlines.

Select your program

Some students apply to a single program that aligns with their needs and interests, while others target multiple schools to boost their chances of acceptance. Whatever you decide, be aware that most schools charge application fees. If you need financial assistance with these fees, contact the school to ask about a fee waiver.

Before making your final decision, review your needs and goals again. Do you plan to attend school full-time or part-time? Do you want your program to be as online as possible, or are you fine with a hybrid program that has a fair amount of in-person requirements? Some programs offer asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace, while others only offer synchronous courses, which involve remotely attending lectures and completing assignments at the same time as other students — which of these two online learning formats do you prefer? Your school should accommodate your scheduling needs and learning preferences.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Every school with an online master’s in nursing administration program should specify the financial support students can receive, including fellowships, scholarships, grants, assistantships, and work-study. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines eligibility for federal student loans and need-based institutional aid.

Working students should check whether their employer’s tuition assistance benefits can offset their costs. For more detailed information about how to pay for your degree, consult with your school’s financial aid office.

The Top 50 Online Master’s in Nursing Administration Programs

Best Online Master's in Nursing Administration Programs Badge

GW School of Nursing

Duke University School of Nursing

Ohio State University

Rush University

University of Maryland School of Nursing

University of Central Florida

Drexel University

Iowa College of Nursing

Duquesne University School of Nursing

University of North Carolina

University of Colorado

University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing

Virginia Commonwealth University

Marquette University

University of Alabama

University of South Carolina

Stony Brook School of Nursing

ECU College of Nursing

U-M School of Nursing

University of Mary

FAU College of Nursing

Western Governors University

Liberty University

Indiana Wesleyan University

Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences

Lamar University

NMSU Global Campus

Ball State University

Robert Morris University

Union University

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

UTMB School of Nursing

Benedictine University

Gardner-Webb University

The University of Texas at Arlington

Saint Joseph's College of Maine

University of St. Francis

Texas A&M International University

Fort Hays State University

Sacred Heart University

Lenoir-Rhyne University

Norwich University

Queens University of Charlotte

Jacksonville University

University of South Alabama

The University of Texas at El Paso

Saint Xavier University

Indiana State University

Discover More Options

How We Rank Schools

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

In addition to regional accreditation, the options on this list have received programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). These organizations set the standards for nursing education.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Nursing Administration Program?

Online master’s in nursing administration programs vary based on the school, but students can expect a core curriculum covering healthcare policy and regulations, effective communication, and resolving personnel matters.

This degree typically requires a certain amount of clinical in-person fieldwork, but if you’re already working in the nursing field, this might not interfere with your full-time job. Talk with a school admissions counselor if you’re concerned about how to balance various obligations.

A master’s degree in nursing administration opens a variety of career paths, some of which might involve additional certification. For instance, a nurse manager who handles the daily operations of a nursing unit might be certified by the American Organization for Nursing Leadership. Some nursing directors, who supervise nursing managers and are responsible for entire departments, might seek certification through the American Association of Nursing Services or the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Check with the school about any credentials you might like to pursue.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in nursing administration degree program

  • Healthcare Administration. Students improve their leadership skills to learn how to become effective administrators. Expect to cover ethical issues in healthcare and how to collaborate with teams and individuals, build relationships, and resolve conflicts.
  • Health Systems Management. A nursing administrator needs practical training in managing healthcare systems. A course like this introduces theoretical frameworks while also teaching how to evaluate healthcare models, implement changes system-wide, and manage personnel.
  • Healthcare Financial Management. Nursing administrators also must manage healthcare resources efficiently and effectively. Here, students discuss making financial decisions regarding patient care.
  • Health Policy. Expect to cover how political processes, legislation, and healthcare regulations shape the healthcare system. A course like this also addresses disparities in quality of care and healthcare access.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Nursing Administration?

Career outlook

The career outlook for individuals with an online master’s in nursing administration is exceptionally promising, aligning with the growing demand for healthcare leadership. This surge in demand is attributed to an aging population, increased healthcare needs, and evolving healthcare systems.

Indeed, graduates with an online master’s in nursing administration have many career paths open to them, showcasing the program’s versatility in healthcare leadership. Here are some prominent career trajectories:

  • Health services manager — Manage a healthcare practice or department and supervise medical staff.
    • Median annual salary: $104,830
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 28%
    • New job openings projected: 54,700 annually
  • Advanced practice registered nurse — In addition to standard nursing duties, APRNs also handle more complex tasks such as prescribing medication, ordering tests, and referring patients to specialists.
    • Median annual salary: $125,900
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 38%
    • New job openings projected: 29,200 annually
  • Management analyst — Advise organizations on how to improve efficiency.
    • Median annual salary: $95,290
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 10%
    • New job openings projected: 92,900 annually

Online Master’s in Nursing Administration Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master’s in nursing administration degree program?

Each school’s application process is different. Start with the school’s application webpage, which might direct you to the school’s online portal for accepting applications. Some schools also use streamlined admissions application systems such as the Common Application, or Common App, which enables students to upload their materials and apply to multiple schools.

Make sure to gather electronic or digital versions (such as PDFs) of all the required information, such as work experience, college transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendation. Talk with a school admissions counselor if you need help using an online application system or are concerned about meeting the correct submission deadlines.

How much does an online master’s in nursing administration cost?

The average cost of graduate school tuition is $20,513, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Private schools tend to be much more expensive than public schools, and public schools typically charge higher tuition rates to out-of-state students than in-state students.

The total amount you end up paying for your degree will depend on your program’s cost per credit, the number of credits required, fees, and other expenses, such as books. You’ll also want to consider how any in-person clinical hours will affect your earning time at your current job.

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in nursing administration degree?

While this depends on the curriculum, most schools estimate their online master’s programs in nursing administration take about one to three years to complete.

Attending full-time or part-time affects this timetable, as does the total number of credits required. Some schools offer accelerated programs that allow qualifying students to graduate in less than one year.

Is an online master's in nursing administration worth it?

Earning an online master’s in nursing administration equips healthcare professionals with advanced leadership and management skills, preparing them for elevated roles in the dynamic healthcare landscape. Nurses with postgraduate degrees are in high demand across the country and abroad, and they are frequently rewarded with a high salary and excellent benefits.

The flexibility of online learning allows nursing professionals to advance their education without compromising their current roles. This convenience, coupled with the potential for increased earning potential and career advancement, makes pursuing an online master’s in nursing administration a valuable investment in one’s professional growth.