Best Online Master’s in Nursing Administration

Find a top-ranked online MSN in administration that fits with your academic, professional, and financial goals.

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EduMed Staff

last updated

Last Updated: 09/22/2021
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Graduating from an online master’s in nursing administration can help you pursue high-level management roles offering job stability and increased earnings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 18 percent increase in medical and health service management roles between 2018 and 2028, with each averaging salaries just under six figures. Researching programs to find the perfect school is a key first step, and we’ve made that easier for you with our 2021 list of the best online MSN nursing administration programs. We’ve analyzed hundreds of online programs from across the country and ranked them based on factors like affordability, study flexibility, and curriculum quality. Our list features accredited programs with high standards and reasonable tuition costs compared to the competition. See which MSN programs are your best bet in 2021.

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About the ranking

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Methodology for EduMed’s 2021 Best Online Programs

1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

2. Assign Weightings

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.

Affordability

  • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2021

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 University of HoustonHouston, TX Public $$ 1

The College of Nursing at the University of Houston offers the Master of Science in Nursing Administration, open to those who have a BSN, at least one year of work experience, and an unencumbered RN license. Students choose between fully online and hybrid programs, though their lab, practicum, and clinical requirements must be completed in person at sites convenient for students and approved by the school. Applications must include letters of recommendation, a personal statement, proof of clinical readiness requirements, and an interview. Orientation is mandatory, even for those taking courses online.

Program Highlights:

MSN - Nursing Administration

  • Credits: 47
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $23,098.00/program
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
48%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
2 The University of Texas Rio Grande ValleyEdinburg, TX Public $$ 1

The Master of Science in Nursing, Nurse Administration at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley prepares students to help diverse populations through planned programs, education, and advocacy. Graduates demonstrate leadership skills in research, policy, organization, and healthcare management. The program is offered in a traditional 16-week semester format and entirely online starting every fall semester. Aspiring students must have valid RN licenses in their states of residence and BSNs with at least a 3.0 GPA, pass criminal background checks, and provide the transcripts, personal statements, and proof of completion of a basic statistics course to be considered.

Program Highlights:

MSN - Nurse Administration

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: 4 semesters
  • Cost: $3,894.17/semester (in-state); $7,575.17/semester (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
45%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
3 Kent State University at KentKent, OH Public $$$ 1

The Nursing Administration and Health Systems Leadership Online Master’s Program at Kent State University prepares graduates for work in mid- to upper-level management positions within the healthcare system. Students take courses covering management in the healthcare context with a focus on policy, legal, and regulatory issues. Expert faculty teach 100% online courses that start in either the fall or spring semester. Students choose to attend full-time or part-time. Two practicum courses combine for 300 hours of hands-on learning at a site that is convenient to the student. The program is available for students in 14 states. Explore the Kent State University website to determine if your state is eligible before applying.

Program Highlights:

MSN /MBA/Post-Graduate Certificate - Nursing Administration and Health Systems Leadership

  • Credits: Varies
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $462.30/credit (in-state); $925.30/credit (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
79%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
4 The University of Texas Health Science Center at San AntonioSan Antonio, TX Public $ 1

Those who have BSNs can pursue their MSNs in Administrative Management at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Applicants must have unencumbered RN licenses in Texas or a licensure-compact state and three professional references and complete an interview. While most courses are online, the program does require some clinical rotations and labs to be completed on campus. Those labs are offered at the unique, state-of-the-art Center for Simulation Innovation. There are over 40 scholarship opportunities available for those in the MSN program, helping to bring down the already reasonable cost of tuition.

Program Highlights:

MSN - Administrative Management

  • Credits: 43
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $6,439.50/semester (in-state); 11,840.90 (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
5 Liberty UniversityLynchburg, VA Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 1

Students in the Master’s in Nursing Administration program at Liberty University can complete their studies in 36 credit hours or an average of 18 months. They do this through 100% online courses with new courses offered every eight weeks, helping assure steady progress to the goal. They can also transfer in up to 50% of credits from other institutions, making completion of their MSN even easier. Students counter courses on financial resource management, systems management and leadership, human resources, organizational design and structure, legal and ethical considerations, and more. Those who want to earn the degrees even faster can take advantage of the accelerated option and graduate in a year.

Program Highlights:

MSN - Nursing Administration

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: 1 year to 18 months
  • Cost: $565.00/credit
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
89%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
6 The University of Texas at ArlingtonArlington, TX Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
54%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
7 Weber State UniversityOgden, UT Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
59%
AccreditationNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
8 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical CampusDenver, CO Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
50%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
9 Nebraska Wesleyan UniversityLincoln, NE Private, Not-for-Profit $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
100%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
10 University of Cincinnati-Main CampusCincinnati, OH Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
54%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
11 Old Dominion UniversityNorfolk, VA Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
70%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
12 Pennsylvania State University-Main CampusUniversity Park, PA Public $$$$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
31%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
13 Grand Canyon UniversityPhoenix, AZ Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
97%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
14 University at BuffaloBuffalo, NY Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
65%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
15 Texas State UniversitySan Marcos, TX Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
12%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
16 Ohio University-Main CampusAthens, OH Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
83%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
17 The University of Texas at TylerTyler, TX Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
48%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
18 Texas A & M University-Corpus ChristiCorpus Christi, TX Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
4%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
19 Texas A & M International UniversityLaredo, TX Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
37%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
20 Arkansas State University-Main CampusJonesboro, AR Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
67%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission

Spotlight Schools for the Online MSN in Administration

Looking for even more accredited online MSN administration programs to add to your scouting list? Check out the two we’ve profiled in detail below. While they didn’t make our list of top programs, they’re still great options to consider, and may be the best fit for you.

UNC – Charlotte

UN–CHARLOTTE

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte offers a fully online master’s in nursing administration comprising 36 hours and requiring 27 months of part-time study. Applicants should possess an unrestricted RN license from North Carolina or a compact state when they apply, alongside an accredited BSN degree. Other requirements include a 3.0 GPA, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, at least one year of professional nursing experience, and completion of a college-level statistics course.

Topics explored include research in nursing and health professions, health informatics and financial management for nurses, and instructional technology in nursing education. All students participate in a capstone project that demonstrates their academic growth throughout the program. Upon meeting all requirements, learners meet requirements for the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s nursing administration or nursing administration advanced certification. The department admits new candidates in the fall, spring, and summer; it offers flexible schedules to meet the needs of working nurses.

Capella University

CAPELLA-UNIVERSITY

Capella University offers an online master’s in nursing administration that can be completed in as few as 12 months and costs as little as $11,000. The school provides two options for undertaking coursework: the GuidedPath or the FlexPath. The former offers a more traditional, structured experience while the latter provides for motivated students who want to move at their own speed.

Regardless of path, plan to complete 54 credits in areas of leadership and management for nurse executives, healthcare quality and safety management, and advanced finance and operations management. You also participate in a practicum to meet graduation requirements. A 2018 survey found that 97% of employers felt Capella graduated students as proficient or excellent practitioners while 96% of alumni were satisfied with the education they received. Qualified students can receive a $3,000 scholarship to cut costs. CU’s program maintains accreditation via CCNE.

Accreditation for Your Online MSN in Administration

Finding an accredited school and program is exceptionally important for future nurse leaders; failing to do so can result in problems receiving licensure or finding employment. Accreditation exists in both institutional and programmatic forms. Institutional accreditation ensures schools as a whole adequately prepare students. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes six regional accreditations, each of which you can learn more about through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

When it comes to nursing-specific accreditation, the names to know are the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education (ACEN). While the CCNE accredits only bachelor’s and master’s level programs, ACEN accredits degrees at all levels. Both provide searchable databases that allow you to ensure any school you attend is properly accredited.

Online-MSN-Administration
Online-MSN-Administration

What to Expect from Your Online Master’s in Nursing Administration

Not all online master’s in nursing administration programs are created equally, so taking time to assess degree outcomes is a wise choice. Factors to consider include curricula, cost, graduation rates, and career prospects. We take a closer look at these in the following sections.

What does an online MSN in administration and leadership cover?

While every online MSN in nursing administration is different, these programs often have similar plans of study – especially when it comes to core subjects. Some of the classes you may encounter while enrolled include:

Advanced Information Management for Nursing Professionals

Students consider questions around tools and applications used in healthcare to best store and use patient data. Specific topics may include database development, data management, current trends, best-practices, and health informatics.

Healthcare Financial Management and Business Principles

Offered as part of core studies, this class examines common financial principles governing the healthcare industry while also reviewing systems in place for creating secure and orderly files. Emphasis is placed on developing financial management and budgeting skills.

Organizational Performance Management for Nurse Leaders

This course exists to help RNs make the move into leadership roles. They learn about concepts around productivity maximization, employee morale, and efficiency while also examining case studies around common issues arising.

The Future of Nursing Administration

With a focus on emerging technologies and changes in the industry, this class considers both local and global factors influencing the evolution of nursing. Learners consider current and future healthcare needs while using critical thinking skills to find answers.

Nursing Administration Capstone

Taken in the final semester, this class calls on degree seekers to take all the knowledge and skills gained throughout the degree to create a comprehensive project. Capstone projects typically identify an issue within nursing administration before seeking innovative and evidence-based solutions.


Aside from the wealth of knowledge gained during an online master’s in nursing administration, graduates also walk away with concrete, actionable skills they can use in everyday practice. A few of these include:

  • Leadership
  • Operations Management
  • Oral and Written Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Multitasking

What are the admission requirements for the program?

As with other components, admission requirements for an online master’s in nursing administration depend heavily on the individual school. While specifics can vary substantially, most of the components are similar. These typically include a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited institution, an active and unencumbered RN license, minimum general and degree-specific GPAs, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and an updated resume. Some schools may also require a GMAT or GRE score. Review requirements carefully to ensure you provide every requested document.

How long does an online MSN in administration take?

Several important factors can affect the time it takes to complete an online MSN in administration, although the standard program takes approximately two years of full-time study. Part-time programs take longer while accelerated paths often allow learners to graduate in 12-18 months.

Nursing departments recognize that many individuals pursuing an online master’s in nursing administration need to maintain their full-time nursing jobs while enrolled and most provide flexible plans of study that make it easier to balance professional and personal responsibilities alongside academic commitments.

How much does earning an MSN in administration online cost?

The cost of an MSN in administration depends heavily on several key factors, including whether the school exists as a public or private institution, whether you qualify for in-state tuition, how long it takes to graduate, and how much funding you secure. Public schools in your state of residence generally offer the lowest base rate of tuition, but some schools allow distance learners to take advantage of online tuition regardless of location. Private schools tend to set the highest tuition due to receiving less governmental funding. Here’s what an online MSN in administration costs at our featured schools above:

UNC – Charlotte

  • $310/credit
  • Total estimated cost: $11,148

SUNY – Delhi

  • In-state: $471/credit
  • Out-of-state (online programs): $565/credit

Capella University

  • $2,700/semester

Funding Your MSN in Administration Online

Earning a graduate degree is a serious investment. Although tuition rates have risen over the past decade, plenty of funding opportunities exist to help drive the cost down. It’s important to line up scholarships and other types of awards prior to starting a program to ensure getting a degree doesn’t place you under financial duress. Make sure you investigate all of these options thoroughly:

1

Scholarships

Scholarships are awarded by many different sources, including local and state governments, colleges and universities, professional nursing associations, hospitals and healthcare facilities, nonprofits, and private foundations. Application deadlines vary, but start your search early to avoid disappointment.

2

Financial aid

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) qualifies you to take advantage of several federal grants, awards, secured loans, and work-study programs. These applications must be filled out each year of enrollment. Money is awarded on a rolling basis, so apply early.

3

Employer Tuition Reimbursement

If your employer offers employer tuition reimbursement or agrees to create such a program, you can receive up to $5,250 in non-taxed educational assistance per year of enrollment. Speak with a supervisor to learn if this is possible.

4

Fellowships

Many graduate nursing departments provide student fellowships or assistantships to help offset costs. In exchange for working as a teaching or research assistant, you can receive tuition remittance and/or a stipend. These can be competitive, so speak with an admission specialist to learn more.

What’s Next? After Earning Your MSN Administration Online

Before you commit to any degree, take time to learn more about the nursing administration industry and whether jobs are projected to flourish in the coming years. Consider whether available positions offer livable wages for your needs and if opportunities for growth exist. Here are a few questions and answers to help you get a better picture of advanced nursing education:

Do I need certification or licensure to work as a nurse administrator?

To apply for an online master’s in nursing administration, you must possess an active and unencumbered RN license. This license must be renewed and maintained throughout your entire nursing career.

Within the world of nursing administration, the American Nurses Credentialing Center offers the Nurse Executive Board Certification (NE-BC). This competency-based test ensures recent graduates possess the skills and knowledge required to work as an advanced practice nurse and competently manage other nurses. This credential must be renewed every five years; the process includes participating in continuing education to maintain licensure.

certification-or-licensure
certification-or-licensure

What can you do with a master’s in nursing administration?

Pursuing a master’s in nursing administration qualifies you to take on advanced practice nurse (APN) roles in areas of leadership and administration. Graduates of these programs often go on to high-level positions in executive and/or supervisory positions that offer high levels of pay and opportunities to continue growing professionally. The healthcare discipline in general shows strong signs of expansion, with healthcare occupations in general expected to grow by 14% between 2018 and 2028. We highlight just a few possible careers below.

nursing-administration-chart
nursing-administration-chart

How much can you earn with a master’s in nursing administration?

Data from Payscale shows that graduates of MSN programs earn average salaries of nearly $93,000, making this a great option for those seeking a job with substantial earning potential. When considering how much money you could make, remember that two factors greatly influence earnings: level of degree and amount of experience. The following table shows the spectrum of salaries, based on education, experience, and location for various professions available to MSN admin holders:

Career #Employed Entry-Level Early Career Mid-Career Experienced Late Career
Chief Nursing Executives 16,790 $79,870 $113,520 $173,770
General and Operations Managers 118,250 $45,120 $62,490 $90,800 $132,720 $200,130
Medical and Health Services Managers 295,550 $57,260 $73,990 $96,880 $127,230 $174,160
Health & Nursing Educators 30,840 $32,350 $39,240 $53,910 $73,970 $93,820
Health Teachers, Postsecondary 16,100 $59,760 $83,400 $126,360 $183,890
Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary 11,900 $60,140 $89,920 $140,070 $192,260

Related Degrees in Nursing

While this page focuses on online master’s in nursing administration programs, these qualifications represent only a fraction of advanced degrees available in nursing. After learning more about what an online MSN in administration entails, you may find you want something a little different. Plenty of opportunities exist to advance with continuing education or pivot to a related career with a second degree. Take a look at a few of the degree options that may be a good fit if you’re studying or working in nursing.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) – Public Health

These degrees appeal to individuals who want to use their advanced nursing degree to identify, study, and address public health issues. Studies focus on building knowledge and skills in areas of population health, epidemics, and community program development and management.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) – Nursing Informatics

Designed for nurses who want to use data and analytics to maximize the effectiveness of their care, this degree blends advanced nursing concepts alongside information technology. Students learn how to improve patient outcomes, reduce costs, and provide an overall exceptional experience.