The Benefits of an MSN/MBA Program

Group of nurse practitioners and nurses standing together
Group of nurse practitioners and nurses standing together

You may be asking yourself, “Why, as a nurse, should I pursue a business degree?” Well, do you want to lead healthcare’s next evolution? If your future career goals include creating the culture and values of an organization from the ground up, then enrolling in an MSN/MBA program is the ideal choice for you. Graduates are equipped to fill top tier positions within the nursing industry.

In an MSN/MBA program, you earn two degrees: a Master of Science in Nursing and a Master of Business Administration. The MSN component develops your clinical nursing skills and provides an understanding of nursing administration; the MBA component delivers specialized business training ensuring you have advanced leadership skills and a clear understanding of the financial, organizational and executive challenges impacting healthcare today.


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Career Options

Nurses who possess the dual MSN-MBA degree are eligible for many different positions, including:

  • Clinical Administrator
  • Nurse Manager
  • Nursing Supervisor
  • Nursing Director
  • Executive Manager
  • Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)

Nurses who assume managerial positions as heads of departments or clinics are transitioning from clinical roles to pure management. They are responsible for hiring and training employees, mentoring up-and-coming leaders, overseeing patient care and establishing methods to efficiently deliver care. Nurses who want to transition into a more business-oriented role can seek employment in an executive capacity within a healthcare organization. In an executive role, MSN/MBA-prepared professionals establish rules and procedures for nursing staff, create a system of organization for nursing departments and for a variety of healthcare needs and manage the regulatory and financial issues of the organization’s nursing staff.

Two high level executive roles include: the chief nursing officer (CNO), who is responsible for leading operations at a specific healthcare facility, and the systems-level CNO or corporate chief nursing officer (CCNO), who is responsible for standardizing nursing practice across the entire continuum of facilities in a healthcare network. Nurses with an MSN MBA may also seek employment in the public sector. Government agencies provide opportunities for nurses to pursue advocacy work. If you have an interest in working with elected leaders to create new policies to improve conditions for nurses and their patients, championing workplace reforms or determining ways to increase the efficiency of care delivery and funding, this may be the right path for you.

Better Patient Outcomes

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has stressed the importance of preparing leaders within the nursing profession. Effective leadership is essential in meeting the financial pressures faced by healthcare organizations as well as in maintaining healthy work environments that promote nurse retention at a time when many aging nurses are preparing to retire from the workforce. Research has consistently shown how nursing leadership can increase patient satisfaction and decrease medication errors, patient mortality, restraint use and hospital-associated infections.

Peggy Gordin, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services at St. Louis Children's Hospital, reports the intense pressure to deliver better care at a lower cost is the greatest challenge facing nurse executives. “Nurse executives must be heard,” says Gordin, “and to do so, they need to be [familiar] with the financial side of operations so they can make a case with both a clinical and a financial argument behind it." Completing an MSN/MBA program provides you with the skills set necessary to meet this challenge head on.


Completing an MSN/MBA provides you with serious earning potential. The American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) conducted a salary survey of nurse leaders and found the annual salaries of half the respondents’ fell between $90,000 and $149,999. Twelve percent earned less than $90,000 while 15 percent earned $150,000 to $179,999, 13 percent earned $180,000 to $229,999, and 10 percent earned $230,000 or more annually. Salaries increased significantly as nurse leaders gained 10 years or more of professional experience.

The AONL survey discovered that those with senior-level titles earned higher incomes than other nurse leaders. Directors (69 percent) and managers (51 percent) were likely to earn between $100,000 and $159,999 annually. CNOs typically have a higher earning potential because of the nature of their role and responsibilities as well as their advanced education and skill sets. For non-system CNOs, 58 percent earned from $100,000 to $199,999, 23 percent earned from $200,000 to $249,999, while 17 percent earned $250,000 or more. System CNOs tended to earn the highest salaries with 52 percent earning $250,000 or more.

Where Do MSN/MBA Graduates Work?

Nurses who earn a dual MSN/MBA degree benefit from curriculums that combine management, clinical work and advanced management coursework. The dual MSN/MBA degree prepares nurses to work in many different areas of nursing with enhanced salary potential and a fantastic job outlook, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Physician practice management
  • Community health centers
  • Health departments
  • HMOs
  • Home health care management
  • Consulting
  • Insurance companies

Besides the fantastic job outlook and salary options, the dual MSN/MBA degree helps nurses acquire skills that will enable them to impact the health care environment from the ground up. From policy and procedure to the bedside, this degree allows the nurse to play an integral part in creating health care’s future while continuing to provide best-practice patient care.

Optimal patient outcomes remain the primary goal for nurses at all levels. The Institute of Medicine advocates for advanced education for all nurses because increased knowledge improves patient outcomes across the board. However, it is no longer enough to have excellent clinical skills; nurse leaders must understand the financial, executive and organizational challenges of today’s healthcare climate.

Job Outlook

In the coming years, the healthcare industry will see an increase in the demand for medical services and experience job growth much greater than the average for all other occupations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical and health services managers is projected to grow 20 percent from 2016 to 2026. Demand for managers capable of organizing and managing medical information and healthcare staff will increase. The need for knowledgeable healthcare business experts makes earning an MBA in healthcare management a wise choice.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, candidates with a Master’s degree in health administration or a related field will likely have the best job prospects. Rebecca Love, RN, APN and founder of, notes: “In recent conversations we've had with national healthcare organizations looking to fill Executive Nursing Positions, [we concluded] an MBA is a basic qualification for the position. We further explored this qualification and learned that businesses feel MBA-prepared nurses have a good understanding of both patient care and business outcomes, meaning MBA qualified nurses understand outcomes that satisfy both nurses and the bottom line. And when running a business, the bottom line stands between those businesses that succeed and those that go out of business.”

Current demand is for healthcare leaders who can innovate and lead in a time of change and shrinking budgets. The MSN/MBA is a degree meant for those who want to employ business techniques to improve the healthcare industry. Earning your degree is easier than ever now that quality online programs are available.

One such online MSN/MBA is offered through Spring Arbor University. The MBA degree offers five distinct areas of concentration suited to meet your individual career goals:

  • Health Care Administration
  • Human Resource Management
  • Management
  • Organizational Development
  • Executive Leadership


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