Leadership in Nursing: Why Get a Dual Degree?

Female nurse leader looking confident with male nurses standing behind her
Female nurse leader looking confident with male nurses standing behind her

Spring Arbor University’s online MSN/MBA dual degree prepares students for leadership roles in nursing. Graduates can feel confident and ready to sit for the Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) exam or the Nurse Executive-Board Certification (NE-BC). The online MSN/MBA program prepares students for either, so they can earn the credential best suited to their career aspirations.

What are the Benefits of a Dual Degree?

Spring Arbor’s online MSN/MBA dual degree is designed for those who want to assume managerial roles and guide the quality of healthcare. A dual degree demonstrates your expertise in the practice of nursing and business to potential employers- making you a prime candidate for upper-level positions.

Glimpsing at the MSN-MBA Degree

Students in the online MSN/MBA program earn two degrees in a shorter span of time than it would take to earn both separately. Both degrees serve a purpose:

  • The Master of Science in Nursing attests to your mastery of crucial healthcare concepts and practice
  • The Master of Business Administration showcases equal expertise in the delivery of efficient business operations

The benefit of a dual degree in nursing and business is that you are maximizing your preparation for a leadership role within the healthcare field, and it sets you apart as knowledgeable with advanced education in both spheres.

What is the Job Outlook for an MSN/MBA Degree?

Those who graduate with an MSN/MBA dual degree benefit from substantial growth in career potential. There are many opportunities for advancement; some roles include Clinical Manager (involving the oversight of an entire facility), Health Information Manager (which puts you in charge of managing specific facility divisions), or even an Independent Consultant (where you use your nursing and MBA acumen to offer expert feedback to healthcare organizations, insurance companies, or similar entities).

How are Leadership Roles Trending in Healthcare?

Industry trends are promising and show a rise in demand. Given the overall shortage of nurses within the healthcare industry, there is a consistent need for qualified nurses across the market. To put this into numbers:

  • The federal government reported the American consumers spent $3.65 trillion on healthcare in 2018, and this expenditure is projected to grow at over 5 percent each year between 2018 and 2027
  • The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS) forecasts a much-faster-than-average 20 percent growth in demand for health services managers by 2026
  • A landmark 2010 report published by the Tri-Council for Nursing noted the ongoing nursing shortage and stated concerns that such a shortage could raise for the healthcare economy

This means that the healthcare market is flourishing and thus makes qualified, credentialed MSN/MBA professionals desirable and well compensated. Let’s look at a few quick data points:

  • The USBLS logged a median salary of $99,730 for health services managers in 2018, with these salary numbers trending higher for those with advanced credentials like the MSN/MBA degree
  • Payscale.com reports that the average salary for Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs) falls just over $127,000, with those in the upper tier reaching $200,000 annually (not including the potential for bonuses)

While these numbers might fluctuate depending on the position and regional location, they reinforce how a dual MSN/MBA degree opens up pathways to a variety of roles that are in demand with substantial salaries.

Licensure and Credentialing

SAU’s accredited, online MSN/MBA dual degree helps nurses prepare for the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) Certified Nurse Manager and Leader (CNML) exam, as well as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Nurse Executive-Board Certification (NE-BC) exam. The subsequent credentials attest to industry-specific knowledge and leadership abilities. Let’s briefly look at some specifics about each exam:

The ANCC NE-BC exam:

  • Three and a half hour in length
  • Includes 175-question multiple choice questions
  • Qualifies you, when passed, for the Nurse Executive Certification designation, which is valid for five years and can be renewed following the ANCC’s requirements.

The AONL CNML exam:

  • Two hours in length
  • Includes 115-question multiple choice questions
  • When passed, qualifies you for the Certified Nurse Manager and Leader designation, which is valid for three years after initial qualification and can be renewed following the AONL’s requirements. 

Preparing to Lead

SAU’s online MSN/MBA dual degree prepares students to maximize their potential.  Uniquely designed for working professionals, this dual degree program allows you to continue working full-time, priming you for an enriching career as a healthcare leader. Contact an online advisor to learn more.

To discover which exam is right for you, read our blog “ANCC or AONL- Which Exam Should I Take?”


“Average Chief Nursing Officer Salary.” Payscale.com. Accessed 2 July 2019 from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm

 “CNML Examination and Program Handbook.” American Organization for Nursing Leadership. Accessed 2 July 2019 from: https://www.aonl.org/system/files/media/file/2019/04/AONE%20CNML%20Handbook%204.19.pdf

“Medical and Health Services Managers.” United States Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Outlook Handbook. Accessed 2 July 2019 from: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm

“Nurse Executive Certification.” American Nurses Credentialing Center. Accessed 2 July 2019 from: https://www.nursingworld.org/our-certifications/nurse-executive/

“Nursing Shortage.” American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Accessed 2 July 2019 from: https://www.aacnnursing.org/News-Information/Fact-Sheets/Nursing-Shortage

Andrea M. Sisko, et al. “National Health Expenditure Projections, 2018-2027: Economic and Demographic Trends Drive Spending and Enrollment Growth.” Accessed 2 July 2019 from: https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/abs/10.1377/hlthaff.2018.05499

Henry R. Steele, “10 Things to Do with a MSN MBA Degree.” Businessstudent.com. Accessed 2 July 2019 from: https://www.businessstudent.com/education/things-to-do-with-a-msn-mba-degree/

“2019 Global Health Care Outlook.” Deloitte. Accessed 2 July 2019 from: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Images/infographics/lifesciences-healthcare/gx-lshc-hc-outlook-2019-infographic.pdf