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Online Schools for Nursing Administration Degrees: How to Choose

Students can choose among post-baccalaureate certificate or master's degree programs to gain business and clinical skills within the nursing profession. Both hybrid and fully online programs are available; fully online programs still require clinical hours.

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Students looking to earn a nursing administration degree online should research the different award levels offered, program formatting options and credentialing preparation that is offered by various schools. We discuss these topics and explore a few of the available schools and programs.

How to Select an Online Nursing Administration School

Most nursing administration programs are offered at the post-baccalaureate level. Most are designed for registered nurses with a bachelor's degree in nursing, though some schools offer bridge programs for applicants with a bachelor's degree in another area. Students must then weigh the award level with program delivery and credentialing preparations.

Award Level

An online post-baccalaureate certificate in nursing administration can be completed in 6-12 months. This type of program is appropriate for individuals with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) who wish to become administrators. It's also appropriate for those with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in another area.

Master's degree programs are generally geared towards BSN-educated nurses, though some schools offer a bridge program to those with a master's degree in another area. They generally take 15-24 months to complete and require a clinical component.

Program Structure

Programs are offered in both fully online and hybrid formats. Master's degree students need to complete 120-360 hours of clinical experience, which can be undertaken at a local clinic or healthcare organization. The school's faculty usually arranges these mentored clinical experiences.

Students can communicate with their instructors or classmates through virtual classrooms, message boards or chat rooms. Lectures are often offered through live streaming video or on DVDs, which allow students to watch on their own schedule. Most programs offer online exams, and students must verify if they need a proctor to monitor their tests.

Credentialing Prep

Students will want to make sure that a given program prepares them for their desired credentials. Completion of an online master's degree program in nursing administration qualifies graduates for Nurse Executive or Nurse Executive, Advanced certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Members must complete 30 hours of continuing education classes and meet other specific educational requirements. Additionally, nursing professionals can pursue a Certified in Executive Nursing Practice or Certified Nurse Manager and Leader certification through the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE). The latter option is offered through a partnership with the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN).

List of Online Nursing Administration Programs

Online Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Nursing Administration

A distance learning certificate program in nursing administration is designed for students who already have their bachelor's degree in nursing. This program can be completed with as few as 12 credit hours. No clinical component is required. Nursing-based courses are offered in:

  • Budgeting and financial management
  • Strategic planning
  • Program improvement and evaluation
  • Nursing organizational behavior

Online Master of Science in Nursing Administration

This program delves into a variety of issues in nursing administration. Students take graduate courses in nursing theory, health policy, research, strategic planning and other areas. A clinical practicum is required, and students must also complete one or two capstone courses. Students with a bachelor's degree in an area other than nursing generally need to take several prerequisite courses that include statistics, research, nursing advocacy and computer technology. Curriculum for the master's degree includes:

  • Nursing and healthcare administration
  • Pathophysiology
  • Leadership theory
  • Issues in nursing

Schools with Online Programs in Nursing Administration

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte offers an online Graduate Certificate in Nursing Administration. Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree and the completion of a nursing program. This 12-credit program can be completed in one year.

Liberty University has an online Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Administration program that requires 42 credit hours. Students are required to complete a practicum, but this can be done in their home state. Courses are typically eight weeks long and cover topics in research, leadership, management and more. Admission is open to graduates of nursing bachelor's degree programs who have a current RN license and at least one year of experience.

The University of Texas at Arlington also has an online Master of Science in Nursing in Nursing Administration program. Its program requires 36 credits and can be completed in 18 to 20 months. Courses are 5 to 10 weeks long, and students are required to participate in clinical experiences. Applicants will need a bachelor's degree in nursing and a current RN license. It's also recommended that they have at least two years of work experience.

Online certificates and master's degree programs in nursing administration are available to interested students. When selecting a program, students should consider which award level to pursue, whether or not the program prepares them for various credentials and what type of in-person requirements, such as clinicals or practicums, they'll be required to complete.

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