MSN & MBA Dual Degree Programs

This article introduces readers to dual Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Business Administration (MSN/MBA) degree programs. It covers admissions, coursework, online components and more.

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A dual Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Business Administration (MSN/MBA) degree allows students interested in graduate nurse training to also pick up business management skills along the way. Business management applications in nursing include overseeing other nurses and departments, implementing regulatory compliance programs and handling budgets.

General MSN/MBA Program Information

Some dual degree programs can shave a year off of the total completion time, granting the two degrees in three years instead of four. Part-time programs are also available that let the student take up to six years for completion if they prefer. Individually, the MSN and MBA degrees usually take about two years each to complete, assuming the student comes in with a bachelor's of science in nursing. In some cases, students apply to both schools and take the full program for each master's degree, while in others the programs are integrated.

Online MSN/MBA dual degree programs are available, but students should check to see how nursing practicum requirements are handled before committing.

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Coursework in MSN/MBA Programs

MSN/MBA dual degree programs often have more MBA-related coursework than nursing classes, as nursing students are usually expected to come in with a bachelor's of science in the field. It's reasonable to expect there to be about twice as many business classes, and that each semester will have either a mixture of classes or might consist only of business classes. The following are examples of possible coursework:


Students in this dual degree program will likely encounter a marketing management or advanced fundamentals class. Concepts covered in these courses include strategic marketing decisions, different types of marketing (such as goods and services), loyalty programs and positioning maps.

Human Resource Management / Strategy

Human resources classes at the graduate level focus on the role of human resources management. Students learn how human resources departments provide a competitive advantage and how managers can lead ethically. Concepts covered can include financial aspects of human resources departments, diversity, staffing and workplace safety.

Management / Strategic Leadership

A leadership class at this level focuses on practical techniques in modern organizations. Students acquire various management methods and tools as well as learning more about how their personal qualities come into play in leading others. Concepts covered can include leadership qualities, ethics, team building, delegation and handling authority.

Theoretical Basis of Nursing Practice

These courses cover concepts that are fundamental to all areas of nursing. They are meant to give nurses a strong foundation for advanced practice and are usually taught early in the program.

Nursing Practicum

Programs generally conclude with a practicum in the nurse's chosen specialty area. This is where theory taught in class is applied in a practical way to patient care, at minimum observing and assisting with actual procedures (actual patient care regulations for students vary by state). Students generally do this at a patient care facility under the oversight of a mentor.

Admissions Requirements

As mentioned previously, most programs expect applicants to have completed a bachelor's degree in nursing and have their RN license. MSN/MBA programs usually do not cover fundamental courses that are taught in a bachelor's program.

Programs may also require a minimum GPA in previous coursework (usually a minimum of 3.0), a minimum score on the GMAT or GRE, letters of recommendation, a personal statement or essay, and a resume or CV. Some programs may also require some amount of prior related work experience.

The dual MSN/MBA degree provides a path for RNs to advance and specialize in their career while also expanding their skill set to business management training. These programs are often flexible and can even be taken partially online, but be aware that regulations will likely require an in-person practicum.

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