Nursing Administration Degree Program Overviews

Graduate degrees in nursing administration are intended for experienced nurses seeking advancement in the field. These programs are available at the master's and Ph.D. levels.

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Essential Information

Nursing administrators work in management and leadership roles in any number of health care environments. In part, they must ensure optimum patient care and oversee nursing teams, hospital or nursing home units or full departments. The degree programs are typically intended for licensed nurses who want to advance their careers and may be offered online to accommodate working professionals. Most graduate curricula include a combination of classroom study, research and/or practical experience to complete the degree.


Master's Degree in Nursing Administration

For admission into this program, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing is typically required. Most schools also require applicants to hold an active Registered Nurse (RN) license and submit GRE scores.

Once enrolled, nursing administration master's degree programs provide students with advanced education in nursing theory as well as a range of leadership and management skills. Many schools offer the program online. Courses in both traditional and online programs may include:

  • Nursing administration ethics
  • Nursing administrator roles and functions
  • Financial management of nursing administration
  • Data analysis and decision-making
  • Research methods in nursing

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Ph.D. in Nursing Administration

Ph.D. programs in nursing administration are primarily research-oriented degrees. As such, these degrees are typically offered only on campus so students can focus on understanding and improving health care organizational systems. Additionally, these degree programs include study of nursing economics, patient care delivery and policy analysis.

Applicants to Ph.D. programs in nursing administration must possess a master's degree in nursing administration or related field. Applicants must also hold active RN licenses and be able to prove RN work experience. Many programs require the submission of GRE scores.


Popular Career Options

Graduates of nursing administration master's degree programs are qualified for a variety of leadership positions. They manage health policy decisions, lead nursing organizations and serve as nursing mentors in positions, such as the following:

  • Nurse manager
  • Director of nursing or clinical operations
  • Case manager
  • Health policy consultant
  • Nursing staff development expert

Students often pursue a Ph.D. in nursing administration degree with the intention of teaching. Graduates are also highly prepared for a variety of leadership roles in nursing and health care, including the following:

  • Nurse educator
  • Director of nursing operations
  • Health care policy specialist
  • Clinical researcher

Continuing Education Information

Graduates of master's degree programs in nursing administration may pursue further study in nursing at the Ph.D. level. Many students choose to pursue other master's degrees that complement their studies, such as Master of Business Administration or Master of Public Health; some colleges and universities offer these as joint programs that students can pursue concurrently with the master's in nursing administration.

Students interested in entering into nursing administration will require a Registered Nurse (RN) license, in addition to a bachelor's degree for further studies at the master's degree level. Nursing administration at the Ph.D. level typically prepares students for teaching and/or research.

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