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What Can I Do With an Online Master’s Degree in Nursing Leadership?

In the evolving world of healthcare, competent nursing leaders are more important than ever to ensuring high-quality care delivery, employee wellness and operational sustainability. Millersville University’s online Master of Science (MSN) in Nursing Leadership program equips students with the skills and knowledge to be influential leaders in nursing. This comprehensive program offers a diverse curriculum and flexible online format, empowering students to improve the lives of others as they advance their nursing careers.

By combining in-person practicums; opportunities to present research; and courses like Leading Quality and Safety, Healthcare Financing and Value-Based Care and Nursing Informatics and Healthcare Technology, the program prepares graduates to lead their organizations through some of the most pressing issues in healthcare. Millersville graduates are also ready to pursue advanced professional certifications in nursing and executive leadership that demonstrate their commitment to the field.

What Careers Can I Pursue With an MSN in Nursing Leadership?

Graduates of an MSN in Nursing Leadership program can venture into rewarding and high-level careers in nursing and healthcare administration where they can positively impact patient care, healthcare policies and organizational outcomes. While nurse leaders may work at clinics, nursing homes, hospitals and more, a master’s degree is the minimum education level typically required for nurse managers seeking positions at top-level Magnet hospitals.

Some promising career paths graduates pursue include:

Chief Nursing Officer

A chief nursing officer (CNO) is a top-level executive in a healthcare organization responsible for overseeing and leading the nursing department while maintaining the health and safety of employees and patients. To do so, CNOs provide strategic, administrative and clinical direction and are instrumental in shaping the standards for nursing practice and patient care delivery within the organization.

CNOs must have broad nursing expertise and an ability to problem-solve and engage with staff, colleagues and community members. CNOs earn an average annual salary of $133,758, according to Indeed (July 2023).

Clinical Nurse Leader

A clinical nurse leader (CNL) is part of an interdisciplinary care team that helps bridge the gap between bedside staff and management. The CNL role was developed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) to address the growing complexity of healthcare and streamline the shift to safety and quality of care metrics. CNLs generally focus on strengthening communication, guiding staff during complex patient situations and integrating evidence-based practice to improve patient outcomes.

CNLs must excel at decision-making, collaboration and risk assessment. According to Indeed (July 2023), on average, CNLs earn $90,197 per year.

Director of Nursing

A director of nursing (DON) oversees and manages the nursing department in a healthcare facility, like a hospital or nursing home. They are responsible for ensuring high-quality patient care and the smooth functioning of nursing operations. DONs create and enforce policies to maintain the standards of care, coordinate nursing staff and scheduling and optimize workflows to achieve unit goals.

DONs must have well-rounded clinical expertise and knowledge of regulatory guidelines, financial management and operations. According to Indeed (July 2023), DONs earn an average annual salary of $111,371.

Are Nursing Leadership Careers in High Demand?

The demand for nurse leaders is expected to rise significantly as older administrators retire and healthcare facilities look to nurse managers to ensure their organizations meet value-based care objectives. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job growth for medical and health services managers, including nurse leaders, is projected to grow 28% through 2031 — a rate much faster than other occupations.

Millersville University’s online MSN in Nursing Leadership program provides working nurses a flexible and accessible educational path to further their careers. Graduates develop the expertise and credentials to assume leadership roles where they can influence healthcare policies and drive innovative care delivery.

Learn more about Millersville University’s online MSN in Nursing Leadership program.

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