What Are the Best MBA Programs for Registered Nurses?


Regardless of how one feels about the subject, it’s impossible to deny the tangled marriage of business and healthcare in America. In 2019, the US healthcare industry generated an estimated revenue of nearly $2.5 billion, with close to half of that coming from hospitals. How capital is collected and distributed within that system has enormous impacts on who receives care, and of what quality. To move forward, the industry needs more professionals who speak both the language of business and the language of healthcare.

Registered nurses (RN) are well-situated to take on leadership roles within the shared world of business and healthcare. Already fluent in clinical practices and patient needs, they can look to MBA programs to add expertise in the business side of the industry. These programs can often be completed entirely online in under two years, and they provide graduates with fundamental knowledge about management, finance, marketing, and leadership.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), healthcare will add an additional 1.9 million jobs between 2018 and 2028. With a continued trend of increased practice authority, health systems shifting to value-based care models, and digital transformations taking place across the industry, registered nurses with solid business acumen are poised to steer the direction healthcare takes in the coming years. Further customization of an MBA program can turn an adept into an expert.

To get a look at the best MBA programs for registered nurses, read on.

MBA in Healthcare Management

An MBA in healthcare management is the most obvious specialization for RNs looking to take on a leadership role. These programs pair the standard business administration curriculum with classes on topics such as public health systems, regulatory compliance, clinical research, and integrative medicine. Graduates can go on to positions such as director of nursing, hospital CEO, and pharmaceutical manager. According to the BLS, healthcare administration (as a career field) is set to grow 18 percent between 2018 and 2028, adding over 400,000 jobs.

The online healthcare MBA at George Washington University is one of the best in the nation. The 55-credit program includes 24 units of electives, making healthcare not just an afterthought but a focus. Courses cover HCQ analysis, medicine development, patient safety systems, and many others. Students may combine the MBA with one of seven 18-credit graduate certificates: clinical research practice; clinical research administration; clinical and translational research; healthcare quality; health sciences; integrative medicine; or regulatory affairs.

MBA in Healthcare Informatics

An MBA in healthcare informatics prepares graduates for the data-driven present and the rapidly approaching future. Healthcare informatics has already changed everything from insurance plans to patient treatment; tomorrow’s healthcare leaders will be fluent in the subject.
A health informatics MBA provides that fluency by covering areas like data analytics, public policy, and healthcare technology. Graduates can go on to either lead digital transformations at health organizations, or oversee leading-edge data-driven healthcare systems.

The online MBA in healthcare management at Southern New Hampshire University includes health informatics as part of its curriculum. Foundational courses include topics such as financial reporting, organizational leadership, and innovations and entrepreneurship. Concentration courses cover healthcare informatics, topics in health administration, and social and organizational issues in healthcare. The 36-credit program can be completed in as little as one year and boasts one of the most affordable tuition rates in the nation.

MBA in General Management

An MBA in general management is ideal for nurses looking to obtain modern business leadership skills. These programs have changed significantly over the last few decades, and now include instruction in corporate strategy and negotiation.

Students take concentration classes in areas like project management, organizational design, and strategic leadership. Graduates are equipped to lead departmental teams within a large health system, or pivot into more business-focused healthcare roles.

The online MBA in general management from Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business exposes students to a diverse range of business management topics. The curriculum covers areas such as enterprise growth; value creation; employee management; operations management; and new venture creation. Students may also enroll in a dual-degree track that includes a master’s in finance.

The online MBA is ranked in the top ten in the nation by Financial Times. Do note that students will need five years of work experience before applying to the 50-credit program.

MBA in Public Administration

An MBA in public administration prepares nurses for leadership on the influential axis of public policy. On top of business fundamentals, graduates learn about government budgeting, policy development, administrative law, and regulatory compliance. Nurse graduates of these programs can work either on influencing and implementing a new policy or on bringing public companies and healthcare organizations into compliance with existing policy. As business and government continue to push and pull on issues of healthcare, more qualified leaders will need an understanding of every side of the equation.

The online MBA in public administration from the University of Mary is a flexible and affordable option for RNs looking to gain public sector expertise. The program covers topics such as public sector practices regarding qualitative and quantitative methodologies; professional communication; performing operational tasks focused on accounting and finance; and evaluating the social and business environment in an integrated and solution-focused manner. Graduates will leave the program with a mastery of the operational side of public programming and policy.

MBA in Finance

The industry-wide shift towards value-based care requires the recalculation of many long-standing financial principles in healthcare, and an MBA in finance allows a registered nurse to participate in the ways in which proper financial management can drive better health outcomes.

These programs dive deeply into areas such as capital budgeting, risk management, portfolio management, and short- and long-term financial management. Nurses with this added level of expertise will be able to make top-level decisions that empower healthcare workers and lead to better patient outcomes.

The online MBA at the University of Alabama Birmingham’s Collat School of Business can be specialized with a finance concentration. Designed around innovation, leadership, and entrepreneurship, the program consists of 39 credits—a third of which are dedicated to one’s area of concentration. Course topics include corporate finance; strategic cost analysis; quantitative analysis; treasury management; and financial risk analysis. Prospective students without a background in business are still encouraged to apply.

Matt Zbrog
Matt Zbrog

Matt Zbrog is a writer and freelancer who has been living abroad since 2016. His nonfiction has been published by Euromaidan Press, Cirrus Gallery, and Our Thursday. Both his writing and his experience abroad are shaped by seeking out alternative lifestyles and counterculture movements, especially in developing nations. You can follow his travels through Eastern Europe and Central Asia on Instagram at @weirdviewmirror. He’s recently finished his second novel, and is in no hurry to publish it.

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