A BSN to MSN that Helps You Change Lives and Impact Communities
As a motivated registered nurse (RN) with a BSN degree, you have already established your career in caring. Now you're ready to take on new managerial challenges in nurse leadership and beyond. If your vision of your professional future includes a role in nursing administration and management, a CCNE-accredited MSN is a must. Bring your passion to be an effective transformational leader in healthcare; we’ll empower you with the knowledge and skills to make it happen. Our online, competency-based model is specifically designed to enable working adults like you to earn a nursing degree that employers respect while making the most efficient use of your time and money—so you know you can be successful as a student on your way to a career in nursing leadership.
In this online degree program we want to give you as much real-world, hands-on experience as possible. We want to set nursing leaders up for career success through our program. That's why we offer a top industry certification as part of this program. When you pursue this degree, you'll get clinical practice experiences such as real-time simulation using immersive virtual reality training. Additionally, you'll earn the NAHQ (National Association for Healthcare Quality) HQ Principles certificate along with your degree. This will help you boost your résumé before you even graduate.
Need to earn your BSN first? No problem! Check out the RN-to-MSN version of this program.
72% of graduates finish within
WGU lets you move more quickly through material you already know and advance when you're ready. The result: You may finish faster.
Tuition per six-month term is
Tuition charged per term—rather than per credit—helps you reduce the ultimate cost of your degree. Finish faster, pay less!
Transfer credit is accepted*
of your coursework (up to 17 competency units) taken at the graduate (master's) level at a nationally or regionally accredited institution can be transferred to this WGU program.
*Courses must have been completed within the past five years with an earned grade of "B" or higher.
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Next Start Date: November 1
Start Dates the 1st of Every Month
Leading with Personal Mastery prepares the advanced professional nurse to demonstrate self-awareness, self-management, executive function, and social awareness skills while leading and managing in diverse healthcare settings. In this course, students will learn how to incorporate these skills when developing personal relationships and building teams. Developing both social and emotional intelligence as a nurse leader will ensure that students have the ability develop strong relationships and make wise decisions when interacting with others. Increasing personal mastery will provide students with a set of tools and strategies to improve healthcare by producing high-quality results. Understanding their strengths and weaknesses, as a leader in healthcare will help students create a vision for success that includes making choices that will help balance their work life more effectively.
Business Case Analysis for Healthcare Improvement provides learning experiences that help students develop essential skills for proposing changes that improve and enhance healthcare outcomes. In this course, students will develop a business case during the early stages of a project by assessing the need for the project and the feasibility of initiating a project. Understanding the techniques used to develop a business case will provide students with the skills to obtain buy-in from key stakeholders and determine the best value strategy. Writing a strong business case presents the benefits, challenges, costs, and risks of moving forward with the project or maintaining status quo. It compares the current situation to a future vision so key stakeholders can make data-driven decisions to move forward with the project. During the development of a business case in this course, students will collaborate with internal and external stakeholders to initiate a healthcare improvement project (HIP) that is grounded in project management principles and influenced by stakeholder perspectives.
Strategically Planning the Execution of a Healthcare Improvement Project will help students develop the skills for systems thinking, problem-solving, and data-driven decision-making. In this course, students will plan the implementation of a healthcare improvement project by identifying people, processes, and procedures that need to be in place for implementation. In addition, sociodemographic data on the population that may be affected by the healthcare improvement project will be analyzed to determine risks and opportunities. During this phase, students will perform an assessment of the forces for and against implementing the project. They will also identify short-term objectives and create action plans to align to the vision, mission, and values of the organization where the project will be implemented. Students will also examine the evolution of existing policies, procedures, and processes at the systems level for the purpose of advocating change that will support a healthcare improvement project. During this course, students will plan the implementation of their healthcare improvement project through the use of sociodemographic and health data, strategic planning, and a comprehensive integration of quality and safety concepts.
The Nursing Leadership and Management Field Experience course provides an opportunity for students to apply the knowledge and skills they developed in previous courses toward the successful implementation of their healthcare improvement project (HIP). This phase puts into action all the components of project management that were planned and developed while working collaboratively with key stakeholders to establish the need and feasibility of the HIP, analyzing the organizational readiness for change, and planning the implementation and evaluation phases. In this phase, students will develop and implement a training plan for staff, managers, and leaders. They will also implement the communication plan they developed in a previous course. They will also manage the implementation process by applying organizational standards and practices. Students will demonstrate strong leadership skills when meeting with stakeholders to report the status of the implementation phase and collaboratively problem-solve risks. Completion of the specialty courses is a pre-requisite for this course.
Managing Human and Financial Resources in an Era of Disruption examines the main premise of people and fiscal leadership. This includes the promotion of healthy work environments through the development of programs in support of mitigating behavior problems for the betterment of work-life balance. Students will analyze business model budgets, revenue streams, and human and financial resource allocation, develop training programs to evaluate compliance and regulatory requirement, and create team building experiences to promote high performing teams by improving engagement, establishing trust, and achieving common goals. Students will assess an organization’s mission, vision, and values to establish alignment between healthcare improvement and an organization’s principles for management. Changes in healthcare are inevitable, as the business success strategies used in the past are not sufficient for surviving in an era of persistent disruption. This course will help students develop the skills nurse leaders need to become partners in recommending innovative strategies that promote value-based healthcare for the future.
Evidence-based measures for evaluating healthcare improvements is an essential component of the planning phase of the healthcare improvement project. In this course, students will determine key performance indicators and metrics used to determine the success of a healthcare improvement project (HIP). The student will develop collaborative partnerships and build consensus with stakeholders to determine how specific data will be collected, managed, and analyzed. This is also an opportunity to discuss data issues and technologies needed for the project. To accomplish this phase, students will also determine the parameters, procedures, and technologies needed for data collection, management, analysis, and reporting.
The Nursing Leadership and Management Capstone provides students with an opportunity to evaluate and close their capstone project. This is the final course in the MSN Leadership and Management program. Students will evaluate the success of their healthcare improvement project (HIP) by analyzing results, using the key performance indicators and metrics that were identified while planning the evaluation phase. Students will present the results of the improvement project in a final report and presentation with a focus on lessons learned throughout each of the phases: initiation, planning, implementation, and evaluation. Reflective and analytic thinking are essential aspects of a capstone project, as students reflect and report on the successes and challenges encountered in each phase. Nursing Leadership and Management Field Experience is a prerequisite for this course.
Professional Presence and Influence is a masters-level course designed to guide students towards an enhanced state of presence, where therapeutic relationships are built between nurse and patient. Students will learn techniques for self-care practices that result in enhanced mental and physical wellbeing and that ensure ethically-generated patient care. Presence is an intrapersonal and interpersonal quality that allows the nurse to relate to others and to be aware of the world around them. The characteristics of presence, which include holism, intimacy, sensitivity and adaptability, create a heightened sense of awareness that fosters therapeutic relationships between the nurse and patient. Developing a mindful, authentic presence is central to health and spiritual practices in several cultures and a major element of leadership. Students will intentionally develop a focused mindfulness practice that will influence patient outcomes and lead to conditions that create joy in the workplace.
Essentials of Advanced Nursing Roles and Interprofessional Practice explores essential characteristics of the advanced professional nurse in the role of leader, educator, practitioner, or informatics specialist. In this course, students will apply evidence-based strategies to facilitate interprofessional collaboration on teams. Students will explore the role of nurses in advocating for change at the bedside, as well as leading teams to advocate for health policy reform. Students will gather and analyze data to identify patients and populations at risk and recommend policy change to improve health outcomes in the community.
Quality Outcomes in a Culture of Value-Based Nursing Care incorporates current standards of quality and safety within the context of value-based care. In a value-based healthcare system, the benefits are derived from measuring health outcomes against the cost of delivering the outcomes. These benefits are then extended to patients, providers, payers, suppliers, and society as a whole. This course introduces new healthcare delivery models, which stress a team-oriented approach to patient care and sharing of patient data so that care is coordinated, and outcomes can be measured easily. Emphasis is placed on performance and quality improvement methods that underlie value-based nursing care. The nurse in advanced practice today must exemplify the standards of quality and safety and be prepared to lead the delivery of value-based patient-centered care.
Advanced Pathopharmacological Foundations provides advanced practice nurses foundational knowledge in the many pathologies encountered in practice today. Advancing from the cellular to the body system level, this course examines the pathologies of common conditions seen in healthcare today. Consideration is also given to the human affective response to alterations in health. There are no prerequisites for this course.
Advanced Health Assessment of Patients and Populations builds on prior physical health assessment knowledge and skills acquired during undergraduate studies by focusing on the advanced assessment of biopsychosocial and sociocultural contexts in patients and populations across the life span. This course emphasizes the use of a comprehensive health promotion, disease prevention, and health restoration model to address health concerns in patients and communities. Students will acquire advanced assessment knowledge and skills for clinical interviewing, focused history taking, critical diagnostic reasoning, and clinical decision-making using a problem-focused framework that integrates authentic experiences with practical knowledge of health patterns in patients and communities. There are no prerequisites for this course.
Informatics for Transforming Nursing Care integrates nursing science with multiple information and analytical sciences to identify, define, manage, and communicate data, information, knowledge, and wisdom in nursing practice. Students will acquire knowledge and skills to apply informatics concepts, communications, and data that are critical to facilitating interprofessional data-driven decision-making. It is designed to build competence in the use of patient- and population-based applications that inform and support the transformation of nursing care delivery toward a future of value-based quality nursing care that improves health outcomes. This course aligns theoretical concepts with practical applications of informatics and is consistent with the functional areas and responsibilities of informatics nurses as defined by American Nurses Association Scope and Standards for nursing informatics.
Leadership and Management in Complex Healthcare Systems prepares graduate nurses to be thoughtful strategists and informed decision-makers who serve as strong leaders in high-performing healthcare systems. Students develop competencies for managing diverse teams in complex systems, monitoring and measuring organizational performance, allocating financial and human resources, and leading change towards a transformed healthcare system. Additionally, students acquire the knowledge and skills to become full partners with other healthcare professionals by demonstrating nurse contributions toward high-quality care to patients and populations, while working collaboratively with interprofessional teams. There are no prerequisites for this course.
Advancing Evidence-Based Innovation in Nursing Practice introduces students to the dynamic union of healthcare innovation and evidence. Core competencies and behaviors required to be a nurse innovator are discussed. Strategies for measuring innovation at various system levels are presented, as well as techniques for synthesizing and disseminating evidence to advance innovation in healthcare. The skills needed to appraise the quality of diverse sources of evidence are presented within the framework of evidence-based practice. This course focuses on identifying new and emerging sources of evidence that can inform, translate, and scale the complexity of leading innovation in healthcare organizations. Students will experience building communities of practice for collaboratively developing innovative practices and policies designed to improve the health of populations and enhance the patient experience of care.
Program consists of 15 courses
At WGU, we design our curriculum to be timely, relevant, and practical—all to ensure your degree is proof you really know your stuff.
Special requirements for this program
While most of your coursework will be completed online, your nursing program includes some requirements—including field experiences—that must be completed in a facility near you.
WGU tuition is charged per six-month term, not per credit. That means if you want to move faster through the online computer science degree program, you'll pay less.
On Your Schedule
You can continue working at your full-time job or maintaining your responsibilities while pursing your BSN to MSN degree. You don't have to log-in to classes and there aren't due dates. You are in charge of your degree.
When you enroll in the nursing education program at WGU, you join an impressive network of healthcare professionals. Over 18,000 students earned healthcare degrees from WGU in 2020 alone, and are hard at work, changing the lives of patients and impacting communities.
One important measure of a degree’s value is the reputation of the university where it was earned. When employers, industry leaders, and academic experts hold your alma mater in high esteem, you reap the benefits of that respect. WGU is a pioneer in reinventing higher education for the 21st century, and our quality has been recognized.
Transfer Credits Accepted, No Work Requirement
Now's the time to advance your healthcare career with a master's degree:
- Transfer up to 17 competency units (47%) of your MSN courses taken at the graduate (master's) level at an accredited institution to this WGU degree program. Courses must have been completed at an accredited MSN program within the past five years with an earned grade of "B" or higher.
- There is no RN work requirement. This means you don't need to be currently working as an RN in order to be eligible for admission into our MSN programs.
A Nursing Master's Degree Is Within Reach
There is help available to make paying for school possible for you:
Designed to be Different: An MSN Program Built for a Busy Nurse’s Schedule
Competency-based education puts working nurses in the driver’s seat of their education. As a busy nurse, you need a degree program that's more than simply online—you need a nursing program that truly reflects the realities of your work life and experience. At WGU, your progress is driven by your ability to prove what you’ve learned. How—and how quickly—are largely up to you. Once you’ve mastered the defined competencies (knowledge and skills), you prove what you know through tests, papers, projects, or other assessments. Demonstrating mastery is how you pass a course, so learning what it takes to be outstanding in your career as an effective nurse leader is at the heart of WGU’s MSN – Leadership and Management curriculum. Other universities' online M.S. programs may give you the convenience of distance learning; WGU's competency-based online programs take that flexibility further—many steps further!
Your team Needs a Skilled Nurse Leader—Master the Skills of Nursing Leadership
Once you have completed this online M.S. Nursing – Leadership and Management degree program, you will have the knowledge and skills to be an outstanding nurse manager, leader, or administrator. You'll be in demand, because you'll be prepared to translate your extensive nursing knowledge into strong, effective leadership, guidance, mentorship, and management that will change your team—and your facility—for the better.
Nurse managers with a master's degree combine their technical nursing know-how with strong people skills, organizational prowess, and business knowledge to lead healthcare teams to success—success that transforms lives. As a nurse leader, you may increase your earning power. But beyond that, your daily work will improve the quality of life not only for patients, but for the nurses you lead. As a qualified and compassionate nurse leader, your expertise and human touch can make your healthcare facility a place of positivity and healing.
Return on Your Investment
A Master’s in Nursing Management and Leadership Prepares You to Lead Healthcare Teams
Our 3,300-plus MSN – Leadership and Management alumni have great jobs and satisfying careers:
- Director of nursing
- Chief nursing officer
- Quality director
- Clinical nurse leader
- Project manager
- Health systems
- Cancer centers
- Hospice providers
- Local, state, or federal government
- Ascension Health
- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
- U.S. Army
- UCLA Health System
WGU Grads Hold Positions With Top Employers
Hospitals and clinics around the country know the benefit of a master's degree from WGU, so your nursing degree is valuable.
Admissions Requirements Unique to This Nursing Degree
To be considered for this master's in nursing program, you must:
- Possess a bachelor of science in nursing degree (BSN).
- Possess an active, unencumbered RN license (though you are not required to be working as an RN at the time of enrollment):
1. In your state of residence, or
2. In your state of employment.
Prior to your clinical placement, you must submit to a criminal background check through American Databank and provide proof of current immunizations. Additional fees apply.
NOTE: RN licensure in your state of residence or employment is required to successfully complete clinical experiences. You must be licensed in the state in which you will complete the project or clinical experience. Compact licenses must be endorsed by your state of residence. For more information about compact licenses.
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More About the BSN-to-MSN Nursing Leadership and Management Program
- Program Questions
- Financial Aid Questions
Admissions requirements vary widely from program to program and from school to school. Nurse practitioner programs—including Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and post-MSN NP certificate programs—can be among the most competitive. One factor commonly considered for enrollment in post-graduate nursing programs is grade-point average (GPA) from previous college work. The nature of WGU’s competency-based model means WGU graduates do not have a GPA when they earn their degree. WGU will work with you to help other institutions understand our model.
However, other factors beyond GPA are considered by many programs across the country. WGU provides opportunities for students to students to demonstrate excellence beyond a GPA, including participation in nationally recognized honors programs, real-world projects that you complete as part of your program that you can showcase in your post-graduate applications, and letters of recommendation from WGU faculty or leadership.
The WGU non-NP MSN courses do not satisfy the requirement for three separate courses in Physical Assessment, Pathophysiology, and Pharmacology. These are often referred to as the “3 Ps” and are required for national certification and licensure as a nurse practitioner.
You will need to work closely with the nurse practitioner program, national certification organization and licensing agency to be sure you have completed all requirements before certification and licensure.
For any aspiring graduate student, it is important to maximize your own qualities as well as do the research to understand the schools that offer the programs you seek to join.
You can start your research by reviewing post-graduate programs that have admitted WGU alumni in the past. Look on LinkedIn for WGU nursing alumni who have gone on to become nurse practitioners, and check their profiles to see which schools they attended after graduating from WGU. Contact the school to ask whether they enroll students from competency-based programs like WGU’s. And talk to your WGU Enrollment Counselor. WGU can provide alumni with a letter they can share with graduate schools, explaining our competency-based model. This letter has helped WGU alumni be accepted into a variety of graduate programs in a number of fields and disciplines.
Quality leadership and management in nursing is critical to the success and well-being of patients and nurses. Nurse leaders direct and train other nurses, ensuring patients receive the best care. They also monitor and improve processes to help the organization run efficiently.
Nursing is a demanding career. Hospitals and doctor’s offices serve dozens of patients each day. Having a leader who manages schedules reduces stress on nurses, freeing them up to focus on serving patients with their full energy. A good manager keeps processes running smoothly, serving nurses and ultimately improving patient outcomes.
The 5 leadership styles in nursing are:
- Transformational leadership. It aims to transform nurses into independent and autonomous workers, empowering them to reach goals without needing to be micromanaged.
- Democratic leadership. This style of leadership takes the input of each nurse into account when making decisions. A democratic leader maintains open communication with each nurse under their supervision.
- Laissez-fair leadership. A laissez-fair leader is also known as an inexperienced one. While they let nurses govern themselves, they often provide very little feedback and don’t establish clear processes or expectations.
- Autocratic leadership. Unlike laissez-fair, this type of leadership is very hands-on. These types of leaders often struggle to tolerate mistakes and they make decisions without consulting their team.
- Servant leadership. A servant leader serves each team member and works tirelessly to ensure they have the tools and structure they need to be successful. Servant leaders care deeply about each nurse they lead, building a strong relationship with each.
Typically, the difference between nurse managers and leaders is that nurse managers work more on high-level operations and behind the scenes aspects, while nurse leaders work closely with nurses and patients in a hands-on capacity.
Scholarships are available for new WGU students and returning graduates. This video shows more about scholarship opportunities and how they can help you pay for school. Get information on:
- How to apply
- Eligibility requirements
- Examples of scholarships
- What happens after you apply
- Other financial aid options
WGU's tuition is a flat rate that is charged every six months. You can take as many courses as you are able in that six-month term—with no extra cost. You simply pay for the term and do as much work as you can or want to during that time. This means that finishing faster helps you save money—a major benefit you won't find at other schools.
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