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Master of Science

Nursing Leadership and Management (BSN to MSN)


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. You can also compare all of our MSN programs.

61% of graduates finish within 

23 Months*

WGU lets you move more quickly through material you already know and advance as soon as you're ready. The result: You may finish faster.

*WGU Internal Data

Tuition per six-month term is


Tuition charged per term—rather than per credit—helps students control the ultimate cost of their business management degree. Finish faster, pay less!

Transfer credit accepted


of your coursework (up to 17 competency units) taken at the graduate (master's) level at a nationally or institutionally accredited school can be transferred to this WGU program.*

*Courses must have been completed within the last 5 years and earned a grade "B" or higher

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Nursing Leadership and Management Courses

Program consists of 15 courses

At WGU, we design our curriculum to be timely, relevant, and practical—all to help you show that you know your stuff.

The WGU MSN – Leadership and Management curriculum is evidence-based. It's designed to make you an effective nurse leader and manager. Competencies you will master as you earn this online nursing degree are consistent with the American Nurses Association (ANA) standards for nurse administrators..

In the MSN core of this online nursing program, you will develop knowledge related to complexities of healthcare, access, quality, and costs for diverse populations. The nurse educator specialization will cover topics like curriculum development, learning styles, assessment, and more.

This program consists of the following courses, which you will typically complete one at a time as you make your way through your program, working with your Program Mentor each term to build your personalized Degree Plan. You’ll work through each course as quickly as you can study and learn the material. As soon as you’re ready, you can pass the assessment, complete the course, and move on. This means you can finish as many courses as you're able in a term at no additional cost.

Leadership and Management Specialty
MSN Core

15 Courses

Program consists of 15 courses

At WGU, we design our curriculum to be timely, relevant, and practical—all to help you show that you know your stuff.

Field Experiences

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. 

Skills For Your Résumé

As part of this program, you will develop a range of valuable skills that employers are looking for. 

  • Nursing: Identified compensatory mechanisms for homeostasis, showcasing expertise in understanding and maintaining physiological balance.
  • Patient Advocacy:
    • Implemented advocacy action plans addressing issues in nursing practice, education, or research, demonstrating proactive problem-solving and leadership.
    • Continued to implement advocacy action plans for nursing practice, education, or research, ensuring ongoing commitment to addressing critical issues in the field.
  • Change Management: Analyzed the impact of changes in programs, services, or systems to enhance patient, family, population, and community outcomes, contributing to improved healthcare effectiveness.
  • Business Planning: Planned and executed the implementation of the organization's strategic direction, aligning actions with overarching goals for sustained success.
  • Leadership: Cultivated an inclusive and collaborative environment that valued input from all team members, fostering a culture of diversity and teamwork.

“The enrollment process was seamless. I talked to a gentleman on the phone, and he told me what I would need. I sent my transcripts in. Within three days they were evaluated. It was a really good process.”

—Robin Hill
M.S. Nursing – Education

WGU vs. Traditional Universities
Compare the Difference

Traditional Universities



Per credit hour

Flat rate per 6-month term


Schedule and wait days or even weeks to meet with one of many counselors

Simply email or call to connect with your designated Program Mentor who supports you from day one


Scheduled time

Whenever you feel ready


Professor led lectures at a certain time and place

Courses available anytime, from anywhere


Approximately 2 years, minimal acceleration options

As quickly as you can master the material, can finish programs in 1 year

Traditional Universities



Per credit hour


Flat rate per 6-month term


Schedule and wait days or even weeks to meet with one of many counselors


Simply email or call to connect with your designated Program Mentor who supports you from day one


Scheduled time


Whenever you feel ready


Professor led lectures at a certain time and place


Courses available anytime, from anywhere


Approximately 2 years, minimal acceleration options


As quickly as you can master the material, can finish programs in 1 year

Why WGU?


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.

Alumni Network

When you enroll in a nursing program at WGU, you join an impressive network of healthcare professionals.




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.

The baccalaureate degree program in nursing, master's degree program in nursing, and post-graduate APRN certificate program at WGU are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (


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.

Safety Notice

WGU and the Leavitt School of Health are committed to the health, safety, and well-being of all patients, community members, and key stakeholders that interact with WGU students at various clinical/host sites. Interactions might include direct patient interaction, observation experiences, laboratory experiences, project development, or conducting research.  Standard compliance verification for students in applicable LSH programs is required to protect the public, meet LSH program expectations, reasonably assure compliance with state regulatory board requirements, meet WGU’s contractual and legal obligations with clinical partners, and support WGU’s mission to prepare students who will be qualified to enter their desired field. Compliance items may include, but are not limited to, background checks, immunizations, and drug screens as needed.


An Affordable MSN Degree

By charging per term rather than per credit—and empowering students to accelerate through material they know well or learn quickly—WGU helps students control the ultimate cost of their degrees. The faster you complete your program, the less you pay for your degree.

Tuition Calculator
Pay less by completing your program faster

A Nursing Master's Degree Is Within Reach

There is help available to make paying for school possible for you:

The average student loan debt of WGU graduates in 2022 (among those who borrowed) was less than half* the national average.

Most WGU students qualify for financial aid, and WGU is approved for federal financial aid and U.S. veterans benefits. 

Many scholarship opportunities are available. Find out what you might be eligible for.

*WGU undergraduate students have approximately half the debt at graduation compared to the national average, according to the Institute for College Access and Success (2022).


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!

"My mentor and course instructor were extremely supportive. Although we are going through these unprecedented times, I received prompt responses and constructive feedback in a timely and proficient manner. I was overwhelmed at first but felt at ease after I spoke with my CI—calls were even returned on the weekends! My phone calls to the student services were always received with professionalism and kindness. The individuals whom I interacted with were polite and helpful. This experience has given me a solid foundation and has helped me to better prepare for my current position as a Patient Care Manager. I am grateful to have received a quality education and to be a part of the WGU family.”

—Kamla Khan
M.S. Nursing – Leadership and Management


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

On average, WGU graduates see an increase in income post-graduation

Average income increase from all degrees in annual salary vs. pre-enrollment salary. Source: 2023 Harris Poll Survey of 1,655 WGU graduates.

Survey was sent to a representative sample of WGU graduates from all colleges. Respondents received at least one WGU degree since 2017.


BLS projections indicate that employment of medical and health services managers will grow 28% by 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.

—U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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:

Job Titles

  • Director of nursing
  • Chief nursing officer
  • Quality director
  • Clinical nurse leader
  • Project manager

Diverse Settings

  • Hospitals
  • Health systems
  • Cancer centers
  • Hospice providers
  • Local, state, or federal government

Major Employers

  • Anthem
  • 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 degree from WGU, so your healthcare 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.

Get Your Enrollment Checklist

Download your step-by-step guide to enrollment.

Get Your Questions Answered

Talk to an WGU Enrollment Counselor.

Transfer Credits

More About the BSN-to-MSN Nursing Leadership and Management Program

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:

  1. Transformational leadership. It aims to transform nurses into independent and autonomous workers, empowering them to reach goals without needing to be micromanaged.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

WGU is approved to offer federal student aid. You will need to apply using the FAFSA, which is used to determine your eligibility for aid. WGU’s FAFSA school code is 033394.

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
  • FAQs
  • 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 most other schools. 

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