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Nurse leaders are responsible for designing, implementing, and evaluating client care, advocating for business practices that promote healthcare quality and patient safety, and synthesizing knowledge of key business and human resources practices to effectively lead healthcare teams. While nurse leaders may serve in a number of environments, the highest populations can be found in general medical and surgical hospitals, offices of physicians, outpatient care centers, home health care services, specialty hospitals, psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, and medical and diagnostic laboratories.

For their experience and service, nurse leaders often earn higher salaries than other types of nurses. This is especially true in highly specialized fields and large markets in places such as DC and New York. For example, the average salary for nurse leaders (managers) was $96,450 in 2016. However, those working in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV metro area averaged $132,070. In Nassau County-Suffolk County, New York, the average was $147,640.

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Nurse leaders in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing averaged an impressive $216,910 and those in navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing averaged $162,580. Nationwide, high performing nurse leaders earned more than $172,240.

To become a nurse leader, it will take superior skills, years of experience, and an advanced degree. Most positions require a master of science in nursing (MSN) or higher, with a nursing leadership or nurse leader track. Sample courses for the track include healthcare finance, the business of healthcare, and operational quality in healthcare, strategic human resource management practices, leading nursing into the future, and of course, leadership.

Many MSN in nursing leadership programs may be completed in as few as two years, full-time. Some online programs may be completed even sooner. Some of the best online options include American Public University System (MSN: Nurse Leader), Rasmussen College (MSN: Nursing Leadership and Administration), and West Coast University (MSN: Nurse Leader).

For more options, we’ve compiled below a list of the best online schools for an MSN in nursing leadership. Begin your search today!

Featured Schools

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Online MSN programs in nursing leadership

American National University
  • MSN: Nurse Administrator
American Public University System
  • MSN: Nurse Leader
Baker College Online
  • MSN: Nursing Administration
Brookline College
  • Master of Science in Nursing: Health Systems Administration
California Southern University
  • MSN: Healthcare Administration
  • MSN: Nurse Executive Leader
Capella University
  • MSN: Care Coordination
  • MSN: Nursing Leadership and Administration
Chamberlain College of Nursing
  • MSN: Nurse Executive
Colorado Technical University
  • MSN: Nursing Administration
Excelsior College
  • MSN: Nursing Leadership and Administration of Health Care Systems
Grand Canyon University
  • MSN: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
Grantham University
  • MSN: Nursing Case Management
  • MSN: Nursing Management and Organizational Leadership
Herzing University
  • MSN: Nursing Leadership and Administration
Independence University
  • Master of Science in Nursing Administration
Purdue University Global
  • MSN: Executive Leader
Rasmussen College
  • MSN: Nursing Leadership and Administration
South College
  • MSN: Nurse Executive
South University
  • MSN: Nurse Administrator
SUNY Empire State College
  • Master of Science in Nursing Administration
University of Phoenix
  • MSN: Nursing Administration
Walden University
  • MSN: Leadership and Management
West Coast University
  • MSN: Nurse Leader
Western Governors University
  • MSN: Leadership and Management
School Type Programs offered
American National University Private for-profit
  • MSN: Nurse Administrator
American Public University System Private for-profit
  • MSN: Nurse Leader
Baker College Online Private not-for-profit (no religious affiliation)
  • MSN: Nursing Administration
Brookline College Private for-profit
  • Master of Science in Nursing: Health Systems Administration
California Southern University Private for-profit
  • MSN: Healthcare Administration
  • MSN: Nurse Executive Leader
Capella University Private for-profit
  • MSN: Care Coordination
  • MSN: Nursing Leadership and Administration
Chamberlain College of Nursing Private for-profit
  • MSN: Nurse Executive
Colorado Technical University Private for-profit
  • MSN: Nursing Administration
Excelsior College Private not-for-profit (no religious affiliation)
  • MSN: Nursing Leadership and Administration of Health Care Systems
Grand Canyon University Private for-profit
  • MSN: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
Grantham University Private for-profit
  • MSN: Nursing Case Management
  • MSN: Nursing Management and Organizational Leadership
Herzing University Private for-profit
  • MSN: Nursing Leadership and Administration
Independence University Private for-profit
  • Master of Science in Nursing Administration
Purdue University Global Public
  • MSN: Executive Leader
Rasmussen College Private for-profit
  • MSN: Nursing Leadership and Administration
South College Private for-profit
  • MSN: Nurse Executive
South University Private not-for-profit (no religious affiliation)
  • MSN: Nurse Administrator
SUNY Empire State College Public
  • Master of Science in Nursing Administration
University of Phoenix Private for-profit
  • MSN: Nursing Administration
Walden University Private for-profit
  • MSN: Leadership and Management
West Coast University Private for-profit
  • MSN: Nurse Leader
Western Governors University Private not-for-profit (no religious affiliation)
  • MSN: Leadership and Management