How Long Does it Take to Complete an Online Master’s in Nurse Administration?

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Updated August 4, 2020

Nurse administration is a necessary field in healthcare, but one that needs more professionals; that's why earning an online Master's in Nurse Administration is a great choice for service-minded students. The length of time spent studying can be a hindrance to some students, but because of the rise of technology and connectedness in the workplace, as well as the ongoing healthcare reform, it's important to realize that this is time spent wisely. While it is possible to earn a graduate degree in this field in as little as a year, most students will take two years; the reasons are listed below.

Related Resource: Top 30 Online Master's in Nurse Administration

Entry Level and Prerequisite Requirements

Many students are not aware that their previous academic experience will have an impact on their virtual degree coursework. For example, students who have completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing are generally required to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, which translates to 12 courses. This means they can complete the requirements for a Master's in Nurse Administration degree in about two years. Students who are entering the virtual program with an Associate Degree in Nursing or a diploma will be required to complete an additional nine credit hours; the discrepancy is based on prerequisite courses that are ordinarily not available at the associate or diploma level. Most schools will require the nine credit hours to be completed before the student begins work on the Master's in Nurse Administration curriculum.

Clinical Hours Requirements

As with coursework requirements, students who take on the virtual Master's in Nurse Administration will notice that clinical hours vary with their previous degree. Clinicals are an important part of this practical degree, and every student, regardless of educational background, will need to satisfy the requirements. Students who enter the virtual program with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing will need to complete at least 300 clinical hours; students with an Associate Degree in Nursing or a diploma must complete 350 hours. The difference between the categories is simply that bachelors students have had more time in the classroom and in clinicals than associate and diploma students.

Accelerated Options

Accelerated options differ from a traditional virtual degree in that accelerated degrees often require a student to be committed to around 12 to 15 months of part-time study. Not all schools offer this option but the ones that do often have a specific course pathways; many institutions offer cohort virtual programs, meaning that the student moves through the coursework with a specific group of students, enabling them to complete team projects and final exams with the same group that began the degree at the same time as they did. Students who do not take the accelerated option can expect to spend two academic years earning Master's in Nurse Administration degree.

Term Schedules

Many schools who offer this degree also offer terms in the virtual school that do not exist on campus. This can include five-week terms that focus on only one course, allowing students to move through courses in an intensive way; ten-week courses with a three-course limit; J-Terms, in which select courses are taught during winter break; and more. It's also possible to find schools that offer courses on this particular subject all year round, making it easier for students to complete the degree in a quick amount of time. Ambitious students can study full-time, year-round, and complete the Master's in Nurse Administration in one calendar year.

Health Services Management is a growing field, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that the industry is growing at 20 percent through 2026, which is much faster than average. This means that a slate of new positions will be opening soon. Since nurse administration requires a graduate degree, students are encouraged to look at online options for a Master's in Nurse Administration to further their career while continuing their employment.

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