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MBA and MSN: Why Professionals in the Medical Field Are Considering Both Degrees

For professionals in the medical field looking to move into management, either an MBA degree or an MSN degree can help.

As the American healthcare system continues to grow, so does the demand for managers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for medical and health services managers are expected to grow by 20% between 2016 and 2026, a rate much faster than average.1 And those in the field are well paid, too, averaging nearly $100,000 a year.

With numbers like these, it’s no surprise that many nurses are looking to take their careers into management while many business professionals in the medical field are considering earning an MSN to reach their career goals. Perhaps you’re looking to do the same with your nursing or business career. But do you know which path to take?

MBA and MSN: Why Professionals in the Medical Field Are Considering Both Degrees

For RNs who hold a bachelor’s degree, one of the most direct routes to management is a master’s degree that prepares you for leadership. Among the various business degrees, management degrees, and nursing degrees out there, two of the most useful for aspiring nurse managers are the Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Healthcare Management specialization and the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Nurse Executive specialization.

Depending on your education and career goals, either the MBA degree or the MSN degree can be the better choice. Here’s how they differ:

Basic Difference

While both an MBA and an MSN can help you build a successful career in management, one is a business administration degree and one is a nursing degree, which makes them fundamentally different. A Master of Business Administration deals strictly with the elements of business management, giving you an advanced understanding of business operations and strategy. A Master of Science in Nursing provides advanced nursing instruction. Specializing in healthcare management in your MBA program will give you deeper insights into the healthcare business, while an MSN with a Nurse Executive specialization will give you deeper insights into business operations and leadership in nursing. The former will still be more business focused, while the latter will still be more focused on the practice of nursing. Here is a breakdown of some of the differences:

DEGREE Master of Business Administration with a specialization in Healthcare Management Master of Science in Nursing with a Nurse Executive specialization
Degree Type Business Nursing
Specialization Type Healthcare Management
Learning outcomes Make decisions within a healthcare industry context that are effective, well-reasoned, ethical, and socially responsible. Communicate with and lead multiple stakeholders in order to improve patient care.
Formulate statements of healthcare business problems or opportunities to facilitate insightful dialogue and critical thinking. Integratively assess, diagnose, plan, implement, and evaluate cost-effective healthcare strategies that reduce health disparities.
Generate solutions to complex healthcare business problems or opportunities. Recruit, hire, and effectively mentor new nurses.
Evaluate opportunities for healthcare industry stakeholders that contribute to positive social change. Evaluate health needs of diverse populations for necessary teaching/coaching functions.
Utilize financial management techniques to guide the successful operation of healthcare organizations. Implement specialist nursing roles to promote quality improvement of patient-centered care.

Difference in Where You Earn Your Degree

Despite the differences between an MBA and an MSN, there isn’t any difference in where you can earn your degree. Both are available through online universities. And that’s good news.

When you choose an online MBA program or an online MSN program, you can complete your coursework from home or anywhere else you have internet access. Earning an MBA online or a master’s in nursing online can also give you the freedom to attend classes at whatever time of day works best for you, allowing you to arrange your class schedule around your work schedule and other responsibilities.

Your choice to earn a business administration master’s or a master’s degree in nursing will depend on what you wish to learn and what direction you wish to take your career. But no matter which degree you choose, online education can make earning your degree a reality.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program with a specialization in Healthcare Management and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program with a Nurse Executive specialization online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,