Is an MSN/MBA Dual Degree is Worth it – (Pros VS. Cons)

Written By: Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA

Are you a registered nurse with a knack for business? Have you wondered what it would be like to combine your love of nursing with your business savvy to have a lucrative career? What if I told you there are two degrees you can earn that complement one another that would make that possible? With a Master of Science in Nursing and a Master of Business Administration, you could be one step closer to making your dreams come true! You can accomplish that with an MSN/MBA dual degree program.

Perhaps you thought of earning dual degrees but wonder, “Is an MSN/MBA dual degree program worth it?" In this article, I will answer that question. As you read on, you will find information about MSN/MBA dual degree programs, including their cost, admission requirements, and length, and learn 15 reasons why an MSN/MBA dual degree program is worth it and 5 reasons why it may not be the right degree for you.


An MSN/MBA dual degree program is a graduate degree program designed to allow students to earn two master's degrees concurrently, a Master of Science in Nursing and a Master of Business Administration. The programs combine master's-level nursing management and leadership courses with advanced instruction in business management. The goal of the programs is to prepare students with an understanding of how healthcare systems work and to help them develop the skills needed to create and implement healthcare policies, improve patient outcomes, and manage the financial aspects of healthcare organizations.


MSN/MBA dual degree programs take an average of three years to complete. However, you may complete the program in as few as two years or up to six years, depending on whether you enroll as a part-time or full-time student. For example, at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the MSN/MBA dual degree program is offered part-time and takes four to six years to complete, based on the number of credits you pursue each semester. At Post University, the program takes approximately two years to complete.


MSN/MBA dual degree programs can cost as little as $25,000 to more than $100,000. Your cost may be determined by a few factors, including whether you have scholarships or grants and whether you pay in-state or out-of-state tuition. For instance, at Drexel University, the dual degree program costs approximately $88,000. At the University of Mary, students pay an average of $34,000 to earn the dual degrees.


The admission process for MSN/MBA dual degree programs is often competitive. Most schools require you to apply to and be accepted at both the School of Business and the School of Nursing. Although admission requirements may vary from one school to another, the general admission criteria are similar. Admission requirements typically include the following.

• Possess a current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse.
• Have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree earned from an ACEN- or CCNE-accredited nursing program
• Have a minimum scholastic GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 grading scale for all post-secondary coursework
• Participate in an admission interview
• Provide a professional resume
• Submit three letters of professional and/or academic recommendation
• Prepare a Statement of Intent
• Complete the required prerequisites for both programs


(The following are the 15 main reasons why an MSN/MBA dual degree program is worth it.)

REASON #1: You Will Earn Two Graduate Degrees in Less Time

One of the top reasons why an MSN/MBA dual degree program is worth it is you can earn two master's degrees concurrently. This means that degrees, which would normally take two to three years to complete each, may be completed at the same time, saving you time in school and allowing you to transition your role more quickly.

REASON #2: You Can Use Your Knowledge and Experience to Promote High-Quality, Cost-Effective Patient Care

Something I am truly passionate about is providing high-quality patient care that does not cost a fortune. After all, what good is healthcare if patients cannot afford it, right? I love the fact that MSN/MBA dual degrees can position you to influence the quality and cost of patient care. In fact, when you earn dual MSN/MBA degrees, you will gain a greater understanding of both nursing and business management. You can then use your knowledge, skills, and expertise to develop financial plans that benefit your healthcare organization by reducing costs without compromising the quality of care patients receive.

REASON #3: You Will Gain Specialized Skills

If learning specialized skills is important to you, you will likely feel an MSN/MBA dual degree program is worth it. In these programs, you will develop advanced nursing skills as well as gain a deep understanding of business, and master the skills to effectively lead and manage healthcare teams and organizations.

REASON #4: You Will Have Degrees in Two In-Demand Fields

Another one of the biggest reasons why an MSN/MBA dual degree program is worth it is you will have degrees in two in-demand fields. Whether you choose to work in an advanced nursing role, business administration role, or a job that combines nursing and business administration, the skills you obtain in one of these specialized programs will be sought-after.

REASON #5: The Income Potential is Great!

If you are looking for degree options that lead to good earning potential, MSN/MBA dual degrees are certainly worth it. The average annual income for program graduates is $149,610. With experience, your income potential will continue to increase. Also, your job title and work setting may lead to higher earning potential.

REASON #6: You Can Enjoy a Good Long-Term Job Outlook

One of the things I love about nursing and business are that both career fields have good potential for long-term work. Not only are professionals with nursing and business administration experience in demand, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also predicts a positive long-term job outlook. According to the BLS, graduates can expect to see an increase in jobs of at least 45.68% between 2021 and 2031, which is much higher than all other jobs.

REASON #7: You Will Be Closer to Earning a Doctorate (or DUAL Doctorates!)

Earning dual master’s degrees is an exceptional accomplishment. One of the amazing things about earning a MSN/MBA dual degree, is that you will be one step closer to earning the highest graduate degree possible, a doctorate. Once you earn dual MSN and MBA degrees, you can earn a doctorate in nursing or business, or if you feel so inclined, you could pursue dual doctorates in business and nursing!

REASON #8: You Will Gain the Respect of Your Professional Peers

Earning a Master of Science in Nursing or a Master of Busines Administration is challenging. Earning the degrees concurrently is not something everyone can do. When you complete an MSN/MBA dual degree program, you will earn the respect of your professional peers, as they understand the hard work and dedication it takes to succeed in these specialized programs.

REASON #9: You Could Open Your Own Business

One of the things about earning degrees through an MSN/MBA dual degree program is you can open your own business. With your knowledge and skills, you may open a healthcare business, such as a home health agency or private care agency. You could also open a consulting firm offering services to companies to help establish policies and procedures to ensure employees are in compliance with regulatory mandates and to promote financial well-being of the business. The ability to leverage your knowledge and skills from both degrees to open your own business is one of many reasons an MSN/MBA dual degree program is worth it.

REASON #10: You Can Work to Reduce Health Disparities on a Government Level

With dual graduate degrees in nursing and business administration, you will understand both the health and financial sides of health disparities. You will be perfectly positioned to use your knowledge and clinical expertise to work with elected leaders to create and implement policies to improve access to healthcare and make healthcare more affordable, therefore reducing health disparities among underserved individuals and populations.

REASON #11: You Can Become a Healthcare Executive

If you love nursing but feel transitioning from bedside nursing is in your future, you may find an MSN/MBA dual degree program worth it. With these degrees, you will obtain advanced nursing knowledge and skills coupled with advanced knowledge of business management, which you can leverage to vie for executive-level positions in healthcare settings. Whether you have your eye on a Chief Nursing Officer or Hospital Administrator job, these dual degrees will make you a more appealing candidate to prospective employers.

REASON #12: You Will Have a Better Work/Life Balance

Graduates of MSN/MBA dual degree programs often work in positions that have typical office hours, Monday through Friday. Most have nights and holidays off work, as well. Because this schedule allows for more time at home with family or to participate in activities with family and friends, it often leads to better work/life balance, which contributes to better overall mental and physical health.

REASON #13: You Will Have an Amazing Sense of Accomplishment

There is a big difference between being boastful and having a sense of personal satisfaction or accomplishment. When you graduate from MSN/MBA dual degree programs, you will certainly have a feeling of accomplishment, as you should. Earning the degrees takes time and dedication to your studies, which is something you should be proud of!

REASON #14: You Will Grow an Extensive Professional Network

If making professional contacts and growing your network interests you, an MSN/MBA dual degree program is worth it! In these programs, you will meet professionals with both healthcare and business backgrounds. You will have opportunities to learn from faculty, clinical preceptors, business mentors, and your peers. Some of the relationships you develop as a student could last a lifetime.

REASON #15: You Will Have a Competitive Edge When Applying for Jobs

Another of the biggest reasons why an MSN/MBA dual degree program is worth it is that having both degrees gives you a competitive advantage over other job candidates. Prospective employers understand the value of a candidate with both nursing and business knowledge and experience, which you can use to your advantage when applying for jobs. Not only will you have an advantage when applying for a great job, but you can also leverage your degrees to negotiate a good salary!


(Now that we have discussed the 15 reasons why an MSN/MBA dual degree program is worth it, I will share 5 main reasons why an MSN/MBA dual degree program may not be worth it for you.)

REASON #1: You Must Master TWO Rigorous Graduate Curriculums

One of the main reasons you may feel an MSN/MBA dual degree program is not worth it is because the coursework is intense! You must learn content from not one but two master's-level programs. To succeed, you must be intentional about studying and completing assignments on time.

REASON #2: Getting Accepted Is a Competitive Process

Before worrying about passing your classes, you must first get accepted into the dual MSN/MBA degree programs. Because of the nature of the programs, the admission process can be quite competitive. Most schools require applicants to meet the admission criteria for each program independently. As a previous student advisor, I recommend applying early to any school that interests you. Talk to admission counselors or advisors and try to develop a rapport with them. Also, make sure when you apply that you turn in a complete, error-free application.

REASON #3: You May Have to Find Your Own Preceptors

Some MSN/MBA programs require students to identify their own clinical sites and preceptors. Depending on the school's guidelines for choosing preceptors, you may find it challenging, especially if completing practical training at your current place of employment is not an option. When it gets down to the wire, and you still do not have approved preceptors, you may begin to think an MSN/MBA dual degree program is not worth it.

REASON #4: Some Employers View MSN/MBA Degrees as Non-Clinical Roles

Although you can always work in a clinical role if your RN license is active and unrestricted, you may find that some employers look to MSN/MBA degree holders to fill more non-clinical roles. Typically, graduates of these programs desire more administrative roles. However, if a clinical role is something you prefer, you may need to negotiate terms, especially when it comes to compensation when discussing new job prospects.

REASON #5: The Programs Are Time-Consuming

While you will earn your degrees in less time in a dual degree program, it still requires a significant time commitment. You must dedicate time each day to studying, preparing for tests, completing assignments, and participating in practical training. If you feel devoting a lot of time to school is too much, you may feel an MSN/MBA dual degree program is not worth it.


The average salary for experienced MSN/MBA dual degree holders is $149,610 per year. This pay is equivalent to $71.93 per hour, $2,877 per week, or $12,470 per month.



To determine whether the cost of an MSN/MBA dual degree program is worth the return on investment, we must compare the cost to your earning potential after graduation. The starting salary of program graduates is approximately $96,060 per year, which is nearly four times the cost of some of the less expensive programs, which range around $25,000. More expensive programs can cost as much as $100,000 or more. However, your earning potential increases over time. The average annual income for graduates of the programs is $149,610. So, if you compare the cost of the programs to your potential earnings, the return on your investment is worth the cost of the dual degree program.


If you are a registered nurse considering taking your degree to the next level by earning a dual degree, there is a lot to consider. From cost, time to complete your degrees, and what it takes to get into your desired programs to the pros and cons, you may have several questions. A popular dual degree program for registered nurses is an MSN/MBA dual degree program, but you may wonder, "Is an MSN/MBA dual degree program worth it?”

In this article, I shared some information with you about these specialized programs, offering insight into what it takes to get accepted, how much you will pay, and how much time you must commit to earning your degrees. You also learned 15 reasons why an MSN/MBA dual degree program is worth it and 5 reasons why it may not be the right degree for you. While the decision to pursue dual MSN/MBA degrees is not one to be taken lightly, I believe the pros outweigh the cons.

Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).