GCU Online MSN & Dual MBA-MSN: Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems

The College of Nursing and Health Care Professions at Grand Canyon University (GCU) offers a 100 percent online master of science in nursing (MSN) with an emphasis on nursing leadership in health care systems. There is also a bridge completion option available, as well as a dual MBA-MSN degree in the same specialization.

In addition, the following MSN nursing specializations are offered: health informatics, nursing education, public health nursing, and health care quality and patient safety.

The coursework for the MSN programs is completely online and does not require campus residencies. Students can complete the practicums in their home communities, involving 150 to 200 hours and a comprehensive project. These practicums are designed to integrate critical thinking and problem-solving skills with the nursing knowledge learned through the programs. Project foci may include quality of care improvement; staff development; mentoring, coaching, and collaboration between teams of health care professionals; and other leadership and nursing issues.

The nursing leadership in health care systems programs prepare nurse leaders with skills in expert diagnostic reasoning, critical thinking, and evidence-based research. They are shaped into leaders in clinical and organizational decision-making, with a focus on patient advocacy, ethical care, social well-being, political factors affecting health care, and research. These programs are designed to meet the standards set by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

Students receive instruction in health care organizational function and design, human resources management, financial management, quality of care, and interpersonal communication. Furthermore, the business portion of the dual MBA-MSN degree focuses on finance, economics, accounting, marketing, and strategic management.

Graduates of these programs may go on to positions such as chief nursing officer, chief executive officer, director of nursing staff, head of patient services, and other roles. Work settings may include private practice, primary care facilities, large health care organizations and systems, hospitals, insurance companies, research facilities, and government facilities.

The health informatics MSN degree focuses on the effective use of health care data for the improvement of health care outcomes and efficiency. Health informatics graduates may go on to positions such as researchers, systems analysts, data analysts, project managers, administrators, and executives.

The nursing education track prepares nurses to become leaders in the education of future nurses. They may become clinical educators or work in academic settings. This program allows students to choose the focus of their practicum and follows the National League for Nursing (NLN) competencies.

Public health nurses work to promote individual and community wellness and prevent disease. they may focus on the efficacy of current treatments and practices and the needs of diverse populations. GCU prepares public health nurses to treat all patients with Christian principles of dignity and respect. Graduates may go on to work in public health departments, clinics, community centers, schools, and other government facilities.

The health care quality and patient safety track prepares graduates to address quality and safety issues in the nursing profession. Graduates may go on to positions such as director of nursing, quality and patient safety coordinator, patient safety officer,  or director of quality management.

Grand Canyon University is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and is located in Phoenix, Arizona. The nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and the MBA portion of the dual degree is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

What to Expect from the GCU Online Nursing Leadership Programs

Admission Requirements: Applicants to the online nursing programs must have earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher in undergraduate coursework. If an applicant does not meet the minimum GPA requirement, they may be eligible for admission through GMAT or GRE test scores. In addition, applicants must have an unencumbered RN license in their state of residence.

Admission materials include an application and application fee, required letters of recommendation, official transcripts, proof of RN licensure, and TOEFL test scores (if applicable). International students must be current residents of a U.S. state and must have foreign transcripts evaluated by an agency approved by GCU. Other admissions requirements by degree program include:

  • MSN and dual MBA-MSN: Hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) from an accredited institution approved by GCU
  • MSN bridge program: Hold an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or diploma in nursing and a non-nursing bachelor’s degree in health sciences or another related field from an accredited institution approved by GCU

Study Plan: The GCU online MSN programs consist of nine to 10 courses. All of these courses last eight weeks except for the practicums which last 16 weeks. The MSN bridge program consists of 16 courses, seven of which are bridge courses that last five weeks each with the exception of a capstone and practicum course that lasts 10 weeks.

The dual MBA-MSN degree program includes 19 courses, most of which last eight weeks. However, the introduction to graduate studies in the College of Business lasts four weeks and the practicum lasts 16 weeks.

The MSN programs can be completed in about five to six semesters. The bridge program can be completed in about eight semesters and the dual MBA-MSN degree in about 3.5 years. Start dates land every eight weeks. Graduate nursing students typically spend 20 to 25 hours per week on each class.

MSN curriculum: Core courses for the MSN programs include introduction to advanced registered nursing; translational research and population health management; organizational leadership and informatics; and evidence-based practice projects.

Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems: The MSN program in nursing leadership in health care systems consists of 36 credits plus a 150-hour practicum. Specialization courses include organizational development and change; the principles of health care financial management; acquiring, developing, and leveraging human capital; performance improvement and quality in health care; and the leadership in health care systems practicum.

MSN Health Care Informatics: The MSN program in health care informatics consists of 40 credits plus 200 practicum hours. Specialization courses include healthcare information systems and technology; healthcare data management; electronic health record; health data analytics; user interface design for informatics; and nursing informatics practicum.

MSN Nursing Education: The MSN program in nursing education consists of 36 credits plus 200 practicum hours. Specialization courses include advanced pathophysiology and pharmacology for nurse educators; advanced health assessment for nurse educators; nursing education seminar I-II; and nursing education practicum.

MSN Public Health Nursing: The MSN program in public health nursing consists of 40 credits plus 150 practicum hours. Specialization courses include foundations of public health nursing; principles of epidemiology; application and interpretation of public health data; population-based intervention; international perspectives in community health; and public health nursing practicum.

MSN Health Care Quality and Patient Safety: The MSN program in health care quality and patient safety consists of 36 credits plus 150 practicum hours. Specialization courses include performance improvement and quality in healthcare; foundations of quality improvement and patient safety; project management in healthcare; implementation and change management; and quality improvement and patient safety practicum.

MSN Bridge Curriculum: The MSN bridge program adds 24 credits to the nursing leadership MSN for a total of 60 credits plus 250 clinical hours. Bridge courses include professional dynamics; health assessment; an introduction to nursing research; applied statistics for health care professionals; concepts in community and public health; pathophysiology and nursing management of clients’ health; and professional capstone and practicum. Once bridge courses are completed, students move into the MSN courses for their degree.

Dual MBA-MSN Curriculum: The dual MSN/MBA program in nursing leadership in health care systems consists of 74 credits plus 150 practicum hours. Business courses include an introduction to graduate studies in the College of Business, accounting practices, finance principles, economics, quantitative methods, marketing management, operations management, managerial accounting, managerial finance, and strategic management. The MSN courses as listed above are also completed.

Online Experience: Grand Canyon University uses its own unique Learning Management System (LMS) to deliver asynchronous online courses. The LMS incorporates recorded videos and lectures, assignments, readings, group projects, discussion boards, online chat, and email. Students also have access to the academic calendar and calendar reminders, eBooks, and online forums. GCU focuses on student success through faculty support, admissions counseling, academic advising, ACE online tutoring, 24/7 technical support, an online bookstore, library services, and career counseling.

On-Site Requirements: The GCU online MSN and dual MBA-MSN programs are 100 percent online; however, students must complete a 150-hour practicum local to where they live and work. Bridge program participants complete 250 practicum hours. Online nursing students are also welcome to participate in graduation on campus and visit campus at any time.

Paying for the GCU Online Nursing Leadership Programs

Online students pay $557 per credit for the MSN courses, $477 per credit for bridge courses, and $622 per credit for the MBA courses. Total tuition is dependent on how many courses are included from each category. Some programs may be charged at the tuition rate for the program with the highest tuition. Fees are not included in per-credit tuition costs. Interested nurses should contact the Grand Canyon University College of Nursing and Health Care Professions for a complete cost estimate as tuition typically changes from year to year.

Finally, graduate students may be eligible for graduate student loans through the FAFSA. GCU may offer scholarships for online graduate students. More information can be found through the Grand Canyon University Admissions Office. Nursing and dual degree students may also check with their employers regarding tuition reimbursement programs and tuition discounts. Other options for funding a graduate degree are community or organizational scholarships and grants.

Grand Canyon University MBA/MSN - Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems

  • Combines advanced nursing leadership skills with business skills
  • Complete a 150-hour practicum to culminate the program
  • 100% online curriculum for added convenience
Program Essentials
Degree Level Master's Degree
Program Start Dates Courses begin every 8 weeks
Credits Needed to Graduate 74
Time to Complete? Graduate in as little as five semesters
100% Online? Yes
Program Accreditation None
Program Admissions
Level of Education Required? Bachelors degree in nursing plus active RN license and
GRE or GMAT Required? No, unless the applicant fails to meet the minimum GPA requirement
Work Experience Required? None, but valid RN license is required
Program Tuition
Credit Hours 74
Cost Per Credit Hour $622.00
Estimated Program Tuition * $46,028.00

Grand Canyon University MSN - Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems

  • 100% online with no campus residencies
  • Includes a local practicum with a culminating project
  • Focuses on patient advocacy, ethical care, social well-being, research, and political factors affecting health care
Program Essentials
Degree Level Master's Degree
Program Start Dates Courses begin every 8 weeks
Credits Needed to Graduate 36
Time to Complete? Graduate in as little as seven semesters
100% Online? Yes
Program Accreditation None
Program Admissions
Level of Education Required? Bachelors degree in nursing plus active RN license
GRE or GMAT Required? No, unless the applicant fails to meet the minimum GPA requirement
Work Experience Required? None, but valid RN license is required
Program Tuition
Credit Hours 36
Cost Per Credit Hour $557.00
Estimated Program Tuition * $20,052.00

Grand Canyon University RN-to-MSN Bridge - Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems

  • Bridge courses focus on research, public health, disease management, patient assessment, and the dynamics of nursing practice
  • Complete six additional courses to quickly eneter the MSN program
  • Bridge courses last 5 weeks each
Program Essentials
Degree Level Master's Degree
Program Start Dates Courses begin every 8 weeks
Credits Needed to Graduate 54
Time to Complete? Graduate in as little as 3.5 years
100% Online? Yes
Program Accreditation No
Program Admissions
Level of Education Required? Non-nursing bachelors degree and ADN or Diploma plus active RN license
GRE or GMAT Required? No, unless the applicant fails to meet the minimum GPA requirement
Work Experience Required? None, but valid RN license is required
Program Tuition
Credit Hours 54
Cost Per Credit Hour $477
Estimated Program Tuition * $25,758.00

* Tuition is calculated based on credits, at the currently published tuition rate. For programs with variable tuition rates, we use the out of state, part-time student rate. Tuition number represents the cost of tuition for the entire program, not per semester or year. Total cost of tuition does not include additional fees.

Sara Navratil
Sara Navratil
Writer

Sara Navratil is a freelance writer and a Certified Canfield Success Principles Trainer. She's the owner of Sara Liza Life, a company dedicated to helping people rewrite their lives. She enjoys researching and writing about healthcare-related topics, including information on online MHA programs. When not working she likes to read, bake, and spend time with her family.