How to Become a Nurse Administrator in Pennsylvania

What is a Nurse Administrator?

Nurse Administrators are leaders within their communities from both a care and business perspective. Their skills run the gamut from interpersonal to clinical, and they’re often counted on to bring a sense of connection and business acumen to their place of work.

A Nurse Administrator supervises nurses and certain healthcare team members in everything from hospital departments to physician’s offices to long-term care facilities and more. They’re often responsible for hiring and reviewing nurses as well as overseeing work schedules, budgets and continued training. Additionally, Nurse Administrators may write and enforce policy while making sure everything runs smoothly for patients and staff alike.

How to Become a Nurse Administrator in Pennsylvania

In order to be a Nurse Administrator, you’ll want to start by becoming an RN. This typically requires a four-year baccalaureate degree or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, but there are programs that are more flexible if you’re working on a longer timeline. Once you’ve earned your BSN and become a nurse, you’ll then want to give yourself at least one to two years to practice as an RN before pursuing a graduate degree in nursing administration. Graduate degrees aren’t required to become a Nurse Administrator, but you’re often a more competitive candidate the more education and leadership experience you have under your belt.

Graduate degrees will also help prepare you to take national exams like the Nursing Executive certification (NE-BC), which is administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE). While you could still attain a position as a Nurse Administrator if you’re a seasoned leader and RN, working toward these additional certifications could give you an edge on the market. Nurse Administrators make around $107,000 a year in the state of Pennsylvania, and the projected rate of growth for the profession is 32%, which means ample opportunities for jobs now and in the future. If you’re in a place where you want to work full-time while going to school, you’ll want to check out some of the online and hybrid programs below. If you’re hoping for an in-person experience, there are options for you too. Choosing the right fit will set you up for success and allow you to make the most out of your continuing education.

Best Nursing Administration and Leadership Programs in Pennsylvania

1. University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is a private Ivy League research university located in Philadelphia. With about 12,900 graduate students and a student-faculty ratio of 6:1, UPenn is rated among the top universities countryand the Nursing program itself is ranked number one according to US News and World Report.

UPenn offers an MSN in Nursing and Healthcare Administration that features courses in business, leadership development, and health policy both in-person and online along with full-time and part-time options of study. One of its highlights is the opportunity to combine your MSN with other master’s degrees like a Master’s in Healthcare Quality & Safety or a Master’s in Law, which can create better opportunities when you start navigating the job market. At the end of the MSN, you’ll complete an administrative practicum in order to gain hands-on experience with a nurse leader in your specific area of interest.

In order to be admitted into UPenn’s program, all applicants must hold a BSN (with a 3.0 GPA if they want to be competitive candidates) and have completed a statistics course. Additionally, you’ll need to meet specific background check requirements, drug screening, immunizations, and have a CPR certification and proof of RN licensure.

2. Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania (BUP) is a public university located in Bloomsburg that enrolls around 680 graduate students each year.

BUP offers an online MSN in Nursing Administration with the option to go for a dual degree and add on a Masters of Business Administration (MBA). The program’s coursework focuses on skills including budget and accounting, information systems, ethics, management and organizational assessment from the perspective of ethics and political action. This focus allows students to hone in on specific populations so that they’re prepared to enact change when it comes to healthcare policy. The program can be completed in both full and part-time capacities over the course of two to three years, depending on the route you choose to take.

In order to be admitted to the program, prospective students must submit an application to the graduate school along with official transcripts, a resume, three letters of recommendation, written career goals and proof of their active RN license.

3. Duquesne University

Duquesne University (DUQ) is a private research university located in Pittsburgh that offers one of the top three online MSN degrees in the state.

DUQ’s MSN in Executive Nurse Leadership & Health Care Management works to expand the skills of nurse leaders from a business perspective. Students collaborate with a small cohort of 12-15 people and take courses in policy development, ethics, clinical prevention, social justice, business strategy and more. This combination of nursing and business classes allows students to be innovators when it comes to implementing change on budgetary, quality care and strategic levels.

To be admitted to the program, you’ll need to hold a current RN license, a bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA (although they do say that they prefer a BSN over a non-nursing degree), have achieved a “C” or higher in an undergraduate statistics course or a “B” or higher in a graduate statistics course. You’ll also need to submit a resume, two references, official transcripts and do an interview (if required).

4. University of Scranton

The University of Scranton (UOFS) is a private Catholic Jesuit university located in Scranton that enrolls around 424 graduate students each year with a student-faculty ratio of about 12:1.

UOFS offers an MSN with an Executive Nurse Leadership specialization.

Focusing on organizational and financial management, the program’s coursework is offered both online and in-person for maximum flexibility. In addition to completing 30 credits in course hours, students will also complete a 125-hour practicum where they’ll get real-life experience in executive nurse leadership. Graduates of the MSN program can expect to get jobs in a number of industries, from insurance to community health and rehabilitation centers, hospitals and so on.

To get into the program, you must hold a BSN with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher (or you can submit GRE scores to demonstrate your eligibility for candidacy if you’re below a 3.0). Additionally, you’ll need to be a licensed RN in Pennsylvania and submit a general application to the graduate school.

5. Penn State University

Penn State University (PSU) is a public state-related research university with campuses throughout Pennsylvania that’s ranked in the top 25 of the best nursing programs in the state. Enrolling roughly 12,781 graduate students, PSU still maintains a student-faculty ratio of 15:1.

PSU offers an online MSN with a Nurse Administrator option. Because the coursework can be completed virtually and in either full or part-time capacities, this particular program allows for more flexibility for those who continue to work full-time. All MSN students take the same core courses, but the Nurse Administrator track has classes on subjects like healthcare informatics, leadership concepts, population health perspectives and more. For those who are extra ambitious, PSU also offers the option to go directly from a BSN to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), acquiring your MSN along the way as well.

To be accepted to the program, prospective students must hold a BSN with at least a 3.3 GPA, have an active RN license, maintain a “B” or higher in all science and nursing classes and have taken a statistics course. Additionally, you’ll need to submit official transcripts, two references and a personal statement.

6. Drexel University

Drexel University (DU), a private university with a main campus in Philadelphia, also deserves an honorable mention. Enrolling around 8,850 graduate students and 4,565 online students, Drexel’s MSN in Leadership and Health Systems Management was designed specifically for working nurses who want to further their education.

The program is meant to be completed in a part-time capacity so that it’s most convenient for those who are going to work while they pursue their degree. The coursework features classes on subjects like strategic planning, fiscal and organizational management, marketing, integrated quality outcomes measurement and more. Additionally, students will complete 160 hours of a practicum to help prepare them for roles in positions of higher administration upon graduation. A highlight of this program is that, after enrolling, students also have access to all of the clinical practice environments and simulated healthcare scenarios available through DU’s College of Nursing and Health Professions to continue to improve their skills in real time.

In order to be accepted, prospective students will need to hold a BSN with a 3.0 GPA (those without a 3.0 are considered on a case-by-case basis), submit official transcripts, two professional references, a CV, personal statement, proof of RN licensure and complete an interview. You must also their Compliance Requirements, which can take time, so it’s best to start on those early.