Each nursing position requires a specific set of skills, and nurses must complete a relevant degree to land the highest-paying positions. In some instances, completing multiple degrees increases a nurse's chance of securing a new role. To speed up the process of earning multiple degrees, many nurses complete a dual-degree nursing program.
The best dual-degree nursing programs combine a nursing-oriented degree with a second degree focused on a different subject, such as business, administration, or public health. Schools offer dual-degree nursing programs at the graduate level.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses (RNs) earned a median annual salary of $73,300 in 2019. However, professionals with a master's degree in nursing, such as nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, earned $115,800. Some of the highest-paid nurses complete multiple degrees.
"The best dual-degree nursing programs combine a nursing-oriented degree with a second degree focused on a different subject, such as business, administration, or public health." -The ASO Staff
What is a Dual Nursing Degree Program?
A dual-degree nursing program builds off previous nursing experience. Applicants need a current RN license and must complete a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) from an accredited institution. These programs usually require 66-72 credits, though specific credit requirements vary. Most full-time learners earn both degrees in two years. However, some schools offer part-time options that take 3-7 years, depending on how many courses students take each semester.
By enrolling in a dual nursing degree, nurses benefit from the accelerated nature of both degrees. Instead of spending 1-2 years on each degree, learners can complete both in just two years. Also, a dual degree could cost less than completing each master's degree separately.
What Can I Do With an Online Degree in Nursing?
While nursing requires practical skills that students learn during clinical rotations, some advanced nursing positions do not require additional clinical experience. For example, medical and health services managers typically combine healthcare experience with a master's degree in business. In 2019, medical and health services managers earned a median annual salary of $100,980, according to the BLS. Jobs for these professionals are projected to grow 32% between 2019 and 2029, which is significantly faster than average.
Aspiring medical and health services managers must first complete a BSN. Next, they should gain several years of professional experience. Many online programs allow students to continue working while earning their degrees. The combination of experience and master's degrees helps nursing professionals find niche roles within healthcare organizations. Aside from management and administration positions, potential careers vary based on the two degrees learners select.
Accreditation for a Degree in Nursing
Before committing to any dual-degree nursing program, prospective students should look for both programmatic and regional accreditation. Accreditation demonstrates academic excellence as accredited programs meet the standards set by industry leaders.
Nurses should choose degrees with programmatic accreditation since many employers only hire nurses who graduate from programs featuring programmatic accreditation. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing provide programmatic accreditation for nursing programs.
Prospective nurses should also only explore regionally accredited colleges or universities. While both accreditation types demonstrate quality, employers and graduate schools prefer applicants who graduate from regionally accredited institutions. To learn more about accrediting organizations and to discover which accrediting organizations to look for in your area, refer to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Are the Requirements for a Degree in Nursing?
Requirements for a nursing degree vary by program. A BSN usually requires a 2.5 GPA or higher, an entrance essay, and recommendation letters. Applicants should also earn volunteer experience, preferably related to healthcare delivery.
During a BSN program, students must complete clinical rotations before taking the NCLEX, the national standardized exam used to award RN eligibility.
Courses in a Nursing Program
Nursing programs combine theories learned in classrooms with practical knowledge gained through clinical experience. During a program, nurses must complete around 800 hours of clinical experience. Accredited nursing degrees require these hours as part of the program.
In the classroom, learners study topics that prepare them for nursing. They learn how to care for patients, work with others, and provide healthcare ethically. Dual-degree nursing programs might also require a final project or thesis, though requirements vary by program. Read below for some common courses in a nursing program.
Certifications and Licensure for Nursing Majors
Nursing majors earn various certifications and licenses to qualify for high-paying positions. Some certifications require nurses to complete specific programs or earn professional experience. See below for some popular nursing certifications and licenses to secure advanced nursing positions.
Certification for Nurse EducatorsOffered by the National League for Nursing, this certification demonstrates excellence as an academic nurse educator. Best for those interested in teaching future nurses, the certification features options for general nursing or clinical nurse education. Applicants must currently practice as a nurse and hold a master's or doctoral degree with an emphasis in education.
Certified Nurse Manager and LeaderThis certification helps current and future nurse managers secure high-level positions. Applicants must demonstrate nurse management experience, including some clinical nursing experience. The certification also requires an active RN license and a BSN.
Family Nurse Practitioner CertificationA required certification for aspiring family nurse practitioners, this certification aligns with advanced practice registered nurse regulations and standards. Nurses must complete an approved family nurse practitioner program and renew the certification every five years.
Professional Organizations for Nursing Students
Before graduating, nursing students can network and explore career opportunities through professional organizations. Nursing students should consider joining organizations that align with their career goals. Read below for some professional organizations for nursing students and nursing professionals.
Scholarships for Nursing Students
Nursing students, particularly those interested in a dual-degree nursing program, must find ways to pay for their education. Fortunately, thousands of nursing students use scholarships to help cover their tuition costs. Some scholarships accept applications from all nursing students while others only accept applicants pursuing a specific nursing degree.
Best Dual Nursing Degree Programs
A centerpiece of the California public higher education system, USC educates over 26,500 graduate and professional students each year. The school offers many graduate programs online, including dual degree nursing programs that run at least partially online.
USC's online master of science in nursing comes with a family nurse practitioner specialization. This 49-credit program requires 784 clinical hours of experience. Full-time students graduate in just five semesters, while part-time students take eight semesters. For students without a background in pharmacology or pathophysiology, USC requires a two-credit bridge course.
While students complete most coursework online, USC requires two on-campus intensives in Los Angeles. Learners complete these intensives at the end of their first and third terms. Nursing students must also complete clinicals onsite. USC helps connect learners with clinical opportunities. Applicants need a bachelor of science in nursing with a 3.0 GPA and one year of professional nursing experience.
Located in Durham, North Carolina, Duke is an esteemed public research university that prepares graduate students for various future careers. Duke's master of science in nursing allows students to select from eight majors and three minors. Along with their major, learners can select a specialty to complete a dual degree nursing program. Specialties include areas such as cardiology, endocrinology, HIV, oncology, and orthopedics. This innovative program also prepares nursing students to enroll in a doctor of nursing practice program.
Most of Duke's graduate-level nursing courses run entirely online. However, the university requires an onsite intensive (2-5 days) at least once per semester. During these on-campus intensives, students work face-to-face with faculty. Applicants must submit a resume, professional recommendations, and a personal statement. Duke requires a 3.0 GPA on college transcripts but does not require GRE scores.
Johns Hopkins, the nation's first research university, provides some of the best dual degree nursing programs for graduate students. Options at the master's level include advanced nursing practice specialties, a master of science in nursing (MSN) in healthcare organizational leadership, and an MSN/MBA dual degree.
Most of Johns Hopkins' dual nursing degree programs require at least two years of study and more than 500 clinical hours. The MSN/MBA route requires five full-time semesters of study, including a summer semester. Part-time learners take more than three years to complete the program. In total, learners earn 65 credits, many of which come online. However, both the MSN and MBA require some onsite clinical experience.
To qualify for Johns Hopkins' dual nursing degree programs, learners must submit three recommendation letters, hold a bachelor of science in nursing and active registered nurse license, and demonstrate at least two years of professional nursing experience.
One of the nation's oldest Catholic institutions, SLU serves nearly 13,000 students each year. The private university gained renown for its quality healthcare programs, including those created for nurses.
SLU's RN-to-BSN program runs entirely online and helps current nurses complete their four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). The degree requires 120 credits, though learners with an active registered nurse (RN) license or associate degree can transfer many required credits. SLU offers the courses in an accelerated eight-week format and uses six terms throughout the year. Full-time learners complete this program in just one year, while part-time students take 1.5-2 years.
SLU accepts online learners with active RN licenses in most states. Applicants need at least a high school diploma. Those without previous college experience must complete pre-nursing courses through SLU.
Despite enrolling over 12,000 students, Rochester maintains a low 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. The New York-based school hosts one of the region's top nursing schools that offers a dual degree nursing program.
Current registered nurses (RNs) can enroll in Rochester's online RN-to-BSN, a 32-credit bachelor's-completion program that takes part-time learners as few as 16 months to complete. The entirely online program offers three start dates during the year, and students pay a variable per-credit tuition rate depending on their previous education and county of residence.
Eligible nurses need an associate degree or diploma in nursing, along with an active RN license in New York. Applicants submit previous transcripts with at least a 3.0 GPA, resume or CV, and recommendation letter. Rochester does not charge an application fee.
A private research school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel offers its dual degree nursing program, an RN-to-BSN degree, entirely online. The unique program takes as few as 12 months to complete and emphasizes experiential and evidence-based learning.
Learners must complete 180 quarter credits to earn Drexel's bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), though current nurses can transfer up to 135 credits. Drexel uses an accelerated learning format for online students, including those pursuing the RN-to-BSN. This accelerated format allows learners to study at their own pace and continue working while completing the BSN. For learners who plan on taking more than 12 months, Drexel guarantees the same flat tuition rate for three years.
Applicants need a 2.0 GPA or higher and an active registered nurse (RN) license. Applicants must also first complete at least 60 semester hours of college prerequisites. Those without adequate prerequisites can complete the courses through Drexel.
The Catholic University of America, a private research school based in Washington, D.C., serves students in all fields through the Catholic intellectual tradition. Despite the university's religious background, learners enrolled in the online master of science in nursing (MSN) do not take Catholic-based or religious courses.
The online MSN's nurse practitioner track offers options including family nurse practitioner, acute care, and pediatric primary care. Each route begins with 27 core credits followed by 17-25 specialty credits. All options culminate with a three-credit capstone research project. The program takes most students 2-3 years to complete, depending on whether they study full time and the specialty they select. The Catholic University of America's dual degree nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
While the MSN features fully online courses, nurses must complete 700 hours of clinical experience onsite. Learners must also travel to campus two times during the program for on-campus intensives.
Founded in the Catholic Jesuit tradition, Georgetown ranks among the nation's top research universities. Located in Washington, D.C., Georgetown enrolls over 17,000 students from various religious backgrounds.
Learners interested in a dual nursing degree program can choose a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). Students can specialize in areas such as nurse midwifery and acute care nurse practitioner. Each option varies in length and requirements, though learners typically complete 40 credits over 2-3 years. Georgetown designs its dual degree nursing programs for part-time study, so nurses can continue working while earning their degree. Aside from 600-700 clinical hours and several on-campus intensives, learners complete all courses online.
All of Georgetown's online MSN and DNP options meet certification requirements set by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
GW, a comprehensive institution that educates over 26,000 students, serves as a leader in research and alumni success. GW's distinguished faculty help graduate learners, including those enrolled in a dual degree nursing program, achieve their career goals.
The online master of science in nursing (MSN), considered one of the nation's top online graduate nursing programs, uses online courses and onsite training through clinicals and simulations. Nurses can select from multiple specialties, and each option posts its own clinical experience and credit requirements. For example, the RN-to-MSN, which leads to both a bachelor of science in nursing and an MSN, takes roughly three years to complete with varying clinical hour requirements based on specialization.
Applicants to all programs aside from the RN-to-MSN need a bachelor's degree in nursing with a 3.0 GPA. Learners also submit two recommendation letters, a personal statement, and a professional resume.
Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Simmons primarily educates undergraduate women and graduate learners. The graduate students outnumber undergraduates nearly 3-to-1, and many enroll in a graduate-level dual nursing degree program.
Established in 1902, Simmons' nursing school offers an online master of science in nursing (MSN) with a family nurse practitioner specialization. Designed for current registered nurses (RNs) with or without a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), the online MSN combines online courses with onsite clinicals. During the program, learners conduct individual research. Learners can pursue the MSN full time or part time, with the options taking 2-3 years, respectively. Both routes require 48 credits and 770 hours of clinical research. Graduates qualify to become certified family nurse practitioners and continue on to a doctor of nursing practice program if they choose.
Applicants need a current RN license and must submit a personal statement, three recommendation letters, a resume, and previous college transcripts.
Samford, a top-ranked Christian school in Birmingham, Alabama, aims to provide an affordable education at all levels. Samford's Moffett & Sanders School of Nursing offers a BSN-to-MSN with a family nurse practitioner specialty. This dual-degree nursing program meets standards set by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Graduates regularly excel on certification exams. Most courses run online, though students must commute to campus three times during the program. Samford offers two entry dates during the spring and fall.
Applicants must submit three recommendation letters, a personal statement, and a professional resume. Samford does not require any amount of professional nursing experience. The program takes 5-6 semesters to complete depending on whether students start in the fall or spring.
A private Jesuit school in Spokane, Washington, Gonzaga offers several online degrees and dual nursing degree programs. Learners can choose from three online master of science in nursing (MSN) options: family nurse practitioner, nursing leadership in healthcare, or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.
All three tracks allow learners to complete courses online, though students must complete clinicals onsite and attend at least one on-campus immersion. Gonzaga requires 30 credits for the nursing leadership in healthcare MSN and 47 credits for both nurse practitioner routes. All three options are available part time and take 6-9 semesters to complete.
Before applying, nurses must complete a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and hold an unencumbered registered nurse (RN) license. Those without a BSN must complete foundational courses before gaining admission. Applicants must also maintain a 3.0 GPA.
Based in New York's state capital, UB leads public education in the state. The university offers over 140 undergraduate and 55 combined degree programs, including dual degree nursing programs.
UB's BS-to-RN track, an online program designed for registered nurses (RNs) with an associate degree or hospital-based diploma, takes 12-24 months to complete, depending on students' chosen route. Nurses complete courses asynchronously and may continue working while earning their bachelor's degree. The program emphasizes affordability and flexibility.
UB chooses applicants on a case-by-case basis, though all applicants need an unencumbered RN license and a 2.5 GPA in prerequisite courses. The school accepts transfer students, and those with previous college credit could reduce the time and cost of the online program.
A private Catholic school in Cincinnati, Ohio, Xavier educates roughly 6,500 students, about 2,000 of whom pursue graduate degrees. Although Xavier is a private school, it maintains affordability through financial aid and a low per-credit rate for online learners.
Xavier's online master of science in nursing (MSN) dual degree nursing program features tracks in forensics or education. Learners in both tracks must complete 36 credits, including two practicums and a scholarly project. Xavier uses both synchronous and asynchronous courses, so students receive some flexibility. Aside from practicum courses, learners complete the entire MSN online. Most students complete the program in 2-3 years.
Applicants need an unencumbered registered nurse license and a bachelor of science in nursing from a regionally accredited institution. Nurses also submit a resume, three recommendation letters, a personal statement, and previous transcripts. During the application process, Xavier faculty interview candidates.
Based in Fort Worth, Texas, TCU enrolls over 10,000 students and features an average class size of just 27 learners. The private school also offers many of its degrees online, including a master of science in nursing.
TCU's graduate nursing program features four majors: nursing education, clinical nurse leader, clinical nurse specialist, and nursing administration and leadership. All four options use online courses, though learners must complete clinical requirements onsite. TCU allows students to complete clinicals in their respective areas, though learners with no adequate local residency program must attend clinicals in Fort Worth. Degree requirements range from 29-38 credits, and TCU requires just 5-9 clinical hours. Some majors also feature optional specializations.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a registered nurse license in Texas. Nurses also submit transcripts, work history, a personal essay, and three recommendation letters.
For more than 140 years, Duquesne has served learners in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area. One of the country's top Catholic universities, Duquesene maintains a low 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, and most classes host less than 20 students.
Duquesne's online graduate nursing programs provide master of science in nursing learners with six routes of study: forensic nursing, nursing education, adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, and executive nurse leadership. Nurses may also select a concentration in nursing education, forensic nursing, and transcultural nursing. Requirements vary based on degree selection, but students usually need 2-3 years to complete the program.
All of Duquesne's online nursing programs use online courses, with some onsite requirements for clinicals. Each route offers three start dates during the year. Graduates typically excel on certification exams related to their field of study. Duquesne does not require GRE scores.
Founded as a private academy in 1743, UD is the state's leader in education. The private university enrolls over 24,000 learners and ranks among the best in the nation for healthcare programs.
UD's RN-to-BSN, a dual degree nursing program, allows current registered nurses (RNs) to earn their bachelor's degree entirely online. The program requires 120 credits, though nurses can waive most of the credits through transfer credits, an associate degree, or an active RN license. Learners take as little as one year to complete the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), though program length depends on individual experience. Nursing students take courses year-round, including during the summer and winter terms.
Applicants need an RN diploma or an associate degree in nursing. Students also need a 2.5 GPA on all prerequisite courses. UD accepts applicants during the fall and spring semesters.
The state's leader in public education, UW ranks among the nation's best public research universities. The large university enrolls over 31,000 undergraduate students and awards over 10,000 degrees each year.
Created for working adults, UW's online RN-to-BSN helps nurses continue their education and increase their salaries. Applicants need an active registered nurse (RN) license and either an associate degree in nursing or a nursing diploma. The program runs entirely online, and most learners complete the degree in just over one year. Students complete 25-28 credits over a maximum of five semesters.
The innovative RN-to-BSN program comes as a collaborative degree between six of UW's campuses. Upon admission, students select their home institution which determines where learners earn their degree. Each institution sets its own admission and degree requirements.
Founded in 1787 as Pittsburgh Academy, Pitt is now a national leader in research. The esteemed public school enrolls over 30,000 learners, many of whom choose to study part time.
Pitt's master of science in nursing (MSN) program offers a nursing informatics or clinical nurse leader specialization. The nursing informatics route requires 38.5 credits that students complete over two years and culminates with a comprehensive exam. The clinical nurse leader route requires 42 credits over four terms and includes seminars and onsite practicums. Both options are available in full-time and part-time formats. Aside from seminars and practicums, learners complete both routes entirely online.
To qualify for the master's degree, applicants need a bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited institution and program. Applicants also need an unencumbered registered nurse license and a 3.0 GPA or higher. A 3.5 GPA or higher waives any GRE requirements.
UConn, a public research university located in Storrs, educates more than 32,000 students. Perhaps best known for its athletics, UConn also offers some of the region's best healthcare programs, including graduate-level nursing degrees.
Nurses interested in a graduate-level dual degree nursing program can pursue UConn's online master of science in nursing (MSN). The MSN also allows for a specialization in various fields, including neonatal nursing. The neonatal nursing specialization requires two years of full-time study. Applicants need professional experience working in a level three neonatal intensive care unit. Students complete the 44-credit program entirely online. However, learners must visit UConn on three occasions and complete clinicals onsite in healthcare facilities.
During the application process, nurses submit three professional letters of reference, a resume, transcripts, and a written response to several questions. Applicants should also demonstrate a 3.0 GPA on undergraduate transcripts.
A private liberal arts school in Salt Lake City, Utah, Westminster prides itself on preparing graduates for successful careers. The small school educates just 1,740 undergraduate students and maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 15-to-1.
Westminster's online RN-to-BSN program provides current nurses with an affordable way to earn their bachelor's degree. The program reports a 98% completion rate due in part to the 11-student cap for each course. The degree requires 124 credits, though registered nurses (RNs) can transfer in most required credits. Westminster estimates that RNs typically take three semesters to complete the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA to remain in the program.
Applicants need an unrestricted RN license in Utah. Other application requirements include a nursing diploma or associate degree in nursing, a minimum cumulative 2.8 GPA, and an interview with a Westminster counselor.
One of the country's oldest institutions of higher education, Mercer attracts students from around the world with its storied history and excellent academic programs. Most learners attend the university's main campus in Macon, Georgia. Other students attend courses at campuses in Columbus, Savannah, Atlanta, or online.
The top dual nursing degree program for undergraduate learners, the online RN-to-BSN, takes just 12 months to finish. Created for current nurses with an associate degree and a registered nurse (RN) license in Georgia, the online program runs asynchronously, allowing working students to keep their jobs. Aside from two orientation days in Macon, learners complete the entire degree online.
Applicants must submit proof of an unencumbered Georgia RN license, two professional references, and previous college transcripts. Applicants then complete an interview with Mercer's RN-to-BSN coordinator.
IU, the flagship institution in the extensive IU system, consistently ranks among the top schools for various fields. The large public school teaches over 32,500 students each year, many of whom study online.
IU's RN-to-BSN program, an entirely online degree-completion program for current registered nurses (RNs), takes full-time learners 12 months to complete and 18-24 months for part-time students. The degree requires 120 credits, though most applicants transfer in their associate degree and qualify for 64 credits. Learners with previous bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) experience at a different institution can transfer in up to 90 credits. Online learners receive access to a 24/7 contact center, career services, a digital library, and a full suite of software and programs.
Applicants must first complete an associate degree in nursing or a nursing diploma and hold an active RN license. IU requires a cumulative 2.5 GPA on previous transcripts.
A private Jesuit school in downtown Chicago, Illinois, Loyola reports a 99% graduate success rate with nearly all students securing a position or continuing their education within three months of graduating. Graduates also enjoy an extensive alumni network of over 85,000 in Chicago.
A dual degree nursing program created for current registered nurses (RNs), Loyola's online RN-to-BSN program lets current nurses complete their bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) in as little as one year. The degree-completion program requires a minimum of 33 credits. Loyola uses accelerated 6-8 week courses, letting students complete courses quickly. Many working students continue on at their jobs.
Applicants need a current RN license and must submit a transcript proving a 2.5 GPA or better in previous programs.
Baylor, a top-ranked research institution in Waco, Texas, educates learners with leadership, service, and academic excellence in mind. The private Christian university predates the state of Texas, a testament to its growth.
Instead of offering online master of science in nursing dual degree nursing programs to current bachelor's degree-holders, Baylor offers online doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs. Available to learners who only hold a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), the DNP degrees run online, though some routes require nurses to complete clinical rotations onsite. Some nursing specialization options include executive nurse leadership, family nurse practitioner, and pediatric nurse practitioner. Recent graduates enjoyed a perfect certification exam pass rate, and all graduates found a clinical position near their home.
Admission requirements vary by program. Baylor does not require GRE or GMAT scores. Applicants need at least a BSN from an accredited nursing school with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Other requirements include an unencumbered RN license and 1-2 years of professional nursing experience.