There are many different programs around the country that offer dual degree programs in a variety of learning formats and styles, depending on what your interests and goals are. Some prefer to learn in traditional learning environments while others may prefer the expanded flexibility offered in a distance learning format. The main advantage of pursuing a dual degree is time. If each degree were taken separately, it would take on average six years to earn them but taking them together allows you to earn them in as little as three or four years.
There are many different types of dual degree programs, with over 120 types being offered in the US currently. There are four common dual degree programs however that are offered more typically and each has a specific professional career path and focus. Of course, the primary graduate nursing degree is the Master of Science in Nursing. This degree will primarily prepare the practicing professional nurse to become a leader and advocate as well as researcher in the healthcare industry. Many of the foundations that will be combined with the second degree are present in the MSN degree, making the dual degree possible.
The MSN/MBA is a dual degree program that can typically be earned in three years if pursued full time. The resulting degrees, the Masters of Science in Nursing and the Master of Business Administration, are full standing independent degrees. This degree is suited for the nurse who will gain higher level nursing skills but also wants a strong business background. Most who pursue this degree have the goal of becoming management or consultants in the healthcare field. This is the perfect degree to prepare for management within the context of ongoing healthcare reforms that are currently occurring as well as those that look to be promising in the future.
The MSN/MPH is a dual degree program that can also be accomplished within a three year time frame. This is a popular program in the healthcare field because it not only equips nurses academically in the development of nursing skills and application but the MPH, or Master of Public Health, will educate the nursing student about guiding healthcare teams and developing programs to serve the community as a whole. Applying nursing skills in a population rather than to a patient requires a special knowledge of gestalt reasoning. Nurses with an MPH are able to analyze high risk populations and assist in the development and implementation of healthcare programs that are both preventative as well as reactive.
The MSN/MHA will equip nursing graduates who are interested in becoming healthcare administrators as well as leaders and advocates within the field. The MHA degree includes advanced training in specific health care topics and upcoming legislation, research, innovation in the field and in nursing, organizational behavior and healthcare policy. The graduate with the MSN/MHA dual degree will enter the field ready to take on leadership and advocacy roles.
The MSN/MPA dual degree includes the MSN as well as a Master of Public Administration degree. This degree is similar to other management degrees but includes information that will prepare the graduate to operate as an administrator in more broad fields and institutions as well as managing government programs. This degree program is more organization based including education in human resources, public programs, leadership and communication. The development of nursing staffs in order to maximize potential in an organization would be one example of the role of a professional in this field. Many graduates with the MSN/MPA dual degree go on to work as administrators in government or community-based agencies.
There are many more different dual degree programs that are offered across the country. The trend seems to be the incorporation of nurses in leadership and administrative roles in an effort to include direct patient care providers and advocates in the healthcare process as a whole including the development of policies and laws as well as ongoing and ever-changing research. For the most competitive edge in this profession, considering a dual degree program is a wise decision.