Master’s Degree

Executive Nurse Leadership (MSN)

Take the next step to advance your career as an executive nurse leader in health care and health system settings.

Exceutive nursing leadership student with faculty

Program Overview

In our executive nurse leadership master’s program, you’ll partner with experienced nursing and business professionals to develop the skills to lead at every system level in health care.

With courses in both the School of Nursing and School of Business Administration, you’ll learn how to improve health outcomes for patients and populations. Improved outcomes will be accomplished through effective, efficient, equitable, and patient-centered leadership and health care delivery models using ethical and relation-based business practices.

When you graduate with two years of executive nurse leadership experience, you’ll be eligible to apply for one of the certifications offered by the American Organization for Nursing Leadership.

The master's degree program in nursing at Widener University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791.

Program Options

View the Loading... for information on the curriculum and coursework.

Students can enroll in the program at either our Main Campus in Chester or Central Pennsylvania campus in Harrisburg.

The program can be completed in 24-36 months of full-time study or at the student’s pace for part-time study within the five-year time limit post matriculation.

Students who are registered nurses can enroll in an accelerated track to earn a master's degree through the RN-to-MSN program option.


After completing this program, students have the option to transfer the nine business course credits towards a master’s of business administration degree.

Students who hold an MSN and are interested in pursuing nursing leadership should consider a post-master's certificate. The School of Nursing offers a number of post-master's and post-doctoral certificates in different areas of study. Certificate options can be viewed here.

Admissions Requirements

Applicants must submit the following:

  • Complete online application.
  • Application fee of $35.
  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing or equivalent from an accredited program.
  • Minimum of 3.0 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) in a BSN program.
  • Official transcripts from all previously attended institutions of higher education.
  • Completion of an undergraduate statistics/research course with a grade of C or better.
  • Two recommendations, preferably from professional nurses with graduate degrees, regarding applicant’s practice and potential for graduate work in nursing.
  • Valid U.S. license as a registered nurse. PA State Board of Nursing licensure prior to start of clinical practicum or as appropriate.
  • Satisfactory scores (550 written and 213 computer-based) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for all applicants from non-English speaking countries.
  • Personal Statement.
  • Updated resume.

Applicants who meet all admission criteria except the 3.0 grade point average are eligible to complete two courses as a nonmatriculated student. The student should complete the application and contact the advisor to discuss course selection. If the applicant completes two nonmatriculated courses and attains a grade of B or better admission will be considered.

Loading... in the course catalog.

The School of Nursing requires a passing score on the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) Qualifying Examination. The CGFNS Qualifying Examination is a prerequisite for taking the Registered Nurse Licensing Examination in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Application materials are available from the CGFNS website.

  • August 15—for matriculation in the fall semester.
  • December 15—for matriculation in the spring semester.
  • April 15—for matriculation in summer sessions.

Program Highlights

Leverage classroom and real-world experiences to prepare for your role as an executive nurse leader.

2020 National League for Nursing Center of Excellence

For enhancing student learning and professional development

Nursing students in clinicals

Renowned in the Region

Our School of Nursing was ranked 16th in the Mid-Atlantic region and 8th in Pennsylvania among private colleges.

Best Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Best Master of Science in Nursing

Recognized as the best hybrid MSN program based on flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation.

Founders Hall, home to Widener's School of Nursing, at dusk

Top 50 in Nation

Our School of Nursing is proud to rank #46 out of more than 1,100 private institutions evaluated across the nation.  

Source: Nursing Schools Almanac



A flexible hybrid course delivery system offers in-person and online classes at our Main Campus in Chester.

Real-World Experience

Gain real-world experience at the region’s top hospitals as you develop leadership skills that will build the foundation for a career in executive nurse leadership.

Interdisciplinary Education & Research

With opportunities to collaborate with the School of Business and other schools across campus, you’ll enhance your understanding of how to meet the needs of patients and the systems that care for them.

Faculty Mentorship

Thrive in a learning community that is guided by expert faculty with close mentorship and one-on-one support. As you complete courses led by nursing and business leaders, you'll build a network that will follow you long after graduation.


You’ll benefit from close faculty mentorship from full-time professors who aren’t just teaching the courses but are creating the science of nursing education.

dean anne krouse
Dean of School of Nursing

As an experienced nurse and nurse educator, my teaching philosophy emanates from my personal experiences as well as from a primarily constructivist paradigm, viewing learners as adults who build on their own life experiences. I believe that students learn in different ways, and as such, it is the responsibility of the educator to maximize their learning potential through active learning strategies that engage and challenge them.

Shirlee Drayton Brooks

I ascribe to a pragmatic philosophy of teaching and learning. I believe that nursing education must be practical and logically aligned to the diverse needs of the population we serve.

Your Inside Track to Success

Your Inside Track to Success

You will graduate with the expertise you need to lead as an executive nurse leader.

Outlook & Outcomes

Industry Growth

Employment of nurse practitioners is expected to increase by 45% by 2029 according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Average Salary


Average annual salary of an MSN prepared nurse.

Potential Careers

  • Chief nursing officer
  • Chief nursing executive
  • Director of nursing
  • Case manager

Take the Next Steps

Join a leading university dedicated to your success.

Visit Us

To visit Widener is, more often than not, to fall in love with the place. To fit your timeline and schedule, we offer a variety of ways to get to know us.

View Tuition and Fees

Explore program costs and payment options.

Financial Aid

At Widener, opportunities for financial aid extend to graduate students. Discover how Widener can help make obtaining your degree possible.

Next steps to apply

We’re glad you made the decision to apply. All applications and supplemental materials are submitted through the online application system. There is a $35 application fee to apply to Widener.

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