Executive Nursing Administration

Hudson smiling in the hospital



The Executive Nurse Administration program doctorally prepares Registered Nurses at the highest level of leadership and scientific inquiry.  Graduates gain knowledge and skill to orchestrate and influence the work of others at various levels of the healthcare environment.  The program focuses on professionalism, leadership, communication, advocacy, quality enhancement, and patient safety. Classes are online. In the last year of the program, the student will partake in a practice immersion experience to build and assimilate knowledge of the nurse administrator role at a high level of complexity.

BSN to DNP students and MSN to DNP students adding a certification in the specialty area of Executive Nurse Administration must have a minimum of one year of nursing experience prior to starting the clinical portion of their program. Management experience is not a requirement.

▼   Clinical Orientation
Students are not required to travel to campus for orientation; orientation to the program occurs through a web conference.
▼   DNP Residency
The program does not require a thesis or dissertation; however, students are required to complete an evidence-based scholarly project that results in a quality improvement change and has a substantial effect on healthcare and patient outcomes. Residency requirements for the scholarly project can be completed in the student’s home region with an approved mentor.
▼   Curriculum

BSN-DNP students complete all MSN core, MSN specialty, DNP Core, DNP Project Planning & Development and Residency courses for a total of 61 credit hours.  Both MSN and DNP degrees must be completed within seven years. The MSN portion must be completed within the first five years of the program.

MSN-DNP students adding a new specialty must complete the specialty courses to complete the Post-Graduate Certificate.  The DNP core, DNP Project Planning & Development, and Residency courses are required for completion of the DNP degree. This program is a total of 61 credit hours. The Post-Graduate Certificate must be completed within two calendar years. The student has seven years to complete both the Post-Graduate Certificate and DNP degree for this program.

MSN-DNP for Advanced Practice Roles must only complete the DNP core, DNP Project Planning & Development, and Residency courses to complete the DNP degree. This is a total of 36 credit hours. The student has a total of five years to complete the degree requirements.

Executive Nursing Administration Specialty Courses
NU 539 - Introduction to Nursing Informatics 3 credit hours
NU 553 Administrative Concepts 2 credit hours
NU 554 Resource Management Field Study – 60 Field Study Hours 1 credit hour
HSC 571 - Managing Healthcare Personnel 3 credit hours
NU 561 - Nursing Administration Concepts & Theory 3 credit hours
NU 565 - Nursing Administration Finance 3 credit hours
NU 566 - Nursing Administration Field Study - 240 Clinical Hours 4 credit hours
NU 567 - Nursing Administration Internship - 180 Clinical Hours 3 credit hours
NU 568 - Nursing Administration Seminar 3 credit hours
DNP Core Courses
NU 607 - Scientific Underpinnings of Advanced Nursing Practice 3 credit hours
NU 608 - Evidence-Based Practice and Quality Improvement in Healthcare 3 credit hours
NU 610 - Healthcare Policy and Finance 3 credit hours
NU 613 - Organizational & Systems Leadership 3 credit hours
NU 611 - Translating Evidence Into Practice Systems 3 credit hours
NU 612 - Clinical Prevention and Population Health 3 credit hours
NU 615 - Quality Improvement and Outcomes Assessment 3 credit hours
NU 616 - Data Management & Decision Making in Complex Healthcare Systems 3 credit hours
Executive Nursing Administration DNP Project Planning & Development and Residency
NU 661 - Nurse Executive Administration PP&D 3 credit hours
NU 662 - Nurse Executive Administration Residency I - 180 specialty clinical hours 3 credit hours
NU 663 - Nurse Executive Administration Residency II - 180 specialty clinical hours 3 credit hours
NU 664 - Nurse Executive Administration Residency III – 180 specialty clinical hours 3 credit hours  
▼   Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is an executive nurse administrator?

An executive nurse administrator is a nurse who is responsible to lead and manage at all levels of healthcare organizations. Roles of the executive nurse administrator include nurse manager, care manager, supervisor, director of nursing, department director, and chief nurse executive. Executive nurse administrators apply administrative and management principles and leadership skills to influence system change and advance quality and safety within the workplace.

The role of the executive nurse administrator is guided by competencies defined by the American Organization of Nurse Executives and the American Nurses Association. Please see their websites for more details:


Is the entire program online or do I have to come to campus for some classes?

Classes are online. Orientation occurs through a synchronous web conference. Faculty remains engaged with students and preceptors during the program as the student works toward meeting course and program objectives.

Is there a required practice component for the degree? Can I complete clinical hours where I live and who arranges clinical sites?

There is a practice component for the nurse executive administration degree. The clinical experience most commonly occurs within the student’s community within driving distance from their home. Students in remote areas sometimes have to travel outside their communities to find clinical sites. Students are responsible for finding appropriate clinical sites. If a student cannot locate a clinical site in their home area, faculty may be able to provide names of nearby sites that have been used by previous Executive Nurse Administration students; however, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to secure a site and preceptor. Students who are unsuccessful in being accepted by an agency in their home community may have to travel to another area to complete practice requirements or withdraw from the program.

What type of preceptor and clinical sites do I need and how many clinical hours are required?

Preceptors for the Executive Nursing Administration field study/internship clinical hours must possess a minimum of a master’s degree in nursing or other administrative fields such as business or public health administration. Preferably, preceptors are nurses with an appropriate MSN, DNP, or PhD (with leadership/management focus). Preceptors must be employed as a healthcare manager or administrator and possess enough expertise to provide safe guidance and appropriate education for the ENA student. If your preceptor is not a nurse, discuss your selection with your faculty.

The MSN Executive Nurse Administration clinical experience consists of three semesters of study. Sixty (60) hours of the field study are in the fall semester, two hundred forty (240) hours of the field experience occurs in the spring semester, and one hundred eighty (180) internship hours occur in the summer semester. The 60 hours in the fall field study include experiences with two leaders. The experience in the spring and summer semesters are at one site, with one preceptor (note: if appropriate site and preceptor approved for spring and summer semesters, and is one of the leaders for the 60 hour experience, an agreement may be signed for the year. Seek input/approval from faculty before having dates through summer experience included on agreement).

Executive Nursing Administration MSN clinical courses are taken in the following sequence beginning fall semester:

• NU 554 – Fall semester – 60 clinical hours (contracted clinical site (one or two sites) and two preceptors are required; preceptors must be approved)

• NU 566 – Spring semester – 240 clinical hours (contracted clinical site and preceptor required)

• NU 567 – Summer semester – 180 clinical hours (contracted clinical site and preceptor continue from spring semester)

Where can I find the forms I need to complete an agreement with an organization?

If the organization where you would like to complete your clinical experience is on the Clinical Affiliations list, you may complete a Letter of Notification and Appreciation. Remember to have your preceptor approved before having any documents signed. If the site you want to complete your clinical experience in is not on the affiliation site, and they are willing to sign a “Two page agreement” without revisions, that will be acceptable. If they want revisions to the two page agreement or want to establish affiliation, complete a “Request to Establish an Affiliation Agreement” and email it to dcopeland@southalabama.edu as soon as possible. It sometimes takes weeks, or months to establish an agreement with sites, so the earlier the process begins, the better!

The affiliation list and forms described can be found in the AKESO site, under “Resources”. When students are admitted, they will have a sign-on that is used for AKESO. See the Department for Clinical Affairs at https://www.southalabama.edu/colleges/con/clinical/.

Can I complete clinical hours in the hospital, nursing home, home health agency, or other healthcare organization where I work for pay?

The clinical hours may occur in a student’s place of employment, but must be outside the normal paid activities of their role/job. For instance, if a student is employed as a nurse manager, the field study experience should broaden his/her management/administrative skills through experience with a

director of nursing, chief nursing officer, or chief executive officer and should not include learning experiences routinely performed as a manager.

What is the role of the faculty?

Faculty has expertise in the area of nursing administration. Faculty establishes course objectives and learning activities. Faculty work closely with students during their field study and internship to advise and direct. Students are expected to communicate regularly with faculty and to seek consultation appropriately. Conference calls with the preceptor, student, and faculty are held at intervals in addition to frequent contact via email or phone.

Is there a “state board” test for Executive Nursing Administration?

Nurse administrators must be licensed as a registered nurse in the state of practice. There is no “state board” test for Executive Nursing Administration, however, the program prepares graduates for national certification as a Nurse Administrator (executive or manager level) by the American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE). Faculty encourage students to become board certified as a recognition of their specialty knowledge and skill. The Executive Nursing Administration program does not require completion of a certification exam for program completion nor upon graduation.


Please feel free to contact Dr. Wilma Stuart for more information about this specialty: wstuart@southalabama.edu.