FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The University of Arkansas is helping its students prepare for executive leadership roles in healthcare with a new dual-degree program.

According to a press release from the university, the program combines advanced nursing practice skills with executive leadership competencies. Nurses can apply until April 1.

The College of Education and Health Professions and the Sam M. Walton College of Business are collaborating to launch the program that allows nurses to earn two degrees simultaneously: a Doctor of Nursing Practice and an Executive Master of Business Administration.

“We are excited about collaborating with the prestigious Sam M. Walton College of Business to offer this program that is in demand nationally,” said Jessie Casida, executive director of the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing. “This dual degree program prepares nurses for the highest leadership positions, giving them the opportunity to set policies, identify and act on patient care and the health system’s needs, and impact organizational decisions that will improve outcomes at the patient, staff/unit, department and healthcare system’s levels.”

The U of A says the program is primarily online and designed for master’s prepared, licensed advanced practice nurses who want to take on executive leadership positions beyond the director level.

Some of those positions reportedly include chief nursing officer, chief operational officer, chief executive officer, vice president or president, Casida said. The dual degree also will benefit those who run their own healthcare facilities.

The doctorate nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, and the Sam M. Walton College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Classes are reportedly set to begin in the summer. Applicants must have a master’s degree in nursing and be licensed advanced practice nurses in one of four areas: certified nurse midwife, certified registered nurse anesthetist, clinical nurse specialist or nurse practitioner.

Applicants must apply to both the U of A Graduate School for the nursing doctorate program and to the Walton College Graduate School of Business for the business master’s program.

In order to complete the online program, students must complete 63 credit hours. The 11 nursing courses are 100% online, and students also must complete a minimum of 1,000 nursing practice hours in person at a healthcare facility approved by the nursing school. 

The 11 business courses can be completed primarily online with on-campus interaction in Fayetteville, Arkansas, one Saturday each month. Walton College blends the flexibility of online coursework with the engagement of face-to-face learning for its EMBA program.

More than 80 other online degrees, certificate, and licensure programs can be found on the U of A’s website.