Ensure healthcare quality and safety
- Low tuition: $637 per credit x 36 credits total
- 5 term starts per year: No caps or waiting list
- Complete in as few as 1.5 years
- Learn from the experts: 100% of full-time faculty are doctorally prepared
- Program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)1
- No entrance exams required
Become a Leader in Healthcare Quality and Safety
Become an advocate for change and develop skills to implement a culture of safety with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Healthcare Quality and Safety online program from Southern New Hampshire University.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has noted that, in high-income countries, 1 in 10 patients is harmed while receiving hospital care.1 This harm is reportedly caused by a range of adverse events, and nearly 50% of these cases are considered preventable.1
With the healthcare quality and safety track, you can develop the skills you need to change those numbers. You'll design, implement and evaluate healthcare quality improvement initiatives guided by critical thinking, data-driven decision making and evidence-based practices.
This MSN track can help you become a leader in healthcare quality and safety, capable of advocating for policy change to improve healthcare outcomes and promote a continual state of readiness.
You'll master critical skills such as healthcare quality improvement, risk assessment, communication, legal issues and strategies that contribute to building a culture of safety and assuring accountability and reliability in care processes, among others.
Our MSN in Healthcare Quality and Safety track is CCNE accredited and based on professional nursing standards and guidelines. The curriculum promotes advanced nursing knowledge across the four spheres of care, and is grounded in evidence-based practice, interprofessional leadership and global health awareness.
As a graduate of the healthcare quality and safety track, you'll be able to evaluate system efficiencies, promote a culture of safety and determine the necessary resources for healthcare quality improvements.
In addition to the online coursework of the healthcare quality and safety track, you'll complete 135 clinical practicum hours under the guidance of a preceptor, providing an opportunity to apply theory to practice.
Interested in exploring some other online master's in nursing track options? We offer an online family nurse practitioner program, as well as tracks in nurse executive leadership and population healthcare. We also offer a master's in nursing education.
What You'll Learn
- Evidence-based practice and healthcare technologies
- Advanced communication and advocacy strategies
- Equitable health policies and regulations
- Systems-based quality improvements
- Integrated healthcare systems and processes analysis
How You'll Learn
At SNHU, you'll get support from day 1 to graduation and beyond. And with no set class times, 24/7 access to the online classroom and helpful learning resources along the way, you'll have everything you need to reach your goals.
Fast Track Your MSN
Ready for the next phase of your career? With SNHU's 5 MSN program tracks — updated to align with today’s healthcare standards — you'll be on your way to earn your degree faster, for less.
In a post-pandemic world, the need to improve healthcare quality and safety is greater than ever. According to an article by U.S. News & World Report, COVID-19 revealed problems with healthcare delivery across the country, from supply chain breakdowns to staff shortages and burnout.3
This can be devastating to patient populations. But the 2021 National Academy of Medicine report, ''The Future of Nursing: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity," also notes that these processes and delivery systems can have a major negative impact on caregivers as well.
"Nurses’ health and well-being are affected by the demands of their workplace, and in turn affect the quality and safety of the care they provide," the report said.4
"Thus, it is essential to address the systems, structures and policies that create workplace hazards and stresses that lead to burnout, fatigue, and poor physical and mental health among the nursing workforce."4
For nurses who seek opportunities to reduce adverse events, suboptimal care, ineffective treatments, inefficient processes and unnecessary clinical variation in healthcare systems, an MSN in Healthcare Quality and Safety could be the right career path.
As a student of the program, you'll learn how to:
- Analyze, manage and improve healthcare systems, policies, processes and services
- Identify, develop and implement quality and safety interventions, and
- Improve patient outcomes and advocate for a culture of safety.
Upon graduating, you'll be prepared to pursue a number of roles, including:
- Quality assurance officer
- Lean improvement officer
- Performance improvement manager
- Quality manager
- Continuous improvement manager
- Accreditation officer
- Clinical advancement and patient safety manager
Top treatment centers – including ANCC Magnet hospitals – are also actively looking for nurses with advanced degrees to take their patient care to the next level. A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Healthcare Safety and Quality can expand your nursing career employment and leadership opportunities.
Employment of medical and health services managers is projected to continue to grow 28% through 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.5
In 2021, the median salary for medical and health services managers was $101,340 – more than double the median pay for all workers.5
Understanding the Numbers
When reviewing job growth and salary information, it’s important to remember that actual numbers can vary due to many different factors — like years of experience in the role, industry of employment, geographic location, worker skill and economic conditions. Cited projections do not guarantee actual salary or job growth.
Employment in healthcare occupations is projected to grow 13% through 2031, which is expected to result in about 2 million new jobs in that time.5
Plus, there will be a need to replace workers who leave their jobs: We could see an average of about 1.9 million openings each year come from replacements.5
Where Could You Work?
Take the lead in a number of hospital settings, including emergency departments, trauma centers, intensive care and cardiology.
Improve the outcomes of patients through identifying inefficiencies and potential safety and quality measures and make recommendations to update policy, communication and culture.
Start Your Journey Towards an Online Patient Safety & Quality Degree
Why SNHU For Your Nursing Patient Safety & Quality Degree
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
As part of our mission to make higher education more accessible, we’re committed to keeping our tuition rates low. In fact, we offer some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation.
Prior coursework and work experience could also help you save time and money. SNHU’s transfer policy allows you to transfer up to 12 credits from your previous institution. You could also earn college credit for previous work experience.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 160,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), a regional accreditor, which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.
Recently, SNHU has been nationally recognized for leading the way toward more innovative, affordable and achievable education:
- “Most Innovative” regional university honors from U.S. News & World Report each year since 2015
- A $1 million grant from Google.org to explore soft skills assessments for high-need youth
- Recognition as a 2017 Digital Learning Innovator by the Online Learning Consortium
At Southern New Hampshire University, you'll have access to a powerful network of more than 300,000 students, alumni and staff that can help support you long after graduation. Our instructors offer relevant, real-world expertise to help you understand and navigate the field. Plus, with our growing, nationwide alumni network, you'll have the potential to tap into a number of internship and career opportunities.
93.6% of online students would recommend SNHU (according to a 2022 survey with 17,000+ respondents). Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
MSN Admission Requirements:
- Must maintain an active unencumbered registered nurse license. Licensure exam must be equivalent to NCLEX-RN examination. (If a student holds active licenses in more than one state/jurisdiction, all licenses must be unencumbered.)
- Must have an earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited nursing program (ACEN, CCNE or CNEA).
- The required minimum cumulative GPA for MSN admission is a 3.0. For purposes of MSN admission, cumulative GPA is calculated by including the pre-licensure BSN or associates degree/diploma in nursing and the BSN.
- Must complete the MSN Program Acknowledgement Form.
- Provisional acceptance may be extended to applicants with an undergraduate GPA between 2.67 and 2.99.
No BSN yet? No problem! SNHU offers an accelerated online RN to MSN pathway option that allows eligible registered nurses to achieve their MSN faster and for less money. The RN to MSN accelerated pathway can be applied to all 5 specialty tracks.
SNHU nursing programs are not authorized in the state of Washington or U.S. territories, and we are not accepting students residing in Washington state or U.S. territories into nursing programs at this time. Currently enrolled students who move into the state of Washington or a U.S. territory will not be able to continue in nursing courses until they move out of the state of Washington or the U.S. territory. Prospective students are encouraged to contact an admission counselor, and current students should contact their academic advisor, for more information.
Applicants and students are advised that their success in their chosen program may be dependent on an ability to meet the Nursing Program Health and Technical Requirements (PDF).
Courses to Prepare You for Your Career
Dr. Kimberly Gibbons, Clinical Faculty, Graduate Nursing
"Improvement of the healthcare system in our country relies on educated and experienced nurses who work to ensure the quality and safety of all involved in that system."
Courses & Curriculum
The online MSN in Healthcare Safety and Quality is designed to help you build the skills you need to advocate for a culture of safety.
Like all MSN tracks at SNHU, this program requires the following 5 core courses:
- Role Development and the Transformation of the MSN Nurse
- Interprofessional Leadership in Healthcare
- Epidemiological and Biostatistical Applications in Healthcare
- Global Health & Diversity
- Evidence-Based Practice & Scholarly Inquiry
Upon completing your core, you'll take the following Healthcare Quality and Safety-specific courses:
- Healthcare Quality & Improvement. This interprofessional course will take you through the process of healthcare delivery from a quality and safety lens. You'll gain a deeper understanding of how quality is measured, tracked and improved in healthcare. You'll focus on organizational assessments, commonly used tools and the application of analytical frameworks to identify the root cause of an event. You'll then gain knowledge of healthcare data relevance, use of change management principles and tools and evaluation methods.
- Health Policy and Law. Examine the ways that stakeholders and interest groups can influence health law and policies. You'll explore ways to articulate the needs of individuals, communities and vulnerable populations based on cultural, socioeconomic and political factors to key decision-makers. You'll then explore concepts and principles of public health, health law, health policy, finance and risk management in healthcare, and gain knowledge regarding health law and policy to inform decision-making.
- Healthcare Finance and Reimbursement. Explore healthcare reimbursement systems and financial principles relevant to strategic planning for healthcare organizations. Topics explored include revenue cycle management, governmental and non-governmental payment methodologies and financial accounting principles. You'll gain knowledge of reimbursement methods and models, regulatory compliance requirements and collaborative teamwork principles related to revenue cycle management.
- Program Design, Planning and Evaluation. Investigate program planning, design and evaluation. Topics include needs assessment, cultural competency, ethics and data analytics. You'll use project, financial and resource management skills to achieve the outcomes of the proposed program. You'll gain an understanding of how community needs assessments and resource allocation are used in program proposals. You'll also apply leadership skills that facilitate the program planning process.
- Healthcare Safety, Just Culture, and Regulation. Explore the impact of regulatory and accreditation standards on organizational compliance and liability. Topics include accreditation and regulatory standards, compliance and advocating for a culture of safety. You'll discover how to lead change by developing person-centered solutions that mitigate risks and promote quality and safety.
The MSN in Healthcare Safety and Quality track integrates hands-on learning throughout. "You'll participate in simulated and clinical experiences as you complete course work," said Debra Sowell, clinical faculty member of graduate nursing programs at SNHU. In addition, you'll get "supervised, clinical practicum hours in a healthcare setting that focuses on safety and quality," she said.
Curriculum Requirements & Resources
- Clinical practice experience (CPE): Clinical practice hours are incorporated into all graduate nursing programs accredited by CCNE. SNHU incorporates these authentic learning experiences into your MSN program through indirect and direct clinical experiences. You'll be able to achieve these CPE hours through coursework and assignments and time spent with a mentor or preceptor, depending on your program choice. Please connect with our Student Experience team to learn more about clinical practice experiences by track.
Students enrolled in the MSN program must comply with requirements of the organizations where their clinical practice experiences/practicum will be completed. These requirements may include (but are not limited to) a criminal background check, active and unencumbered license verification, immunization records, professional liability insurance. Students may incur additional costs to meet organizational requirements (ex. drug screening, physical examination co-pay, etc.). These requirements must be met prior to registering for the clinical practice experience course.
It is a requirement that nursing students carry their own medical malpractice insurance while enrolled in practicum courses. At least two terms prior to the start of the clinical components, students will be required to demonstrate proof of having an active individual medical malpractice certificate.
HEaRT Experiential Learning
Looking to gain professional healthcare experience, even before you graduate? Do it with HEaRT.
Specially designed for learners in healthcare and nursing, HEaRT (Higher Education and Real World Training) is a powerful experiential learning opportunity at SNHU. These online, asynchronous, voluntary experiences help connect students with employers to help solve real-world business problems – so you can be ready to make an impact in your field.
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog
|MSN Healthcare Quality and Safety
|Courses May Include
|MSN in Healthcare Quality and Safety
|Global Health and Diversity
|In this interprofessional course, learners will explore major global health challenges and their impact on healthcare delivery systems. Topics explored include determinants of health, multiple approaches to advance health, social justice principles, and strategies to advocate for social justice. Learners will gain knowledge to apply social justice and human rights principles to address global health and wellness.
|Healthcare Quality and Improvement
|This interprofessional course will take learners through the process of healthcare delivery from a quality and safety lens. Learners will gain a deeper understanding of how quality is measured, tracked, and improved in healthcare. They will focus on organizational assessments, commonly used tools, and the application of analytical frameworks to identify the root cause of an event. Learners will gain knowledge of healthcare data relevance, use of change management principles and tools, and evaluation methods.
|Health Policy and Law
|In this interprofessional course, students will examine the ways that stakeholders and interest groups can influence health law and policies. Students will examine ways to articulate the needs of individuals, communities, and vulnerable populations based on cultural, socioeconomic, and political factors to key decision makers. They will explore concepts and principles of public health, health law, health policy, finance, and risk management in healthcare. Students will gain knowledge regarding health law and policy to inform decision-making.
|Healthcare Finance and Reimbursement
|In this interprofessional course, students will explore healthcare reimbursement systems and financial principles relevant to strategic planning for healthcare organizations. Topics explored include revenue cycle management, governmental and non-governmental payment methodologies, and financial accounting principles. Students will gain knowledge of reimbursement methods and models, regulatory compliance requirements, and collaborative teamwork principles related to revenue cycle management.
|Program Design, Planning and Evaluation
|In this interprofessional course, students will explore program planning, design, and evaluation. Topics explored include needs assessment, cultural competency, ethics, and data analytics. Students will utilize project, financial, and resource management skills to achieve the outcomes of the proposed program. They will gain an understanding of how community needs assessments and resource allocation are used in program proposals. Students will also apply leadership skills that facilitate the program planning process.
|Total Credits: 36
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) - Healthcare Quality and Safety Technology Requirements
Students enrolled in the MSN program courses are responsible for ensuring they have the minimum system hardware, software and equipment. In addition to meeting the SNHU Technology requirements, this track does have Minimum Technology Requirements as follows:
- 10Mbps or higher for ideal streaming (download)
- Ability to record (webcam and microphone are often built into laptop or computer)
- A laptop is recommended
Minimum Hardware Requirements
PC (Windows OS)
Apple (Mac OS)
Currently supported operating system from Microsoft.
Currently supported operating system from Apple.
8GB or higher
8GB or higher
100GB or higher
100GB or higher
Required for campus students. Strongly recommended for online students.
Required for campus students. Strongly recommended for online students.
SNHU Purchase Programs
5 Mbps Download, 1 Mbps Upload and less than 100 ms Latency
5 Mbps Download, 1 Mbps Upload and less than 100 ms Latency
- Laptop or desktop? Whichever you choose depends on your personal preference and work style, though laptops tend to offer more flexibility.
- Note: Chromebooks (Chrome OS) and iPads (iOS) do not meet the minimum requirements for coursework at SNHU. These offer limited functionality and do not work with some course technologies. They are not acceptable as the only device you use for coursework. While these devices are convenient and may be used for some course functions, they cannot be your primary device. SNHU does, however, have an affordable laptop option that it recommends: Dell Latitude 3301 with Windows 10.
- Office 365 Pro Plus is available free of charge to all SNHU students and faculty. The Office suite will remain free while you are a student at SNHU. Upon graduation you may convert to a paid subscription if you wish. Terms subject to change at Microsoft's discretion. Review system requirements for Microsoft 365 plans for business, education and government.
- Antivirus software: Check with your ISP as they may offer antivirus software free of charge to subscribers.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.
ANCC Accredited Provider
At Southern New Hampshire University, we’re committed to your success — even beyond graduation. That’s why we’re committed to delivering accredited continuing education for nurses and healthcare professionals. From one-hour webinars to multi-day conferences and more, these opportunities are built to help you continue to meet the needs of communities across the globe.
Visit our SNHU continuing education page to learn more.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's (ANCC) Commission on Accreditation.
Tuition & Fees
Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer a 25% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.
|Online Graduate Programs
|Per Credit Hour
(U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)*
Tuition Rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually.
*Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.
Course Materials ($ varies by course)
Students enrolled in the MSN program may be subject to ongoing licensure checks through a third party vendor, additional fees will apply and may vary by state.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an MSN in healthcare quality and safety?
MSN stands for Master of Science in Nursing. An MSN is a graduate-level degree designed to help prepare registered nurses for success in an advanced healthcare role. Healthcare quality and safety is a discipline within nursing that focuses on improving care outcomes through process, policy, practice and culture on both a macro and micro level.
At SNHU, you can earn your online MSN in Healthcare Safety and Quality, or pursue one of our other online MSN tracks: nursing executive leadership, population healthcare, nursing education or family nurse practitioner.
What is the nurse's role in healthcare quality and safety?
Nurses are one of many healthcare professionals that play a role in healthcare safety and quality.
Patient safety is not one single person's responsibility – it's a systematic issue that requires effective leadership, teamwork and communication.
As a nurse with an online MSN Healthcare Quality and Safety, you can gain the skills you need to lead teams as they implement better patient care processes. Armed with these skills, you can help make healthcare settings safer in a number of ways – such as preventing infection rates, establishing checks and balances to mitigate mistakes, and facilitating communication between staff, patients and their families.
Does having an MSN make you an NP?
This depends on your chosen track. MSN tracks can help prepare you for roles in leadership, administration, population health, nursing education, nurse practitioner and more.
If you are interested in becoming an NP, SNHU does offer a family nurse practitioner track. This track aligns with nurse practitioner competencies and can help prepare you for nationally recognized nurse practitioner exams. After successfully passing an NP exam, you can then apply to your state board of nursing to become a practicing NP.
What is the relationship between healthcare quality and safety?
Healthcare quality and safety are very closely tied together. According to the National Academy of Medicine, patient safety is "indistinguishable from the delivery of quality health care."6
Together, healthcare quality and safety are designed to reach desired outcomes, prevent error, learn from errors when they do occur and build a culture that prioritizes the well-being of all patients, professionals and organizations.
Why is healthcare quality and safety important?
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) specifically noted that, in high-income countries, 1 in 10 patients is harmed while receiving hospital care.2 This harm is reportedly caused by a range of adverse events, and nearly 50% of these cases are considered preventable.2
Consider, too, that this data predated the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent world events have further exposed the vulnerabilities of systems within healthcare – from staffing to supply chain to a host of other complex needs.
In its 2021 report, "The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity," the National Academy of Medicine points out some of the issues that have come to light:
"In the current health care system, care is often disjointed, with processes varying between primary and specialty care and between traditional and emerging care sites," the report notes.4 "People may not understand the processes of the health care system, such as where they will receive care, how to make appointments, or the various providers with whom they may come into contact."4
Because of this, today's nurses need to be well-versed in the art of "care management" – a cornerstone of healthcare safety and quality that can help deliver superior outcomes for the patients that need it most.
Sources & Citations (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
1The baccalaureate degree program in nursing and the master’s degree program in nursing at Southern New Hampshire University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202.887.6791.
2World Health Organization, 10 facts on patient safety, on the internet, at https://www.who.int/news-room/photo-story/photo-story-detail/10-facts-on-patient-safety (viewed June 1, 2021)
3U.S. News & World Report, What Does Covid-19 Mean for the Future of Health Care?, on the internet, at https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2020-11-16/what-does-covid-19-mean-for-the-future-of-health-care (viewed June 1, 2021).
4National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25982. (viewed June 1, 2021)
5Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet, at:
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm (viewed Nov. 1, 2022)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm (viewed April 12, 2023)
Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
6National Center for Biotechnology Information, Defining Patient Safety & Quality Care, on the internet, at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2681/ (viewed June 1, 2021)
Licensure and Certification Disclosures
SNHU has provided additional information for programs that educationally prepare students for professional licensure or certification. Learn more about what that means for your program on our licensure and certification disclosure page.