Nurse Educator Graduate Certificate Programs
Graduate certificate programs in nursing education are designed to prepare registered nurses (RNs) who hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing and/or a nursing master’s or doctoral degree to become nurse educators. These non-degree programs provide RNs with the training and tools required to provide instruction to nursing students in classroom and clinical settings using the latest pedagogical theories and evidence-based instructional practices.
In contrast to nurse educator master’s programs, which can take two or three years to complete, graduate certificate programs in nursing education generally consist of a small number of courses that can be completed in under a year. Graduates from these programs can then advance into nurse educator roles at nursing schools, clinics and hospitals, and in other settings that require professionally trained nursing instructors, preceptors, and clinical training supervisors.
Note: There are graduate certificate programs in nursing education that accept students with a minimum of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and there are post-master’s or post-graduate certificate programs in nursing education that require either a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) for admission. For more information, continue reading below.
Nursing Education Explained
The education of nurses takes place at colleges and universities that have accredited schools of nursing, as well as in hospitals and other clinical settings where nursing students receive supervised instruction in clinical protocols. Training in nursing education is also useful for nurses who work in community health outreach and/or are involved in teaching patients about preventative care measures, treatment protocols, and other important healthcare issues.
The role of the nurse educator, as described by the National League for Nursing (NLN) in its Nurse Educator Core Competencies, is similar to that of professional educators in other fields. It includes designing and evaluating curricula, assessing student performance, cultivating a constructive learning environment, and preparing students to succeed in their chosen field.
However, nurses are clinicians and thus require clinical as well as didactic instruction. To ensure that nurse educators are well positioned to instruct nurses in clinical settings, nurse educators must first train to be become licensed clinical practitioners themselves. In practical terms, this means that nurse educators must complete their undergraduate training in nursing, qualify for RN licensure, and earn a minimum of a bachelor’s degree prior to undergoing specialized training in pedagogy in nursing education. Specialized training in nursing education takes place at the graduate level, most commonly in nurse educator graduate certificate programs and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs with a nurse educator concentration.
Identifying and Classifying Nurse Educator Graduate Certificate Programs
There are essentially two types of nurse educator graduate certificate programs: post-baccalaureate certificate programs in nursing education; and post-master’s certificate programs in nursing education.
- Post-baccalaureate certificate programs accept RNs who have completed a bachelor’s degree in nursing and who have yet to train in a nursing specialization at the graduate level. These programs will often accept MSN-trained nurses as well.
- Post-master’s or post-graduate certificate programs are for RNs, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), and other MSN-trained nursing professionals (or nurses with a DNP) who are interested in adding a nurse educator specialization and transitioning into nursing education.
Both types of programs are classified as graduate certificate programs in nursing education or nurse educator graduate certificate programs, and they have similar curricula, typically consisting of three to five courses that cover topics in instructional strategies, course design, student evaluation, and instructional technologies. In general, post-master’s certificate programs are more common than post-BSN programs, and RNs who have not earned an MSN degree should review admissions requirements carefully to ensure prospective programs do not require at least a master’s degree.
Thus, nurse educator graduate certificate programs can be identified and classified based on their admissions requirements and on the focus of a program’s coursework. These programs are characterized by narrowly focused curricula that target only those skills and knowledge areas required for work in nursing education. In contrast, MSN programs with a nurse educator specialization provide broader didactic instruction and clinical training in general nursing proficiencies, such as pharmacology, physiology, and patient evaluation, as well as courses in nursing education. In fact, many graduate certificate programs in nursing education are comprised of the specialization courses that are part of a school’s MSN in nursing education program. As a result, graduate certificate programs consist of fewer credits, take less time to complete, and are generally more affordable than MSN programs.
Nurse Educator Graduate Certificate Coursework
Graduate certificate programs in nursing education are designed to teach RNs and MSN-trained APRNs, Clinical Nurse Leaders (CNLs), and other graduate-level nursing specialists how to teach nursing to students who are learning to become RNs and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs). Thus, students in these certificate programs take courses that focus primarily on teaching methodologies and their application in the field of nursing.
A typical nurse educator graduate certificate program includes coursework in curriculum design, student assessment and evaluation strategies, instructional technologies, and clinical teaching methods. Some programs may also include a teaching practicum and/or an applied capstone project, and courses that explore trends and innovations are also commonly integrated into nursing education curricula.
The list below provides a representative overview of the types of courses that are typically required in a nurse educator graduate certificate program:
- Curriculum and Instruction in Nursing Education
- Nursing Education Theories & Strategies
- Assessment & Evaluation in Nursing Education
- Instructional Technology in Nursing Education
- Trends and Issues in Nursing Education
Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Nursing Education
RNs, APRNs, and other practicing and licensed nurses who are interested in training to become nurse educators can do so without having to commute to a college or university campus by enrolling in an online graduate certificate program in nursing education*. Online programs utilize distance learning technologies and learning management systems (LMSs) to provide all or most of their didactic instruction online. Students in online programs access lectures, instructional modules, and other course materials remotely via the Internet, and are typically allowed to complete any required supervised clinical teaching experiences locally at program-approved sites.
While online graduate certificate programs represent a more convenient and flexible alternative to traditional campus-based programs, it is important to note that not all online programs are the same. One significant factor that varies by program is the mode of online instruction. Some programs incorporate synchronous instruction into their courses, which means that lectures or other class discussions are held in real-time, requiring students to be logged on to the program’s LMS at specified times in order to view and participate in virtual classroom sessions, typically via web conferencing. The other mode of online instruction is asynchronous instruction, which encompasses pre-recorded lectures, instructional modules, and other learning activities that are available on demand to students, 24-7. Synchronous instruction offers more structure and less scheduling flexibility; asynchronous instruction offers more flexibility and less structure. Both modes of online instruction have advantages and students are typically advised to select programs with formats that best fit their learning style.
Two other factors that potential applicants to online nurse educator graduate certificate programs may want to consider are enrollment options and campus visits. Most programs have flexible enrollment policies, allowing students to choose the number of courses they take per term within a certain range –one to three courses per term is common. However, enrollment options and requirements vary by program, as do campus visit requirements. Most graduate certificate programs in nursing education do not require students to attend any campus visits. However, some programs integrate one or two campus-based sessions into their curriculum in order to provide students with orientations, workshops, seminars, hands-on clinical instruction, and opportunities to meet instructors and fellow students face to face. Programs that require more than two or three campus visits per year are typically classified as blended or hybrid programs, a designation that indicates that a program utilizes a mix of online and campus-based instruction.
Examples of Online Graduate Certificates in Nursing Education
Below are several representative examples of online nurse educator graduate certificate programs separated by programs that accept RNs with either a BSN or MSN versus programs that require an MSN for admission (i.e., post-graduate certificate programs).
Nurse Educator Graduate Certificate Programs that Accept BSN Graduates (Post-BSN or Post-MSN)
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) offers a Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education program through its School of Nursing and College of Health and Human Services. The 12-credit program is comprised of three courses that are offered in a fully online format and a teaching practicum that students complete at a site near their place of residence. UNCC’s program is a post-baccalaureate program designed for RNs who hold a BSN or an MSN degree. Students in the program take the following three courses: Curriculum and Instruction in Nursing Education; Trends and Issues in Nursing Education; and Instructional Technology in Nursing Education. The program’s teaching practicum totals 180 supervised clinical hours. Visit UNCC’s School of Nursing at nursing.uncc.edu to learn more.
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s (UNCG) School of Nursing offers a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Nursing with a specialization in Nursing Education, which requires the completion of 12 course credits (four classes). Students take two core classes: Pedagogical Strategies for Advanced Nursing Education and Curriculum Design and Evaluation in Advanced Nursing Education. After these classes, students can choose either Theoretical Foundations for the Advanced Nurse Educator or Integrating Technology in Nursing Education for their third required course. To complete their final credit requirement, students can choose from a variety of other courses according to their interests, in areas such as healthcare law and policy, pathophysiology, and research methods in nursing. To qualify for admission to this program, candidates must be baccalaureate prepared RNs. Visit UNCG’s School of Nursing at nursing.uncg.edu to learn more.
The Ohio State University offers an Online Nurse Educator Graduate Certificate program through its College of Nursing. This is a 12-credit post-baccalaureate certificate program that is designed for RNs who hold a BSN or an MSN degree. Students in the program take three courses: Instructional Strategies in Clinical Teaching; Principles of Instructional Design for Nurses; and Assessment & Evaluation in Nursing. In addition, students are required to complete a capstone project that includes a supervised teaching practicum. Visit Ohio State’s College of Nursing at nursing.osu.edu to learn more.
The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) offers a Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education through Penn State World Campus and the Penn State College of Nursing. The program is a post-baccalaureate certificate program with a curriculum that is appropriate for BSN and MSN graduates. Students in the program complete three courses for a total of nine graduate credits: Nursing Education Theories & Strategies; Assessment & Evaluation in Nursing Education; and Curriculum & Program Development in Nursing Education. The program has a clinical practicum option. Visit Penn State’s World Campus at www.worldcampus.psu.edu to learn more.
Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions offers a Post-Bachelor’s Certificate in Nursing Education for students who have earned their bachelor’s degree in nursing from a National League of Nursing (NLNAC) or Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredited nursing program. This certificate program requires the completion of 12 course credits (four classes). Students take three required courses: Foundations of Nursing Education, Curriculum Design for Higher Level Cognition, and Assessment, Measurement, and Evaluation. After these three core courses, students choose one of the following courses to complete their certificate requirements: The Role and Responsibility of the Nursing Professor, or Teaching Methods in Nursing Education. Visit Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions at online.drexel.edu to learn more.
Post-Masters Nurse Educator Certificate Programs (Post-Graduate Certificate)
Purdue University Global offers an Online Nurse Educator Postgraduate Certificate program that is designed for students who have already completed an MSN program. This post-master’s certificate program includes required courses in: Teaching and Learning Theories and Strategies; Curriculum Design, Assessment, and Evaluation; and Evaluating Principles of Advanced Nursing Practice. For RNs who require additional training in patient assessment, pharmacology, and/or physiology in order to qualify for the CNE credential, Purdue Global offers the option of taking two online courses: Advanced Health Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning; and Advanced Pathophysiology and Pharmacology. Visit the Purdue University Global website at www.purdueglobal.edu to learn more.
Johns Hopkins University’s (JHU) School of Nursing offers an Online Post-Master’s Nurse Educator Certificate that is suitable for experienced nurses who hold either a master’s or a doctoral degree in nursing from a NLNLAC or CCNE accredited institution. This program is comprised of 12 course credits, or four courses. Students choose four courses from the following list: Teaching Strategies in Nursing, Online Teaching and Learning: Development and Instruction, Evaluation: From Individual to Program, Curriculum Theory & Design, and a Teaching Practicum. Students have the flexibility to choose any four courses from the aforementioned list; however, if they elect to pursue the Teaching Practicum, students must take that course as the final course in their certificate program. Visit the JHU School of Nursing at nursing.jhu.edu to learn more.
Nebraska Methodist College (NMC) offers an Online Nurse Educator Certificate for RNs who hold an MSN or a doctoral degree in nursing, although the program will consider candidates who hold a non-nursing Master of Science (MS) or Master of Arts (MA) degree in a healthcare field on a case-by-case basis. This certificate program has a curriculum that is geared towards preparing students for the NLN Certified Nurse Educator Exam. This program has a set curriculum with the following four courses (14 course credits): Teaching-Learning Principles for Nursing Education, Instructional Methods, Curriculum/Program Development & Evaluation, and Practicum in Nursing Education. Visit NMC’s website at www.methodistcollege.edu to learn more.
Certification in Nursing Education
For students interested in obtaining certification in nursing education, an MSN or DNP is required for the most common national credential for nurse educators: the NLN’s Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) credential. The American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Nursing Professional Development (NPD-BC) credential is offered to RNs with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and continuing education credits in nursing professional development, which can be obtained through graduate certificate programs. However, a CNE credential may be required to meet employer qualifications for certain jobs in the field of nursing education. Finally, senior nurse educator positions at universities typically require a doctoral degree.
More Graduate Certificates in Nursing Educator
|Duke University||Online; Durham, NC||Certificate in Nursing Education|
|Johns Hopkins University||Online||Post-Master's Nurse Educator Certificate|
|Nebraska Methodist College||Online||Nurse Educator Certificate|
|Northern Illinois University||Online||Post-Master's Certificate in Nursing Education|
|Old Dominion University||Online||Nurse Educator Certificate|
|Penn State World Campus||Online||Nurse Educator Graduate Certificate|
|Purdue University Global||Online||Nurse Educator Postgraduate Certificate|
|The Ohio State University||Online||Nurse Educator Certificate|
|The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill, NC||Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education|
|University of Central Florida||Online||Post-Master's Nurse Educator Certificate|
|University of Cincinnati||Online||Nurse Educator Certificate|
|University of Massachusetts Amherst||Online||Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education|
|University of Nevada, Las Vegas||Online; Las Vegas, NV||Advanced Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education|
|University of Northern Colorado||Online||Post-Master's Nursing Education Certificate|
|University of Pennsylvania||Online; Philadelphia, PA||Transformative Nursing Education Certificate|
|University of Tennessee at Chattanooga||Online; Chattanooga, TN||Post-Masters Certificate in Academic Nursing Education|
|University of Texas at Tyler||Online||Nursing Education Certificate Program|
|Villanova University||Online; Villanova, PA||Post-Master's Nurse Educator Certificate|
*Schools must seek approval to offer online nursing programs to students who reside out-of-state. Therefore, nursing programs, including online graduate certificate programs, may not accept online students from all 50 states. Students interested in an online program offered by an out-of-state school should contact the program directly to confirm they are authorized to admit students from their state of residence for the school’s graduate certificate program in nursing education. It is not uncommon for nursing schools to be able to accept out-of-state online students for certain programs and not for others (i.e. programs that lead to state specific licensure).
Additional Graduate Certificates in Nursing
- AGACNP Graduate Certificate Programs
- AGPCNP Graduate Certificate Programs
- FNP Graduate Certificate Programs
- Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate Programs
- Nursing Administration Graduate Certificate Programs
- PACNP Graduate Certificate Programs
- PMHNP Graduate Certificate Programs
- PPCNP Graduate Certificate Programs
- WHNP Graduate Certificate Programs
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