Online Master’s Programs in Nursing Education

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Graduate Degree in Nursing Education

Professionals with an online master’s in nursing education can pursue lucrative careers teaching others in the healthcare field. In addition to preparing students for doctoral degrees and management positions in nursing, master’s degrees can qualify healthcare professionals for more specialized roles. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), nurse practitioners (NPs), midwives, and nurse anesthetists require master’s degrees in nursing at minimum.

Consequently, nursing students pursue graduate degrees in large numbers; according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 15% of all graduate degrees conferred in 2016-17 were in health professions. Demand certainly helps drive interest as well, with the BLS projecting the nursing field to grow 26% between 2018-2028.

A specialization in nursing education provides skills in curriculum design and delivery, mentorship, and the pursuit of academic research. Learners can acquire skills in communication, assessment, and evaluation. Continue reading for more information about this advanced degree, the promising careers it can lead to, and the financial aid available.

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What Can I Learn in an Online Master’s in Nursing Education Program?

The skills students acquire through an online master’s in nursing education can vary by school, program, and student choices. In general, enrollees can expect to learn how to design educational programs and training courses for current and aspiring nurses. Students also explore how to provide specialized care and improve the delivery of care in healthcare organizations. Additionally, degree-seekers may undergo leadership training and learn how to integrate and connect the various departments and facets within the healthcare system.

These programs often use clinical work to explore the practical application of research, and online students can often complete clinicals at locations near their home or workplace.

What Common Courses Are Offered in a Master’s in Nursing Education Program?

While every school and program features a unique curriculum, the following list highlights some of the more common courses students can expect to find in a master’s in nursing online. Readers should note that course titles and descriptions may vary by program.

  • Foundational Skills for Nurse Educators in Academic and Healthcare Environments: This course gives students an introduction to education in the nursing profession, including the best way to teach current and aspiring nurses about best practices, new technologies, and healthcare concepts. Topics include adult learning theories, outcome measurement, and clinical activities for nursing students.
  • Healthcare Policy: Students in healthcare policy courses analyze and assess current laws and procedures in healthcare. Learners may explore how these approaches are created, along with their ethical and financial implications. This class prepares aspiring managers to apply best practices and ensure compliance with the law.
  • Healthcare System Organization: In this course, students can learn about the American healthcare system, including its different roles, departments, and responsibilities. These courses also tend to cover healthcare finance information and system challenges. This training helps nurses to acquire management positions and better provide improved delivery of care.
  • Healthcare Informatics: Healthcare informatics courses teach learners to collect, store, and use data to improve care delivery and healthcare solutions. Students complete training on the technology used in healthcare informatics. This knowledge and training can help prepare graduates for careers in healthcare technology, administration, and management. This course also prepares students to train other nurses on such technologies.
  • Current Issues in Nursing: In this course, learners can explore the different issues facing the nursing profession and professionals, including social, legal, political, and organizational challenges. Students analyze ethical issues in treatment and delivery of care to examine the possible future of the industry.
  • Nursing Leadership: Students in these courses explore positive training programs and performance evaluation techniques. Learners discuss how to demonstrate leadership and work as part of a team.

What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?

At the end of an online master’s in nursing, students may encounter several types of final projects. In addition to the extensive projects required in thesis programs, non-thesis programs may include in-depth research projects or lengthy clinicals or practicums. Some programs may feature final exams.

For many students, a master of nursing education serves as a preparatory program for specialty nursing examinations and certifications. These graduate degrees often help qualify students to take exams for certification as a nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, or nurse practitioner.

What Can I Do with a Master’s in Nursing Education Degree?

An online master’s in nursing education can provide learners with advanced and specialized training, along with a diverse skill set that many healthcare settings and organizations desire. While these programs train students to work in healthcare education, graduates may shift focus and work in a number of other positions, as well.

  • Nurse Educator: These professionals work in colleges, clinics, and universities, training the next generation of nursing students. To provide advanced training and skills to students, these teachers typically need skills in both healthcare and teaching.
  • Nurse Practitioner: NPs work in hospitals and clinics, acting as primary and specialty caregivers. They often prescribe medication and design treatment plans. For certification as an NP, candidates need a nursing license, a master’s degree in nursing, and a completed NP certification examination.
  • Nurse Anesthetist: Nurse anesthetists provide anesthesia and pain management treatments to patients during medical procedures. These professionals typically work in hospitals and clinics, equipped with the knowledge of how to administer treatments safely. Aspiring anesthetists needs nursing licensure, a master’s degree, and passing scores on the certification exam.
  • Nurse Midwife: Nurse midwives work with female patients before, during, and after they give birth. Midwives assist with delivery and prenatal care, and also provide primary care to newborns. For certification as a nurse midwife, professionals need a valid nursing license, a master’s degree, and passing scores on the certification exam.
  • Physician Assistant: Physician assistants can work in all areas of healthcare as part of a larger team of professionals. They may assist in surgery, help provide nursing care in a physician’s office, or even perform primary care services. For employment, physician assistants need a master’s degree and must pass the certification examination.

How Much Can I Make with a Career in Nursing Education?

Earning an online master’s in nursing can provide each learner with access to desirable and promising careers. While the following table outlines some of the most common career paths that a nursing graduate with master’s degrees can take, the attached median annual wages are not guaranteed and only serve as an example of what professionals might earn in the field.

CAREERMEDIAN ANNUAL SALARYJOB GROWTH 2018-2028
Nurse Anesthetist$167,95026%
Nurse Practitioner$107,03026%
Nurse Midwife$103,77026%
Nurse Educator$74,76011%
Physician Assistant$108,61031%

Online Master’s in Nursing Education Program Accreditation

Accreditation is one of the most important considerations for any degree, but nursing students’ future careers might depend on it. At the institutional level, accreditation can come from one of the six accrediting agencies recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Regional accreditation ensures that the school and program meet rigorous standards. Nursing students should always attend a regionally accredited school in order to meet licensing requirements.

At the program level, students should look out for accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.(CCNE). While this national accreditation may not be mandatory for all types of employment, many employers and most certification agencies require candidates to come from CCNE-accredited programs. Like regional accreditation, programmatic accreditation assures students that the program meets the national industry standards.

How to Pay for a Master’s in Nursing Education Degree

Paying for a degree can add a great deal of stress for aspiring students, but there are a few options available to help finance an education. The following section outlines some of the main avenues students can take when financing their degrees.

Techniques for Financing a Master’s in Nursing Education

  • Fellowships: Due to the advanced training nursing students can receive at the graduate level, they often make strong candidates for fellowships. These opportunities typically involve taking on positions within healthcare organization agencies, providing professional services in return for funding.
  • Research and Assistantships: Many schools offer research opportunities and assistantships to deserving students within nursing departments. These opportunities usually require learners to provide teaching or research assistance in return for financial support.
  • Student Loans: Financial aid loans can come from a variety of sources, but students should prioritize low-interest loans from federal sources. Students can see which loans they qualify for by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students can also consider other loans for financial support, including Sallie Mae or their own banks.

Scholarships for Master’s in Nursing Education Students


  • AfterCollege/AACN Scholarship FundWho Can Apply:

    This scholarship rewards applicants in nursing programs at various levels, though special consideration is given to those pursuing nurse education degrees at AACN member institutions.

    Amount: $10,000

    Apply for Scholarship


  • Oncology Nursing Foundation Master's ScholarshipsWho Can Apply:

    To promote the field of oncology nursing and encourage students to enter the profession, the Oncology Nursing Foundation offers scholarships to deserving master’s applicants.

    Amount: $5,000

    Apply for Scholarship


  • Nurses Educational Funds ScholarshipsWho Can Apply:

    The Nurses Educational Funds organization supports the pursuits of nursing students at the graduate level. For eligibility, each applicant must be enrolled in a graduate nursing program, possess a minimum GPA of 3.6, and hold a valid nursing license.

    Amount: Varies

    Apply for Scholarship


  • Nursing Economics Foundation ScholarshipWho Can Apply:

    The Nursing Economics Foundation Scholarship assists nursing students in a graduate program with an emphasis in administration or management. Eligible candidates must possess an RN license.

    Amount: $5,000

    Apply for Scholarship


  • A Nurse I Am ScholarshipWho Can Apply:

    Presented by Cherokee Uniforms, this award provides financial support to the applicants who best answer the question, “Why do you want to be a nurse?” in a short essay. Applicants must be current nursing students.

    Amount: $2,000

    Apply for Scholarship


Professional Organizations and Resources

Nursing students should explore the different available resources that can help them along their educational and professional journey. The list below highlights some of the best organizations and websites that can help nursing professionals take the next step in their careers.

  • American Nurses Association:
    ANA seeks to advance the profession of nurses through engaging in advocacy, developing a code of ethics, and improving industry leadership. Members can browse resources for certification, continuing education, and nursing excellence.
  • American Association of Colleges of Nursing:
    AACN acts as a unified voice for the academic world of nursing. The association strives to improve the educational standards of nursing schools and programs.
  • American Association of Critical Care Nurses:
    This organization supports the professionals who make up the critical care profession. The association offers its members access to industry events, educational opportunities, and professional certification.
  • American Association of Nurse Anesthetists:
    AANA strives to improve industry standards and policies through advocacy and professional development. Members can receive access to continuing education, industry publications, certification, and networking conferences.
  • American Academy of Physician Assistants:
    AAPA unites and advocates for physician assistants across the country in an attempt to better the standards of the profession. The association supports its members through educational and professional development opportunities.
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners:
    Through AANP, members and visitors can pursue industry news and information, a large professional network, and professional development support. The association offers certifications, educational opportunities, and access to various events.
  • American College of Nurse Midwives:
    By representing certified nurse midwives across the country, ACNM helps strengthen the profession and industry through unification, professional development, and advocacy. Members can explore certification and educational opportunities.
  • National Health Council:
    The NHC is the unified voice of patient-care advocates, patients with chronic diseases, and caregivers. The council works to improve care delivery across the country and provides visitors with access to health policies, conferences, and publications.
  • Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion:
    Dedicated to improving the health of Americans, ODPHP is a valuable resource for visitors looking for information on health programs across the country, various health-related services, and educational programs.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
    HHS is the federal department in charge of protecting the health of Americans. Visitors can access information on federal decisions and policies regarding medicine, social services, and public health.

See Our Rankings Methodology

  1. The University of West Florida
    Location

    Pensacola, FL

    Tuition

    $9091

    UWF's online MSN in nursing education prepares nurse educators to train RNs. The 39-credit curriculum teaches advanced RNs curriculum design and instructional strategies. The program runs asynchronously and takes 24 months to complete.

    All RNs complete an MSN core that covers nursing science and evidence in advanced nursing practice. Participants receive training in basic research skills and scholarly writing. The nursing education specialization explores areas such as advanced pharmacology, pathophysiology, and health assessment. Seminars develop learners' teaching competencies. Enrollees complete 360 clinical hours in hospital and college settings.

    RNs can transfer up to nine credits into this online master's in nursing education. Enrollees pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires an accredited BSN, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and a current RN license.

  2. Appalachian State University
    Location

    Boone, NC

    Tuition

    $10491

    Appalachian offers an online MSN to develop nurse educators for academic and practice settings. The MSN in nursing education enrolls licensed RNs in North Carolina or a compact state. Appalachian offers the 39-credit program for part-time students.

    All enrollees complete core courses. These courses cover topics such as health assessment for adults and advanced nursing practice. The 12-credit nursing education concentration teaches RNs various instructional methodologies. Degree-seekers learn how to use simulations for instructional purposes. RNs apply their knowledge during clinical and nursing education practicums.

    Participants culminate the master's in nursing education online with a thesis or research project. Applicants need at least one year of experience. Admission requires a BSN, associate degree in nursing, or nursing diploma. Applicants with a minimum 3.5 GPA do not need to submit GRE or MAT scores.

  3. University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $13016

    Nursing ranks as UCF's fifth most popular major. The online MSN offers various tracks, including nurse educator. The program enrolls licensed RNs in Florida and compact states. RNs learn how to teach undergraduate nursing at colleges and other settings. Enrollees complete the master's in nursing education online in 4-7 semesters.

    The MSN core explores topics such as evidence-based practice and advanced practice nursing theories. RNs learn about legal and professional behavior in nursing practice. The nurse educator track teaches instructional strategies and how to develop a nursing education curriculum. Participants explore core clinical concepts for nurse educators.

    RNs complete both an internship and clinical specialty practicum in nurse education.

    Candidates with a non-nursing bachelor's or a nursing associate degree or diploma must complete prerequisite courses. Admission requires an RN license. Applicants also need a BSN from a program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

  4. University of North Alabama
    Location

    Florence, AL

    Tuition

    $12121

    UNA has educated nurses since 1973. The school's 32-credit online MSN trains RNs to educate nursing students, peers, and clients. The program's core explores topics such as health assessment and advanced clinical pathophysiology.

    The specialization teaches RNs how to develop curriculum for collegiate nursing programs. Students learn how to evaluate nursing education programs. RNs develop skills to educate healthcare consumers and providers. They hone their nursing skills during 180 practicum hours. Students may enroll full time or part time. Full-time students can complete the degree in about five semesters.

    Enrollees pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a BSN from an accredited nursing program, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and an RN license.

  5. Florida Atlantic University
    Location

    Boca Raton, FL

    Tuition

    $9486

    FAU's MSN offers a nurse educator concentration. The program blends live online classes and on-campus sessions in Boca Raton. RNs develop advanced instructional proficiencies for the classroom and clinical settings. MSN graduates with two years of nurse educator experience qualify to sit for the National League for Nursing nurse educator certification.

    The 39-credit curriculum requires core MSN courses. Learners study evidence-based practice and nursing practice grounded in caring. A direct care core explores advanced coursework such as pathophysiology. The nurse educator concentration requires 18 credits. These credits include creative teaching and learning methods in nursing education. Nurses study advanced concepts for direct care nursing situations. Participants hone their practice and teaching skills during direct care and nursing education practicums.

    Florida residents pay the most affordable tuition. Admission requires an accredited BSN, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and an RN license.

  6. McNeese State University
    Location

    Lake Charles, LA

    Tuition

    $9985

    Louisiana-based McNeese offers a master's in nursing with a nursing education concentration. The program develops advanced practitioners for a high-demand field in the state. Enrollees complete 40-43 credits.

    The core MSN curriculum explores topics such as population-based primary care and the theoretical foundations of advanced nursing. RNs learn various teaching methodologies and technologies. Enrollees receive training in curriculum and program development. The MSN examines contemporary nursing education and how to measure student outcomes. RNs boost their leadership and communication skills during the program.

    MSN students spend 2-3 semesters completing clinical experiences in Louisiana or Texas. RNs culminate the online master's in nursing education with a thesis or project. Participants use online nursing software and benefit from networking opportunities with partnering schools. Admission requires an accredited BSN, a minimum 2.8 GPA, and an encumbered RN license in Louisiana or Texas.

  7. Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus
    Location

    Portales, NM

    Tuition

    $10918

    ENMU offers a fully online master's in nursing with a nurse educator emphasis. RNs prepare to practice as nurse educators in New Mexico or other states. Learners can enroll full time or part time.

    The 36-credit curriculum explores research methods in nursing. Students also examine nursing concepts and theories. Enrollees learn teaching strategies for nurse educators. They also explore how to apply research in nursing. Degree-seekers design a contextual nursing curriculum. RNs enhance their skills by completing a local clinical experience.

    Graduates qualify to sit for the National League for Nursing's certified nurse educator exam. Enrollees can earn this master's in nursing education online in 16-20 months. The New Mexico Higher Education Department prioritizes financial aid for ENMU's MSN program to help address the state's nursing shortage. Admission requires a BSN, current RN license, and transcripts.

  8. Western Carolina University
    Location

    Cullowhee, NC

    Tuition

    $15021

    WCU was founded in 1889 as a teaching college. The school's online MSN offers a nurse educator concentration. RNs eligible for a license to practice in North Carolina may apply. Students prepare for advanced practice roles in one of three areas: academic educator, patient educator, or staff educator.

    RNs complete 38-39 semester hours in a virtual classroom over three years. The curriculum combines classroom instruction, research methods, and practicum experience. MSN core topics include advanced practice nursing and healthcare economics. The specialty develops learners' teaching, leadership, and curriculum development skills.

    Nurses gain classroom experience during a teaching practicum. A clinical specialty course requires 45 contact hours. Enrollees choose either a thesis or research project option. All students complete a written comprehensive exam in their final semester. Admission requires a BSN, minimum 3.0 GPA, and at least one year of clinical nursing experience.

  9. University of Louisiana at Lafayette
    Location

    Lafayette, LA

    Tuition

    $11190

    UL Lafayette offers an online MSN for working nurses who want to advance their practice. The nurse education concentration requires 40-43 credits. Enrollees complete an MSN core and specialized training. Core topics cover evidence-based practice and pathophysiology for advanced nursing.

    The concentration develops nurses' teaching methods. Degree-seekers learn how to measure student outcomes in nursing education. The online master's in nursing education requires a 225-clinical-hour practicum. All students complete a research thesis or scholarly project. Graduates qualify to sit for the national certified nurse educator exam.

    Participants receive 24/7 technical support. They can also access online library and research services. All enrollees pay a flat tuition rate regardless of residency. Admission requires a bachelor's in nursing, a minimum 2.75 GPA, and an active Louisiana RN license.

  10. East Tennessee State University
    Location

    Johnson City, TN

    Tuition

    $11062

    ETSU offers 150 graduate and professional programs, including a fully online master's in nursing with a nursing education concentration. RNs acquire teaching skills in their clinical area of expertise. The 42-credit program explores core MSN concepts such as evidence-based practice and health policy leadership.

    RNs hone their curriculum development skills. This master's in nursing education program examines program evaluation and accreditation. RNs complete nurse educator coursework and clinicals in a specialization such as geriatric nursing. All enrollees complete a written comprehensive exam or culminating experience.

    Tennessee residents pay the most affordable tuition. The program accepts RNs with a non-nursing bachelor's provided they meet certain requirements. Admission requires a BSN, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and an RN license in Tennessee or the state in which the RN will complete clinicals.

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