Earning a master's in nursing education allows experienced nurses to share their expertise with the next generation of medical professionals. Nurse educators serve as mentors, teachers, and leaders in both academic and clinical environments.
The nation's current medical climate contributes to an accelerating demand for well-trained medical professionals. Several factors, including the growing importance of preventative care, rising rates of chronic conditions, and baby boomers' increasing demand for healthcare services, have created an even greater need for healthcare education.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for registered nurses (RNs) to grow by 7% between 2019 and 2029, which is faster than average for all other occupations. The increased demand for medical workers naturally leads to a greater need for nurse educators. This page offers information about nursing education programs and what to expect.
Why Get a Nursing Education Master's?
Nurse educators teach nursing students, oversee clinical work, and assess student progress. Educators rely on their nursing expertise to ensure that curriculum remains relevant, and they model excellent nursing practice for their students. RNs with a master's in nursing education may also perform in supervisory roles.
The skills gained in master's in nursing education programs can help experienced nurses to serve as department chairs, conduct performance reviews, write and review textbooks, and serve on local and state boards to benefit nursing education. Graduates may even attain roles as professors, directors of professional practices, or directors of staff development.
Ideal candidates for nurse education programs hold current RN certifications, have at least three years of nursing experience, and possess a natural inclination to instruct and lead. Nurses may also want to pursue this degree if they enjoy studying healthcare policy and politics, statistics, and technology.
In addition to the opportunities to enhance their professional knowledge, prospective nurse educators may also appreciate several other benefits of this degree:
- Potential for Growth: Earning a master's in nursing education not only provides opportunities for clinical training and instruction, but may also offer a pathway to leadership and management roles.
- Preferred Work Schedule: RNs oftenwork arduous hours and long shifts. Nurse educators typically follow a more traditional daytime work schedule, which many professionals prefer.
- Flexible Study Opportunities: Thanks to the growth in online nurse educator master's programs, degree-seekers can enroll and study fully online. Enrollees can also often continue working, allowing them to substantially pad their resumes.
What To Expect From Nurse Educator Master's Programs
Master's in nursing education programs support experienced RNs in their goals to educate and mentor nurse candidates. Enrollees learn to model excellent nursing conduct, implement instructional strategies, and evaluate student performance.
Nurse educator programs also allow students to become certified in nursing education. Attaining certification communicates to healthcare employers that a candidate meets the highest standards of excellence. Based on their preferred teaching environments and expertise, enrollees may choose to certify to teach in either classroom or clinical settings.
Nursing education students explore both instructional theory and specialized healthcare issues. Coursework in nurse educator programs supports degree-seekers in both facets of this complex profession. These programs conclude with hands-on practicum experiences that allow nurse educators to apply their knowledge.
RNs interested in obtaining a master's in nursing education need a bachelor's in nursing from a program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Nurses also need an active, unencumbered RN license in their state of residence or employment.
Applicants to nursing education programs must usually complete an application and provide official transcripts demonstrating a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA. Other submission materials include a resume indicating at least three years of nursing experience, a personal statement, and GRE test scores. Applicants may also need to pass a background check and supply immunization records.
Since master's in nursing education programs focus heavily on teaching, applicants with instructional skills or experience may enjoy an advantage in the admissions process. Applicants should highlight any teaching experience in their professional resumes, personal statements, or admissions interviews.
Although successful nurse educators come from a variety of backgrounds and possess different experiences and specializations, they typically pursue one of two certifications: certified nurse educator (CNE) or certified academic clinical nurse educator (CNE-CL). The National League for Nursing offers both certifications.
While the CNE and the CNE-CL allow nurses to demonstrate their expertise in nursing education to future employers, the concentrations offer slightly different teaching opportunities.
- CNE Focus
This certification facilitates student learning through curriculum design, instruction, and evaluation of nursing students.
Setting: Postsecondary institutions, nursing schools, and other classroom settings
Role: Teaching nursing fundamentals including procedures, theories, and best practices
- CNE-CL Focus
This certification enables experiential learning through teaching the clinical components of an academic nursing program.
Setting: Teaching hospitals, clinics, and practices where nursing students complete clinical studies
Role: Teaching clinical skills and modeling an empathetic and professional approach to the nursing profession
Popular Nursing Education Courses
Master's in nursing education programs offer courses in both education and healthcare theories. Programs may vary in their credit requirements, but most require a workload of 36-42 credits and offer a balance of core and elective courses.
Much like instructors in K-12 schools or post-secondary institutions, nurse educators must plan instruction, develop curriculum, and facilitate assessments. Enrollees may select elective courses to help focus their studies in particular interest areas.
This core course teaches nurse educators how to apply theoretical frameworks to the processes of curriculum development. Students plan and develop curriculum for various educational environments in nursing school. Curriculum development skills are essential in both the nursing practicum and several nurse educator careers.
In this core course, enrollees practice and apply strategies for teaching in academic and healthcare settings. Nurse educators benefit from exploring current educational models and relevant instructional strategies within theoretical foundations. Students examine the legal and ethical issues surrounding healthcare education.
Assessment and Evaluation
In this core course, learners study the essential processes of assessment and evaluation. Prospective educators must learn to apply strategies that support learning outcomes and implement reliable methods in assessment and evaluation. Healthcare educators rely on skills of assessment outcomes to advise and direct future pupils.
Family Assessment Theory and Practice
Students who want to specialize in teaching family-focused healthcare often take this elective course. Enrollees learn about the theory of the concentric sphere of family environment, a model that takes a holistic approach to family health and well-being. Prospective educators examine both assessment and intervention within this theoretical framework.
Theories of Aging
In this elective course, degree-seekers examine the biological theories of aging, divided into the two main divisions of stochastic and nonstochastic. Prospective educators can specialize in these studies to better instruct future pupils. Enrollees may also incorporate these studies in their practicum experiences.
The Master's Practicum or Capstone
After prospective nurse educators complete required courses, they must complete a master's practicum. Learners typically complete a practicum during their program's last year. Practicum experiences require about six credits and as many as 150 hours of practice. Depending on program requirements, students may also complete a capstone research project.
Practicums give students valuable experiential learning opportunities under the guidance of school faculty and other experienced nurse educators. Learners explore curriculum development, instructional planning, and real teaching practice.
In a master's in nursing education practicum, enrollees collaborate with cohorts and experienced educators alike. These experiences allow learners to build relationships, network with future colleagues, and develop personal educational philosophies.
How Much Will a Master's in Nursing Education Cost?
Master's in nursing education programs can range from $10,000-$45,000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Cost depends on many factors, including a school's reputation, learners' enrollment status, and whether the school is private or public.
Degree-seekers may experience higher tuition rates at out-of-state schools. They also may incur moving costs if they relocate closer to campus. Students can minimize costs by enrolling in an accredited, public, online program.
To help fund their master's in nursing education degree, learners can explore scholarships, fellowships, grants, and loans. Follow the links below to learn about financial aid and the FAFSA.Financial Aid Overview FAFSA Guide
Jobs for Master's in Nursing Education Graduates
Earning a master's in nursing education can open doors to several rewarding careers in education and leadership. This advanced degree allows RNs to apply their expertise in the classroom and the boardroom.
Professionals with a master's in nursing education often work as nurse educators. However, they can also use their specialized skills to work as clinical educators and teach a specialized aspect of nursing. Higher-level degrees also prepare RNs for management roles with higher salaries, like nursing directorships.
These professionals provide instruction and continuing education for nursing students, staff, and caregivers. They may work in leadership teams to develop education programs and evaluations for their institution's healthcare workers.
- Required Education: Master's in nursing education and RN certification
- Average Annual Salary: $76,740
Clinical educators train others in specialized, clinical knowledge. They may teach in classrooms, teaching hospitals, or in professional environments. These professionals may work with a variety of people, including students, healthcare workers, insurance personnel, and long-term care workers.
- Required Education: Healthcare licensure required, master's in nursing education preferred
- Average Annual Salary: $77,430
Nursing directors supervise all nursing activities within a medical institution. They direct, plan, and evaluate programs and oversee staff. These professionals may also help with the hiring process and budget management.
- Required Education: RN certification, master's in nursing or nursing education preferred
- Average Annual Salary: $88,070
Frequently Asked Questions
How difficult is getting a master's degree in nursing education?
Earning a master's in nursing education often takes two years. Learners complete education courses and specialized studies. They also complete a practicum experience, which may require about 150 hours of practice.
What can you do with a master's in nursing education?
Master's in nursing education graduates can work as nurse or clinical educators or take on leadership and management roles, including chairing boards and committees or directing various departments.
How much does a master's in nursing education make?
According to PayScale data from April 2021, nurse educators made an average annual salary of $76,740, while nursing directors earned an annual average of $88,070.
Is a master of science in nursing education worth it?
Graduates with a master of science in nursing education may benefit from greater advancement and promotion opportunities as well as preferred working hours.