Top Nurse Educator Certificate Online Programs: How to Choose the Best Post-Master’s Nursing Education

Many nurses opt for online graduate certificate programs in education to further their career goals. If you’re an aspiring instructor, don’t miss out on the great options available with an online post-master’s nurse educator certificate program. We’ve collected some of the best-known programs to get you started.

These days, nurses are in high demand — and so are the instructors who train them. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the registered nurse (RN) workforce is expected to grow 6% over the next decade. The bureau also projects 203,200 openings for RNs each year through 2031 because of retirement and career changes.

So, if you’re in the nursing field, looking to advance your career, and interested in preparing the next generation of nurses, an online nursing education certificate program is the logical next step. Fortunately, there are numerous high-quality online programs that offer flexible study options at an affordable price.

Earning your nurse educator certificate online can also be done fairly quickly, as most programs typically require four to six graduate-level courses. Each course will develop your specialized knowledge and skills and prepare you to test for your nurse educator certification.

To help you decide if earning your nurse educator graduate certificate online is the right fit, we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide of available programs. Keep reading to learn about the best online nurse educator certificate programs, what you can expect from your courses, and opportunities to finance your coursework.

College Spotlights: Best Nurse Educator Certificate Online Programs in 2023

Earning an online post-master’s nurse educator certificate takes hard work, and your efforts must pay off, in the long run, to be worthwhile. So, it is essential that you attend a quality nurse educator certificate program.

With so many options, knowing where to start looking is hard. To help you, we’ve ranked online nursing graduate and post-master’s certificates on their quality, student outcomes, and affordability to identify some of the best options.

We’re still working on our complete ranking list, so check back later. In the meantime, take a look at these three stand-out schools’ online nurse educator certificate programs.

The rigorous nurse educator post-master’s certificate program at Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville (SIUE) is an opportunity for MSN nurses to dive deeper into the challenges and opportunities of nurse education. Notably, students participate in a terminal project during the certificate course that allows them to gain real-world experience with curriculum design and evaluation.

The nursing program at SIUE is all about community care. Online nurse educator certificate students in the St. Louis area have the opportunity to complete their clinical hours at the school’s community health clinic. The school community offers lots of student support. Nursing students can connect with mentors and students with similar backgrounds through the student nurse achievement program. Plus, advisers and faculty are available to help students navigate their coursework and achieve their goals.

Whether you’re in-state or not, SIUE is an affordable option. For all U.S. residents, courses cost $350 per credit. Plus, students in most locations can arrange to complete their clinical work close to home, even if they live outside Illinois.

Students in the University of Cincinnati’s online nurse educator certificate program develop a holistic understanding of what it takes to be a great teacher. The curriculum includes courses on the role of professors, learning-centered teaching, curriculum design, and instructional technology. Because of this, graduates are equipped with many tools and approaches toward education. Additionally, this certificate focuses on preparing students for their nurse educator certification exams.

This 12-credit program can be completed in as few as two semesters. And, if you’re completing your nurse educator certificate online to test the waters for further education, the University of Cincinnati should be at the top of your list. Students who continue to an advanced nursing education degree program at the University of Cincinnati are eligible for its Nurse Faculty Loan Program, which cancels up to 85% of the student loan and principal debt for individuals who work as full-time nursing faculty at a school of nursing.

The online graduate certificate in nursing education program at the University of Maine (UMaine) is an efficient and affordable option for future educators. This 10-credit program can be completed in just three classes. At $590 per credit, tuition at UMaine is one of the less costly options for online nursing graduate certificates. However, just because the program is quick and affordable doesn’t mean the school skimps on quality. Graduates from UMaine are in high demand and are often recruited into local healthcare groups right after graduation.

UMaine’s nurse educator graduate certificate focuses primarily on teaching adult learners. So, if you hope to work in staff development or teach programs for working nurses, you’ll find a chance to specialize here.

The application process is straightforward, with rolling admissions and no standardized test requirements. Plus, to make sure you’re finding the right fit, you’ll have the opportunity to meet with a member of the nursing faculty while your application is being considered to talk about your goals, questions, or concerns.

Top Reasons to Earn a Nursing Education Certificate Online

Most nursing schools offer a graduate or post-master’s nursing education certificate, whether online or in person. In the past, some people were skeptical about the quality of online programs. But more and more educators, employers, and working nurses are embracing the potential of online certificate programs to help nurses further their education without compromising their work-life balance or requiring them to relocate.

When you study for your graduate certificate in nursing education online, you have more options. Since you’re not tied to your local campus, you’re free to apply to programs that match your goals, suit your schedule, and fit your budget. Here are a few ways that online certificate programs can benefit you.

Study on the Side

Many nurse education certificate programs are entirely online and asynchronous. Plus, these programs generally offer the option to study part-time. This means that you can learn when and where works best for you. Online graduate certificate courses in nursing are designed with working professionals in mind. So, you’ll be able to keep up with your work, family, and social responsibilities while pursuing your studies.

Maintain Your License

If you’re a working nurse or are maintaining your RN license for future employment, a graduate certificate can help you maintain your credentials. Generally, most nursing boards and employers accept your certificate coursework as part of your professional development or continuing education requirements.

Keep Your Budget in Check

While tuition for graduate certificates varies widely, online programs offer more options in terms of program cost. Since you’re not limited to schools in your area, you can shop around for the best prices and financial aid packages. Plus, you’ll avoid many incidental campus expenses, including commuting, parking passes, meal plans, and facilities fees.

What You’ll Learn in an Online Post-Master’s Nurse Educator Certificate Program

Not surprisingly, your graduate or post-master’s nurse educator certificate online courses will focus on effective teaching methods. But being an excellent educator is more than lectures and pop quizzes. Instead, your certificate program will cover all the components of teaching, from curriculum design to professional ethics. You can expect to complete a mix of required courses and elective options throughout your program. This setup ensures you’ll cover essential knowledge while offering opportunities to tailor your certificate to your specific goals.

Learning about the types of classes you’ll take is a great way to assess whether a program is right for you. Although course availability depends on your online nursing education certificate program, learn more about a few of the most common types of classes below.

Popular Courses

Nursing Education Strategies

Different subjects require different teaching strategies. For example, some topics might be suited to exams and memorization. But in other cases, small group work, in-depth projects, or other course layouts may be more productive. These types of courses equip you with different teaching techniques so you can work effectively with all kinds of learners in all types of situations.

Curriculum Development

Curriculum development courses teach students how to design classes. During this course, you’ll typically cover how to define a class’s scope, introduce information intuitively, and maximize student engagement. Depending on the program, you may also cover the content and reporting requirements that educators must comply with so that a school can maintain its accreditation.

Instructional Delivery and Technology

This class is closely related to nursing education strategies courses. Some programs may even combine the two. However, instructional delivery and technology courses are specifically tailored to teaching in the modern age. Students focus on how existing and emerging technologies can supplement traditional teaching strategies to improve student outcomes.

Professional Ethics in Education

As a nursing student, you probably spent a lot of time covering ethics and healthcare. However, as a future nursing educator, you’ll take on professional and ethical responsibilities beyond those of working nurses. These classes cover an educator’s legal obligations, conflicts of interest, and the moral challenges that come along with educating future nurses.

Assessment and Evaluation

Your future students must demonstrate their knowledge and performance regularly throughout their education and when they apply for their nursing licenses. As a future educator, you’ll be responsible for designing these assessments and preparing your students for success. This course provides the tools you need to effectively evaluate student progress and train your students for certification exams.

What Can You Do with a Nurse Educator Graduate Certificate?

Most students who earn an online post-master’s nurse educator certificate go on to take the exams to become certified nurse educators. After certification, students are eligible for many new opportunities; some advanced positions that require nurse educator certification include staff development coordinator, patient educator, clinical instructor, or nursing school faculty.

Even if you plan to skip your certified nurse educator exams, a nursing education graduate certificate can help advance your career. You’ll bolster your résumé by demonstrating a commitment to ongoing learning and developing new skills. In turn, this can lead to promotions and greater responsibility.

Accreditation for Graduate Nurse Educator Certificate Online Programs

Whichever nurse educator certificate online program you choose, it must be accredited. Selecting an accredited institution is the only way to ensure your education is on par with other schools. Plus, many employers and most state nursing boards won’t recognize certificates or degrees from unaccredited schools or programs as valid credentials.

For nursing programs, you need to look for two types of accreditations. Reputable schools advertise their accreditation on their website, but sometimes you’ll have to do some digging.

First, the entire school should be accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-approved national or regional body. Look up a school’s accreditation status in the U.S. Department of Education’s official database. School accreditation ensures that the institution is reputable and qualified to issue degrees.

Second, you must ensure that your school’s nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. These program-level certifications are generally required for a certificate or degree to be recognized as valid by employers in the field, as they ensure consistent curricula and high-quality standards. Most nursing boards won’t accept degrees or certificates from schools that don’t carry one of these accreditations.

Costs and Financial Aid for Online Graduate Certificate – Nurse Education

Nurse educator certificates, especially online programs, cost less than a BSN, MSN, or DNP degree. However, these certificate programs still represent a significant financial investment. So, if you’re considering pursuing your nurse educator certificate, it’s important to be realistic about your finances and have a plan to pay for your classes.

If you’re a working nurse, a good first step is to check with your employer. They may have funding available for tuition reimbursement. Additionally, your coursework may apply to the continuing education requirements of your state nursing board. If so, you can stay on top of your professional obligations while funding your next steps.

Once you’ve checked out options from your employer, consider outside funding opportunities. Because of the national shortage of nurse educators, many scholarships and financial aid opportunities are available for aspiring instructors. For example, Illinois recently introduced a valuable state-funded scholarship specifically for nursing education. Although there are plenty of funding opportunities, it can be tricky to track them all down. Our financial aid guide can help you identify possible funding and submit stellar applications.

Lastly, feel free to ask about potential financial aid and scholarship programs. Many have internal opportunities based on merit or need. Plus, financial aid offices often maintain a database of external funding opportunities for each of their programs.

What Your Online Nursing Education Certificate Program Could Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Total Tuition Cost








$571 in-state
$595 out-of-state

$6,852 – $7,140

Frequently Asked Questions About Graduate Nurse Educator Certificates Online

What is the Difference Between a Certificate in Nurse Education and a Master's Degree or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)?

A graduate certificate in nurse education is typically looked at as a middle ground between an undergraduate and a master’s degree. Certificate programs offer an intensive focus on advanced learning in a specific element of your field, in this case, nurse education. An MSN in nurse education covers a broader range of information and is typically recommended for students who aspire to teach at the university level. If earning your MSN sounds appealing, consider reviewing our comprehensive guide to MSN degrees.

DNP programs are the highest level of education for nurses, including nurse educators. Nurse educators who complete their DNP typically go on to work in curriculum development and training in upper-level hospital administration or university settings.

If you’re considering an advanced nursing degree but aren’t ready to commit, a graduate certificate in nursing education is a great place to start. You’ll have the opportunity to participate in graduate-level courses and get a feel for the demands of an MSN program. Plus, most schools apply the credits you earn in an online nursing education certificate program toward your MSN requirements. Similarly, MSN nurses considering DNP programs can use credits from their graduate or post-master’s certificate courses toward their DNP degree.

Do Nurse Educator Certificates Prepare Students to Become Certified Nurse Educators?

Yes. These programs are designed to help students prepare for their Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) or Certified Academic Clinical Nurse Educator (CNEcl) exams. Most students who earn nurse educator certificates online do so with the goal of passing these exams.

Nurse educator certificate courses provide focused learning experiences, necessary information, and practical skills that directly apply to the demands of the CNE or CNEcl exams. Many students find that graduate courses better prepare them for these tests than trying to study on their own.

Additionally, although a graduate certificate is not required for earning CNE or CNEcl credentials, many employers prefer certified educators with graduate certificates.

What Are the Admissions Requirements for Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Nurse Education?

Unlike many certificate programs, requirements for online graduate or post-master’s nurse educator certificate programs are relatively consistent. The primary differences in requirements usually include prerequisite coursework, whether or not standardized tests are required, and whether an applicant must demonstrate prior work experience. Look carefully at the requirements for each program you apply to. Generally, you can expect to confirm the criteria below.

  • Active Nursing License. Almost universally, programs will require that you have an active nursing license and be in good standing with your state board.
  • Transcripts. As part of the application process, expect to submit official transcripts from all institutions you’ve attended previously.
  • Diploma. Certificate programs require at least a BSN to be accepted. Some certificate programs are specifically for nurses who have earned their MSN. Not all certificates require a BSN, but these programs typically require prerequisite coursework.

How Long Will It Take to Finish My Post-Master's Nurse Educator Certificate Online?

Because programs operate on their schedules, the timeline for earning your nurse educator certificate online can vary widely. However, most graduate and post-master’s educator certificates require between nine and 15 credits. If your program offers all the necessary classes each semester, you could complete the certificate in one semester of intensive full-time study. However, because of course availability, most certificate programs take two to four semesters. The University of Cincinnati’s model, where students complete four courses over two semesters, is one of the most common schedules for these certificates. Fortunately, most programs offer a detailed outline on their website so you know what to expect before you apply.

Can I Earn My Graduate Certificate in Nurse Education 100% Online, or Do I Need to Take Classes on Campus?

The answer to this question depends on the nurse educator certificate online program and your goals. Many programs can be completed 100% online, such as the one at Arizona State University. Other programs may require in-person practicum hours. In some cases, schools like Framingham State University offer a hybrid certificate program that allows you to mix and match online and in-person coursework. Before applying for programs, reflect on your learning style to determine what formats are best for you.