An MSN degree in nursing education explores the advanced theories and practices of healthcare education. Nurse educators make a lasting impact on patient care by teaching future nurses about best practices in the field. Careers in nurse education offer job security, opportunities for advancement, and great personal rewards.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment for registered nurses (RNs) will grow by 7% from 2019-2029 — faster than average for all occupations. This growing demand for medical workers also contributes to an increased need for nurse educators.
This page offers information about nurse educator programs and includes our ranked list of the five best online MSN education programs.
What Is Nursing Education?
Often credited as the first nurse educator, Florence Nightingale established the fundamentals of training nurse candidates in proper healthcare procedures. Today, nurse educators instruct the next generation of nursing professionals in similar ways.
The best nurse educators mentor and guide nursing students through difficult concepts and draw from personal experiences to offer advice and instruction. Earning a master’s in nursing education degrees allows candidates to hone their teaching abilities and prepare to instruct nursing students. MSN in nursing education programs also provide graduates with widely applicable management skills.
Nurse educators often work in college and university classrooms and clinical settings to teach nursing theory and best practices. However, they are not limited to instructional roles. Professionals with MSNs in nursing education can pursue positions in faculty supervision, medical textbook and curriculum creation, and community health management.
Why Get an MSN in Nursing Education?
RNs may want to pursue master’s in nursing education degrees to increase their salaries, change careers, or advance into upper management. MSN nursing education programs also equip graduates with knowledge in healthcare legal and ethical issues and student and staff training fundamentals.
Benefits of pursuing an MSN in nursing education include:
- Better Hours: Many nursing professionals struggle with working long hours and maintaining a work-life balance. Nurse educators continue making a difference in healthcare while keeping more conventional hours in classroom settings.
- Promotion Opportunities: Nurses who earn higher-level degrees demonstrate an aptitude for increased responsibilities and managerial duties. Nurse educators often advance into high-paying administrative and executive roles.
- Professional Certifications: Nurse educators can earn professional certifications in their field. Through the National League for Nursing, candidates can become certified nurse educators and certified academic nurse educators.
Jobs for MSN Nurse Educator Graduates
A master’s in nursing education opens doors to career promotions with higher earning potential. Healthcare employers prefer RNs with teaching and leadership experience for managerial roles in administration.
A nurse educator’s average salary can increase with experience and career advancement. As of June 2021, nurse executives and chief nursing officers earn an average salary of $133,620. Learn more about potential careers for nursing professionals below.
Explore Nursing Careers
Experienced nursing educators instruct nursing students in best practices, theories of care, and clinical routines and procedures. They also develop curricula, plan instruction, and assess student progress.
Required Education: MSN in nursing education; RN license | Job Outlook (2019-29): 18% | Median Annual Salary: $75,470
Nurse administrators manage healthcare departments, private care facilities, and assisted living facilities. They need strong interpersonal skills and experience in leading and instructing nurses.
Required Education: MSN required; RN license; MSN in nursing education with leadership experience preferred | Average Annual Salary: $89,020
Nurse Executive Officer
Nurse executives hold senior management roles and supervise various healthcare service teams. These professionals oversee staff training and acquisition, collaborate with health professionals, and manage budgets.
Required Education: MSN required; RN license; MSN nursing education with leadership experience preferred | Average Annual Salary: $133,620
What to Expect From Online MSN in Nursing Education Programs
MSN in nursing education programs support experienced RNs looking to become instructors. Many experienced nurses already instruct in clinical settings in some capacity. MSNs provide the formal education necessary for nurses to develop curricula, assess learner outcomes, and prepare nursing students for success.
Nurse educators complete core and elective coursework in educational principles and healthcare theories. MSN programs typically require 36-42 credits and a practicum capstone experience. These programs generally take two years, but students may customize their pacing.
Pursuing an online nursing education program allows degree-seekers to adjust their credit load and study at their own pace. Some MSN programs offer accelerated tracks and accept transfer credits that allow enrollees to finish more quickly.
A master’s in nursing education candidate possesses an active, unencumbered nursing license and at least three years of professional nursing experience. Applicants generally hold bachelor’s in nursing degrees. However, prospective nurse educators with associate degrees in nursing can also pursue RN-to-MSN bridge programs.
Typically, an MSN nurse educator applicant must provide official undergraduate transcripts demonstrating a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA. Other application requirements vary by program but may include a professional resume, a personal statement, and GRE test scores. Candidates also need to submit immunization records and pass background checks.
Comparing Nursing Education to Other Nursing Degrees
Master’s in nursing education programs typically offer concentrated studies in specific fields of medicine. Specializations allow nurse practitioners (NPs) to work in an area of interest. Holding a specialized degree can also give MSN graduates an advantage in the job market.
- Midwifery: Certified nurse midwives specialize in providing prenatal care, labor and delivery, and postpartum support. They work closely with OBGYNs, lactation consultants, and pediatricians.
- Neonatal Care: Neonatal NPs provide care for newborns. They work with specialists to provide individualized care and assist families in learning how to care for their newborns.
- Gerontology: A specialization in gerontology, or the study of aging, prepares nurses for careers in the growing field of senior care. As the large baby-boom generation ages, the need for gerontology nursing professionals continues to grow.
- Anesthesiology: Nurse anesthetists prepare patients for procedures in hospitals, emergency rooms, private practices, and hospice facilities. They work alongside doctors and other medical professionals to ensure patient comfort by delivering anesthesia before surgical procedures.
- Psychiatry: Pursuing a mental health specialization allows NPs to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. They may also work closely with specialists to prescribe medication, provide counseling, and educate families or caretakers.
MSN nurse educators instruct nursing students in the classroom and clinical settings. They collaborate with other nursing and academic professionals to design curricula, plan instruction, and assess student learning.
Like many other MSN specializations, nursing education requires graduate-level study. Nurses may want to pursue this specialization if they prefer working in academic settings and desire to influence nursing education.
Popular Nurse Educator Courses
MSN nursing education courses vary among schools. Nurse educators must take courses in curriculum development and assessment. Enrollees can usually select elective courses based on personal interest.
After completing core and elective course requirements, students must also complete a practical teaching experience. These hands-on experiences may require 150 hours. Common nurse educator courses include:
- Curriculum Development
- This core course focuses on theoretical education frameworks and developing nursing coursework. Nurse educators create lesson plans for university courses and clinical practices. These courses often include a practicum component for nurse educators to practice instruction.
- Assessment of Learning
- Assessment courses prepare candidates to evaluate nursing students. Educators in all settings must apply formative and summative assessment strategies to support learning outcomes and measure student progress. Healthcare educators must use reliable assessments to prepare nurses for patient care.
- Family Theory and Practice
- This elective course focuses on teaching family medicine. Prospective educators learn about this holistic approach to family health and family environment theory. Enrollees examine preventative care and intervention within this framework to best instruct future students.
How Much Will an MSN in Nursing Education Cost?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, graduate programs typically cost $10,000-$45,000 for tuition and required fees. Educational costs depend on several factors, including school prestige, enrollment status, and private vs. public status.
Degree-seekers can lower their overall educational investment by pursuing online, public, and in-state schools. Accredited online nursing education programs offer the same rigorous education as on-campus degrees but allow for greater flexibility at a lower cost.
Many students struggle with graduate education expenses, but financing resources can help. Nursing students can take advantage of financial aid, scholarships, fellowships, grants, and loans. To learn more about NP scholarships, follow the link below.
Discover Nursing Scholarships
Choosing the Right Nursing Education Graduate Program
Our ranked list of the best MSN in nursing education programs offers a great starting place for your research. However, it is important to make sure you also consider the following factors:
Accreditation is the most significant indicator of quality in postsecondary institutions. MSN in nursing education programs should hold accreditation with either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
NPs can specialize in many fields, but any given school cannot offer every single concentration. Learners should ensure that all potential MSN programs offer appropriate education coursework and certifications in their interest areas.
MSN nursing education programs typically take two years to complete. However, some schools offer accelerated tracks for motivated students to finish their degrees more quickly. Alternately, some programs allow nurses to study on a part-time basis to better balance work or family obligations.
Future Education Opportunities
Nurse educators interested in earning doctoral degrees should consider schools that offer dual degrees, such as an MSN-Ph.D. program. Some master’s programs feature automatic admission into doctoral programs if candidates earn sufficient grades in their master’s programs.
Why You Should Get Your Nurse Education MSN Online
Online learning allows nursing professionals to continue working while pursuing higher education. The best nurse educators draw from their own healthcare experiences to instruct their students. Online MSN in nursing education programs encourage nurses to continue working while completing their degrees.
Without a traditional classroom structure, distance learning can present some challenges. Candidates should carefully consider their learning styles before beginning an online program. Students must practice time management and self-discipline, plus reserve a study space in their homes. Learners who can commit to these practices enjoy flexible, self-paced learning experiences.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which MSN degree pays the most?
MSN enrollees can pursue several lucrative specialties. However, administrative and executive positions typically earn the highest nurse salaries. Earning an MSN in nursing education and gaining leadership experience can help candidates secure the highest-paying management roles.
Can you teach with an MSN?
NPs with MSNs in nursing education can instruct nursing students in the classroom or clinical settings. Earning additional certifications also helps nurses secure teaching positions.
What can I do with a master's degree in nursing education?
Individuals who hold master’s in nursing education degrees can teach at the postsecondary level, design curricula, or take on management roles in healthcare settings.
What's the salary for a nurse educator with an MSN?
According to PayScale, nurse educators earn an average salary of $77,300 as of May 2021. Nurse educators who take on administrative roles can enjoy higher salaries.
Top Five Online Nurse Educator MSN Programs for 2021
Nursing professionals hoping to continue their education and become nurse educators can explore our list of the top five master’s in nursing education programs for 2021. The following five schools hold national or regional accreditation, recognizing excellence in meeting higher education standards. Certain schools also hold industry-specific accreditation in nursing.
The ranked list of the best MSN in nursing education programs hold accreditation from the following agencies:
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- Tennessee Board of Nursing
View our ranking methodology
Texas Christian University
Based in Fort Worth, Texas, TCU enrolls more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students annually. The private institution boasts an average class size of 26 students.
Master of Science in Nursing Nurse Educator Program
The Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences offers a master of science in nursing degree that focuses on nurse educator coursework. The program develops nurse educators as teachers, scholars, and collaborators. Graduates of the nurse educator program find positions in curriculum leadership, instruction, and evaluation.
The 34-credit, online program allows summer and spring enrollment. Students may complete the coursework in two- or three-year tracks. The total credits include 29 didactic hours, two hours of practicum, and three hours of teaching practicum.
Applying to TCU
Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree transcript with a minimum 3.0 GPA, a resume, a personal statement, and three personal references. Students must also hold a bachelor of science in nursing and an unencumbered nursing license to apply.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Private | Accreditation: SACSCOC, CCNE | Tuition: $1,790/credit | Required Credits: 34 credits | Program Length: 2-3 years | Delivery Format: Online
Founded in 1909 and based in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, Messiah enrolls more than 3,370 undergraduate and graduate students on its 471-acre suburban campus. The Christian institution focuses on evangelical values in its curriculum.
Master of Science in Nursing Nurse Educator
Messiah's master’s in nursing program prepares students for the National League for Nursing (NLN) Certified Nurse Educator examination upon completion. The online program offers three program tracks designed for RNs with a BSN, RNs with an associate or diploma in nursing, or RNs with bachelor's in a non-nursing major and an associate or diploma in nursing.
The two-level structure focuses initially on a core curriculum, followed by clinical/MSN-specific classes. Students enroll in 6-, 8-, 12-, or 16-week sessions with accelerated and flexible programming.
Applying to Messiah
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students must also submit a personal statement, transcripts, a resume, plus proof of one year of nursing experience and an unencumbered nursing license.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Private | Accreditation: MSCHE, CCNE | Tuition: $72/credit | Required Credits: 39 credits | Program Length: 6 semesters | Delivery Format: Online
A private Christian Baptist institution based in Jackson, Tennessee, Union enrolls more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students annually. Union boasts a 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and over 100 programs of study.
Master of Science in Nursing, Education Track
Union's 16-month graduate program in nursing education prepares nurses to become educators in various areas or settings, such as staff development, patient education, and schools and colleges. The online program admits students each fall and requires 160 clinical hours of a nursing education residency for completion.
The curriculum includes classes such as educational strategies in advanced nursing practice, clinical prevention and population health, and informatics and healthcare. The 41 credits of coursework may be taken full-time or part-time.
Applying to Union
Prospective applicants must hold a bachelor of science in nursing, or if their degree is in another field, complete prerequisites in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pathophysiology, and undergraduate statistics. Students must also hold an unencumbered nursing license and a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA over the last 60 hours of study.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Private | Accreditation: SACSCOC, Tennessee Board of Nursing, CCNE | Tuition: $645/credit | Required Credits: 41 credits | Program Length: 4 semesters (full time); 7 semesters (part time) | Delivery Format: Online
Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences
Based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences originally began as a nursing college in 1903. Today, PA College enrolls more than 1,800 students and boasts 20 degree offerings.
Master of Science in Nursing in Education
PA College's master of science in nursing education program allows students to apply their current nursing experience to the classroom and prepare future nurses. Students complete coursework in current clinical education theory, nursing education and curriculum development and design, teaching strategy, and assessment.
The 39-credit program features classes in advanced pathophysiology and pharmacology, communication and technology, and advanced assessment and clinical reasoning. The online program requires three face-to-face sessions on campus.
Applying to PA College
Prospective applicants must hold a bachelor of science in nursing with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above and complete an undergraduate health assessment course. Applicants must also submit verification of prerequisite coursework in statistics, hold appropriate healthcare licenses, and provide two letters of recommendation.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Private | Accreditation: MSCHE, CCNE | Tuition: $896/credit | Required Credits: 39 credits | Delivery Format: Online with 3 on-campus sessions
Founded in 1866 and based in Rochester, New York, Roberts is a private Christian college with over 1,700 enrolled students. Roberts boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 11-to-1 and offers 14 graduate programs and 60 undergraduate majors.
Master of Science in Nursing Education
Roberts offers a 100% online master of science in nursing education program for RNs with bachelor's degrees. The curriculum focuses on advancing clinical and evidence-based teaching skills. Graduates work in college, university, and clinical settings. Professionals may complete the degree online in 20 months or in-person one night a week.
Coursework covers theoretical foundations for advanced nursing practice, advanced professional role development, and informatics for nurse educators. Graduates complete a graduate project and seminar or practicum in teaching nursing.
Applying to Roberts
Prospective students must hold a bachelor of science degree in nursing with a 3.0 GPA and licensure as a professional nurse within the U.S., U.S. territories, or Canada. Successful applicants have one year of full-time nursing experience, a current position in the field, and a prerequisite statistics course.
Program at a Glance
School Type: Private | Accreditation: MSCHE, CCNE | Tuition: $865/credit | Required Credits: 39 credits | Program Length: 20 months | Delivery Format: 100% online or in person
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