As reported in the The Atlantic, historically high rates of OB/GYN-ordered prenatal, labor, and postnatal interventions have spurred many female patients to return to the unique model of care practiced by Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs). While today’s CNMs can order the same tests and procedures as physicians, they often wait until they are deemed absolutely necessary. Several studies actually associate midwife-managed care with fewer incidents of premature birth, caesarean section, induced labor, and other medical interventions. And experts expect this midwifery renaissance to continue; in fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2018) projected a 21 percent increase in openings for nurse midwives between 2016 and 2026, significantly more robust than the average growth expected across all occupations during that same decade (7 percent).
This guide explores how to become a CNM, including the online nurse-midwifery programs, outstanding professors, and expected credentialing.
In 2017 and 2018, NursePractitionerSchools.com compiled a database of over 640 online APRN programs across all specializations and degree-levels, including MSNs, DNPs, and post-master’s certificates.
To qualify as “online,” it had to require fewer than ten campus visits throughout the entire degree program. Also, these affordability estimates are based on the total (not annual) tuition for out-of-state students, and additional fees may apply. Since these figures are based on the cost of the entire program, BSN-to-MSN and MSN-to-DNP programs are generally favored simply for their shorter duration (and fewer required credits) relative to BSN-to-DNP programs. That said, many schools accommodate multiple points of academic entry and offer various degree pathways.
NursePractitionerSchools.com took great care to ensure the accuracy of all program data, but tuition figures and the availability of programs are subject to change. Prospective CNM students are encouraged to reach out to program coordinators directly for the most up-to-date cost assessments and other information.
The table below includes the most affordable MSN and DNP Nurse-Midwifery programs offered online. It does not include post-master's NP certificate programs since the cost of such programs tends to vary from student to student, based on applicability of prior coursework and clinical work to the new specialization. Please contact us to add programs or correct published details. Thank you.
Certified Nurse Midwives are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) who specialized in women’s health. As APRNs, CNMs receive more advanced and specialized training than RNs, giving them a broader scope of practice. In addition to providing prenatal, birth, and postnatal care, CNMs deliver regular gynecological and wellness care to women of all ages. They conduct exams, order tests, and conduct procedures. Thanks to recently tightened certification requirements, all states allow CNMs to practice independently and prescribe medication, although there are regional variations in scope of practice as well.
There are three types of certified midwives: certified nurse midwives (CNMs), certified midwives (CMs), and certified professional midwives (CPM). Not all states recognize all types of these professionals, however, and training and licensing criteria can vary dramatically. The following chart highlights the similarities and differences of each role as of May 2017.
Note: While this guide focuses primarily on CNMs, the information applies to anyone seeking an online degree in nurse-midwifery.
||Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)||Certified Midwife (CM)||Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)|
|Scope of Practice||Independent delivery of women’s healthcare across the lifespan, including primary, gynecological, family planning, pregnancy, and postpartum care||Independent care of women and newborns during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period.|
|Practice Settings||Hospitals, birth centers, private offices, and homes.||Birth centers, private offices, and homes.|
|State Recognition||All U.S. states and territories.||Licensed in NY, NJ, and RI. Authorized by permit in MO. Authorized in DE.||Recognized in 29 states; licensing, certification, and registration practices vary.|
|Prescriptive Authority||All U.S. jurisdictions||New York||None|
|Education||A graduate degree from a program accredited by the Accreditation Commission on Midwifery Education (ACME).||A bachelor’s degree plus one of the following:
|Active RN License||Required||Not required||Not required|
|Certifying Organization||American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB)||North American Registry of Midwives (NARM)|
Source: American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM)
Dr. Julia Lange Kessler is the director of Georgetown University’s Nurse-Midwifery and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Program. As an experienced midwife, Dr. Kessler has penned several publications with particular emphases on homebirth, midwife education and certification, and mammary hypoplasia. She has worked with patients all over the world—including underserved nations such as Rwanda and Haiti—and teaches a variety of online midwifery courses. Dr. Kessler holds a certificate in Midwifery from SUNY-Downstate; an MS in Midwifery from Philadelphia University; a Post-Master’s Certificate in teaching from Pennsylvania State University; and a DNP from the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Dana Perlman is an associate professor and the program director of Philadelphia University’s Midwifery Institute where she teaches online courses. She also supervises independent studies in advanced clinical practice. Ms. Perlman’s faculty biography describes her as an innovative, progressive educator and advocate with extensive professional, academic, and policy experience in midwifery. Before joining PU, she served as a full-scope midwife in hospitals and private practice facilities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Ms. Perlman holds an MSN and Post-MS Certificate in Midwifery from Philadelphia University.
Dr. Cynthia F, Nypaver is an associate professor as well as a director and coordinator of the University of Cincinnati’s Nurse Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program. She has served as an RN since 1981 and a CNM for more than a decade. According to her faculty biography, Dr. Nypaver has a passion for helping underserved women, minimizing maternal-child health disparities, and reducing infant mortality rates among African Americans. She is a member of the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) and the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health. She’s a practicing midwife with TriHealth Nurse Midwives. Dr. Nypaver holds an MSN in Nurse-Midwifery; a Post-Master’s Certificate in Women’s Health; a Post-Master’s Certificate in Nurse Education; and a PhD in Nurse Philosophy, all from the University of Cincinnati.
While some students choose to enroll in traditional, on-campus programs in nurse-midwifery, there is a growing number of online programs in this field as well. These typically combine distance-based coursework and in-person clinical practicums completed in facilities close to a student’s home. Here are five ACME-accredited, online CNM programs to consider.
Georgetown University Online MS in Nurse-Midwifery and Women’s Health NP
Georgetown University’s online master of science (MS) in Nurse-Midwifery is a 48-unit “multidimensional” program that combines online and hands-on learning, yet only requires three brief on-campus intensives over the estimated seven terms required for graduation. U.S. News & World Report (2017) named Nursing@Georgetown University the no. 28 graduate nursing school in the nation. Georgetown’s online MS in Nurse-Midwifery recently added a Women’s Health concentration that helps aspiring WHNPs become CNMs concurrently.
Stony Brook University’s Online MSN in Nurse-Midwifery
Stony Brook University’s online master of science in nursing (MSN) in Nurse-Midwifery is a fully-online program that prepares students to care for women of all ages, teaching them to educate, advocate, lead, consult, and become agents of change within their communities and larger practice context. Stony Brook’s online nursing programs also earned high marks from U.S. News & World Report (2017), which named it the no. 21 best online graduate nursing school. Notably, Stony Brook admits students with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees if they submit an acceptable clinical practice portfolio. Stony Brook University is a State Universities of New York (SUNY) institution.
University of Cincinnati Online MSN in Nurse-Midwifery
The University of Cincinnati describes its MSN in Nurse-Midwifery as a “world-class online program” designed to accommodate many different learning styles. Students master key midwifery skills using multimedia presentations, discussion sessions, peer and professional support systems, readings, and online research and assignments. Perhaps it is UC’s dynamic curricula that spurred U.S. News & World Report to rank the University no. 5 among all online graduate nursing schools. Notably, UC boasts a 95.45 percent AMCB Certification Pass Rate for first time exam-takers (2016) and a 100 percent rate for repeat-takers.
Frontier Nursing University Online MSN/DNP in Nurse-Midwifery
Frontier Nursing University’s MSN/DNP in Nurse-Midwifery allows BSN-holders to earn an MSN and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Nurse-Midwifery in as few as three years. Its Community-based Nurse-midwifery Education Program (CNEP) transforms students’ home communities into classrooms where they complete clinical practicums and work closely with a local CNM. Strong, fully-online academic coursework not only complements hands-on learning but it also helps nurture future entrepreneurs and leaders in maternal-infant care. Students are required to complete only two on-campus visits over the duration of the program. Students also have the option of exiting the program with an MSN rather than pursuing a DNP.
Midwifery Institute at Philadelphia University’s Online Post-Master’s Certificate in Midwifery
The Midwifery Institute at Philadelphia University’s Post-Master’s Certificate in Midwifery is a unique program designed for students with master’s degrees in nursing seeking to add a midwifery specialization. According to the University, students hone their midwife care skills through a rigorous combination of live online seminars and forums. Nurse practitioners, foreign-educated midwives, and students with professional midwifery experience may qualify for advanced placement. This certificate can be ideal ideal for prospective CMs.
Please note that a majority of online MSN programs can also be completed as distance-based certificates, particularly for working NPs seeking to add a new midwifery specialization.
Traditional midwifery apprenticeships have given way to formal academic and clinical education. According to the ACNM’s Mandatory Degree Requirements for Entry into Midwifery Practice, only candidates with graduate degrees are eligible for AMCB certification. Online master’s and doctoral degrees in nurse-midwifery can help nurses meet these standards with fewer life and work disruptions than one might expect from a campus-based program.
Online nurse-midwifery programs provide the same education and degrees as those based on campuses. Admissions requirements are also typically the same, though additional technical and clinical placement requirements might apply. Here are some of the most common MSN and DNP admissions criteria.
Online MSN in Nurse-Midwifery Programs
Some online MSNs in Nurse-Midwifery require or prefer candidates with at least one year of practical experience in an area like gynecology, labor and delivery, pediatrics, and postpartum care.
Online DNP in Nurse-Midwifery Programs
Most online and campus-based nurse-midwifery programs offer the same coursework, although schools might adapt classes to better suit the medium. For example, most online students complete on-site clinical requirements in facilities close to home rather than university hospitals and labs, although sporadic on-campus intensive sessions are generally required. Here is a breakdown of typical curricula in online CNM programs.
Online Master’s in Nurse-Midwifery Classes
Online Doctorate in Nurse-Midwifery Classes
Accreditation and state authorization are two important considerations for aspiring online CNM students.
Accreditation is one of the ways colleges validate the quality of their programs. It means a school voluntarily invited an independent organization to evaluate its programs and operations to determine whether they meet certain standards. The organization then “accredits” those that do. Standards vary by accrediting agency, but generally ensure school transparency, ethical practices, quality instruction, and promising student outcomes, among other measures. Online nurse-midwifery programs may be accredited by national, regional, or programmatic agencies, and some accrediting organizations are more reputable than others. Students are encouraged to verify program accrediting agencies are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), an affiliate of the U.S. Department of Education.
Recognized agencies most likely to accredit online nurse-midwifery degree programs include:
State authorization is whether or not a student based in one state can enroll in an online program based in another state. The Higher Education Act has long required states to evaluate local colleges to ensure they meet certain standards. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Education expanded rules to allow states to authorize—or not authorize—any online college enrolling their residents. States establish their own authorization standards, however, so not all online schools are necessarily allowed to enroll students from all states. The most popular compact agreement between states is the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). All SARA-aligned states adhere to the same authorization criteria, which means a local college authorized by one state can enroll students living in any other participating state. Most (but not all) U.S. states have joined the compact. Students can visit the NC-SARA website to learn more.
Overall, students considering online nurse-midwifery programs should confirm their eligibility prior to applying. Most colleges provide this information on their websites. For example, the University of Cincinnati’s state authorization page states that the school cannot enroll online nurse-midwifery students living in Massachusetts, New York, Louisiana, Oregon, Tennessee, or the District of Columbia. For schools which don’t have this information available, students are encouraged to reach out to program coordinators.