There are several degree routes for those interested in becoming nurse educators. Depending on the student’s prior education level, they may opt for a master’s degree, a post-master’s certificate, or a doctorate such as a DNP, Ph.D., or Ed.D. Learn more about each degree type below:

Online vs. Traditional Nurse Educator Programs

Becoming a nurse educator can be done in several ways, with online nurse educator programs and traditional, brick-and-more educator programs available.

The benefits of an online program include the following:

  • Being able to study at your own pace, including taking courses at a rate that fits your needs
  • Continuing to work and meet other obligations while earning your degree
  • Lower costs thanks to no room and board costs to pay
  • Accredited programs that meet licensing requirements are available
  • Choose a school from anywhere in the country to get your education

The cons of an online nurse educator program include the following:

  • There's less hands-on education and learning with peers
  • Most programs will require you to complete clinical work and internships in person at local facilities
  • Some students may find online programs difficult if they are unable to stay motivated

Traditional nurse educator programs offer some benefits:

  • Students can interact with and learn in person, which is better for some students' educational goals
  • Traditional nurse educator programs may allow you to obtain a local internship to start working right away

Traditional nurse educator disadvantages include:

  • Having to stick to the schedule that's available from the school or provider
  • Paying a higher cost for room and board or limiting your options to the schools nearby
  • Attention full-time may be difficult in person for those who are working

Applying for an Online Nursing Education Program

Online nurse educator programs differ in admissions processes and the qualifications required for applicants. These programs are usually available to those who have a degree. To become a nurse educator, you will have to earn a master's in nursing with a nursing education, or if you already have a master's degree, you may be able to complete a post-master certificate.


Each college or university will have its prerequisite requirements for those who enroll in an online nursing educator program. Typically, these requirements will include the following:

  • Work experience in the field (generally two years or more)
  • Completing at least a bachelor's degree in a related field
  • GPA requirements (generally 3.0 or higher)
  • Active RN license
  • Completion of necessary undergraduate education programs
  • CV or resume documenting work experience
  • GRE in some situations
  • Professional references
  • Transcripts for all education completed
  • TOEFL test in some cases

You may find differences in educational programs based on which degree platform you are pursuing. For example, if you have a master's degree, you may wish to complete a post-master’s certificate program in nursing education, which may require more work experience in the nursing field. PhD nursing education programs tend to be more challenging to enroll in without some experience in research.

Doctoral program admission may also require a higher level of education and a an MSN prerequisite degree. Some applicants will complete a master's degree alongside their doctoral degree.


When choosing a nurse educator program, including one available online, it is critical to focus heavily on selecting a program most likely to provide you with the skills and knowledge needed. Accreditation can help you to do this.

To be accredited, an organization must pursue the process and allow third-party organizations to review its educational processes, program requirements, and other data to ensure it meets the minimum requirement level. This typically means the program provides quality education.

Accreditation is necessary for most online nursing education degree programs. It can help students obtain their license, and if working as a nurse educator, it may also help you show a future employer that your education is valid.

For nursing education, accreditation typically comes from the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). CCNE only accredits bachelor's degree programs. Another option could include accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). ACEN typically accredits all levels of nursing, including doctoral and master’s programs.

Specialty Opportunities

Many students are passionate about a specific area of nursing or medicine. Pursuing an educational specialization in that area is possible if that is the case. For example, some individuals may be passionate about working with children and want to become pediatric nurse educators. This would allow you to focus your education on preparing nurses for the world of pediatrics.

Though most nurse educator programs do not specialize in a specific field, there may be graduate certificates you can pursue that can help you round out your education in a particular area of interest to you in areas like diabetes treatment, orthopedics, cardiology, or gerontology.

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