Top Questions to Consider: Online Master's Degree in Nursing Education

Top Questions to Consider: Online Master's Degree in Nursing Education

Nurse educators have three distinct areas of expertise. Their clinical experience, knowledge of evidence-based practice, and advanced teaching pedagogy are on display in every aspect of their work. Whether they are training staff, working with patients or teaching college courses, nurse educators bring a dynamic skill set to their instructional practice.

RNs who earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in nursing education can pursue many different careers. This graduate degree prepares nurses for teaching positions in healthcare and higher education, as well as corporate and public health. A variety of management roles are also available to MSN nurse educators, who may oversee health and wellness programs, staff development, nursing curriculum, community-based training and awareness efforts, or a nurse education team.

MSN graduates in this field can earn their Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) credential as well. The CNE can help RNs qualify for a wider scope of job opportunities in nursing education, and can also lead to a promotion or pay raise.

Online MSN programs in nursing education allow busy RNs to transition to this field without sacrificing their full-time job, salary or benefits to go back to school. If you're ready to make a change, accelerated online courses can help you begin an instructional career faster than you might expect. Follow the links below to learn more about this nursing specialty.

What Is a Master of Science in Nursing?

The Master of Science in Nursing is a graduate degree for RNs who want to go into advanced practice or nursing education. An MSN is required to become a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwife or nurse educator.

If your primary goal is to teach, an MSN degree focused on nursing education will prepare you to work as an instructor in a broad range of healthcare and academic settings. is for RNs who are ready to move into areas such as clinical instruction, college teaching and patient education. The degree can also help you expand your nursing practice, if you're interested in a corporate wellness or public health career, or even your own healthcare training business.

Dr. Michelle Teschendorf, Assistant Professor, NKU online MSN – Nursing Education program
It seems nurses 'take care' of patients, but the reality is that we do far more teaching…. Nurses are always teaching patients, new staff or other professionals.
Dr. Gannon Tagher, Chief Nurse Administrator and Associate Dean of the College of Health and Human Services
Our biggest job as nurse educators is finding a way to help the student understand what they're learning so they can apply it in whatever nursing role that they are in. Then they can use their judgment to improve patient outcomes.
Dr. Gannon Tagher, Chief Nurse Administrator and Associate Dean of the College of Health and Human Services

What Will I Learn In an MSN in Nursing Education Program?

learn instructional techniques, learning theory, teaching models

You will learn instructional techniques for working with all types of patients and their families. You'll also study learning theory, teaching models and nursing curriculum. Over time, MSN students develop the comprehensive skill set required to handle any type of educational situation, from one-to-one and group training, to vocational, college and university teaching.

As you complete your MSN studies, you'll also learn through direct practice experience. You will explore ideas, try out different instructional strategies, and receive the constructive feedback required to improve your skills. This final phase of your MSN program is also important because of what you learn about teaching from your students, based on their response and progress.

Colleen Williams, 2016 NKU online MSN – Nursing Education Concentration graduate, Magnet Program director and clinical educator at The Jewish Hospital-Mercy Health in Cincinnati, Ohio.jpg
Nursing is about the patient, and as nurses, we have responsibility to make sure we are providing the best care and sometimes that means questioning why we do what we do.
Dr. Marybeth Baribeau, NKU online MSN – Nursing Education Concentration Coordinator
Nurses tend to use a lot of abbreviations. That can be a [teaching] problem because if you say 'MI' to a cardiac nurse, someone's having a heart attack. But if you say 'MI' to somebody in obstetrics, that means that the patient's water hasn't broken and it's good, it's no emergency…. You have to use the right language for your audience.
Dr. Marybeth Baribeau, NKU online MSN – Nursing Education Concentration Coordinator

What Types of Courses Will I Take in a Nursing Education Master's Program?

Your MSN coursework will focus on areas of advanced-practice nursing such as patient assessment, as well as nursing pedagogy — the science and practice of teaching.

At NKU, online MSN students in the Nursing Education Concentration complete for the degree. You'll study core subjects such as nursing theory and research, health data analysis and population health. You'll also learn about healthcare policy and finance.

Concentration courses include:

Students in the NKU online MSN in nursing education program take core and concentration courses
  • Pathopharmacology for Nurse Educators
  • Physical Assessment for Nurse Educators*
  • Teaching and Learning in Healthcare Education
  • Assessment and Evaluation of the Healthcare Learner
  • Curriculum Development and Evaluation for Healthcare Programs
  • Role of the Healthcare Educator
  • Nurse Educator Capstone*

*Additional clinical or project hours required. See Practice Experience Requirements for further information.

Colleen Williams, 2016 NKU online MSN – Nursing Education Concentration graduate, Magnet Program director and clinical educator at The Jewish Hospital-Mercy Health in Cincinnati, Ohio.jpg
There is a lot of good information that you put to use in your practice every day.
Dr. Michelle Teschendorf, Assistant Professor, NKU online MSN – Nursing Education program
Technology is allowing us to know more about the body and disease processes. This has led to new drugs and treatments. It has also increased our longevity and patients' acuity. Healthcare professionals need to stay current. They should always be learning.
Dr. Michelle Teschendorf, Assistant Professor, NKU online MSN – Nursing Education program

Do Online Degree Programs Give Nurse Educators the Job Skills and Competencies Employers Seek?

Gain job skills and competencies in an online MSN program

Yes. Online MSN programs can offer students the same rigorous course of study and relevant practice experience that on-campus programs provide. As long as your online school or degree program is accredited, your education should meet current professional standards in the field.

Healthcare is one of the key industries driving higher education's digital evolution, due to the high demand for online and MSN programs. Nurses are earning degrees online in record numbers, and many employers provide MSN tuition reimbursement for RNs studying at accredited online colleges and universities.

Are Online Nursing Programs Accredited?

Many online MSN programs are accredited, but important to know for sure before you enroll. Look for accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA).

All of NKU's MSN programs are CCNE-accredited. The university is also regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

All of NKU's MSN programs are CCNE-accredited. The university is also regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Why Does MSN Program Accreditation Matter?

Accreditation is important to nursing schools, and employers that hire their graduates, because it is a mark of program quality and stability. It also signifies that nursing education students are getting the right preparation and experience for their new role. MSN programs must meet high standards to earn their initial accreditation, and maintain them to qualify for each subsequent renewal.

The accreditation process involves a comprehensive program evaluation. Reviewers take the time to examine many different areas of operations, including policies and finances, teaching methods, professor and administrator credentials, resource allocation, student graduation rates, professional examination pass rates, and more.

Spotlight: How Accreditation Benefits Nursing Students

Accreditation represents more than just a vote of confidence in your nursing program. Accreditors can detect and address a host of issues that could have a negative impact on students. Here are three distinct aspects of program accreditation that benefit you as a nursing student.

Spotlight: How Accreditation Benefits Nursing Students

Accreditation helps protect you from fraud and exploitation. Unfortunately, you don't have to look far to find examples of unaccredited schools and programs that aren't operating in their students' best interest. In 2019 alone, The Washington Post reported that 48 states, including Kentucky, Illinois, settled a massive lawsuit against a nationwide for-profit college network over deceptive recruiting and enrollment practices. According to Forbes, the suit also addressed bait-and-switch financial aid tactics that hurt healthcare students in particular, leaving them with high student loan debt for unaccredited degrees.

Accreditation gives you access to financial aid and tuition assistance. Many of the hardships associated with attending an unaccredited school or degree program hit students in the pocketbook first. Accreditation is required before students can apply for state and federal financial aid, or use military education benefits to pay for a degree. Government student loan repayment programs and loan forgiveness programs for nurses carry the same requirement, and most healthcare employers will also confirm your nursing program's accreditation status before approving tuition reimbursement.

Accreditation helps you get a job, and move up in your career. Whether you are working on a promotion or a career change, choosing an accredited degree program reflects positively on you. The hard truth is that many healthcare and academic employers are skeptical of MSN RNs with a degree from an unaccredited nursing program. Recruiters hiring for positions with a high level of responsibility, or that require advanced skills and expertise, need to be confident that your degree meets accreditors' high standards, and that you will operate in a safe and professional manner on the job.

What's the Application Process for Nursing Education MSN Programs?

Most master's programs in nursing education require a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university. Some programs will accept RNs with other types of bachelor degrees, provided they complete any clinical prerequisites they are missing. Your RN license must also be active and unencumbered, and you must submit official transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended.

Beyond these basic requirements, each school has specific standards applicants must meet regarding their GPA and years of nursing experience. You may also have to submit GRE or MAT scores, a personal essay, or letters of reference from supervisors or past professors.

No GRE required for NKU online MSN programs

NKU waives the MSN application fee for alumni, active military and veterans. RNs applying to study nursing education must have an active license and a BSN from a degree program accredited by ACEN, CCNE or CNEA. A GPA of 3.0 and 1,000 hours of work experience as an RN are also required, along with an undergraduate course in statistics (grade of C or better). NKU online MSN applicants do not have to take the GRE or MAT.

See the program's full for further information, including options for RNs who hold a bachelor's degree in a different academic discipline.

Learn more about our MSN in Nursing Education online program

Why Do I Need Statistics for a Nursing Education Degree?

Students without bachelor's-level knowledge in statistics may not be prepared for advanced coursework in research and evidence-based practice, each of which is fundamental to the nurse educator's role.

Some graduate nursing programs will conditionally admit MSN students who have not taken a statistics course, with the stipulation that they pass the class prior to enrolling in research courses. Other programs require RNs to take statistics and provide proof of a passing grade prior to admission. Check with programs you're considering for their policy. NKU MSN applicants must have completed and passed an undergraduate statistics course with a grade of C or better prior to admittance.

A statistics course is often a requirement for an MSN in Nursing Education program

Is Practice Experience Required for MSN Nurse Educators?

MSN Nursing Education programs do require clinicals

Yes. Nursing education master's students are required to complete practice experience hours just as MSN students in other advanced nursing specialties do. Each MSN program has its own structure for those hours, however. The practice requirement and its teaching pedagogy may be associated with a practicum, an internship, or a capstone project, for example. It may also be spread over multiple courses.

Regardless of the format, this element of your MSN degree program will give you experience working directly with different populations of learners. Students in NKU's MSN – Nursing Education Concentration receive practice experience in two courses that address different aspects of the role.

  • MSN 614L: Physical Assessment for Nurse Educators is a precepted clinical practicum. Students spend 50 hours learning and practicing advanced assessment techniques under the supervision of a professional nurse educator. They work with actual patients in a healthcare setting, recording a detailed health history and creating an education plan for each. Students also keep a journal during the experience and receive feedback from their preceptor and RN peers.
  • In MSN670L: Nurse Educator Capstone, students design and implement a nursing education project that addresses a specific issue and audience. The project requires 150 hours of scholarly research and precepted instructional time. Students may complete their practice experience in a healthcare, academic or community setting.

Who Arranges My Clinical Placement?

Choose your practice experience

Most online MSN students get to choose their own practice experience. You can pick a convenient site in your community or one nearby in your local region. You might even be able to shadow a nurse educator in your current workplace or complete a project there. Keep in mind that your MSN program must approve any arrangement you make, as well as the preceptor you choose.

Students in NKU's online MSN – Nursing Education Concentration program arrange their own clinical assessment and capstone placements. Faculty members are available to advise students on project development, preceptor and site selection, and other aspects of the experience as needed.

What's the Best Type of Placement For a Nurse Educator?

The ideal placement is anywhere you can put the advanced knowledge and skills you are learning to work, and gain firsthand experience dealing with health issues that nursing education is designed to address. Here are some examples of potential practice experience sites and projects for MSN nursing education students:

Example MSN nurse educator clinical placements
  • Rehabilitation planning for cardiac or stroke unit patients
  • Handwashing and infection control education for elementary school students
  • Homeless outreach project providing free health screenings or resources
  • Blood sugar testing and education at a rural clinic seeing high numbers of patients with uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes
  • Nutrition education for senior citizens and their family members at a local community center
  • Breast cancer awareness campaign at a university women's center
  • Public health fair project coordinated with city or county government

NKU students may also choose a placement where they can gain academic teaching experience as part of their capstone project.

Colleen Williams, 2016 NKU online MSN – Nursing Education Concentration graduate, Magnet Program director and clinical educator at The Jewish Hospital-Mercy Health in Cincinnati, Ohio
I actually got to teach a course in a college setting for one of my practicums.… That was a really good experience.
Dr. Marybeth Baribeau, NKU online MSN – Nursing Education Concentration Coordinator
One student worked in a sim lab and wrote a simulation for hospice…. It's still being used.
Dr. Marybeth Baribeau, NKU online MSN – Nursing Education Concentration Coordinator

What Is the Certified Nurse Educator Credential?

CNE Exam by National League for Nursing

It's a professional credential available to MSN RNs who specialize in nursing education. It is awarded by the National League for Nursing, after a candidate passes the CNE Exam.

RNs who hold the CNE credential are recognized for their ability to facilitate learning, whether working with patients or their nursing peers. CNEs are also distinguished by the expertise they demonstrate in curriculum design and teaching, as well as student assessment, program evaluation and quality improvement.

Are Nurse Educators Expected to Have a CNE?

Many employers strongly prefer nurse educators who hold this credential, though it's not required for all positions. If you're considering an MSN degree but on the fence about taking the CNE exam, ask yourself two key questions: Whether you can earn more with a CNE, and how far you can climb in your career without it.

The answers will depend on the area of nursing education you plan to enter, but if your career plans include working in hospital education or public health, the time you invest in earning your CNE is likely to pay off. For many RNs, having a CNE opens the door to better jobs and career options.

What's on the CNE Exam?

The CNE Exam is a 150-question test

The exam features 150 questions total, which includes 130 scored items and 20 sample questions that may appear on a future exam. Test takers will not know the difference, however, and should treat all questions as potential scored items. The National League for Nursing's CNE Candidate Handbook and FAQ provide additional detail about the exam.

What's the Minimum CNE Exam Score?

You will receive a simple pass or fail on the exam; there is no published minimum score. This is because the results are based on several factors that will vary by individual test takers.

For example, NLN administers more than one version of the CNE exam. Raw scores reflect the number of correct answers out of the number of questions attempted, rather than the total number of questions available. The final score also reflects scaling based on statistical methods that can deliver the most accurate result for all test takers.

How Often Do CNEs Have to Recertify?

Every five years, CNEs must recertify in one of two ways. You can take and pass the latest version of the CNE exam, or present other evidence of your ongoing competency and expertise as a nurse educator. Visit NLN to learn more about the recertification process, along with additional requirements.

Learn more about our MSN in Nursing Education online program

What Is the Career Outlook for Nurse Educators?

Labor market analysis from Burning Glass Technologies indicates the career outlook for nurse educators will be promising in the decade ahead. Burning Glass expects solid growth in the primary occupational categories that encompass nursing education, noted below.

National Salaries and Job Growth

Occupational Category Average National Salary¹ Growth Projected Through 2028²
Clinical Nurse Educator $72,714 15%
Nursing Professor/Instructor $79,927 24%

Midwest Salaries

State Clinical Nurse Educator¹ Nursing Professor/Instructor¹
Ohio $86,989 $69,698
Kentucky $87,523 $70,126
Michigan $82,138 $65,811
Indiana $86,558 $69,353
Wisconsin $86,030 $68,930
Illinois $81,945 $65,656

¹ ZipRecruiter, February 2020

² Burning Glass Technologies, November 2019

Where Do Nurse Educators Work?

A nursing education master's degree can prepare you for a range of instructional roles, whether your interest is working with patients, peers or members of your local community. Here are some of the settings where you'll find nurse educators on the job:

Nurse educators work in hospitals, colleges and health departments
  • Hospitals, clinics, treatment centers and physician's offices
  • Colleges and universities
  • Diploma programs and vocational nursing schools
  • City, county and state health departments
  • Nonprofit organizations and community health programs
  • Corporate health and wellness programs
  • Insurance companies

Nurse educators work in healthcare consulting as well, and as traveling trainers. Some also become nurse entrepreneurs and start their own education business.

When I started nursing, I would have never pictured myself where I am right now.

How Much Do Nurse Educators Make?

Many MSN graduates in nursing education see an increase in salary, due to the new career options they enjoy. Whether you want to transition to an instructional role after years of experience at the bedside, or work with patients and their families in an educational capacity, a master's degree can help you earn more. The table below features sample compensation rates for MSN nurse educators working in a hospital or healthcare setting.

Position Average Salary
Oncology Nurse Educator $94,289
Clinical Nurse Educator $93,629
Corporate Wellness Director $86,206
Education Project Manager, Healthcare and Hospitals $84,392
Diabetes Educator $80,913
Online Nurse Educator $80,396
Lactation Consultant $77,186

Sources: ZipRecruiter and Glassdoor, November 2019

Should I Consider a College Teaching Job?

If you are interested in preparing future generations of nurses for the profession, or helping experienced RNs move up the clinical ladder, academic teaching may be a great fit for you.

Many nurse educators maintain a healthcare career and teach part time as contingent or adjunct faculty members

Many nurse educators maintain a healthcare career and teach part time as contingent or adjunct faculty members. These positions are available at most vocational programs and community colleges, as well as nursing programs at four-year colleges and universities.

A nationwide faculty shortage is also driving high demand for nurse educators interested in teaching at the college level full time, providing plenty of opportunity for MSN graduates. You can pursue careers in college nursing program administration as well, working with a wide range of bachelor's and graduate students.

Academic nurse educators have to understand that every student has their own story and not every student learns the same. So it's really important to be flexible and adaptable, while still holding the rigor that we need in our nursing programs.
Dr. Gannon Tagher, Chief Nurse Administrator and Associate Dean of the College of Health and Human Services

Why Is There a Nursing Faculty Shortage?

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, there are simply not enough RNs teaching at the college level after earning their master's or doctoral degree. The journal Nursing Outlook also projects that more than a third of active nursing faculty members who have taught in recent years will retire by 2027.

The faculty shortage affects students pursuing many different areas of nursing. AACN notes that 75,029 qualified applicants were denied admission to bachelor's and graduate nursing programs during the 2018-2019 school year due to lack of professors, preceptors and other clinical resources.

Spotlight: The Nursing Faculty Job Market

MSN graduates who begin their academic teaching career in the Midwest can take advantage of a hot faculty job market. Burning Glass Technologies projects robust employment growth for nursing professors and instructors in the following states through 2028:

  • Michigan 23%
  • Kentucky and Indiana 22%
  • Ohio 21%
  • Wisconsin 19%
  • Illinois 15%

However, many academic employers in these states are already experiencing a higher demand for nursing faculty than the pool of available nurse educators can meet. Burning Glass recruiting data from November 2019 reveals the depth of this talent gap: It's 11 times more difficult to staff open nursing professor and instructor positions in the Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, Kentucky metro area than it is in Cincinnati, Ohio, just two hours away. The illustration below shows the scope of the problem in cities across the region.

 Above Average Demand For Nursing Faculty: Percentage by Metro Area

In addition, PBS News Hour has reported a troubling faculty shortage in rural college and vocational nursing programs, including many that serve communities already struggling to attract qualified RNs. States such as Kentucky – where 41% of the population lives in a rural community – offer many types of instructional opportunities for MSN graduates.

Another benefit of teaching in non-metro areas, and in online programs, is that your work ultimately helps provide citizens across your state with better access to healthcare. The teaching and mentoring you do with new RNs – and those who are upgrading or diversifying their skills – can have an immediate impact in local communities.

What Do Nursing Professors Make?

Nursing faculty jobs are plentiful, but compensation in higher education and vocational teaching will vary by school and location. Salaries are most often tied to academic rank or instructional classification – and annual nursing program budgets – rather than competitive factors such as market supply and demand. RNs new to college teaching may also find they need to gain experience before they can climb the faculty career ladder and earn the highest pay.

Here are some average college teaching salaries by academic rank:

Rank/Job Title Average Annual Salary
Full Professor $136,506
Associate Professor $93,133
Assistant Professor $80,289
Instructor $63,931

Source: American Association of University Professors (2019)

Contingent/adjunct faculty members are usually paid a flat rate for each course they teach. Their compensation can range from $2,000-$5,000 per course, depending on the program and institution in question.

What's the Total Cost for a Nursing Education Master's Degree Online?

The average tuition cost of an online nursing education degree is $632.75 per credit, which is comparable to MSN degrees in other advanced practice areas of nursing. The total cost is also impacted by the number of hours your program requires, however. A typical 38-hour MSN program in nursing education averages $24,044 in tuition, before fees.

When comparing programs, consider the number of credit hours required to graduate as well. As the table below illustrates, the amount of time you spend completing an MSN program can be as big a factor in the true cost of your degree as the per-credit tuition rate.

Online MSN Program in Nursing Education Credit Hours Required Tuition & Fees
University of Detroit-Mercy 39 $32,760
Walsh University 42 $29,610
Saint Xavier University 38 $28,500
Benedictine University 39 $26,130
Chamberlain University 36 $25,920
Northern Kentucky University 33 $18,712

Source: University websites (published costs for 2019-2020)

Do Online Students Pay In-State or Out-of-State Tuition?

NKU online MSN students do not have to pay out-of-state tuition or fees

It depends on the MSN program you choose. Some do charge out-of-state students a higher tuition rate, even if they're studying online, but this practice is not standard. You'll find many colleges and universities take a more evenhanded approach, and charge the same rate for all online students.

Every MSN student in NKU's online Nursing Education Concentration pays the same tuition, whether or not they happen to live in Kentucky.

Are Online Students Eligible for Financial Aid?

You can receive financial aid as an online student, and eligibility standards are no different than for on-campus students. Just fill out your FAFSA application online, and your school will determine the amount of aid for which you qualify.

Online students are eligible for financial aid

Grants, scholarships and loans are all options, based on your income and other criteria. NKU participates in the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration's Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP), and nursing students may also receive assistance from HRSA's Nurse Corps Scholarship Program. AACN offers good advice and resources for RNs seeking their nursing education master's degree as well.

Many RNs can find funding at the state level too. For example, the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Ohio Nurses Foundation both have direct financial assistance programs for nursing students. Kentucky and a host of other states do as well.

Will the Military Pay for an Online Nursing Education Degree?

Your school must be accredited to qualify for military education benefits

As long as your MSN program is accredited, you should be able to use your military education benefits to pay for an online degree program in nursing education. Check with your branch of the military or the veterans' service office at your prospective school for further information. Specific funding programs include the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Montgomery GI Bill.

You may also be able to use Yellow Ribbon Program funds to bridge the gap between your current benefits and the cost of your education or transfer some of your benefits to pay for a family member's education.

Do Nurse Educators Qualify for Student Loan Assistance After Graduation?

Yes, as long as you meet eligibility requirements for the program in question. You can apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness through the U.S. Department of Education, or specific HRSA programs for RNs such as the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program or Faculty Loan Repayment Program.

Many state governments offer loan repayment assistance for nurse educators as well. Agencies with programs for MSN RN graduates living and working in the Midwest include the Kentucky Office of Rural Health and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

Is It Possible to Go to Graduate School and Still Work Full Time?

Continue to work while going to school with online education

Yes, and many RNs do. Working while earning your MSN can be challenging, but online courses are student friendly. You won't have to reorganize your life to attend class. The weekly learning modules feature readings and assignments that can be completed on your schedule, regardless of the shift you work. Whether you prefer studying in concentrated blocks of time when you're off, or smaller increments through the week, the choice is always yours.

There may also be advantages to pairing school and work. Many MSN students enjoy being able to apply the concepts they are learning on the job, even before they graduate. Studying with professors who are seasoned RNs and sharing new insights with colleagues also enriches the experience for many nursing students. Once you settle into the routine of graduate school online, you'll likely find it easier to plan study time around your job, family life and other priorities.

Dr. Gannon Tagher, NKU Associate Dean of the College of Health and Human Services
Some of our faculty that teach in the nurse educator track are graduates of our nursing educator MSN. So they've been through the program and have been a full-time working student. They understand the needs of [students] at the MSN level.

How Much Study Time Will Graduate Nursing Education Courses Require?

Plan for 12-15 study hours per week per course

At the beginning of a new course, give yourself more time to study than you think you'll need. This will ensure that you can finish readings, discussion board posts, quizzes or assignments without straining to meet deadlines. About 12-15 hours per week is a good place to start, though you may find you need less time once you get acclimated.

Even if your weekly learning module is more complex, and includes a collaborative project or research paper that's due, you'll always know in advance. Simply keep up with the assignment list in the course syllabus and adjust your study time as needed to accommodate the extra work.

Dr. Michelle Teschendorf, Assistant Professor, NKU online MSN – Nursing Education program
While you will not be going to class, it is very important to make time to do your coursework. At the beginning of each course, become familiar with the syllabus and schedule. Know when you will have assignments due and begin your work as soon as possible.
Dr. Adrianne Lane, Professor, NKU online MSN – Nursing Education program
Develop a schedule and stay on track. Stay in contact with your faculty. Your faculty want you to be successful.
Dr. Adrianne Lane, Professor, NKU online MSN – Nursing Education program

Can I Earn My MSN Faster If I Study Online?

NKU online year MSN in Nursing Education online

With an accelerated online MSN degree, the answer is usually yes. This type of master's program features shorter and more intensive courses, lasting from five to eight weeks. You can move through degree requirements at a more rapid pace, and often graduate in less time than you might spend on a traditional MSN in nursing education, especially one on campus.

NKU's online MSN-Nursing Education Concentration is streamlined for busy RNs. Motivated students can complete the 33 credit hours required in as few as 12 months.

Do I Have to Enroll Each Term or Can I Take Time Off?

With an online MSN degree program, the choice is yours. While all nursing education master's programs do encourage students to maintain a steady rate of progress toward their degree, you don't have to enroll in online courses every term. If you decide to take some time off due to work or family obligations, or you have an emergency, just speak with your graduate advisor or program coordinator.

Are Online Nursing Education Courses Easy to Navigate?

Online courses are easy to navigate

Yes. In online courses, each element is digital, organized and ready to use. You'll never have to keep track of a bunch of papers or remember to ask your professor for handouts you may have missed.

When you log into your online student portal and open a course for the first time, you'll notice that the syllabus, readings, schedule and assignment guidelines are just a click away. You'll also submit papers and projects there with a simple upload. You can even view your grades online, as well as feedback from your professor.

Can I Talk With My Professor in Real Time or Just Through Email?

Online nursing professors work with students in a variety of ways. In addition to email, many professors are available for live chat sessions or online meetings. Some are also open to questions via phone or text. Most professors will outline their communication policies at the beginning of the course, along with their preferred method of contact.

Whenever you have questions or just want to discuss your progress, don't hesitate to check in with your instructors. Nursing professors understand that RNs can face unique challenges as they balance work and school responsibilities, and they try to be flexible in their communications with students. Most will respond back in 24-48 hours.

 Dr. Denise Robinson, Regents Professor, NKU online MSN – Nursing Education Concentration
This program has a long history of providing online coursework access for students…. Faculty and staff support them in the educational process by being available and serving as advocates for them.
Dr. Marybeth Baribeau, NKU online MSN – Nursing Education Concentration Coordinator
Students text me, call me, we work together. NKU is very student-oriented.
Dr. Marybeth Baribeau, NKU online MSN – Nursing Education Concentration Coordinator

Will I Meet My Online MSN Cohort or Know My Classmates?

Yes! In fact, your classmates can play an important role in your master's education. Here are three ways you can interact with fellow RNs in online courses:

Communicate with students online even across state lines
  • Discussion board conversations. Dialogue and debate is an essential part of learning online, just as it is in the physical classroom. When you post to the class discussion board and respond to others, the exchange of ideas and experiences can enrich your studies.
  • Collaborative projects. Working with other students online is a good opportunity to share your expertise, and to learn from others as you complete the task at hand. Group research assignments and presentations often give you the chance to meet RN peers in other states or to learn about different areas of nursing.
  • Online chats and study sessions. You can talk to classmates via email, phone, text or by using webcam-based apps such as Skype, Zoom or Facetime. Some students also form online study groups, and even network with classmates during their job search.

Given the number of ways students can work together and share the experience of graduate school in an online MSN program, it's not surprising that many RNs form lasting bonds with members of their cohort, and stay in touch after graduation.

Will I Need Special Software or a Computer Upgrade for Online Courses?

It depends on your technology setup, and the course management system (CMS) your school uses to conduct online classes. For instance, NKU's Canvas CMS will run on any Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android device, or a web browser equipped with Adobe Flash and JavaScript. These types of requirements are common at many schools with online degree programs.

technology requirements for online study

Your computer's age and functionality is also important, since some MSN programs require students to use specific software to complete assignments. The Microsoft Office suite of Word, Excel and PowerPoint is one example (and many schools provide free access to a student version), but individual professors may also allow work to be submitted in compatible formats, such as Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.

Whatever your preference, a reliable internet connection is a must for streaming video and audio, uploading and downloading files, and navigating various forms of online communication. For many students, the right combination of devices works just as well as a new computer, considering the fact that some learning tasks – such as reading, discussion posts, or checking your grades – can be handled using a tablet or phone as well.

Is Tech Support Available to Online MSN Students?

Tech support available to online students

Yes. Most colleges and universities with online degree programs offer resources for students when technology issues arise. The type of support and available hours will vary, but there is usually a student IT helpdesk at minimum, often paired with online tutorials and other self-service resources.

NKU provides comprehensive tech support to online MSN students in nursing education, via chat, phone and email. Students visiting the campus or living in the region can also receive walk-in assistance with computer issues at the Norse Tech Bar, even if they study 100% online.

What Type of Student Services Are Available If I Study Online?

Online students often have access to some of the same student services and resources that on-campus students enjoy, such as digital library access or help processing military benefits. Always check with prospective MSN programs to confirm available services, however.

At NKU, graduate nursing students regularly receive online support from staff at the campus Writing Center (including tutoring services), the Veterans Resource Station, and the W. Frank Steely Library.

Why Should I Study Online at NKU?

The innovative online degree programs in Northern Kentucky University's School of Nursing have earned a strong reputation for quality in the Midwest region and beyond.

Forbes has named NKU one of America's Top Colleges for 2019, an honor the school has now received for 11 years running. The magazine notes that NKU is one of the fastest-growing universities in the state of Kentucky.

In addition, NKU has been designated a 2020 Military Friendly® School by VIQTORY media and was named a Military Times "Best for Vets College" among four-year institutions in 2019.

Learn more about our MSN in Nursing Education online program!


Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)

American Association of Colleges of Nursing:
Nursing Faculty Shortage
Special Survey on Vacant Faculty Positions for Academic Year 2019-2020
Funding Resources for Future Nurse Educators

American Association of University Professors: 2018-19 Faculty Compensation Survey Results

Burning Glass Technologies, 2019

Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Diabetes Educator Salaries
Education Project Manager Salaries

Why This For-Profit College Will Cancel $500 Million of Student Loans
America's Top Colleges 2019

Illinois Student Assistance Commission: Nurse Educator Loan Repayment Program

Kentucky Board of Nursing: Nursing Incentive Scholarship Fund (NISF)

Kentucky Office of Rural Health: Kentucky State Loan Repayment Program Guidelines and Instructions

Military Times: Best for Vets Colleges 2019

National League for Nursing:
Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) 2019 Candidate Handbook
Certification for Nurse Educators FAQ
Requirements for Maintaining Your CNE
Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA)

Nursing Outlook: Retirements and Succession of Nursing Faculty in 2016–2025

Ohio Higher Ed: Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program (NEALP)

Ohio Nurses Foundation: Scholarships and Grants

PBS News Hour: The Lack of Faculty Is Going to Kill Our Rural Schools

Rural Health Information Hub: Kentucky

Seattle Times: These Students Borrowed $35K Plus for an Unaccredited Program That Closed. Years Later, Their Debts Remain.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2018: Nursing Instructors and Teachers - Postsecondary

U.S. Department of Education:
Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (DAPIP)
FAFSA: Apply for Aid
Federal Student Aid: Eligibility Criteria

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:
Education and Training
Yellow Ribbon Program

U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration:
Nurse Corps Scholarship Program
Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program
Nurse Faculty Loan Program
Faculty Loan Repayment Program

U.S. News and World Report: Northern Kentucky University Online Programs

VIQTORY Media: Military Friendly Schools

The Washington Post: For Profit Colleges Chain to Forgive $556 Million in Student Debts

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