two nurse administrators having a conversation

Graduate Certificate inNurse Administrator

Program summary

Expand your knowledge of the business of health care, with topics including health care economics, fiscal planning, and data management. This online certificate program can provide you with the decision-making and problem-solving strategies necessary for a role in nursing administration.

Application deadline

Apply by June 30 to start August 26

Credits and costs

9 Credits$1,017 per credit

As medical conditions become increasingly complex across our population, nurses will continue to be an integral part of the overall care of patients. However, nurses with the ability to lead and manage people, and who also possess the knowledge of how to improve the business processes in a hospital or health system, will be in high demand.

With the completely online format of this 9-credit graduate certificate, you don't need to put your life on hold to continue your nursing education. This certificate supports the unique needs of working adults like you, who are juggling full-time jobs, families, and other commitments.

The flexible learning format is combined with a highly relevant, dynamic curriculum taught by respected faculty from Penn State's Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing. The courses will cover important concepts such as health care economics and policy; nurse leadership roles, concepts, and theories; and human resources in health care organizations. As you progress through the courses, you'll gain new skills and knowledge of best practices that you can apply immediately in your current work environment to help improve your health care organization's effectiveness.

And, most importantly, you're never alone as a student in Penn State's online nursing programs. Our online campus connects you with highly regarded faculty from the Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing, fellow students, caring advisers, and other experts who will support you during every step of your education.

Who Should Apply?

The graduate certificate in nurse administration is ideal for you if you are a currently licensed registered nurse with a bachelor's degree in nursing who wants to obtain advanced administrative skills to prepare for more challenging — and possibly higher-paying — positions. This certificate program can also be beneficial for you if you already have your master's degree but are looking to specialize in the administration field, where your strong background in nursing can make an even bigger difference for a wider range of patients.

Information for Military and Veterans

Are you a member of the military, a veteran, or a military spouse? Please visit our military website for additional information regarding financial aid, transfer credits, or application instructions.

Online Education at Penn State

Penn State has a history of 100+ years of distance education and more than two decades of experience in online learning. We create an online learning environment that offers you the same quality education our residential students experience in a face-to-face setting. Learn more about Penn State World Campus.


The Graduate Certificate in Nurse Administrator requires successful completion of three 3-credit graduate-level nursing administrator courses. The program also includes an optional 4-credit practicum course designed to give you the opportunity to apply the knowledge you gained in the three required courses.

Courses in the 9-credit certificate can help prepare you for nurse administrator roles by covering main topics including:

  • health care economics and policy 
  • nurse leadership roles, concepts, and theories
  • human resources in health care organizations

In addition to the certificate being an excellent stand-alone credential, all of the required courses in the Graduate Certificate in Nurse Administrator can be applied toward the requirements for the Nurse Administrator option of the Master of Science in Nursing degree also offered online through Penn State's World Campus.

Required Courses (9 credits)

  • 3

    Concepts of health care economics and policy for nurse administrators.

  • 3

    This course provides a foundation in nurse leadership roles, concepts, and theories. Students will explore the theoretical basis of leadership and change, as well as analyze organizational structure, power, and politics. This course is intended to provide students with a theoretical and evidence-based foundation for leadership roles in health care organizations. Discussion of communication, decision-making, and problem-solving strategies for nurse administrators is included throughout the course.

  • 3

    This course provides a foundation in human resources within health care organizations. Students will examine ethical and legal issues related to collective bargaining, unions, and staffing. This course is intended to prepare students to utilize leadership strategies for recruiting, retaining, developing, and evaluating a diverse, multidisciplinary workforce in complex health care environments. Discussion of evidence-based strategies for conflict resolution will be included throughout the course.

Optional Course (4 credits)

  • 4

    This course involves the practical application of knowledge acquired in previously completed courses related to nurse administration. Students will work with a preceptor in a health care setting to demonstrate multiple aspects of the nurse administrator role. The practicum experience will be developed to fulfill mutually agreed-upon objectives based on students' previous experiences and identified learning needs.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Costs and Financial Aid

Graduate Tuition

Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,017 per credit
12 or more$12,203 per semester

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,027 per credit
12 or more$12,325 per semester

Paying for Your Certificate

Students pursuing a certificate are considered "nondegree," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. A private alternative loan may be an option to consider.

Additionally, Penn State offers many ways to pay for your education, including an installment plan and third-party payments. Penn State World Campus also offers an Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Plan. Learn more about the options for paying for your education.

Students pursuing a degree and meeting all other eligibility requirements may qualify for financial aid.

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

To view the detailed list of cost of attendance elements, select “World Campus” as the location on the tuition site.

How to Apply

Deadlines and Important Dates

Your certificate application, including receipt of all transcripts, must be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete.

  • Fall DeadlineApply by June 30 to start August 26
  • Spring DeadlineApply by October 1 to start January 13
  • Summer DeadlineApply by March 1, 2025, to start May 19, 2025

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, contact our admissions counselors.

Admission Requirements

For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must have a current license to practice professional nursing in the United States or a foreign country and hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree in nursing from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.

What You Need

Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:

Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State, but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.

GPA and Test Scores — To be considered for admission to the certificate program, your undergraduate GPA must be 3.0 or greater and, if applicable, your graduate GPA must be 3.3 or greater.

English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

Start Your Application

You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.

Begin the graduate school application

  • Choose Enrollment Type: "Certificate Admission"
  • Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus
  • Choose "Nurse Administrator" as the certificate

Checking Your Status

You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form.

Technical Requirements 

Review the technical requirements for this certificate program.

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by June 30 to start August 26. How to Apply 

Start or Advance Your Career

A group of nurses sitting at a table together having a meeting

You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

Student having a virtual meeting on a laptop with a career counselor

From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

A Head Start toward a Master’s Degree

A figure standing halfway up a set of stairs leading towards a graduation cap

Not only can this program help create opportunities in your career, it can also give you a solid head start toward a full master’s degree.

Degree Program Related to This Certificate

When you have successfully completed our nurse administrator certificate program, you may apply the credits toward the following master's degree, if granted admission to enter the highly competitive program:

Prepare for nursing leadership or educational positions with the CCNE–accredited MSN program. This online master's degree program is designed for registered nurses who have bachelor’s degrees in nursing.

Learn more about the Master of Science in Nursing

Contact Us

World Campus Admissions Counselors
Phone: 814-863-5386
Email: [email protected]

Cody Hoffman
Student Enrollment Recruiter
Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 814-865-0865

To learn more about additional, highly respected nursing programs, visit The Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing website.


  • Rachel Allen, RN, PMHNP-BC

    • Degree
      Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
    • Degree
      MSN, University of Pennsylvania
    • Degree
      BSN, Thomas Jefferson University

    Dr. Rachel Allen is an assistant research professor and a family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, a National League for Nursing Jonas Scholar, and a fellow at the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on psychiatric nursing, nursing history, mental health policy, and the broad social history of deinstitutionalization. Dr. Allen's research contains both a chronic illness and community focus, centering on individuals living with serious and persistent mental illness.

  • Cara Exten, PH.D., MPH, B.S.

    • Degree
      Ph.D., The Ohio State University
    • Degree
      MPH, Emory University
    • Degree
      B.S., East Tennessee State University

    Dr. Cara Exten is an assistant teaching professor for the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing. She is an infectious disease epidemiologist, focusing on health disparities affecting sexual and gender minority populations, with an emphasis on sexual health (specifically HIV and other sexually transmitted infections) and substance use. She has extensive experience in survey data collection, data analysis, and working with high-risk populations, and she is passionate about the examination of diseases in their entirety, including biological, sociological, and epidemiological factors.

  • Donna M. Fick, RN, FGSA, FAAN

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Nursing Science/Geriatrics, University of California-San Francisco
    • Degree
      MSN, Gerontological Nursing, University of Cincinnati
    • Degree
      BSN, Nursing Science, Berea College

    Dr. Donna M. Fick is the director of the Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence at Penn State. She is an instructor for a variety of graduate nursing courses. Dr. Fick's research interests include inappropriate medication use in older adults, recognition and management of delirium superimposed on dementia, and implementation of ultra-brief delirium screening in hospital settings.

  • Sandra Halbruner, DNP, CRNP, FNP-BC

    • Degree
      DNP, Wilkes University
    • Degree
      M.S., Penn State
    • Degree
      BSN, Johns Hopkins University
    • Degree
      B.S., Franklin & Marshall College

    Dr. Sandra Halbruner is an assistant teaching professor for the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing. She has more than 21 years of experience in the field of medicine. Her research interests include active learning techniques in the multi-site or online classroom.

  • Sharilee Hrabovsky, D.Ed.

    • Degree
      D.Ed., Adult Education, Penn State
    • Degree
      Post-master’s certification, Family Practice Nurse Practitioner, Widener University
    • Degree
      MSN, Villanova University
    • Degree
      BSN, Thomas Jefferson University

    Dr. Sharilee Hrabovsky is an assistant research professor with the  College of Nursing. She teaches online courses in the graduate school. She has been a practicing nurse for the last 36 years, 23 of them as a nurse practitioner, and has presented on tobacco use, treatment, and regulation research for the last eight years. She is a nationally certified tobacco treatment specialist and has worked with hundreds of tobacco users through clinical trials or direct patient care in their quest to reduce or quit tobacco use.

  • Susan Loeb, PH.D., RN, FGSA, FAAN

    • Degree
      DNP, Penn State
    • Degree
      MSN, Penn State
    • Degree
      BSN, Penn State

    Dr. Susan J. Loeb is a professor for the College of Nursing and the College of Medicine. She is a faculty affiliate at the Center for Health Care Policy and Research and Center for Healthy Aging. Her program of research focuses on the health needs and issues of older inmates with chronic health conditions, including those with advanced chronic illnesses who are approaching the end of life. Her research has been funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Nursing Research. Over the past two decades, Dr. Loeb has taught a wide array of courses across the nursing curriculum, from undergraduate through doctoral education. Most recently, her teaching has been in writing-focused courses, helping students develop their scholarly papers or dissertations. She also regularly teaches NURS 501: Issues in Nursing and Health Care.

  • Paul Logan, PH.D., CRNP, ACNP-BC

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Penn State
    • Degree
      MSN, University of Pennsylvania
    • Degree
      BSN, Messiah College

    Dr. Paul Logan is an assistant research professor for the College of Nursing. His research interests include outcomes, quality, and value in health care, particularly the quality of care provided by nurse practitioners. His clinical interests include acute care, critical care, and cardiovascular disease.

  • Sheri Matter, Ph.D., MSN, RN

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Leadership and Administration, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
    • Degree
      MSN, Wilmington University
    • Degree
      MBA, University of St. Francis
    • Degree
      MHA, University of St. Francis
    • Degree
      B.S., Nursing, Wilkes University

    Dr. Sheri Matter is the assistant dean of graduate professional programs and is an associate teaching professor in the College of Nursing. She has more than 30 years of nursing leadership, including as chief nursing executive of a multiple-hospital system. Dr. Matter's research for her dissertation focused on the nurse characteristics of a highly reliable organization.

  • Nicole Peterson, DNP, A/GPCNP-BC, CRNP, RN

    • Degree
      DNP, University of Iowa
    • Degree
      MSN, University of Iowa
    • Degree
      BSN, University of Iowa

    Dr. Nicole Peterson is an assistant teaching professor and emeritus associate professor of instruction at the University of Iowa. She has been an adult and gerontological primary care nurse practitioner since 2008, with clinical practice experience in long-term care, community care, home care, and primary care. This includes providing geriatric and primary care to the Meskwaki Nation community (Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa and their employees). She has teaching experience in undergraduate and graduate nursing, including master’s and doctorate levels, as well as serving as a geriatric nurse practitioner.

  • Andrea Yevchak Sillner, Ph.D., CNS, RN

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Nursing, Penn State
    • Degree
      M.S., Nursing, Penn State
    • Degree
      B.S., Nursing, Penn State

    Dr. Andrea Yevchak Sillner is an assistant research professor in the College of Nursing. She is also a board-certified gerontological clinical nurse specialist. Dr. Sillner's research interests are in improving transitions of care for older adults and their informal family caregivers by focusing on technology-assisted communication and preferences of care.

  • Kimberly Van Haitsma, PH.D.

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Bowling Green State University
    • Degree
      M.A., Clinical Psychology, Bowling Green State University
    • Degree
      B.A., Psychology, Calvin College

    Dr. Kimberly Van Haitsma's research interests include developing observational methodologies to assess behavior and emotion in dementia, developing evidence-based education programs to enhance the skills of formal caregivers, advancing the understanding of person-centered care — "knowing preferences for everyday living" — and developing measurement tools for research, clinical practice, and evidence-based interventions for formal caregivers.

  • Kelly Wolgast, RN, FACHE, FAAN

    • Degree
      DNP, University of Alabama
    • Degree
      M.S., Strategic Studies, U.S. Army War College
    • Degree
      MSN, Vanderbilt University
    • Degree
      BSN, Penn State

    Dr. Kelly Wolgast is the assistant dean for outreach and professional development and an associate teaching professor. She teaches both nurse administrator/management courses and nurse educator courses in Penn State's MSN and DNP programs. Her research interests include nurse leadership, health care delivery models, distance learning, and military/veterans' health.


Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by June 30 to start August 26. How to Apply