nursing students caring for a patient manikin while a doctor supervises

Graduate Certificate inNurse Educator

Program summary

Gain the skills you need to influence the success of the next generation of nurses. This online nurse educator certificate program can prepare you to meet the diverse needs of students in classroom, clinical, and online educational settings.

Application deadline

Apply by June 30 to start August 26

Credits and costs

9 Credits$1,017 per credit

As medical diagnoses and patient care become more complex, a serious nursing shortage could impact the quality of nursing staff in the United States. And, unfortunately, because there are fewer nurses with the background to teach prospective students, many nursing programs are forced to turn away qualified applicants.

Why a Certificate in Nurse Education from Penn State?

The 9-credit nurse educator graduate certificate can give you the opportunity to influence the success of the next generation of nurses and to make a positive difference in your community.

Offered in a partnership between Penn State World Campus and the highly respected Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing, the relevant curriculum is delivered in a convenient online format, covering such topics as:

  • nursing education theories and strategies
  • assessment and evaluation in nursing education
  • curriculum and program development in nursing education

Gain the skills you need to advance your career, without sacrificing your other responsibilities. Penn State World Campus understands that as a working adult, you need flexible and convenient learning options in order to continue to meet your professional and personal commitments. You can complete your course work at times and places that fit your life.

Who Should Apply?

If you are a currently licensed registered nurse with a bachelor's degree in nursing who wants to further develop your skills as a nurse educator, this graduate certificate could be for you. You might also be interested in this certificate program if you have already earned your master's degree in nursing in a specialized field and you want to learn effective teaching strategies in the classroom, and in clinical and online educational settings.

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 Educator requires successful completion of three 3-credit graduate-level nurse educator 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.

This certificate is designed as a "stand-alone" certificate or can serve as a "step up" to the Nurse Educator option in the Master of Science in Nursing program.

The curriculum in the 9-credit certificate can help prepare you to teach in a variety of educational and clinical settings, by covering such main topics as:

  • nursing education theories and strategies
  • assessment and evaluation in nursing education
  • curriculum and program development in nursing education

Required Courses (9 credits)

  • 3

    This course provides a foundation in the role of the nurse educator and evidence-based strategies for nursing education. Students will explore various theoretical perspectives of teaching and learning, as well as practical application of strategies to meet the diverse needs of learners. The course is intended to prepare students to employ effective teaching strategies in classroom, clinical, and online educational settings. Discussion of managing various challenges related to nursing education will be included throughout the course.

  • 3

    This course provides a foundation in assessment, measurement, and evaluation strategies for nursing education. Students will explore the theoretical basis for evaluation, as well as practical application of the strategies. The course is intended to prepare students to utilize strategies of measurement and evaluation in developing tests, interpreting test results, assessing clinical performance, and evaluating written assignments. Discussion of legal and ethical issues related to evaluation in nursing education will be included throughout the course.

  • 3

    This course provides a foundation in curricular design, program development, and curriculum evaluation in nursing education. Students will explore internal and external contextual factors influencing curriculum design and implementation. This course is intended to prepare students to utilize foundational principles and concepts for the development and evaluation of nursing curricula in academic settings. This course will also prepare students for program development and evaluation in nursing education.

Optional Course (4 credits)

  • 4

    This course involves the practical application of knowledge acquired in previously completed courses related to nursing education. Students will work with a preceptor in an educational setting to demonstrate multiple aspects of the nurse educator 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 in nursing 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 Educator" 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 degree 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 Opportunities for Graduates

Specific credentials for faculty positions will vary, depending on the institution. However, the curriculum in the nurse educator graduate certificate can give you the background you need to develop strategies to meet the diverse needs of learners in various positions, such as:

  • nursing school faculty
  • staff development coordinator
  • community health educator
  • clinical instructor
  • preceptor
  • patient educator

In addition, this certificate is an excellent way to prepare for additional graduate-level education.

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

All of the required credits in this graduate certificate can be applied toward the following master's degree program, if you apply and are granted admission:

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