10 Most Affordable Master’s in Nursing Education Online

| Staff

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There is a great demand for nurse educators, which is why so many nurses are searching for an online Master’s in Nursing Education that will help them reach that status. As nursing becomes an advanced and critical part of the healthcare system, the need grows for working professionals to work as educators, teaching the next generation of nurses how the field works. Now, with so many schools choosing to heed the call of the industry, there are over a hundred online programs in America that provide graduate degrees in nursing.

Nurses are working professionals, so it makes sense that they would flock to online degrees. Programs that provide flexibility, affordability, and the chance to accelerate a degree plan are finding themselves to be very popular with the professionals in the field. With so many nursing education programs available online, it was time to make a ranking that showcased the most affordable programs in America.

This ranking began with research from the National Center for Education Statistics. Using the College Navigator database, an initial pool of 90 schools was created. We then narrowed down to the final 10 listed below, based on in-state graduate tuition rates.

Most Affordable Master’s in Nursing Education Online

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Accredited Online College Programs

Ranking Low-cost Online Nursing Education Master’s

  • Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
    Location

    Indianapolis, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The health systems specialty of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Ph.D. in nursing education online program prepares nurses to tackle administrative positions and impact health policy. This hybrid distance program using video conferencing and synchronous course scheduling. While students can complete most courses online, IUPUI requires attendance at two four-day, on-campus intensives. Students entering the program with a bachelor's degree must complete 90 credit hours, which includes certification as a clinical nurse specialist. The school accepts up to 30 transfer credits for students with a master's degree. Students must complete a dissertation that demonstrates an understanding of experimental methods, data analysis, and nursing theory.

  • New Mexico State University
    Location

    Las Cruces, NM

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    New Mexico State University prepares graduates to take on scholarly research and prepare the next generation of nurses through its Ph.D. in nursing education online degree. The coursework delves into issues of healthcare disparities and rural health delivery. Students utilize qualitative and quantitative research methods to complete their original research project and dissertation. Students complete all 81 credits online with asynchronous courses or scheduled online discussions. However, all students gather at the Las Cruces campus for one week each May and attend an annual research conference as directed by their faculty mentor. Applicants must have a master's in nursing and a valid nursing license.

  • University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Central Florida offers a Ph.D. nursing education online program that allows nurses to bring interdisciplinary answers to complex nursing and healthcare questions. The school welcomes applicants with a bachelor's or master's degree in nursing. Students need 75 credits for the bachelor's degree track and 60 credits for students entering with a master's degree. The curriculum includes nine hours of electives, allowing students to take courses in their research area of interest. Online classes provide interaction with faculty and classmates, with a maximum of 20 students per class, and distance students complete their research practicum remotely. Students do travel to the Orlando campus twice a year to meet with their faculty mentors.

  • University of Colorado at Denver
    Location

    Denver, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Colorado-Denver offers a unique research-based Ph.D. nursing education online program focusing on healthcare systems research. One of only four schools in the U.S. to offer this specialty, past research projects evaluated how hospital staffing impacts patient outcomes. CU Denver also offers caring science and biobehavioral science tracks. The program utilizes a blended learning approach. Students spend one week each semester at the Denver campus, allowing for face-to-face meetings with faculty advisors and classmates. The asynchronous online courses enable students to continue their education while balancing other responsibilities. Many students complete their degree in three years, with enrollment limited to eight years.

  • University of Missouri
    Location

    Columbia, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Missouri offers the opportunity to earn a Ph.D. in nursing education online to students from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds such as medicine, social work, education, and health informatics. Post-doctoral students can expect to complete 48 credits for the degree as well as a research dissertation. MU offers research opportunities in focus areas of improving health systems, wellness in underserved and vulnerable populations, and symptom and behavior science. Students work with a research mentor who guides their original research projects. While students complete most coursework online, the program does include some on-campus requirements, including a week at the Columbia, Missouri, campus the summer before enrolling and at least four days each April.

  • University of Nevada at Las Vegas
    Location

    Las Vegas, NV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Nevada, Las Vegas Ph.D. nursing education online program requires students to complete multiple teaching practicums to prepare for work in academia or scholarly research. After completion of practicums, seminars offer students the chance to share and reflect on their experience and course outcomes. The 62-credit program provides a flexible, fully online degree with only one required on-campus orientation. Students work closely with a faculty mentor to plan a relevant program of study and research project that culminates in a written dissertation. The school participates in the NEXus Access program, allowing students to take electives from other member institutions.

  • University of North Dakota
    Location

    Grand Forks, ND

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of North Dakota doctorate in nursing education online program focuses on rural health issues and systems. The Ph.D. candidates enjoy an immersive research experience, using data to develop evidence-based nursing practices. UND welcomes students with a bachelor's degree or a master's degree. Applicants with a bachelor's degree in nursing and a master's in another field may qualify for advanced placement. The curriculum includes 90 credits of post-baccalaureate work and completion of a dissertation. Students can complete coursework remotely but must attend two yearly intensives at the Grand Forks campus. All Ph.D. students must secure external grants to fund their original research project and submit a scholarly research article to peer-reviewed journals.

  • University of Texas at Tyler
    Location

    Tyler, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Students conduct original research into national and international health concerns as part of the University of Texas-Tyler doctorate in nursing education online program. Students may enter the program with a bachelor's degree or master's degree in nursing. Students enrolling with a bachelor's degree may finish the 81-credit program. The master's track requires 60 credits. All coursework takes place online except for a one-week orientation at the campus each summer. Coursework prepares graduates to take on leadership roles in health organizations, teach in academia, serve in policy development roles, or continue research projects. All students complete a dissertation and defense.

  • University of West Georgia
    Location

    Carrollton, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of West Georgia incorporates research-based best practices throughout its doctorate in nursing education online program. The 60-credit curriculum utilizes the Core Competencies of Nurse Educators by the National League for Nursing. Students enjoy asynchronous access to coursework, enrolling full-time or part-time as their schedules permit. Full-time students need two years to complete coursework and then focus on completing their dissertation and defense. Classes include teaching adult learners and distance education. UWG does not require any on-campus visits. The online orientation, held each July, ensures students understand how to use the learning platform and how to access library resources.

  • West Virginia University
    Location

    Morgantown, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Nurses can continue working while completing the part-time Ph.D. nursing education online program from West Virginia University. Most students need about three years to complete the degree, which requires 55 credits of post-master's courses. The research-focused degree encourages scholarly investigation of a policy or practice area aligned with the student's career goals. The hybrid plan utilizes asynchronous online courses offered year-round complemented by in-person sessions at the Morgantown campus the summer before starting coursework, and one-day on-campus academic offerings fall and spring semesters. Students must have at least one scholarly manuscript accepted for publication by a peer-reviewed journal before completing their dissertation defense.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Career Options for an Online Master’s in Nursing Education Degree?

The most common career path for graduates of an online Master’s in Nursing Education is that of a nurse educator. These are the professors and instructors who teach the new generation of nurses while in college or university. It is important to note that most nurse education graduates do pursue a doctorate in the field prior to going into clinical education.

There are other avenues for nurse educators, however. Some may choose to pursue a postgraduate certificate in another specialization and continue as nurses while others take on an MBA and become administrators and senior-level executives in hospital systems and other medical facilities. Some even gain employment in nonprofit medical charities, providing services to underserved populations at home and abroad. A select few become researchers and scholars, writing papers for journals and working as freelance journalists and authors.

For students who are interested in other avenues for nurse education, here are some examples:

  • Nurse Educator
  • Director of Nurse Education
  • Clinical Educator
  • Diabetes Consultant
  • Patient Care Coordinator and Educator
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Community Health Worker

How Much Can You Earn in this Field?

The average salary for a nurse educator, the most common career for an online degree in nursing education, is around $72,000. Unlike other salaries, this pay does not fluctuate much with experience, with the highest paid nurse educators making around $80,000.

Where salary difference comes in is the location in America where a nurse educator lives and works. Nurse educators in Texas, California, and New York make anywhere between $75,000 to $95,000; this accounts for nurses who work at universities and colleges, health centers, and as online teachers. Nurse educators in rural areas make slightly less, with salaries ranging from $65,000 to $77,000 a year.

What are the Various Disciplines of Nursing Education?

Nursing education has many facets, but it is firmly rooted in the relationship between nursing, education, and technology. Because nurses often earn graduate and postgraduate degrees, they must be taught by working professionals who understand that technology is the new ally in the fight to prepare more nurses for the future of healthcare. Online degrees are becoming much more popular and so many nursing education degrees focus on how technology can help nurses, both in the field and in the classroom.

There are other disciplines as well. Leadership, management, curriculum design, administration, and soft skills are all focused on in nursing education programs. This is because nurse educators must lead the new generation of nurses in the classroom; their duties as nurse educators also means that they must communicate with students and have the ability to structure their time and educational department.

Why is a Nurse License Necessary for this Degree?

An online Master’s in Nursing is an advanced professional degree; these programs are built for working professionals with some degree of work experience in nursing. They are not built for academics or scholars, but rather for nurses who wish to transition into teaching. It is very rare to find an accredited program that does not require licensure.

One of the main reasons graduate schools in nursing require licensure is because licensure is the natural next step for an undergraduate nursing student. Without holding licensure they cannot practice nursing anywhere in America. A student without a valid license who is trying to obtain a graduate degree is very likely to be rejected by every program simply.

The other main reason that nursing schools require licensure is that advanced degree builds not only on previous educational experience but work experience as well. A nurse who does not hold licensure cannot work in the field and therefore would be far behind their classmates in terms of curriculum and concepts. They would also be unaware of many of the technical aspects that come with being a nurse.

Many students will also know that clinical hours are required for undergraduate students; this is the same for graduates. Without a valid license, students cannot partake in the practicums at the graduate level. This would bar them from finishing the degree, so schools have decided to require licensure.

It is possible to go from a BSN to a Master’s in Nursing, especially through online schooling, but even here, students must hold a nursing license that is in good standing with the state. This is something to bear in mind as a school that does not require licensure should be considered suspicious.

Is Accreditation Important for an Online Master’s in Nursing Education?

Accreditation matters for professionals that wish to earn advanced nursing certification and other credentials in their state. For some students, that is the main goal of entering into the field of nursing education; for others, advanced licensure and certification is not as important. The decision really is up to the student.

Most nursing education programs are delivered with accreditation; this is because nursing is a highly regulated field and must be kept to high standards. It’s also telling that most of the programs, including all of the ones listed in this ranking, require an accredited bachelor’s degree in order to apply for their programs. Accredited graduate programs make a practice of preferring students with an accredited undergraduate degree.

For nursing educators, accreditation is important. The distinction of having graduated from an online accredited master’s program is attractive to potential employers. It denotes a commitment to excellence in nursing and is seen as a sign of a valuable candidate.

Professionals should always try to receive a degree from an accredited university, regardless if their next step is to apply for advanced licensure. In fact, many states require their nurse educators to hold advanced licensure; this is not applicable for many states, so students are advised to do their research on the matter.

Nursing education is a field that requires more educators from the professional side of the field. The best teacher for a new nurse is a nurse with experience both in the hospital and in the classroom, which is why this is a great choice for nurses who are ready to move into the next phase of their careers. With this ranking of the top most affordable online master’s in nursing education, nurses can pick and choose the schools to apply to that are right for them.

This concludes our ranking of the Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Nursing Education Online.

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