Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education

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Many master’s and doctoral nursing graduates will enter faculty roles with little preparation for teaching. This 9-credit hour Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education is designed to prepare nurses for educational roles in their setting of interest — hospital, community, or academic settings.

The purpose of this certificate is to provide specialized knowledge and skills in the area of nursing education to nurses who desire to concurrently develop these skills in teaching and learning along with their advanced nursing preparation.

Students enrolled in this certificate program will examine curricular foundations and expectations of contemporary nursing and health care education in academic or clinical settings.  Emphasis will be placed on understanding the role of technology in curriculum development, implementation, and evaluation procedures in educational settings including academic education, staff development, patient education, and lifelong learning programs.

Do I need special preparation to teach nursing in NC?

Presently in NC nursing faculty who teach in academic programs leading to initial RN licensure must provide evidence within 3 years of employment of having preparation in teaching and learning principles for adult learning This certificate will meet one of the current pathways for demonstrating these competencies – 9 cr hours of education coursework.

What courses are included in the certificate?

Completion of the Graduate Certificate in Nursing Education requires a minimum of 9 credit hours of course work. Courses do not need to be taken in numerical sequence. For example, if 882 fits into your summer schedule you can enroll in it without having had 875 or 875.

Courses include:

NURS 875 Principles of Teaching Applied to Nursing (3 cr) Fall semester

NURS 876 Innovations in Nursing and Health Care Educational Curricula (3 cr) Spring semester

NURS 882 Clinical Teaching in Nursing (3 cr) Summer


NURS 950 Analysis of the Academic Role in Nursing Education (3 cr) (Doctoral students; MSN with permission), next offering Spring, 2017

Who can apply to this program?

Registered nurses (RNs) who are enrolled as graduate or postgraduate students at UNC-CH School of Nursing.

To participate in the certificate program, students must be in good academic standing, that is, be actively pursuing the program of study in which they are enrolled and making satisfactory progress toward the completion of program requirements.

NOTE: If you are an education major in Health Care Systems, you do not need to apply for the certificate — as these courses are a part of your degree program.

How long does it take to complete this program?

The certificate can be completed in one calendar year, typically with one course in the fall, spring, and summer semester.

Will these courses count as part of my required degree program?

Certificate programs are under the 40% rule. This means that up to 40% of the credits hours in the certificate program “may” count towards the student’s degree program. That is, 3-credits of the 9-credit certificate program may count for both the certificate and the student’s degree program. The remaining 6 credits must be in addition to the student’s degree requirements. Whether you will be able to apply the 40% rule will depend on your program of study and the requirements of the University.

Once you apply, the program director will review your program of study and specify whether you have 3 credit hours that may be used for the 40% rule. You will receive an email outlining how many credits you will need to fulfill the certificate requirements and the requirements of your degree program.

Carefully read the information below. Keep in mind it may not represent your exact situation, however, the email you received at enrollment should clarify your situation.

MSN: For MSN students, there are no elective hours, thus, the 9 credits of nursing education courses must be in addition to your required degree requirements. The only exception to this are HCS-Clinical Nurse Leader students as one 3-credit nursing education course is in their required program of study (40% rule) — thus, they need only 6 credits above their required program total.

REMEMBER: If you are a MSN/education major in Health Care Systems, you do not need to apply for the certificate — as these courses are a part of your degree program.

DNP: Most DNP students have a minimum of 4 cr of elective hours in their program of study. Only one of the 3-credit nursing education courses may count for both the certificate and your DNP degree. Thus, if you are required to have 4 cr of electives, you will need to take another 1 cr elective to meet the required program hours for your degree. This additional 1 credit cannot come from taking another nursing education certificate course.

HCS/DNP: If you are required to have a substantive focus for your specialty area such as informatics, nursing education courses will not meet a substantive focus requirement. Thus, you need 9 cr above your required program total.

PhD Students: Your “electives” must support the focus of your PhD/dissertation work. Courses taken for the education certificate are in addition to those electives. You must take 9 credits above your required program credit hours. If your requirement is 51 hours, you must have 60 cr hours to graduate with the certificate.

Will successful completion of the Nursing Education Certificate be put on my transcript?

Yes. If you have successfully completed the 9-credit certificate program it will be indicated on your transcript. It is the responsibility of the student to make certain that 9-credits of coursework have been completed by the projected date of graduation.

How do I apply for this certificate program?

Where can I go if I have more questions about this program?

Please contact:
UNC-CH School of Nursing
Office of Student Affairs
(919) 966-4260


Update November 2016