Why This Matters


    The majority of positions in the nursing field require at least an associate degree or on-the-job training.


    While the national average growth rate for all industries is around 4%, nursing is expected to grow by 7% between 2019 and 2029, creating 175,900 new jobs.


    As of 2020, the national median wage for all occupations was $41,950, while the average median wage for registered nurses was $75,330.

Our Research

This list focuses on graduate certificate programs in a few different areas of specialization. There are several graduate certificates and post-master’s certificates in nursing education, family and adult gerontology, women’s health, and psychiatric mental health. These certificates range from graduate, which you could complete after an undergraduate degree, or post-masters, which are suitable for individuals with a master’s degree in a related field.

All of the institutions selected for this list are accredited by a source such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a national accreditation agency. Also, many programs on this list are accredited by regional institutions, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), and the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

  • 67 hours to write this article
  • 168 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 321 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Online Graduate Certificate in Nursing Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

There are plenty of other degrees in the medical field you can pursue, such as clinical laboratory science, cytotechnology, radiology, pharmacy, and audiology, among others. However, while nursing is a more general degree for overall patient care, these other programs require more specific science courses that often add an extra year of study, requiring a bachelor’s degree before pursuing further education.

The majority of BSN (Bachelor of Nursing) programs across the United States receive accreditation from CCNE. Search for online certificates that are accredited by this institution, or by a reputable regional alternative.

The job outlook for those entering the nursing profession is extremely positive, with a 7% growth rate anticipated in the next decade. While there were 3,096,700 registered nursing positions in 2019, it’s projected that this number will increase to 3,318,700 by 2029.

A BSN, which takes four years to complete, gives applicants an edge over those with lesser qualifications. An ASN, or Associate of Science in Nursing degree, takes just two to three years to complete and may be sufficient for work in some hospital settings.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching online graduate certificate in nursing programs:

  • What licensing or certifications are required? To become a registered nurse, you’ll need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), BLS (basic life support ), and ACLS (advanced cardiac life support) certifications may also be necessary depending on the area of work you want to pursue after graduation.
  • How long does it take to complete this online program? To complete a graduate certificate in nursing, the timeline ranges from one to three semesters based on the program and credit requirements.

As you research individual programs to determine which one is the best fit for you, keep track of application deadlines and admission requirements. Having an organized system for this information will make it easier for you to apply successfully when the time comes. Also, take note of the cost per credit at each institution to get a sense of the expenses.