10 Best Online Nursing Graduate Certificates | 2024

Learn more about online graduate nursing certificates and advance your career to an advanced practice registered nurse specialty. Discover their costs, prerequisites, requirements, and salary expectations after graduation. Programs

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In today's rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, the demand for specialized nursing skills has never been higher.

For nurses looking to elevate their expertise without the extended commitment of a full degree, online nursing graduate certificates emerge as an ideal solution. These programs, offered by accredited institutions, provide a flexible pathway for registered nurses (RNs) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to delve deeper into niche areas of nursing.

Discover the best of these online nursing graduate certificates available in 2024 as we highlight their coursework, prerequisites, costs, and potential salary outcomes. Whether you're an aspiring nurse practitioner, anesthetist, educator, or administrator, these programs can shape your nursing career for the future.

What Is an Online Nursing Graduate Certificate?

An online nursing graduate certificate is a post-baccalaureate or post-master's program designed for RNs or APRNs who wish to further their education and skills in a specific area of nursing without committing to a full degree program. These certificates are typically offered through accredited institutions and are delivered online, allowing nurses to continue working while advancing their education.


The coursework for an online nursing graduate certificate varies based on the specialty or focus of the certificate. However, common elements include:

  • Advanced Nursing Theory: This course delves into the theoretical foundations of nursing, exploring various nursing models and their application in clinical practice.
  • Specialty Courses: Depending on the certificate's focus, students might take courses in areas such as pediatric nursing, geriatric nursing, psychiatric nursing, or nurse leadership.
  • Research and Evidence-Based Practice: Nurses learn how to interpret and apply research findings to their practice, ensuring that they provide care based on the latest evidence.
  • Ethics in Nursing: This course covers the ethical considerations and dilemmas that nurses may encounter, providing guidance on making ethical decisions in practice.
  • Healthcare Policy and Advocacy: Nurses are introduced to healthcare policies, learning how they can advocate for changes that benefit patients and the nursing profession.

Clinical Training

While the majority of the certificate program is delivered online, many programs also include a clinical training component. This hands-on training is crucial for nurses to apply what they've learned in a real-world setting. Here's what to expect:

  • Clinical Rotations: Depending on the certificate's specialty, students may be required to complete clinical rotations in settings relevant to their area of study, such as hospitals, clinics, or specialized care facilities.
  • Skills Assessment: Throughout the clinical training, students' skills and competencies are regularly assessed by experienced nurses or clinical instructors to ensure they meet the program's standards.
  • Simulation Labs: Some programs may offer virtual simulation labs where students can practice clinical scenarios in a controlled environment using advanced technology.
  • Clinical Hours: The number of required clinical hours varies by program and specialty. Some certificates may require as few as 50 hours, while others might require several hundred hours of clinical training.
  • Preceptorship: In some programs, students are paired with a preceptor, an experienced nurse who provides mentorship and guidance during the clinical training phase.

Best Online Nursing Graduate Certificates

The following schools have been selected based on allnurses' methodology of surveying our readers to understand what they value most, with the addition of NCLEX pass rates, graduation rates, student-faculty ratio, price, mode, duration, and admission rates of hundreds of the most prominent nursing schools in the United States.

1. John Hopkins School of Nursing

John Hopkins School of Nursing is a globally recognized institution known for its commitment to nursing education and research. The school offers a variety of post-graduate nursing certificates to cater to the diverse needs of nursing professionals.

Available Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates:

  • Adult-Gerontological Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Critical Care Nursing
  • Nursing Informatics
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Educator

2. Duke University

Duke University's School of Nursing is renowned for its innovative curriculum and commitment to advancing the nursing profession. The school provides a range of post-graduate nursing certificates to help nurses specialize in their desired fields.

Available Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Cardiology Nursing
  • Oncology Nursing
  • Nurse Leadership

3. Columbia University

Columbia University School of Nursing is a leading institution in nursing education, offering advanced programs that combine clinical excellence with research prowess.

Available Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates:

  • Nursing Education

4. Emory University

Emory University's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing is dedicated to shaping the future of nursing through its comprehensive programs and research initiatives.

Available Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

5. Rush University

Rush University College of Nursing is at the forefront of nursing education, offering programs that are designed to produce leaders in the field of nursing.

Available Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates:

  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

6. Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University School of Nursing is committed to providing top-notch nursing education that is both comprehensive and innovative.

Available Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

7. University of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut School of Nursing offers a blend of theoretical knowledge and practical experience, ensuring that its graduates are well-prepared for the challenges of the nursing profession.

Available Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates:

  • Healthcare Innovation
  • Health Professions Education
  • Holistic Nursing
  • Life Story Practice and Research
  • Pain Management
  • Dementia Care

8. Duquesne University

Duquesne University School of Nursing is known for its holistic approach to nursing education, emphasizing both clinical expertise and ethical considerations.

Available Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Forensic Nursing
  • Nurse Education and Faculty Role
  • Executive Nurse Leadership & Health Care Management

9. Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University's School of Nursing offers a diverse range of programs that are designed to cater to the evolving needs of the healthcare sector.

Available Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Education

10. Winona State University

Winona State University's Department of Graduate Nursing is dedicated to providing advanced nursing education that is both comprehensive and tailored to the needs of modern healthcare.

Available Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates:

  • Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Education & Leadership
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Prerequisites & Requirements

The prerequisites and requirements for online nursing graduate certificates can vary based on the institution and the specific certificate program. However, there are some commonalities that many programs share.


  • Degree: BSN or MSN from an accredited school.
  • Nursing License: Active, unrestricted RN or APRN license for clinical training state.
  • Experience: Clinical nursing experience, especially for advanced specialties.
  • Transcripts: From all attended post-secondary institutions.
  • GPA: Minimum GPA, typically between 2.5-3.0+.
  • Recommendations: Letters from professional or academic contacts.
  • Essay: Statement detailing professional goals and program alignment.
  • Background: Potential criminal background check due to clinical nature.


  • Orientation: Possible online or in-person session pre-coursework.
  • Tech Specs: Reliable computer, fast internet, and necessary software for online courses.
  • Clinical Sites: Secure local clinical placements; some programs offer assistance.
  • Insurance: Possible need for professional liability insurance pre-clinicals.
  • Health Checks: Immunization proof, recent physical, and TB test might be required.
  • CPR: Current certification, especially for healthcare providers.
  • RN License Maintenance: Continuous active licensure during the program.
  • Course Completion: All coursework with a specified minimum GPA.
  • Clinical Practice: Fulfill required clinical hours for hands-on specialty expertise.

Costs & Salary Expectations

The costs of online nursing graduate certificates can vary depending on numerous factors, however, common things to consider include:

  • Tuition: Varies based on institution type and prestige.
  • Fees: Potential additional charges for technology, application, and graduation.
  • Books & Materials: Costs for textbooks and online resources can add up.
  • Clinical Costs: Fees associated with placements, insurance, and health screenings.
  • Financial Aid: Many institutions offer scholarships, grants, and loans.
  • Institution Type: Public schools may offer discounts for in-state students; private institutions might have premium rates.
  • Program Length: Shorter programs can be more cost-effective.
  • Miscellaneous: Other expenses to consider include software, equipment, and potential travel for in-person sessions.

Evaluating salaries for online graduate nursing certificate holders requires a look at multiple variables. Pay scales differ based on specialization, job location, experience, employers, and much more.

Graduate Nursing Certificate Salary Overview

Nurse Practitioners (NPs):

  • Starting Salary: Approximately $87,340
  • Average Salary: Around $124,860
  • Top Earners: Up to $148,960

Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs):

  • Starting Salary: Approximately $143,870
  • Average Salary: Around $203,090
  • Top Earners: Up to $246,980

Healthcare Administrators:

  • Starting Salary: Approximately $64,100
  • Average Salary: Around $127,980
  • Top Earners: Up to $252,520

Nurse Educators:

  • Starting Salary: Approximately $47,760
  • Average Salary: Around $84,180
  • Top Earners: Up to $126,570

Remember, these salary numbers are broad approximations and can vary based on the highlighted factors. With the evolving healthcare sector, professionals with Graduate Nursing Certificates remain sought-after, influencing salary trajectories positively.

The above figures represent the latest salary reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What variety of concentrations do online nursing programs offer?

  • Online nursing programs offer a diverse range of concentrations to cater to the varied interests of students. These concentrations span areas such as nursing administration, which focuses on leadership and management roles within healthcare settings, and nursing informatics, which merges nursing with technology to optimize patient care. Additionally, there are specialized tracks dedicated to specific patient care areas, including pediatric nursing for child healthcare and geriatric nursing, which concentrates on the care of older adults.

Is enrollment open to out-of-state students in online nursing programs?

  • A majority of online nursing programs welcome out-of-state students. However, it's crucial for prospective students to review the specific admission criteria for each program. Additionally, they should be aware of any state licensing considerations that might affect their ability to practice in certain locations.

What is the typical duration and credit requirement for these graduate nursing programs?

  • The duration and credit requirements for graduate nursing programs can differ significantly based on the program's depth and specialization. While some might be completed in a few semesters, others might extend longer. Typically, these programs offer flexibility with part-time and full-time enrollment options to accommodate working professionals.

Do online nursing certificate programs necessitate practical clinical training?

  • Even though the primary coursework for these certificate programs is delivered online, a significant emphasis is placed on real-world clinical training. This hands-on component is vital for students to apply theoretical knowledge in practical settings. Such clinical experiences are typically guided and supervised by a preceptor or a seasoned nurse to ensure students gain valuable insights and skills.
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