Question of the Month: Should All Adjunct Faculty Have a Masters Degree?

Specialties Educators


  1. Should All Nursing Faculty (Even Adjuncts) Have a Masters Degree

    • 34
      Yes - This is necessary to ensure the highest caliber of instruction for our students.
    • 26
      No - This is unnecessary and unrealistic.
    • 19
      This really depends on the circumstances of the school and area.

79 members have participated

This is the subject of great controversy here in North Carolina. If this ever were to become the standard set by the BON, many nursing schools across the state would close due to the acute shortage of faculty. Many schools rely on part time adjuncts for clinicals. Finding adjuncts with a BSN is a challenge; finding adjuncts with a Masters is just about insurmountable.

I am interested in hearing your viewpoints about this subject.


129 Posts

I think it would make far more sense to have a "teaching certificate" that requires recertification every couple of years. Recertification could be an NCLEX style test and a minnimum number of hours actually working as a nurse. It was my experience in school that some of the Masters educated instructors had been out of the hospital so long that reality had become a theory for them. A few were just plane educated beyond their intelligence. :rolleyes:


452 Posts

Nevada has the same problem.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by adjuct. For faculty, clinical or otherwise our Board say MSN minimum. BUT they have allowed some hard pressed schools hire BSN faculty who are working on their masters.

live4today, RN

5,099 Posts

Specializes in Community Health Nurse.

Yes, all Adjunct Faculty should have a master's degree ALONG WITH recent clinical experience in the area they are teaching. Having no clinical experience could possibly hinder their ability to effectively teach and communicate what they teach to their students. -- IMO. :)

The Associate Degree college I attended required all nursing faculty to have a master's degree in nursing, or show proof of working on a master's. I only remember one teacher who was working on her masters, and teaching OB/GYN at the college. She was an EXCELLENT instructor because she had bookoo clinical experience in OB/GYN. :)

Having worked as adjunct faculty I will say that education is important, but clinical instructors need real life experience. People who are too long away from the floor have a hard time with new equipment, etc. Lecturers should have MSN, but I think it ok for clinical instructors to have BSN for RN students and ADN for LVN/LPN students.

renerian, BSN, RN

5,693 Posts

Specializes in MS Home Health.

I have an ADN, BS and MS/my later two degrees are in nutrition so I can easy say I run circles around other nurses after getting two degrees in it. I applied to several programs to teach their nutrition class. Guess what they told me?

Sorry your need a masters in nursing. I pointed out that, duh, the obvious, my degrees that go way above the nursing degree in nutrition education. They told me, all the schools, sorry those are the rules. That made no sense.

renerian :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

97 Articles; 21,237 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

In our area (central IL) we have four nursing schools - all require at least an MSN and the true universities require a PhD or a DNP. I have a very well-educated friend who has a masters in education and she is finding that she can not work as an educator because she does not have an MSN.

When I went to my associate degree program, 1969-1971, all of our faculty had to have or be working on a MSN. Today, 2005 all most all of the faculty has their PhDs or are working on them, including adjunct faculty. Clinical insturctors generally have their MSN, at a minmum. I have heard and to be honest, am tired of the refrain, that MSN and PhDs do not currently practice and are out of touch with the reality of nursing. Well, I returned to a MSN program, all of my professors had their PhDs and all currently held outside positions in their area of clinical expertise. And many of them, also worked during the summer months full time in a clinical area.

In the 80s, I worked as a WC case manager. I also worked weekends, during season, in staff relief. I did that to keep my skills current. I found that I could do that quite satisfactorily two days a week for several months.

We are a profession. As a profession, we need to raise our educational standards, not lower them.

Grannynurse :balloons:

Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

97 Articles; 21,237 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

GrannyNurse - I agree with you. I'm a case manager who recently went back to prn staff work (I just finished my MSN) and enjoy the patient contact.

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

Yes, in order to be qualified as an "advance nurse" in academia, a person should have an advanced degree in nursing. To get only the beginner-level nursing degree and then try sell yourself as a nursing expert in an academic role and setting is just not a realistic expectation.

Of course, that is not to say that faculty shouldn't ALSO be up-to-date in the fields that they teach. If you are going to teach clinical material, a teacher needs to be clinically capable. If a person is going to teach administration, they should be up-to-date with administrative work. But simply being clinically competent as a staff nurse does not qualify one to be an academic faculty member. Being a faculty member in an academic setting also requires competence in the field of academia -- and you don't get that by being competent doing bedside care -- just as you don't become/stay clinically competent without "getting your hands dirty" at least every now and then. It goes both ways.

They are two different realms of expertise -- academic work and clinical care -- and a faculty member needs BOTH. Either one alone is not sufficient. We should demand better of ourselves and of our leaders than to be satisfied with people who can only do half the job.

If you want respect in the practice realm, achieve and maintain practice expertise. If you want respect from the academic world, get the appropriate academic credentials.

More than most people, I understand the difficulties of bridging both the academic world and the practice world. But it IS possible ... and I am getting quite tired of those who "want it all" but who are not willing to earn it.

However ... I do believe there is a place for the non-Master's prepared clinical instructor ... but they would have to accept the fact that they were occupying the lowest rung on the academic career ladder ... and the salaries etc. that go with that lowest rung. The fact that competent nurses without MSN's are not willing to accept those low salaries is part of the reason we have a faculty shortage.

We all complain about the academic salary scale. However, the people on the upper rungs of the academic ladder (with the higher levels of education) are a little better off than those at the bottom. In the academic world, higher education DOES usually translate into higher pay, more autonomy, etc. If we nurses had higher educational standards, we would have more clout in the academic world and be in a better position to improve things. When people choose to stay at the bottom rungs of the career ladder, they sacrifice a lot of opportunities.

llg (PhD, RN ... who works in a hospital, not a school of nursing)

Specializes in Pediatrics.

as a new adjunct, and a professional student, i am on the fence on this topic. i am more than half way finished with my ms in nursing education, and i feel i have learned so much about education in general- teaching styles, learning styles and the way adults learn. now this is only because i am in the education track- many nurses who go to grad school take the ap role, where education is not emphasized. now on the flipside, just because i know all this (or will by the time i graduate) doesn't necessarily make me a good educator- or a good nurse for that matter. experience is soooo vital. real life experience. i've found, in the short time i spent teaching last semester, that the students have learned more from my antecdotes and 'real life tips' than anything else so far.

in a perfect world :chuckle , the msn should be required, but lets face it, we do not have enough ms prepared nurses to meet the demands of the schools right now. and honestly, what is the incentive? sure i like learning for learning's sake, but i'm not exactly looking forward to the paycut i'll be taking when i become a full time instructor (much less the $50k in loans i'll have to start paying off) :uhoh3: .

Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

97 Articles; 21,237 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

That is the root cause of the nursing educators - not enough pay. I would love to teach but can't afford to take such a huge pay cut.

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