Master's prepared nurses do not always need to work in careers with direct patient care responsibilities. While advanced-degree nurses are skilled as leaders, they can also make leadership their entire career; working in executive and administrative roles to help facilitate change within an organization as well as in healthcare in general. In fact, clinical nurse leaders hold a well-respected role within the industry, making it a popular career pathway for advanced nurses. For those who don't wish to pursue another degree, such as a doctoral degree in nursing, a post-master's certificate program in nursing leadership is a great route to take.

Choosing a Post-Master's Certificate in Nursing Leadership Program

Post-master's nurses looking for a career change or advancement should consider several factors when selecting a post-master's certificate program in nursing leadership:

  • Accreditation– Nursing schools should be accredited by either The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Some programs might be locally accredited, but to meet many state licensure requirements, national accreditation is strongly advised. This is to ensure rigid educational requirements are met in order for the graduate to practice safely.
  • Cost– The expense associated with higher education is one of the most significant factors when selecting a program. Cost is not just limited to tuition- books, supplies, technology, and graduation fees are also added expenses. Also, the state and city in which the school is located can affect tuition costs, as does a student's resident status. Not to mention the cost to commute and for campus parking. Thankfully, most schools have financial aid options and offer part-time status to help offset the cost.
  • Program Length– Depending on the nurse's starting point, completion of a post-master's certificate program in nursing leadership can take around two years. Students should be cautious of programs that boast "fast completion" as they need to ensure proper accreditation and a satisfactory curriculum to earn the certificate.
  • Online Options– Many nurses must continue to work while earning a post-master’s certificate. Online programs are incredibly convenient and offer the student more flexibility with their academic needs. Thoroughly researching online options is essential when seeking an online program- some require campus visits or multi-day intensives. Luckily, most schools are well aware of the student's time restraints and are very transparent with campus visitation requirements.
  • Internship/Externship Options– Prospective students should also research practicum requirements and find a program that fits their needs. For example, a larger organization might be a good choice for nursing leadership practice. Schools may work closely with organizations to set up clinical practicum time, or students may be required to find a mentor on their own. Determining the process for mentorship should occur before enrolling to make sure learning needs are met.

Online Post-Master's Nursing Leadership Certificate Programs

Online advanced education programs are becoming more and more prevalent in nursing. However, when deciding which program to select, those interested in online pathways should be aware that there are several considerations to be weighed.

Online vs. Classroom-Based Post-Master’s Nursing Leadership Certificate Programs

One of the main benefits of online programs is the flexibility. Students can learn when and where they can – all they need is a computer and internet access. They can access learning materials with the click of a mouse and contact peers and instructors electronically. Additionally, students can learn at their own pace and using their own unique learning style. Ultimately, the ability to learn at one's own pace can lead to a higher success rate.

One of the drawbacks of online learning is that it is less structured than online learning. Some students need the structure that comes with classroom instructions otherwise they can procrastinate and miss essential assignments. Additionally, some students learn best with didactic, face-to-face instruction in which they can ask questions in real-time and confer with fellow students. Another disadvantage is that some students struggle with technology; they may become frustrated with online study, which can affect academic success.

One must be especially careful with online programs as accreditation might be an issue. As stated earlier, more and more online programs are popping up, and nursing is no different. Ensuring ACEN or CCNE accreditation is critical.

Post-Master's Nursing Leadership Certificate Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for a post-master's certificate in nursing leadership program can vary slightly between schools, but standard admission criteria may include:

  • A current, unencumbered RN or APRN license
  • An MSN from an accredited university or program
  • Transcripts from all educational institutions attended
  • Resume/CV
  • A written statement of purpose.
  • Current professional liability insurance
  • GPA of 3.0 in prior academic settings (GPA requirements may vary between schools)

Post-Master's Nursing Leadership Certificate Curriculum

As with admission requirements, the post-master's certificate in nursing leadership curriculum may vary slightly between institutions. Students can expect to learn concepts such as:

  • Role in healthcare systems
  • Quality
  • Advanced skills for advanced-practice nurses
  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Health promotion
  • Human resources
  • Nursing leadership
  • Finance and economics
  • Information and technology
  • Healthcare and organizational change

In addition to the above concepts, students may be required to complete a specific number of clinical practicum hours.

Helpful Resources

Other Degree Programs

List of Post-Master’s Nursing Leadership Certificate Programs

Jump to Your State Listings


Graduate Certificate Programs
333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd
San Marcos, CA 92096
(760) 750-4000

Graduate Certificate Programs
1310 Club Drive
Vallejo, CA 94592
(707) 638-5200


Graduate Certificate Programs
12950 E. Montview Boulevard
Aurora, CO 80045
(303) 724-2152


Graduate Certificate Programs
501 Crescent Street
New Haven, CT 06515
(203) 392-7278


Graduate Certificate Programs
600 W. College Avenue
Tallahassee, FL 32306
(850) 644-5621


Graduate Certificate Programs
1501 Morningside Avenue
Sioux City, IA 51106
(712) 274-5000


Graduate Certificate Programs
315 College of Nursing Building 751 Rose Street
Lexington, KY 40536
(859) 323-5108


Graduate Certificate Programs
4001 W. McNichols Road
Detroit, MI 48221
(313) 993-1828


Graduate Certificate Programs
2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
(402) 280-2700


Graduate Certificate Programs
1664 N. Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89557
(775) 784-1110


Graduate Certificate Programs
1601 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 895-2000

South Dakota

Graduate Certificate Programs
1004 Campanile Dr
Brookings, SD 57007
(605) 688-4114


Graduate Certificate Programs
2800 S University Dr
Fort Worth, TX 76129
(817) 257-7000


Graduate Certificate Programs
800 Algoma Blvd
Oshkosh, WI 54901
(920) 424-1234

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