What is an Ed.D. in Nursing Education?
The Ed.D. in Nursing Education is designed to prepare nurses to become nurse educators in colleges & universities and healthcare organizations. Nurse educators are responsible for teaching & training future RNs and APRNs, as well as current nurses in clinical settings. You may choose to earn an Ed.D. in Nursing Education in order to:
- Qualify for academic faculty and/or educational leadership roles in nursing (e.g. Nursing Professor, Clinical Nursing Instructor, Director of Nursing, etc.)
- Advance the science & teaching of nursing education through applied research
- Use evidence-based strategies to improve curriculum design, course development, program evaluation, and learner outcomes
- Become an educational change agent within a School of Nursing or healthcare organization
Given the shortage of nurses, and the importance of nurse educators in addressing this shortage, a good argument could be made that nobody saves more lives than an exceptional and committed nurse educator.
Types of Ed.D. in Nursing Education Programs
Ed.D. in Nursing Education
A standard doctorate in nursing education will focus on preparing current nurses to become educators, innovators, and leaders in the nursing profession. As we mentioned, most Ed.D. in Nursing Education graduates pursue nursing faculty roles in colleges & universities (e.g. Nursing Professor) and nursing instructor & leadership roles in healthcare organizations (e.g. Director of Hospital Training Programs).
Our program database contains plenty of online and on-campus options in this field, including doctorates from Colleges of Health Sciences. If you’re trying to gauge quality, you might want to take a look at U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of Best Nursing Schools and Best Online Master’s in Nursing Programs.
Ed.D. in Leadership – Nursing Education
Within our listings, you’ll also discover nursing education programs that emphasize leadership skills in service & nurse education. Examples include Columbia University’s Ed.D. Executive Program for Nurses, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor’s Ed.D. in Leadership in Nursing Education, Rivier University’s Ed.D. in Leadership and Learning – Nursing Education, and the University of Washington’s Ed.D. in Educational Leadership – Nursing Education and Healthcare Leadership.
This kind of program effectively merges the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership with the Ed.D. in Nursing. For instance, coursework places an emphasis on educational administration and organizational development. It’s a great credential to earn if you’re primarily interested in working as a Director of Nursing or in a similar administrative role that involves—but doesn’t necessarily center on—educating nurses.
Ed.D. in Health Professions Education
Finally, there are doctorates like Allen College’s Ed.D. in Health Professions Education, A.T. Still University’s Ed.D. in Health Professions, and the University of Louisiana’s Online Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction – Health Professions Education.
As the name implies, this degree deals more broadly with training educators in healthcare-related professions. If you’re not an RN or APRN, and don’t intend to become one, this is a marketable alternative to the Ed.D. in Nursing. Sample job titles for graduates include Director of Health Education, Health Professions Clinical Educator, Director of Community Health Services, and Assistant Professor/Professor in various health professions.
Ph.D. vs. DNP vs. Ed.D. in Nursing Education
- Ph.D. in Nursing/Nursing Education: A Ph.D. is designed to prepare nurses to become scientists, scholars, and researchers—the curriculum leans heavily on original research & independent inquiry. That being said, almost all nursing faculty positions are open to Ph.D. in Nursing graduates. And a Ph.D. in Nursing Education is explicitly designed for that purpose.
- DNP: The Doctor of Nursing Practice is a clinical, practice-based doctorate that’s intended to train advanced practice nurses to become independent care providers. It’s a step up from the MSN and on par with healthcare doctorates such as an M.D., DDS, and Psy.D.
- Ed.D. in Nursing Education: The Ed.D. in Nursing Education is a teaching-focused program aimed at producing nursing professors, nurse educators, and nursing leaders. It deals with applied research, effective instructional methods, and innovative solutions to educational challenges. With this degree, you can apply for nursing faculty positions or nursing leadership & educational roles in healthcare organizations (e.g. staff development).
Our best piece of advice is to a) make a shortlist of preferred job titles; and b) check the degree requirements in the job description. For instance, when we looked at postings for Nursing Professors, we found a lot of variation. Some colleges & universities were content with an MSN and a lot of teaching experience; some wanted to see a Ph.D. or DNP for practice-based teaching; others said they were open to anyone with a doctorate in nursing.
Earning an Ed.D. in Nursing Education
Nursing Education Prerequisites
- Master’s Degree: Applicants to an Ed.D. in Nursing Education are usually expected to hold an MSN. There are a few BSN to Ed.D. programs out there, including Bryan College of Health Sciences’s BSN to Ed.D. in Nursing Education.
- Work Experience: You will need to have a current, unencumbered RN license (or APRN license) in the United States.
- Minimum GPA: The standard minimum GPA for an Ed.D. in Nursing Education is 3.0. Schools of Nursing with impressive academic reputations may ask for higher (e.g. 3.25-3.5).
- Additional Requirements: Schools of Nursing may also wish to see letters of recommendation/reference, academic writing samples, and/or an admissions essay or personal statement. Some schools will ask for GRE or MAT scores; some won’t. In addition, the GRE requirement may be waived if you have a high GPA.
Nursing Education Coursework
The curriculum of an Ed.D. in Nursing Education focuses on teaching, leadership, and curriculum strategies in nurse education. It’s all about instruction! If you follow the curriculum links in our listings, you’ll discover courses in:
- Curriculum Development in Nursing Education
- Teaching and Learning Strategies in Nursing Education
- Clinical Teaching in Nursing Education
- Assessment and Evaluation in Nursing Education
- Simulation in Nursing Education
- Nursing Faculty Role in Higher Education
- Leadership in Nursing Education
- Trends & Issues in Nursing Education
- Distance Education in Nursing
Be aware that Ed.D. programs in Nursing Education always contain a research component, with coursework in research methods (quantitative & qualitative), statistical analysis, and nursing science.
Nursing Education Practicums
Ed.D. in Nursing Education programs can include one or two practicum courses in nursing education and leadership. In a typical practicum, you might be expected to work with a nurse educator or administrator in an educational setting and help design, implement, and evaluate nursing education programs.
Ed.D. practicums are built to accommodate working nurses. For example, Western Connecticut State University’s low-residency Ed.D. in Nursing Education requires 8 hours per week of practicum work during the program’s second year. But this work can take almost any form (with faculty approval) as long as it’s relevant to broader program goals, and it’s usually done in the student’s city of residence.
Nursing Education Dissertation
All Ed.D. programs in Nursing Education will include a large, research-based project. This can take the form of a traditional dissertation (similar to the Ph.D.), a Dissertation in Practice (DiP), or a capstone project. You can explore the differences between these options in our guide to No Dissertation Ed.D. Programs.
The most popular choice for Ed.D. in Nursing Education programs appears to be the traditional dissertation. Ed.D. graduates are often in competition with Ph.D. graduates for nursing faculty positions, so it makes sense that Schools of Nursing would want to ensure that Ed.D. students meet the industry standard.
Online Ed.D. in Nursing Education Programs
Are Ed.D. in Nursing Education Programs Offered Online?
You bet! Nursing programs at the BSN and MSN level were among the first to be widely adapted into a low-residency or online format, and the Ed.D. in Nursing continues this tradition. Our listings contain a number of online doctorates in nursing education—we’ve flagged them all with an “Offered Online” marker. Some of them come from Schools of Nursing with strong online rankings in nursing (e.g. University of West Georgia).
Do Online Ed.D. Programs in Nursing Education Contain Residencies?
Some programs will have campus requirements and some won’t. For instance, students in Southern Connecticut State University’s Online Ed.D. in Nursing Education spend a total of nine days on campus, divided into three-day residencies. On-campus work may include time for collaboration, networking, dissertation proposals, and your dissertation defense.
However, there are alternatives. Northcentral University’s Online Ed.D. in Nursing Education and the University of West Georgia’s Online Ed.D. in Nursing Education are 100% online, with no on-campus residencies or intensives.
Nurse Educator Careers
Ed.D. in Nursing Education Jobs
An Ed.D. in Nursing Education is intended to prepare you to become a nurse educator & leader. It doesn’t easily align with many other career tracks. The good news is that nurse educators are in high demand, especially in Schools of Nursing. With your doctorate in hand, you can apply for jobs such as:
- Nursing Professor
- Nurse Educator
- Director of Nursing
- Director of Nursing Education
- Director of Undergraduate Nursing
- Director of Graduate Nursing Education
- Clinical Nursing Instructor
- Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)
Ed.D. in Nursing Education Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) posts annual occupational & wage data for Postsecondary Nursing Instructors and Teachers. If you examine the state maps, you can see—at a glance—where jobs and salaries are highest in the U.S. As you might expect, nursing instructors in medical & surgical hospitals earn a lot more than nurse educators & nursing professors in colleges & universities.
Another approach is to choose a few job titles and use common salary sites (e.g. Salary.com, ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, PayScale, etc.) to compare numbers. Nurse administrators are almost always going to earn more than nurse educators.
Is an Ed.D. in Nursing Education Worth it?
If you’re an RN with a healthy amount of clinical experience and a dream of teaching & training future nurses, then an Ed.D. in Nursing Education is a viable pick. It’s much shorter than a Ph.D. It’s completely focused on nursing education subjects. And it’s a doctorate.
Better yet, Ed.D. programs in Nursing Education are often eligible for funding from the Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP). Schools of Nursing that participate in the NFLP may be able to offer up to 85% in loan cancellation to students in advanced education nursing degree programs who find jobs as nurse faculty after graduation.
If you’re interested in clinical leadership roles or high-level nursing research, you may wish to consider the DNP or Ph.D. instead. An Ed.D. in Nursing Education is a highly specialized program that focuses exclusively on education issues.
Ed.D. in Nursing Education Resources
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN): If you’re about to become a nurse educator, that means you’ll probably be working closely with a School of Nursing. This organization, which oversees and accredits nursing schools in the United States, is a good place to start for info on a school’s reputation.
- Health Care Education Association (HCEA): Nurse educators have a great deal in common with other people who educate healthcare industry workers, and the HCEA provides excellent resources and opportunities for networking and professional development.
- Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing: Nurse educators don’t just train nurses and send them out into the world; they also have to help them keep their licenses current by providing continuing education opportunities. This journal covers the latest developments in that field.
- Professional Nurse Educators Group (PNEG): If you’d like to stay in touch with other nurse educators throughout the country, that’s exactly what PNEG specializes in. It’s been organizing national nurse educator conferences since 1969.