MSN: Nursing Education Emphasis

Master of Science in Nursing with an Emphasis in Nursing Education

Offered By: College of Nursing and Health Care Professions

Prepare To Teach the Next Generation of Nurses

There is a critical shortage of nurse educators in the U.S., which is contributing to the ongoing shortage of nursing professionals.1 According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), nursing schools in the U.S. were forced to reject more than 90,000 qualified nursing school applicants in 2021 due in large part to insufficient nursing faculty.1

As a nurse educator, you could lead the way in delivering high-quality, effective nursing instruction to the generations of new nurses to come — helping to address the ongoing shortage of qualified professionals in the U.S.

The Master of Science in Nursing with an Emphasis in Nursing Education at Grand Canyon University is designed to prepare registered nurses (RNs) to address the ever-changing and expanding educational needs of the nursing profession. This MSN: Nursing Education emphasis is designed for BSN-prepared RNs interested in pursuing a career in nursing education.

Graduates may be prepared for a variety of roles in this subfield, either as a clinical educator or academic educator in both traditional and nontraditional settings in nursing education.2

Earn Your MSN Degree With a Nursing Education Emphasis at GCU

This nursing education emphasis at GCU can give you the opportunity to choose the focus of your practicum experience and provides direct clinical hours aimed at developing advanced skills in assessment. This degree also follows the National League for Nursing (NLN) competencies.

As a private Christian university, GCU integrates the Christian worldview throughout the curriculum. Work through faith-integrated courses as you prepare to inspire, motivate and lead the next generation of RNs and teach them how to provide evidence-based clinical care.

Get More Information

Loading Form

Button to play video: National Partner Testimonial - Kayla Harrison

While many baccalaureate degree programs in nursing are completed entirely on campus, as an MSN student, you will have the option of completing your coursework for your MSN online.3 Log into GCU’s intuitive online learning platform from anywhere and access your course materials on a schedule that is convenient for you. As an online student, you’ll still benefit from intellectually stimulating discussions with your peers and ongoing engagement with your instructors.

Total Credits: 36
Online: 8 weeks
[More Info]
Up to 12 credits or 1/3 of the total program requirements in transfer (whichever is less)
Online: $590 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

Nursing Education Emphasis Course Topics

This nurse educator program emphasizes clinical and organizational decision-making skills based on critical thinking, evidence-based research and diagnostic reasoning. You can expect to explore advanced topics in areas such as:

  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Health assessment
  • Curriculum design and development
  • Teaching methods
  • Methods of assessing educational needs
  • Program evaluation
  • Learner-centered education theories

There are five main focuses:

  • Leadership, Policy and Advocacy
  • Systems, Safety and Quality
  • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
  • Analytic Foundations for Practice, Ethics and Professional Role
  • Nursing Education

This nurse educator program at GCU includes clinical hours and a practicum capstone course, which can provide opportunities to strengthen critical thinking skills and put educational theories into practice in a supervised clinical care environment.

Nursing Education Qualifications

This degree does not have special admission or program qualifications. However, it is expected that applicants are licensed RNs. The general admission requirements for all GCU graduate programs are housed in the University Policy Handbook and online through admissions.

Career Paths for Nurse Educators With an MSN

This MSN: Nursing Education emphasis program offers a comprehensive curriculum that aims to thoroughly prepare you to become a capable, confident and mission-driven nurse educator. Nurse educators typically work in academia, although nontraditional teaching environments are also possible. Some of the likely settings in which a nurse educator may pursue employment include:2

  • Teaching hospital
  • Nursing school
  • Administrative department at a healthcare organization
  • Continuing nursing education programs
  • NCLEX preparatory programs

Advance in the Healthcare Field With an MSN From an Institutionally Accredited University

At GCU, our educators prioritize the quality of their instruction and thoroughness of the curriculum so that our students can be well-positioned in their academics and career outcomes. We’re proud to have been institutionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1968. The College of Nursing and Health Care Professions shares the university’s commitment to upholding the principles and standards established by our accreditor. For more information on the accreditation of nursing programs and other university approvals, please visit our University Accreditation and Regulations page.

Master’s Degree: Nursing Education Emphasis FAQs

Read through the following frequently asked questions and answers to guide your decision-making process as you reflect upon your degree program choices and intended career outcome.

According to a survey by the AACN, most nursing school respondents noted that nursing faculty shortages were a significant factor in turning away qualified nursing school applicants.1 According to a separate survey by the AACN, the national nurse vacancy rate as of 2022 was 8.8%.1 In order to educate sufficient numbers of future nurses, schools across the country need qualified nurse faculty members.

Additionally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers had a median annual salary of $80,780 in May 2023.2 If you have a passion for advancing the nursing profession and the desire to inspire the next generation of RNs, then completing a nurse educator program could be well worth your time.

In a nursing education emphasis program, you will be taught the necessary competencies to step into an academic leadership role. Programmatic goals include the teaching of organizational leadership skills, advanced topics in pathophysiology and pharmacology, academic research skills and nursing student teaching and assessment skills.

Yes, you can teach nursing with a master’s degree. Of course, solely earning a master’s in nursing education will not guarantee you a teaching job. Many four-year institutions will have different requirements to become a full-time faculty member, but a Master of Science in Nursing degree is the minimum qualification required.2 If you would like to further enhance your career qualifications, you might consider earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

How long it takes to go from the BSN to MSN depends on the program and any transfer of credits. GCU is a transfer-friendly university, helping you utilize any eligible credits that can apply to your degree program and possibly reduce time to completion. To better understand how long it might take to earn your master’s degree, fill out the form on this page to speak with a university counselor.

There are many other types of master’s degrees in nursing that examine several different topics. These include public health, health informatics, healthcare quality and patient safety and many others. Be sure to look into other master’s degrees in nursing that can be taken online at GCU.3

Apply for Your MSN at GCU

Prepare to educate future nurses by submitting an online application to GCU’s MSN program.

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2022, October). Nursing faculty shortage fact sheet. AACN. Retrieved March 14, 2024.

Gaines, K., MSN, RN, BA, CBC. (2023, Sept. 18). How to become a nurse educator. Retrieved March 14, 2024.

Online courses exclude programs with residencies and field experience.

4 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), Postsecondary Nursing Instructors and Teachers, as of May 2023, retrieved April 30, 2024. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 to 2023 may be atypical compared to prior years. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers nationwide with varying levels of education and experience. It does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as postsecondary instructors and teachers, nor does it reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country or a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries. Your employability will be determined by numerous factors over which GCU has no control, such as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, the graduate’s experience level, individual characteristics, skills, etc., against a pool of candidates.

GCU Nurse educators receiving new training

Course List

36 credits
Degree Requirements:
36 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course examines nursing theory and the role of ethics for advanced registered nurses within the Christian worldview and through a leadership perspective focused on improving health care outcomes. Learners explore the moral/ethical responsibilities and legal and regulatory obligations of advanced registered nurses in health promotion and disease prevention. Learners also review evidence-based practice (EBP) literature and the research process with application to their program of study and learn to navigate scholarly EBP literature, resources, and guidelines.

Course Description

This course examines the role of leadership, organizational science, policy, and informatics in supporting safe, high-quality, cost-effective patient care within interprofessional, dynamic health care environments. Learners explore various organizational relationships within health care systems and prepare to participate in the design of cost-effective, innovative models of care delivery and practice change proposals. Professional leadership theories and how they shape the nurse leader in such things as collaboration, conflict resolution, decision-making, and negotiation are introduced. Learners discuss change management theories and evaluate the ethical, social, legal, economic, and political implications of practice change and health care informatics along with strategies for managing human, fiscal, and health care resources in a variety of organizational systems. Learners also examine the uses of patient-care, information systems, and communication technologies and discuss the design, implementation, and evaluation of electronic health record systems and clinical decision support systems.

Course Description

In this course learners examine the process of scientific inquiry, knowledge generation, utilization, and dissemination of evidence into advanced nursing practice in order to propose quality-improvement initiatives that advance the delivery of safe, high-quality care for patient populations. Learners critically evaluate evidence, including scientific findings from the biopsychosocial fields, epidemiology, biostatistics, genetics, and genomics, and apply levels of evidence and theoretical frameworks to design culturally appropriate clinical prevention interventions and population-based care that reduces risks, prevents disease, and promotes health and well-being. Learners also consider strategies to evaluate health policy and advocacy issues, the state of health care delivery, patient-centered care, and ethical principles related to health beliefs, health promotion, and risk reduction for diverse populations. Learners apply these strategies to work towards recognizing gaps in nursing and health care knowledge, identifying potential solutions or innovations for those gaps, planning and implementing practice changes, and evaluating the outcomes in order to improve practice. Prerequisites: NUR-513 and NUR-514.

Course Description

This course provides an opportunity for learners to complete their evidence-based practice (EBP) project proposal that addresses a problem, issue, or concern in their specialty area of professional practice. Learners previously identified a problem amenable to a research-based intervention, searched the literature, and proposed a solution. Now learners will explore implementation considerations and various evaluation methodologies, complete the project proposal by developing a plan to implement the solution into the intended practice area, and design an evaluation plan that will assess the EBP project proposal's intended outcome(s). Prerequisite: NUR-550.

Course Description

This course focuses on advanced physiology, pathophysiology, and pharmacologic principles. This course will guide the Nursing Education learner in interpreting changes in normal function that result in symptoms indicative of illness and the effects of select pharmacologic substances on that process. Evidence-based research provides the basis for determining the safe and appropriate utilization of medications and herbal therapies on human function. Appropriate education for various prescribed pharmacologic agents is incorporated. Prerequisite: NUR-590.

Course Description

This course builds upon students’ previous health assessment knowledge offering advanced health assessment content to provide the foundation for the advanced professional nursing role of the nurse educator. This course emphasizes knowledge of health assessment, including physical, psychosocial, and spiritual health assessment; risk assessment; and functional assessment in diverse populations in the promotion of health and prevention of disease. Topics, such as effective communication and client teaching/counseling to elicit patients’ interpretation of their health status and perceived barriers, are incorporated throughout the course to maintain a nursing focus on patient responses to illness or the threat of illness. This course incorporates the completion and interpretation of a head-to-toe assessment along with emphasis on effective documentation and health recordkeeping. Prerequisite: NUR-641E.

Course Description

This course prepares learners to deliver advanced nursing knowledge within practice, professional, and academic settings. Specific emphasis is placed on effective methods to facilitate learning and fostering critical thinking skills in diverse health care settings. Learners synthesize advanced nursing knowledge of pathophysiology, pharmacology, and assessment within the integration of technology. Learners complete 50 direct patient care clinical hours in a specialty area to integrate advanced nursing knowledge and advanced assessment skills into practice. Clinical hours: 50. Prerequisite: NUR-643E.

Course Description

In this course, learners contribute to the development of nursing curricula, focusing on different phases of the curriculum creation and improvement processes. Learners examine methods of curriculum design, assessment of learning outcomes, and best practices for curriculum development, including aligning curriculum to professional standards, writing learning objectives, creating formative and summative assessments, and using data to improve student learning outcomes. Prerequisite: NUR-646E.

Course Description

This course culminates with two experiences for the learner: 1) 50 hours of direct clinical and 2) 100 hours of an education practicum; both must be completed with an approved nurse preceptor in the respective settings of the learner's choice. These clinical and practicum experiences afford learners the opportunity to continue the synthesis of advanced clinical nursing knowledge and skills at the start of the course and then demonstrate educational competencies in their selected areas of interest (e.g., assessment of learning needs, program/curriculum planning, implementation, and assessment/evaluation in either a traditional or nontraditional setting). This course offers opportunities for learners to begin integrating the role of the advanced nurse and the advanced educator based on the NLN competencies into their professional behaviors. Direct Care Clinical (50 hours) and Educational Practicum (100 hours) experiences totaling 150 hours. Practicum/field experience hours: 150. Prerequisite: Successful completion of all previous coursework in the program.


GCU Online Student

Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.