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Colleges for Pediatric Nursing

Professionals with a master's in pediatric nursing can often explore ample job opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for registered nurses to grow 7% between 2019 and 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. Earning a master's in pediatric nursing can qualify graduates for leadership nursing positions, such as medical and health services manager. The BLS projects jobs for medical and health services managers to grow 32% from 2019 to 2029.

Nurses who enjoy caring for others and working with children often thrive in pediatric nursing positions. Pediatric nurses specialize in caring for infants and adolescents. These professionals must understand developmental stages and be familiar with the best practices for working with children.

Although many pediatric nursing positions require only a bachelor's degree, professionals in the field can advance their career by earning a master's degree. Master's degree-holders often qualify for pay raises and managerial positions.

This guide explores typical degree requirements and components of the best pediatric nursing master's programs.

Frequently Asked Prediatric Nursing Questions

What degree do I need to become a pediatric nurse?

Pediatric nurses need at least a bachelor of science in nursing. Some employers prefer candidates with a concentration in pediatrics or a master's degree.

How does nursing school work?

Nursing programs typically include lecture-based classes, which may require multiple-choice and written exams. Nursing students also complete in-person clinical hours. Bachelor's students generally complete about 120 credits, and most master's in nursing programs require about 36 credits.

How long does it take to earn a master's in pediatric nursing?

Most full-time students can complete a master's in pediatric nursing in two years. However, this time frame depends on the student's schedule and the program format.

How does a master's program in pediatric nursing compare to an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) program?

A nurse practitioner program prepares students to obtain APRN licensure. A master's in pediatric nursing qualifies holders for administrative and managerial roles in the nursing field.

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Career and Salary Outlook for Nursing

Earning a master's in pediatric nursing can qualify professionals for higher-paying positions. Individuals with a certificate or associate degree in nursing can work as licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses , who earn a median annual salary of $47,480, according to the BLS. On the other hand, nurse practitioners , who need a master's degree, earn a median salary of $109,820 per year. After earning a master's degree, aspiring nurse practitioners must obtain licensure to practice.

The following tables highlight salaries for each type of nursing professional. Factors that influence an individual's earning potential include position, location, experience, and employer. For example, a pediatric nurse working at a private practice in a large city may earn more than a nurse in a rural community's hospital.

Salary Comparisons
Career Top 10% Median Annual Salary Bottom 10%
Registered Nurses $52,080 $73,300 $111,220
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners $82,460 $115,800 $184,180
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses $34,560 $47,480 $63,360

Source: BLS

Accreditation for Nursing Programs

Students researching master's in pediatric nursing programs should ensure each prospective school holds accreditation. The accreditation process involves regular quality assessments by third-party organizations. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee these accrediting agencies.

Institutions in the United States can hold national or regional accreditation . Regional accrediting agencies evaluate schools in a specific area. For example, the Higher Learning Commission grants regional accreditation to schools in the Midwest United States. Most employers place greater value on degrees from regionally accredited schools.

Nursing programs can also earn field-specific accreditation. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education is one of the top accrediting agencies for nursing programs. Learners can confirm the accreditation status of any school or program using the ED's searchable database .

Nurse Licensing

After earning a master's in pediatric nursing, graduates must obtain licensure to practice. Most states require candidates for licensure to pass the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse. Test-takers receive six hours to complete the exam, which includes 75-265 questions. The exam ends when test-takers achieve a passing score.

Each state sets its own requirements for nursing licensure. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing provides information about each state's requirements. Additionally, many states participate in reciprocity agreements, which allow nurses to transfer their license between states.

While nurses must hold licensure to practice, certification is a voluntary process that can lead to increased professional opportunities. Earning a certification can lead to specialized roles in competitive nursing fields, such as pediatrics.

Pediatric Nursing Certification

Many hospitals and clinics require or prefer pediatric nurses to hold certification. To obtain pediatric nursing certification, candidates must pass the Certified Pediatric Nurse Examination from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB). The exam consists of 175 multiple-choice questions and takes three hours.

The certification exam covers topics related to adolescent care. Candidates must understand how to assess safety risks, record medical histories, and identify signs of abuse and neglect. The exam also includes questions related to family dynamics and barriers to care. The certification demonstrates that the holder is prepared to provide guidance and education to children and families about growth and nutrition.

Professionals must complete the recertification process each year. The PNCB also offers specialized certifications for pediatric nurses in areas such as pediatric mental health .

Courses in a Pediatric Nursing Program

Students in pediatric nursing programs hone skills in interpersonal communication, observation, and listening. Learners also develop field-specific skills, such as medicine administration and record-keeping.

Most master's programs in the field require about 36 credits, or 12 courses. Most full-time students earn their master's in pediatric nursing in about two years.

The courses below are common to many pediatrics nursing master's programs. Exact curricula vary by program, so students should read course descriptions before enrolling. Learners with specific career goals should look for programs that offer relevant coursework.

  • Developmental Stages

    This class examines the signs of healthy development. Learners discover how the human body changes during infancy, childhood, and early adolescence. Coursework covers healthy hormone levels, weight, and growth of male and female children. This class typically involves lectures, class discussions, and a final exam.
  • Pediatric Nutrition

    Students discover how nutritional needs change from infancy through adolescence. Coursework covers food allergies that children commonly develop. Enrollees also explore topics including dysfunctional eating and pediatric obesity and how to feed high-risk newborns.
  • Psychological Disorders in Children

    This class examines common psychological disorders in children, such as trichotillomania and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Learners explore theories behind the study of psychological disorders and various treatment plans. Coursework also covers diagnostic criteria and statistics for each disorder.
  • Pediatric Nursing Theory

    Students learn about pediatric nursing theories that influence modern practice. Learners complete papers, engage in class discussions, and explore research that contributed to each theory's development. Coursework covers theories from various time periods.
  • Clinical Practice

    Most pediatric nursing programs require clinical rotations, during which students gain hands-on experience in hospitals or doctors' offices. Under supervision, learners practice administering medication and communicating with family members and patients.

Top Master's in Pediatric Nursing Programs 2021

  1. University of Pennsylvania

    Philadelphia, PA



    One of the nation's Ivy League colleges, Penn runs the world's top nursing school. Penn's on-campus master of science in nursing (MSN) degree prepares pediatric acute care nurse practitioners in just one year. The 12-course curriculum consists of required courses, electives, and six clinical courses. Registered nurses choose one of three concentrations: acute/chronic care, critical care, or pediatric oncology. Core courses cover topics such as advanced developmental physiology and pathophysiology, and advanced pharmacology and therapeutics for nursing practice.

    The program also trains pediatric primary care nurse practitioners. The 12-course curriculum explores topics such as advanced clinical assessments, clinical management, and primary care with young families. The nursing school arranges all clinical experiences and preceptors. Penn's program prepares learners for national and state licensure. Nurses may complete the program part time. Admission to the master's in pediatric nursing program requires a bachelor of science in nursing, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and competitive GRE scores.

  2. Duke University

    Durham, NC



    A top-ranked private college in North Carolina, Duke offers a hybrid master of science in nursing (MSN) pediatric nurse practitioner program. The degree prepares nurses who specialize in providing comprehensive primary or acute care to children. The 43-credit curriculum consists of online and on-campus coursework and 616 clinical hours. The curriculum covers core MSN topics, including population health in a global society.

    Enrollees choose one of two concentrations: acute care or primary care. Each concentration requires 20 credits of clinical courses. Nurses engage in one-on-one clinical experiences in community pediatric practices, health departments, and other diverse settings. Graduates qualify for national certification such as primary care certified pediatric nurse practitioner administered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. Students pay the same tuition regardless of residency.

    Admission requires a bachelor of science in nursing, a minimum 3.0 GPA, at least one year of pediatric work experience, and registered nurse licensure.

  3. Vanderbilt University

    Nashville, TN



    Founded in 1873, Vanderbilt is a Tennessee-based private research college. The master of science in nursing (MSN) pediatric nurse practitioner program features a hybrid format that allows registered nurses (RNs) to continue working. The one-year curriculum focuses on health promotion, disease prevention, and healthcare management in individuals from birth to young adulthood. Coursework covers topics such as advanced pathophysiology, advanced pharmacotherapeutics, and advanced health assessment and clinical reasoning.

    Participants complete 650 clinical hours with a qualified preceptor. Graduates qualify for Pediatric Nursing Certification Board certification. Vanderbilt's nursing students typically score above the national average on exams.The program also enrolls students without a nursing background who complete additional coursework and a prespecialty year on campus. They must pass the NCLEX for Tennessee RN licensure after the program's first year.

    Admission requires an associate of science in nursing, bachelor of science in nursing, MSN, or a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field, and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

  4. University of Michigan

    Ann Arbor, MI



    U-M operates three campuses and a medical center. The school's top-ranked programs include the on-campus master of science in nursing (MSN) primary care pediatric nurse practitioner program. The MSN enrolls students with and without registered nurse (RN) experience.

    U-M delivers the 46-credit master's in pediatric nursing program on the Ann Arbor campus. The program emphasizes theoretical knowledge and supervised clinical immersion. Enrollees gain proficiency in areas such as pharmacotherapeutics, term-based clinical decision-making, and advanced practice specialty procedures and skills for pediatric primary care.

    During 560 clinical hours, participants apply advanced nursing theory to providing primary healthcare to infants, children, and adolescents. Some graduates pursue careers in a primary care setting, while others work in subspecialty care. Students complete a two- or three-year degree plan for flexibility. U-M's nursing school offers scholarships to help cover tuition costs. Admission requires a bachelor of science in nursing, RN licensure, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and no GRE scores.

  5. Emory University

    Atlanta, GA



    Emory, a private research college in Atlanta, manages a comprehensive healthcare system. Emory's on-campus master of science in nursing (MSN) pediatric nurse practitioner program encompasses both primary and acute care of children. Full-time enrollees complete the 49-credit program in 15 months. They may also choose a part-time option that allows more flexibility.

    Coursework covers topics such as pediatric wellness, advanced pediatric practice, research and evidence-based practice, and innovative leadership in healthcare delivery. Nurses complete 500 hours of supervised clinical practice at pediatric and neonatal clinics in the Atlanta area. Faculty ensure clinical placements and clinical preceptors can accommodate participants' unique needs.

    The degree prepares learners to sit for the Nurse Practitioner Certification Exam administered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. The nursing school offers comprehensive financial aid and scholarships to help pay for tuition. Admission requires a bachelor of science in nursing and an unencumbered registered nurse license in Georgia.

  6. University of Rochester

    Rochester, NY



    Located in upstate New York, Rochester provides comprehensive patient care at the school's academic medical center. The center's nursing school offers a master of science in nursing (MSN) pediatric nurse practitioner program to train nurses how to treat children of all ages across the healthcare continuum. The 45-credit degree requires a core that all MSN students complete, exploring topics such as advanced pharmacology and advanced physiology and pathophysiology.

    Learners gain proficiency in advanced health assessment, pediatric primary care, and pathophysiology and psychopharmacology of mental health disorders. Participants complete 616 clinical hours. Alternatively, nurses in the 48-credit MSN pediatric/neonatal nurse practitioner program train to care for low- and high-risk newborns and infants. The program requires 504 clinical hours.

    Rochester manages a network of about 500 nurse practitioner preceptors in Rochester and across New York state. Preceptors give nurse practitioners clinical expertise and mentorship in diverse clinical settings. Admission to either master's in pediatric nursing program requires a bachelor of science in nursing, minimum 3.0 GPA, and a current registered nurse license.

  7. Villanova University

    Villanova, PA



    A Catholic college located in Pennsylvania, Villanova features a master of science in nursing (MSN) pediatric nurse practitioner program that offers extensive role preparation and clinical experience. Enrollees can complete core classes on campus or online. Core courses explore clinical ethics, nursing research, and nursing science. Participants complete support courses such as pharmacology and pathophysiology.

    Six courses build on registered nurses' existing clinical skills as they develop expertise in clinical management in pediatric primary care. Participants complete 610 clinical hours under the supervision of physicians and preceptors. Full-time students can complete the degree in 18 months, while part-time learners often need 2.5 years. The nursing school helps enrollees with clinical and preceptor placement.

    Graduates can choose to continue on to Villanova's doctor of nursing practice program. MSN admission requires a bachelor of science in nursing, minimum 3.0 GPA, GRE or MAT scores with waivers available, and a current registered nurse license.

  8. Case Western Reserve University

    Cleveland, OH



    Located in Cleveland, CWRU administers a robust graduate and professional program. The master of science in nursing (MSN) offers two tracks: pediatric nurse practitioner and pediatric nurse practitioner acute-care. Nurses complete 41-50 credits and 600 clinical hours in 18-24 months of full-time enrollment. Some courses run online for flexibility. Core MSN courses include advanced pathophysiology and pharmacology and therapeutics.

    Nurses explore key areas such as the management of complex chronic/complex acute problems in children; evidence-based nursing practice; and healthcare delivery, legal, and ethical issues. Students complete at least one course on advanced practice role development. Nurses who want to complete both specialties take one additional course and complete 200 additional clinical hours. The nursing school's affiliation with healthcare institutions across the country gives learners access to an extensive network of clinical sites.

    Admission to either master's in pediatric nursing program requires a bachelor of science and a registered nurse license in Ohio.

  9. Catholic University of America

    Washington, DC



    Catholic University of America manages one of the nation's oldest programs to prepare nurses who specialize in children and adolescent care. The school, based in Washington, D.C., offers an on-campus master of science in nursing (MSN) pediatric primary care nurse practitioner degree. Students complete courses in small classes that promote personalized learning.

    The program requires a core curriculum and specialized courses that include practical experience. Core MSN courses cover topics such as pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and population-based healthcare management. Specialty courses focus on topics including the primary care of adolescents, primary care of newborns, and children and adolescents with special needs. Enrollees complete at least 540 supervised clinical hours in various settings.

    Graduates qualify to sit for the national certification exam administered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. Admission requires a bachelor of science in nursing, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and a registered nurse license.

  10. Molloy College

    Rockville Centre, NY



    Established in 1955 as a women's college, Molloy offers values-based programs to men and women. The private Catholic college offers a 45-credit master of science in nursing (MSN) pediatric nurse practitioner program that students complete on campus in Long Island. The program offers evening courses delivered in traditional and hybrid formats. Core courses explore current issues in professional nursing, advanced pathophysiology, and the role of nurse practitioners.

    Learners become well-versed in diagnostic reasoning and diagnoses and therapeutics. Participants complete at least 580 clinical hours at nearby facilities and acquire hands-on experience. Students in the master's program in pediatric nursing engage in high-tech, interactive learning simulations at the clinical learning center. Admission requires a bachelor's in nursing, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and a registered nurse license.

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