The Best Online MSN in Diabetes Nursing Programs

Ann FeeneyNurseJournal Rankings Team
Updated August 10, 2023
Diabetes affects all aspects of a person's health, and diabetes nurses are in demand. This guide explains how to become a diabetes nurse and outlines the top programs.
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Nurse giving blood sugar test to patient in homeCredit: Terry Vine / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Diabetes costs the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars each year and takes a tremendous toll on a person’s overall well-being, especially among underserved populations. Diabetes nurses help patients with diabetes to be as healthy as possible.

This guide explains how to become a diabetes nurse and describes the top diabetes nursing programs in the country. Explore more about this in-demand role that affects patient lives.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best diabetes nursing master of science in nursing (MSN) programs, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

At a Glance: The Top 2 Diabetes Nursing MSN Programs

  1. Teachers College at Columbia University
  2. University of California, San Francisco

Learn More About the Best Diabetes Nursing MSN Programs and Schools

See our methodology to learn more about how we create our rankings.
Teachers College at Columbia University
LocationNew York City, NY

The Columbia University Teachers’ College allows students to complete their diabetes nursing courses online through the master of science in diabetes management and education program. Admission prerequisites and requirements include a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants should also prepare for the Certified Diabetes Educator Exam and submit an essay, a resume, and 2-3 letters of recommendation. The 36-credit degree consists of 18 hours of diabetes-related courses (covering prevention, pathophysiology, self-management, and pharmacology), three credits in multicultural courses, and nine credits of health electives. Students can choose to take courses on a part- or full-time basis, allowing for degree completion in a timely yet flexible manner. Program graduates may go on to pursue further education, become certified diabetes educators, or take on leadership roles in diabetes and chronic disease management programs.

  • Campus: New York City, NY
  • Type: Private Ivy League
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
  • Tuition: $1,398 per credit hour
  • Minimum time commitment: 36 credits
  • Degree requirements: BSN, prerequisite preparation courses, GPA of 3.0, TOEFL, transcripts, RN license, 2 letters of recommendation, personal essay, resume
  • Programs: Diabetes Education and Management Program
  • School Site:Tuition and Financial Aid
University of California, San Francisco
LocationSan Francisco, CA

Any student enrolled in the nursing master’s program at UC San Francisco can apply to pursue the MSN diabetes minor. Minor applicants must have good academic standing, should should discuss the track with their academic adviser, and must submit a one-page goal statement. Those in certain nursing specialties (ACNP, AGNP, FNP, ACPNP, and PNP) may receive preference when determining program placement. Upon admission, this minor requires students to complete three additional courses covering the management of diabetes across the human lifespan. These courses include advanced management of pediatric diabetes, advanced clinical management of adult diabetes, and family and behavioral approaches to diabetes management. In addition to online coursework, students can participate in diabetes care clinical rotations at local care clinics, arranged through students’ speciality coordinators. Program graduates earn a certificate of completion in addition to their nursing master’s degree.

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How Do Diabetes Nursing MSN Programs Work?

Diabetes nursing is not as well known as other specialties. Some MSN degrees offer a specialization or minor in diabetes management, while others offer a master’s program that leads to a master of science rather than an MSN degree. Programs cover the types of diabetes, the causes and risk factors, how to manage diabetes, and how to educate patients. These programs often prepare nurses for board certification in diabetes management or in diabetes education.

Applying to a Diabetes Nursing MSN Program

Programs vary significantly, but generally require a clinical background and experience, though not necessarily registered nurse (RN) certification, especially for diabetes education programs. Because social determinants of health are such a major factor in diabetes prevalence, students should have some background in culturally competent care.

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    Admission Materials

    Undergraduate or other college transcripts; at least two references; a background in nursing, public health, or related field; resume or CV
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    GPA Requirement

    Typically 3.0, but other evidence of aptitude may offset a borderline GPA

Why Is Diabetes Nursing MSN Program Accreditation Important?

During program accreditation, a group of independent experts reviews every aspect of a nursing program that relates to its quality, including instructor backgrounds, test scores, library collections, and curriculum. This review determines whether students who graduate will be able to practice safely.

Almost all certification boards require a degree from an accredited nursing program, and employers are unlikely to consider hiring a graduate of an unaccredited program. Credits from an unaccredited program will not transfer to an accredited program.

This guide on how to become a diabetes nurse and this entire website list only accredited programs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Diabetes Nursing MSN Programs

How much does a diabetes nurse earn?

Salary for diabetes nurses varies by degree, certifications, experience, and geographic location. ZipRecruiter reports an average annual salary of $100,640 for diabetes nurses, as of February 2023.

How do I become a diabetes nurse?

Once you earn your nursing license, you can begin working with patients with diabetes to gain experience and a practical understanding of their needs and risk factors. You can then begin your specialized credential program, such as a certification program or a master’s degree.

How long does it take to complete an online MSN in diabetes nursing program?

Most MSN programs take approximately two years, depending on the program and pace. This is comparable to other MSN programs, which also take roughly two years to complete.

What can diabetes nurses do with an MSN?

Diabetes nurses with an MSN can work in public health, endocrinology departments, health clinics, or other settings with patients with diabetes. They may focus on prevention, management, education, or a combination of these.

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