Best Online MSN in Diabetes Nursing Programs

Diabetes stands out as a fast-growing, far-reaching, and expensive health crisis in the U.S. and throughout the developed world. Experts project that 54.9 million Americans will receive a diabetes diagnosis from 2015-2030 and that diabetes deaths will rise by 38% over that period. Additionally, researchers project that diabetes-related costs will increase by 53% by 2030. Such a high-impact disease requires specialized care to prevent, treat, and improve patient outcomes. Registered nurses can pursue a diabetes nurse educator course online in diabetes education, diabetes management, or endocrinology to learn the clinical and professional skills needed to tackle the challenges of diabetes care and management. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that advanced nursing professions will grow by 31% from 2016-2026 — more than four times the growth rate for all occupations in the nation. As the need for diabetes care grows, nurses will stand on the front lines to help address this major public health issue.

Best Online MSN in Diabetes Nursing Programs

1. Columbia University Teachers’ College

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

2. University of California, San Francisco

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.


MSN in Diabetes Nursing Programs Online: An Overview

Depending on their school, students completing an MSN in diabetes online will have different experiences. For example, program length, curriculum, and admissions requirements may all vary. Still, these degree tracks share many similarities, such as requiring a BSN and an unencumbered RN license to apply. Continue reading to explore more information related to MSN in diabetes degrees.

Admission Requirements for an Online MSN in Diabetes Nursing Program

To receive an admission offer from most MSN in diabetes nursing programs, applicants need a bachelor’s degree in nursing earned at an accredited school. Most programs also expect students to hold a 3.0 GPA or higher, although this requirement varies by program. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, applicants must hold licensure as a registered nurse. Because some states do not recognize nursing licenses from other states, applicants should check with the admissions department of their chosen program before applying. Finally, aspiring diabetes nurses must submit an application packet, which typically includes a resume, a personal goals statement, and 2-3 reference letters.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online MSN in Diabetes Nursing Program?

Like other master’s degrees in nursing, the curriculum for an MSN in endocrinology or diabetes nursing program usually consists of 35-50 credits. Most full-time students can graduate in two years. The first year typically features fundamental courses in nursing, while the second year focuses on a specialization. Many distance learners hold full-time careers as practicing nurses; these students may complete fewer credits each term and take more time to finish their programs. To increase flexibility, some schools offer courses in eight-week formats instead of traditional 15-week semesters. Other institutions use cohort groups, where students who start together take classes in lockstep as they progress towards graduation. Participants in a cohort model know their entire degree plan and graduation date upon enrollment. However, cohort models may add time to a degree for transfer students — applicants with graduate credits should learn about transfer policies before enrolling.

Example Courses for Online MSN in Diabetes Nursing Students

The curricular specifics for students completing a diabetes nurse educator course online vary depending on the school and program. Generally, courses include a variety of clinical topics focused on adult or pediatric patients. The following list describes a few classes commonly included in an endocrinology or diabetes master’s degree track.

  • Advanced Management of Pediatric Diabetes: Diagnosis of diabetes in children continues to rise in the developed world. Students in this course review advanced technologies and practices for preventing, treating, and managing diabetes in children. This course also covers aspects of care in children and adolescents, including changes in insulin sensitivity due to age and developmental maturity.
  • Advanced Clinical Management of Adult Diabetes: Focused on adult patients with diabetes, this course takes a collaborative approach to topics such as pathophysiology, epidemiology, disease identification in adults, pharmacological treatments, and disease management requirements. Students also discuss the care of special populations and employment-related issues.
  • Family and Behavioral Approaches to Diabetes Management Across the Lifespan: Diabetes care and management extends beyond the caregiver-patient relationship and includes the family and community surrounding a person with diabetes. In this course, nurses learn to work with families and patients to improve day-to-day diabetes treatments in order to reduce risk in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients.
  • Advanced Concepts and Principles of Diabetes Care: Diabetes nurses learn to help patients advocate for themselves, support their own treatment plans, reduce risks, and optimize outcomes. Students also explore the guiding principles of caregiving for patients with diabetes and those at risk of diabetes to improve a patient’s experience in a healthcare setting.
  • Clinical Practice in Diabetes Care and Management: This course focuses on clinical-based practice related to diabetes care and treatment goals. Nurses examine current research to learn about the latest tools for diabetes management and effective strategies to help patients manage their disease and improve their overall quality of life.

Internship Component

An MSN in endocrinology or diabetes nursing typically requires a clinical internship. While a program designed to produce lower-level nurses may require three hours of clinicals for every one hour of classroom time, an MSN usually requires 500-700 clinical hours. In some programs, students meet these requirements by taking actual courses, which a professor oversees by making intermittent onsite visits. In others, students accrue hours by serving at a pre-approved local organization under the guidance of a faculty member. Clinical hours serve to enhance classroom instruction with practical, job-ready skills that prepare prospective nurses to enter the workforce.

Certifications and Licenses This Program Prepares For

  • Certified Diabetes Educator: Governed by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators, experienced healthcare professionals who meet the discipline, professional practice, and continuing-education requirements can earn this certification. Once certified, diabetes educators can help people with all stages of the disease to better manage their health and improve their health outcomes.
  • Board Certified Advanced Diabetes Management: A registered nurse with a master’s degree and at least 500 hours of clinical practice over the last 48 months may sit for board certification in advanced diabetes management. Once certified, these nurses can adjust medications, treat comorbidities and complications, address psychosocial concerns, and counsel patients about their lifestyle choices.
  • Registered Nurse: To become a registered nurse, students must earn an accredited nursing preparation degree and pass the NCLEX-RN — a computerized standard test. Subsequently, prospective nurses must register with their states to receive a license. Nurses provide fundamental healthcare and wellness education in a variety of settings.

Accreditation for Online MSN in Diabetes Nursing Programs

Prospective students interested in completing a diabetes nurse educator course online can verify the legitimacy of a program by reviewing its accreditation status. In the U.S., accreditation is a voluntary process in which schools submit to a rigorous review by an accreditation agency that holds recognition from the Department of Education (ED) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

The ED and CHEA recognize different types of accrediting agencies. Regional accreditation, which applies to an entire college or university, sets the gold standard for higher education accreditation. National accreditation represents another form of institutional accreditation, but trade schools or for-profit institutions typically receive this designation.

Additionally, programmatic accreditation focuses on specific programs at a school. In the nursing field, the Commision on Collegiate Nursing Education serves as a primary accreditor, recognizing a variety of bachelor’s, graduate, and residency nursing degrees. Applicants can verify their prospective school’s accreditation status online by visiting the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

Job and Salary Outlook

Job Opportunities for MSN in Diabetes Nursing Graduates

An aging population and a propensity to rely on high-sugar, low-nutrition diets have contributed to a record 100 million Americans with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This fact, coupled with the country’s drastic shortage of qualified physicians, means nurses with an MSN in diabetes care can take on a significant role in helping shape and lead healthcare in the U.S. These nurses can help reduce the serious financial burden and deleterious health effects of diabetes for patients while also earning a lucrative salary.

Registered Nurse

Median Annual Salary: $63,245

RNs provide care to patients in doctors’ offices, hospitals, senior centers, and other treatment or residential facilities.


Certified Diabetes Educator

Median Annual Salary: $63,498

These registered nurses hold diabetic educator credentials with a recognized organization and focus on helping patients with diabetes manage their diets and overall health plans.


Nurse Educator

Median Annual Salary: $73,394

While educating and evaluating practicing nurses, nurse educators develop manuals, conduct trainings, and provide other educational resources to hospital staff members.


Nurse Practitioner

Median Annual Salary: $91,064

A nurse practitioner can perform many of the same functions as a doctor, freeing up physicians to focus on non-standard patients and complex treatments.


Physician Assistant

Median Annual Salary: $92,757

A physician assistant performs many of the same duties as a nurse practitioner, overseeing routine cases, performing diagnoses, and writing prescriptions for patients under a physician’s direction.


Source: PayScale, Nov. 2018

How Much Do MSN in Diabetes Nursing Graduates Make?

Nurses enjoy one of the country’s fastest-growing and highest-paying careers. Thanks to the burgeoning senior adult population, advances in healthcare technology, and improved insurance options, nursing salaries continue to rise. The table below shows the median salaries for several nursing professions as a function of work experience.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Registered Nurse $63,245 $57,113 $63,475 $70,356
Certified Diabetes Educator $63,498 $58,265 $65,090 $70,485
Nurse Educator $73,394 $68,188 $70,186 $79,305
Nurse Practitioner $90,894 $89,548 $95,007 $97,645
Physician Assistant $92,757 $88,500 $97,905 $104,115

Professional Organizations

By joining a professional diabetes nursing association, nurses can access many career services. Earning an MSN in diabetes nursing constitutes the first step toward a career in endocrinology nursing, but professional organizations provide the continuing education, academic resources, and networks needed to advance professionally. Members can attend regional or national conferences, submit articles to peer-reviewed journals, and stay current with the latest research through webinars and courses.

American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists: Consisting of state, regional, and international chapters, AACE acts as the professional voice of more than 7,000 clinical endocrinologists. Members enjoy access to publications, awards, meetings, and educational resources.


Pediatric Endocrinology Nursing Society: PENS helps develop pediatric endocrinology nurses. Members can attend an annual conference, apply for numerous awards and scholarships, and access the Journal of Pediatric Nursing.


Endocrine Nurses Society: Founded in 1988, ENS unites an array of healthcare professionals who provide aid to people with endocrine disorders. This organization hosts annual and regional symposiums and offers grants and awards.

Financing Your Online MSN in Diabetes Nursing Program

Students pursuing a diabetes nurse educator course online can apply for financial assistance from the U.S. government, individual states, hospitals, and private donors. To get started, prospective students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Nurses can also inquire about loan forgiveness programs offered by state offices and local hospitals. Searching through other scholarship opportunities, such as the options listed below, can lead to additional sources of financial support.

Scholarships for MSN in Diabetes Nursing Students

ANTHC Board of Directors $5,000 Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium offers multiple scholarships to Alaska native or American Indian students pursuing healthcare-related degrees. Since scholarship requirements vary, students should contact ANTHC for application details.

Amount: $5,000


Pediatric Endocrinology Nursing Society Academic Education Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Any member of PENS who has held membership for at least three years and currently works in the field of pediatric endocrine nursing may apply for this scholarship to further their nursing education. PENS accepts applications two times a year, and applicants must submit transcripts, a resume, and a copy of their RN license.

Amount: Up to $1,000


AANP Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: AANP awards scholarships to licensed registered nurses enrolled in accredited graduate programs. Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and applicants should submit a resume, transcripts, and two reference letters.

Amount: Up to $2,500


NurseJournal.org Annual Global Health Nursing Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Applicants who demonstrate an interest in global health may apply for this merit-based scholarship. Judges consider an applicant’s registration (25%), essays (50%), and work history (25%). Applicants must also hold a minimum 3.2 GPA.

Amount: $3,000


A.T. Anderson Memorial Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Governed by the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, this scholarship targets full-time graduate students at accredited schools. Applicants must major in a preapproved field, hold a minimum 3.0 GPA, and meet eligibility criteria related to tribal membership.

Amount: $2,000


AfterCollege/AACN $10,000 Scholarship Fund

Who Can Apply: This scholarship accepts applications once a quarter, and students enrolled in a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral program may apply. Applicants whose career plans include becoming a nurse educator receive special consideration.

Amount: $2,500


Best Master of Science in Nursing Degrees Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students currently attending an MSN program who hold a GPA of 3.0 or higher and possess U.S. citizenship may apply for this scholarship. Applicants must submit a resume, reference letters, and a 500-1,000-word essay describing their nursing career plans.

Amount: $2,000


RN-to-BSN/MSN Challenge Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Current registered nurses ages 18 or older who hold a minimum 3.5 GPA can apply for this scholarship to help fund their advanced nursing education. Candidates write a 500-700-word essay in response to a question, and the best essay wins the award.

Amount: $1,000