According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, certified midwives attended about 8% of all U.S. hospital births in 2014 — a figure that has risen steadily since 1989. While many midwife-attended births occur in hospitals, still more take place in birthing centers and homes. More expectant women seek midwives each year, perhaps due to lower rates of interventions during delivery. As independent practitioners, nurse midwives generally care for lower-risk patients and refer higher-risk patients to obstetricians, or work alongside physicians to provide care.
Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), such as certified nurse midwives (CNMs), can look forward to excellent job prospects and salaries upon graduation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a 31% job growth for APRNs (including CNMs) between 2016 and 2026, which is much higher than average. The mean starting salary for those with a bachelor’s in registered nursing stands at $48,554, while nurse midwives earn an average salary of $103,640.
Best Online Nurse Midwifery Programs
#1 Frontier Nursing University
Frontier Nursing University delivers exceptional nursing education to a range of students. The school tailors its community-based nurse-midwifery program to students who currently work as registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives. After completing the program, students graduate with a master of science in nursing with a nurse-midwifery concentration.
Frontier’s 64-credit program consists of four levels: foundations for practice (18 credits), clinical management for specialty care (25 credits), clinical bound (2 credits), and clinical practicum (4 didactic credits and 15 clinical). To finish the program, future nurses take a one-credit review course.
Students interested in obtaining a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree can add the 19-credit companion DNP program to their master of science in nursing curriculum.
A partnership between Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University, the Jefferson school offers an MS in midwifery, an MS in midwifery completion, and a doctor of midwifery. The nursing and midwifery courses online integrate technology and midwifery education to deliver a flexible, user-friendly program. Additionally, the Jefferson school supports peer-interaction through on-campus meetings, cohort groups, real-time web meetings, mastery sessions, and a speaker series.
Accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education, the 62 credit-hour MS in midwifery program prepares graduates for the American Midwifery Certification Board exam. Full-time students graduate from the program in three years, while students in the accelerated format earn the degree in two years. In both formats, degree candidates participate in clinical rotations during the final semesters of the program.
The advanced placement option of this degree accommodates students who possess a background in midwifery or who work as nurse practitioners. These enrollees qualify for accelerated or part-time placement if they meet the eligibility criteria.
#3 Bethel University
Bethel University’s MS in nurse-midwifery program, which strives “to provide leadership in nursing education,” consists of faculty with practicing backgrounds in midwifery.
The school’s 57-credit online format includes week-long on-campus intensives. The core curriculum consists of four practicum courses and a seven-credit clinical integration class. Additionally, graduate students must complete a master’s project in midwifery using literature from the curriculum. In total, the program takes two to three years to complete.
Bethel University also administers a bridge program for registered nurses seeking a graduate midwifery degree. In this program, students take seven courses worth 21 credits to fulfill undergraduate requirements. Then, students proceed to the graduate curriculum. Bridge participants choose their enrollment status (full- or part-time) and take online courses. Students must also participate in three clinical rotations and three on-campus intensives. Once completed, bridge students graduate with a bachelor of nursing and a midwifery degree online.
#4 Stony Brook University
Stony Brook University oversees nursing and midwifery online programs to train midwives entering the healthcare community. To apply for the program, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a current nursing license. They must also submit a transcript with undergraduate coursework in health assessment and statistics. Admissions at Stony Brook prefers candidates with at least one year of nursing experience; applicants without a nursing degree must submit a clinical practice portfolio to the school for evaluation.
In the MS in nurse midwifery program, students complete 45 credits in research, pharmacology, pathophysiology, health assessment, and clinical coursework. In the clinical courses, students meet instructors and supervisors on-site to perform clinical duties.
Out-of-state students in Stony Brook’s MS in nurse midwifery program must coordinate rotations within their region. The program qualifies graduates to sit for the Certified Nurse Midwife exam and register as a certified nurse midwife by New York State Educational Department standards.
#5 The George Washington University
GWU awards MSN and BSN degrees to students with an associate degree in nursing. In GWU’s dual-degree program, learners graduate with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing in three and a half years. As one of the best online nurse-midwifery programs for students in the Washington, D.C., area, GWU requires all online students to enroll in the Virtual New Student Orientation to familiarize themselves with the school’s approach to online learning. Furthermore, students can specialize their nursing degree by selecting a concentration.
The nurse-midwifery concentration at GWU receives accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education. The program is a partnership between GWU and Shenandoah University that prepares students for the national midwifery certification exam. Although most classes are delivered online, students must attend Shenandoah University for on-campus training during the last year of the program.
To enroll in GWU’s midwifery program, applicants need a current nursing license, current CPR certification, and an associate degree with a 3.0 GPA.
Nurse Midwifery Online Programs: An Overview
Online nurse midwifery programs vary by cost, admission requirements, credits, practicum hours, and residency requirements. Make sure to select a program that balances your flexibility needs with hands-on training opportunities. While program requirements may differ, you can get a better idea of what to expect from the best online nurse midwifery programs below.
Admission Requirements for an Online Nurse Midwifery Program
Designed for nurses interested in specializing their careers, online nurse midwifery programs typically require applicants to hold a bachelor’s in nursing (BSN), or a related field, from an accredited institution. Some schools offer bridge programs for registered nurses (RNs) with associate degrees. Others require a minimum GPA of 3.0 for undergraduate work and successful completion of an undergraduate statistics course. Online MSN programs require that applicants hold a current unencumbered license as an RN or require at least a year of clinical nursing experience, preferably in labor and delivery. Other common application requirements include a resume, letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and a personal statement.
How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Nurse Midwifery Program?
Graduate-level online nurse midwifery programs typically include completing 50 credits, taking between two and three years for completion. The number of required courses, and your course load, significantly impact the time needed to finish your degree. Many schools offer both full-time and part-time options, but most recommend that students do not continue to work full time while in school. However, students can complete this master’s degree in as little as two years with full-time study.
Many nursing schools offer this program in a cohort format, meaning that you take courses and attend on-campus residencies with the same group of nurses. Cohort learning builds community and promotes networking among students. Other programs enable you to take courses at your own pace, allowing students the flexibility to work while attending school.
Example Courses for Online Nurse Midwifery Programs
Online nursing and midwifery courses differ by school, as do residency requirements and clinical rotations. Many programs offer courses relevant to all APRNs in the first year, such as anatomy and pharmacology, and require courses specific to advanced midwifery practice in the second year. All programs prepare nurse midwives for independent clinical practice caring for women. The following includes some of the sample courses within nurse midwifery programs.
- Advanced Health Assessment: This course prepares APRNs to take full medical histories from patients and conduct comprehensive physical assessments. Topics include interpretation of data and test results.
- Advanced Pharmacology: This course prepares APRNs to recommend and prescribe appropriate medications. Students explore typical doses, possible adverse effects, indications and contraindications, and routes of administration for acute and chronic conditions. Discussions include the legal, financial, and ethical implications of prescribing medications.
- Antepartal Care: Students explore the care of women during normal and at-risk pregnancies. Nurse midwives learn to manage care in collaboration with patients and other providers to achieve desired and optimal outcomes. This course may include clinical hours or relevant pharmacology content.
- Fetal Evaluation: Nurse midwife students learn to monitor the health and well-being of fetuses during pregnancy, labor, and birth. Learners examine techniques for fetal monitoring and interpretation of test results in both normal and at-risk situations.
- Postpartum Care: This course explores the care and recovery of women after childbirth, in both normal deliveries and for women at risk of complications. This course may include a clinical component and relevant pharmacology.
Because midwifery requires hands-on skills in patient care, even online nurse midwife programs include clinical hour requirements. Those who study nursing and midwifery online may typically arrange their practicum placements at facilities near them. Some schools require on-campus skills training before beginning clinical rotations, so consider campus location when selecting a program. Practicum requirements generally include clinical hours in midwifery practice, including primary care, antepartum care, perinatal care, and postpartum care. Check with your state about licensing requirements for nurse midwives. Program faculty support and supervise nursing students throughout their clinical rotations.
Certifications and Licenses This Program Prepares For
- American Midwifery Certification Board Certification: The ACMB is the national certifying body for midwives. All states license CNMs, and most require AMCB certification for licensure. Some employers also mandate that practicing midwives hold AMCB certification.
- Neonatal Resuscitation Program Certification: Nurse midwives participate in the care of newborns and may need to perform resuscitation. Certification in neonatal resuscitation demonstrates competence in this critical area of patient care. Some nurse midwifery programs may require students to hold this certification before beginning clinical hours.
- Electronic Fetal Monitoring Certification: A critical task performed by nurse midwives during labor and delivery is electronic fetal heart monitoring. Many healthcare providers require nurse midwives to pursue advanced training in this area.
Accredited Online Nurse Midwifery Programs
Employers, state licensing boards, and graduate schools all generally require or prefer candidates with degrees from accredited institutions. Colleges and universities may hold regional or national accreditation. Many view regional accreditation from one of the seven regional accrediting commissions as more rigorous, academic, and prestigious than national accreditation. Regionally accredited schools usually only accept degrees and transfer credits from other regionally accredited schools. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation both certify independent accrediting bodies.
In addition to institutional accreditation, some programs hold specialized accreditation, which is an additional marker of program quality. Midwifery programs that prepare nurse midwives for certification and state licensure, for example, are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). All programs that grant eligibility to take the AMCB exam must hold ACME accreditation.
Job and Salary Outlook
Where Do Nurse Midwives Work?
Where Do Nurse Midwives Work?
About half of all nurse midwives report working in physicians’ practices that care for pregnant women or hospitals and outpatient birthing centers. The BLS lists physicians’ offices as employing the most nurse midwives. Midwives working in physicians’ offices see patients for routine prenatal, postnatal, and gynecological care and also attend births. Those working in hospitals and outpatient centers mainly attend births. Some nurse midwives may move into management positions; open their own independent practices; or work for universities, research centers, or government agencies.
How Much Do Nurse Midwives Make?
Nurse midwives generally earn median salaries above $100,000. Salaries vary by location and type of employer. In California, midwives earn an average wage of $132,480, with those in the San Francisco metro area earning $147,820 annually. See the chart below for how midwife salaries vary by employer.
|Industry / Employer||Annual Mean Wage|
|Outpatient Care Centers||$123,150|
Professional organizations offer nursing students and practicing nurse midwives opportunities for continuing education, networking, and job searching. Many organizations hold annual conferences and other events where midwives can connect with each other and learn about current best practices. Some offer online and in-person courses that satisfy professional development requirements. Others help those seeking employment through career services and job boards. Professional organizations also advocate for nurses, and the families they care for, at the local, state, and national levels.
American College of Nurse Midwives: As one of the nation’s oldest women’s healthcare organizations, the ACNM supports midwives to improve women’s health. The ACNM offers consumer information, continuing education and professional resources for midwives, and advocacy toolkits.
Midwives Alliance of North America: The MANA promotes excellence in the midwifery profession to encourage healthier births for women by uniting all midwives, regardless of their educational background. The MANA also provides professional resources like position papers and promotes advocacy and research.
Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses: The AWHONN is a nonprofit professional organization for nurses that promotes the health of mothers and their newborns. The AWHONN hosts an annual conference and offers many educational opportunities, including resources for nurses preparing for certification exams.
Financing Your Online Nurse Midwifery Program
Nursing students pay for their degrees with a combination of savings, earnings, employer tuition assistance, loans, and grants. However, students do not need to repay grants and scholarships. The first step in applying for financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for institutional aid. Nurses willing to work for specific employers may also qualify for tuition assistance or loan forgiveness.
Scholarships for Nursing Students
Who Can Apply: Members or alumni in good standing of the Alpha Tau Delta professional fraternity of nurses may apply for grants from their respective chapter.
Who Can Apply: Students in basic midwifery programs may apply for these American College of Nurse-Midwives scholarships. Some of these scholarships include particular eligibility criteria for applicants, including those for midwives of color or those for midwives planning to work in a nonhospital setting.
Who Can Apply: Nurses and nursing students may participate in this annual drawing for an education award. Applicants must create a jobseeker account and complete an online registration.
Who Can Apply: Students enrolled in professional nursing programs may apply for this scholarship offered by the federal government. Applicants must agree to work in facilities experiencing a critical shortage of nurses upon graduation.
Amount: Varies. Includes tuition, fees, and a monthly stipend.
Who Can Apply: Nursing students with volunteer or work experience through the Red Cross may apply.
Amount: Varies. May apply toward tuition, books, and fees.
Who Can Apply: Registered nurses enrolled in graduate nursing programs related to maternal-child health may apply. Applicants must belong to one of several relevant professional organizations.
Who Can Apply: Students enrolled in nursing and other health-related programs may apply. Tylenol selects recipients based on academic merit, community service, and an essay.
Amount: $5,000 or $10,000
Who Can Apply: Nursing students in Virginia who agree to work in an underserved area of Virginia upon graduation may apply. The state gives preference to minorities and applicants already residing in medically underserved areas.
Amount: Varies. Based in part on financial need.