What Is a Post-Master's Certificate? A Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Prepare for advanced practice roles in nursing with a post-master's certificate. Learn whether this credential is a good fit for your career goals.

[Featured image] A nurse in blue scrubs stands in a hospital hallway with a tablet in her hands after earning her post master's certificate.

A post-master's certificate (PMC) is designed to develop focused skills and industry expertise in a particular specialty for those who already have a master's degree. You can build upon your graduate studies and gain specialized knowledge with a PMC, which could help you qualify for new job opportunities. While you may find these graduate credentials in several fields, they're most common in nursing.

As a nurse who has earned a master’s degree, you can expand your career opportunities and earn a certificate in a new area of interest, whether it’s neonatal care, gerontology, teaching, or something more niche. It takes an additional one to two years to complete a PMC program, but this further investment in your nursing education could yield additional expertise, enhanced job prospects, increased salary, and improved job satisfaction.   

Post-master's certificates: The basics

A post-master's certificate could be a worthwhile option if you have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and wish to pursue a specialization. Whether you're looking to expand your current knowledge or seeking a career change, you can prepare for a different or enhanced role in health care with this credential. 

Depending on the school and program, you might have a range of specializations to choose from. Having a PMC can open opportunities for nursing leadership positions, and some states allow a PMC holder to prescribe medications and practice without the supervision of a physician. 

Post-master's certificate program requirements

To qualify for a PMC program, you'll typically need to meet the following requirements: 

  • Master's degree in nursing: Most PMC nursing programs require that you have a master's degree. In most cases, requirements for PMC programs include having covered advanced pharmacology, physiology, and physical/health assessment as part of your studies.

  • Minimum GPA: Most schools require a minimum GPA and a copy of your transcripts from your previous schools. You may find some schools require a GPA of 3.5 or higher, while others require a minimum GPA of 3.0.

  • Clinical hours: Clinical hour requirements vary depending on the school and the program. You should check with the schools you’re interested in to see what they require.

  • Nursing license: Most schools require you to be licensed in your home state. Licensing requirements vary by state, but all 50 states require a license to practice nursing.

Read more: Your Guide to Nursing Degrees and Certifications

Types of post-master's certificates in nursing

Post-master's programs offer many options depending on the school you choose to attend. These are just a few of the specializations you might choose to pursue with a PMC:

Neonatal nursing

If your passion is to work as a pediatric or neonatal nurse, you could qualify as a neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) or a neonatal clinical nurse specialist (CNS) with a post-master’s in neonatal care. As a neonatal nurse, you’ll provide care to neonates and infants and support the families of those under your care.

Psychiatric mental health nursing 

As a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP), you'll diagnose and treat patients suffering from mental disorders. Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners work in various settings and may be involved in emergency treatment or long-term support. 

Forensic nursing

As a forensic nurse, you'll treat victims traumatized by crime or domestic violence. Not only will you care for patients, but you may also be called upon to testify in court cases.

Women's health nursing

Earning a PMC in nursing could qualify you to become a women's health nurse practitioner (WHNP). As a WHNP, you'll deliver primary gynecological care to women from adolescence through the postmenopausal years.

Nursing leadership 

If your career goal is to secure a leadership role in nursing, you may find leadership PMC programs at some schools. As a nurse executive, you combine your knowledge and experience to manage others to deliver the best possible care to patients.

Nursing education

Specialize in nursing education if you want to help prepare the next generation of nurses. As you earn your PMC in nursing education, you can prepare for the certified nurse educator exam, which may qualify you to teach in nursing schools or facility professional development programs.

Next steps

Pursing a post-master's certificate can lead to not only personal fulfillment but professional growth and enhanced skills needed to move into a specialized field. Generally, you can earn your PMC online, so you won’t have to leave your current job. Explore whether a certain nursing specialization could be a good fit with a course like Nursing Informatics Leadership from the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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