Neonatal Nursing Major: Information and Requirements

Learn about curriculum requirements for a master's degree program in neonatal nursing. Read about educational prerequisites, career statistics, continuing education opportunities, licensure and certification.

Essential Information

Neonatal nursing programs are not typically offered at the bachelor's degree level, so a 'major' will most likely not be available. Individuals interested in pursuing a neonatal nursing education must do so at the master's degree level.

Neonatal nursing master's programs instruct already registered, bachelor's degree-holding nurses on how to care for newborns and infants. These nurses develop skills for working with high-risk, recurrently ill or critically ill babies. They also might study certain business topics, including economics and finance, as they relate to the health care industry. Graduates of these programs might find work as nurse practitioners.

Education Prerequisites

Individuals interested in enrolling in a neonatal nursing program must be licensed registered nurses and must typically have 1-2 years of experience in a third-level neonatal intensive care unit. Some schools may prefer nurses who have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 is usually required.

In general, applicants must complete prerequisite courses in health assessment and statistics. Miller Analogies Test or Graduate Record Examination scores must typically be submitted, as well as a resume, writing sample and recommendation letters.

Program Coursework

Neonatal nursing students must typically complete 600 hours of hands-on training, which usually consists of four clinical practica. Additionally, students learn researching strategies and study such course topics as:

  • Heredity factors and DNA
  • Assessing the health of newborns
  • Fetal and infant growth and development
  • Medications and drug therapies for infants
  • Detection and treatment of infant diseases

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

As of 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that nurse practitioners earned a median wage of $89,960. Furthermore, from 2010-2020, employment of registered nurses in general was expected to climb 26%, with an especially high demand for nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists, according to the BLS.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Graduates of a neonatal nursing master's degree program may decide to pursue a Ph.D. in Nursing. However, this type of degree is more often pursued by nurses interested in scientific research or college-level teaching. Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs are also available and are more clinically oriented.

Neonatal nurses and nurse practitioners can seek professional certifications through the National Certification Corporation ( In order to be able to sit for the exam, individuals must be licensed registered nurses and meet education or experience requirements, depending on the desired credential. Designations are valid for three years; in order to maintain certification, neonatal nurses can either retest or participate in continuing education.

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