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Nursing Certificate Programs in WI with Course Descriptions

Wisconsin has 18 colleges that offer nursing programs. Learn about the certificates, tuition info and program options for the 10 largest schools to make an informed education decision.

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  • Clinical Nursing
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  • Nurse Assistant or Patient Care Assistant
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  • Public Health Nurse or Community Nurse
  • Registered Nurse

Essential Information

In Wisconsin, many nursing certificate programs are designed for existing registered nurses, practical nurses or nursing assistants who are looking for refresher training or who are seeking training in a specialization, such as emergency, gerontological or critical care. A few technical schools also offer foundational certificate programs for aspiring nurse assistants. Undergraduate diploma programs in practical nursing and nurse assisting are also available.

Programs typically combine labs, clinical experiences and lectures, and some courses may be available online. Nearly all nursing programs require certain prerequisites, such as the completion of a tuberculosis test and a background check, and CPR certification may also be needed. The 10 largest schools in Wisconsin offering nursing certificates are presented below.


Chippewa Valley Technical College

Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire serves 11 counties throughout its area. Students may earn a technical certificate in critical care nursing or emergency department nursing. Both programs offer a mix of on-campus and online courses, such as introductory nursing and clinical practice. Laboratory components are required through the Eau Claire Health Center Simulation Lab and Eau Claire Health Education Center Virtual Medical Center for critical care and emergency students, respectively. The Technical Diploma in Nursing Assistant program combines 120 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical work to train students to care for a variety of different patients.

Fox Valley Technical College

Fox Valley Technical College is a 2-year school in Appleton. Current LPNs or RNs who have not worked as nurses for 5 years or more may complete refresher certificates. Students are trained to re-enter the field after a combination of clinical work and online theory.

There are also technical diplomas available in practical nursing and nursing assistant. The practical nursing program is 29 credits and prepares students for the licensure examination through courses like nursing fundamentals, pharmacology and anatomy. The nursing assistant diploma program prepares students to work as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) after they complete the program and pass the National Nurse Aide registry examination. Nursing assistant students learn how to perform basic tasks, including taking vital signs, bathing patients and making beds.

Gateway Technical College

Located in Kenosha, Gateway Technical College has 3 campuses and 6 centers. At the Kenosha, Elkhorn and Racine campuses, students may pursue an Advanced Technical Certificate in Gerontological and Rehabilitative Nursing Care. This program prepares them to care for the elderly, and it includes coursework in rehabilitation care and chronic disease management, assessment of the elderly and principles of gerontological nursing, along with a capstone clinical course. There's also a Technical Diploma in Nursing Assistant program that trains students to provide basic nursing care to patients in a variety of settings. This 120-hour program includes both classroom and hands-on learning.

Madison Area Technical College

This Madison college primarily offers associate's degrees, but a technical diploma is available in nursing assistant. The 120-hour nursing assistant program requires a supervised clinical experience and is available at 6 campuses 3 semesters a year. Students learn personal care, communication, client rights and caring for individuals with dementia.

Milwaukee Area Technical College

Milwaukee Area Technical College in Milwaukee helps students transfer to 4-year colleges and universities through its high curriculum standards. Future LPNs can earn a technical diploma at this college and be prepared for the NCLEX-PN after graduation. Upon passing, they may work as LPNs or continue on to the LPN to RN educational progression program to become RNs. The coursework includes nursing health alterations, nursing health promotion, clinical care across the lifespan and introduction to clinical management.

Moraine Park Technical College

In addition to traditional on-campus learning, students at this Fond du Lac college can complete online or blended programs. The nursing assistant diploma program is available at the West Bend, Fond du Lac and Beaver Dam campuses and teaches students how to take vital signs, bathe, dress and otherwise care for residents and patients. Students will be prepared to work under supervision while carrying out fundamental nursing skills.

Northcentral Technical College

Located in Wausau, Northcentral Technical College offers both certificates and diplomas to current and potential nurses. Individuals interested in reproductive health nursing may pursue a basic certificate or an advanced technical certificate. While the basic certificate is intended to train individuals to assist professional nurses and doctors, the advanced technical certificate is meant for current RNs to become trained in reproductive health care. Both programs include courses in health assessment, contraceptive methods and obstetric care.

The Advanced Care Nursing Assistant Certificate program prepares students to work in a variety of different health care settings. Medical terminology, acute care and critical thinking are common required classes. Applicants must have completed a CNA program and be CPR healthcare provider certified. The Nursing Assistant can diploma program focuses on taking care of nursing home residents or hospital patients. Students are prepared for the Wisconsin Nurse Aide Certification Exam after completing the 3-credit nursing assistant course.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay serves about 42,000 students a year. The practical nursing diploma program prepares students for the NCLEX-PN examination. Students may attend part-time over 5 semesters if they choose. Coursework includes nursing fundamentals, nursing skills, nursing pharmacology and nursing health promotion. There's also a nursing assistant diploma program that trains students to assist in patient care under supervision. The 120-hour program includes lecture and clinical work, as well as laboratory experience.

Waukesha County Technical College

Located in Pewaukee, Waukesha County Technical College offers a 3-credit Technical Diploma in Nursing Assistant that requires 120 hours of training in both theory and practice. Students are trained to work under the supervision of a professional in a nursing home or hospital setting. Graduates are prepared to take the state certifying examination.

Western Technical College

Western Technical College in La Crosse offers interactive classrooms that provide hands-on experience to students. The Nursing Assistant Certificate program prepares students for entry-level careers through a combination of lecture and laboratory experiences, as well as clinical work in various settings. Graduates may take the Nursing Assistant Registry Exam offered by Pearson Vue.

Aspiring LPNs may complete the Technical Diploma in Practical Nursing program, which teaches the skills needed to pass the NCLEX-PN examination. Students complete classes in clinical care management, pharmacology, developmental psychology and written communication.

Career Requirements

The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services requires prospective Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs) to be at least 18 years old, have completed an approved nursing training program and passed the National Council Licensure Examination for their respective area. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, LPNs or Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) are typically required to earn a certificate in a 1-year approved educational program prior to sitting for the national licensing exam.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Nursing Certificates Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)
Chippewa Valley Technical College 2-year, public; small city Certificate in Critical Care Nursing,
Certificate in Emergency Department Nursing,
Technical Diploma in Nursing Assistant
$4,159 in-state*
$6,085 out-of-state*
Fox Valley Technical College 2-year, public; midsize suburb Technical Diploma in Practical Nursing,
Technical Diploma in Nursing Assistant,
Certificate in Licensed Practical Nurse Refresher,
Certificate in Registered Nurse Refresher
$4,373 in-state*
$6,299 out-of-state*
Gateway Technical College 2-year, public; midsize suburb Technical Diploma in Nursing Assistant,
Advanced Technical Certificate in Gerontological and Rehabilitative Nursing Care
$4,090 in-state*
$6,016 out-of-state*
Madison Area Technical College 4-year, public; midsize city Technical Diploma in Nursing Assistant $4,217 in-state*
$6,143 out-of-state*
Milwaukee Area Technical College 2-year, public; large city Technical Diploma in Practical Nursing $4,360 in-state*
$6,286 out-of-state*
Moraine Park Technical College 2-year, public; small city Technical Diploma in Nursing Assistant $4,322 in-state*
$6,295 out-of-state*
Northcentral Technical College 2-year, public; small city Certificate in Reproductive Health,
Advanced Technical Certificate in Reproductive Health,
Advanced Care Nursing Assistant Certificate,
Nursing Assistant CNA Technical Diploma
$4,230 in-state*
$6,156 out-of-state*
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College 2-year, public; midsize city Technical Diploma in Practical Nursing,
Technical Diploma in Nursing Assistant
$4,280 in-state*
$6,206 out-of-state*
Waukesha County Technical College 2-year, public; large suburb Technical Diploma in Nursing Assistant $4,250 in-state*
$6,078 out-of-state*
Western Technical College 2-year, public; small city Certificate in Nursing Assistant,
Technical Diploma in Practical Nursing
$3,779 in-state*
$6,050 out-of-state*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

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