Online School Nurse Certification Programs in Pennsylvania

Oct 20, 2021

Information for Pennsylvania School Nurse Certification

School nurses work in educational settings where they provide healthcare to both students and staff. In this role, you will need to offer care in emergency situations and will also need to help students manage any chronic conditions, such as asthma or diabetes. Additionally, school nurses are responsible for creating and implementing health programs and promoting healthy behaviors in their schools.

To become a school nurse in Pennsylvania, you must hold a bachelor's degree in nursing or another field. You must also be a current Registered Nurse (RN). Further, there are educational requirements that include the study of certain content areas, such as:

  • Health education promotion
  • Mental and physical assessment
  • Healthcare for students with disabilities
  • Providing healthcare to diverse populations
  • Federal and state laws

List of Online Pennsylvania-Based School Nurse Certification Programs

Current nurses who wish to earn Pennsylvania school certification have several options for attending an online program that leads to a certificate. However, while these online school nursing programs offer online coursework, they also require field experiences or practicums, which must be done in-person. Further, these online certificate programs require that you be a licensed nurse, usually an RN, and some may require professional experience and/or a bachelor's degree for admission.

Gannon University

Gannon University offers a partially online School Nurse Certificate program that is especially for RNs who have earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. This program features online asynchronous classes that cover such topics as special education and the sociology of education and offers a 100-hour supervised practicum experience and a practicum that takes place in the student's local school district. After completing this certificate program, students can apply for the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Level I Certification as a School Nurse.

Cedar Crest College

Cedar Crest College's multi-disciplinary School Nurse Certification (SNC) program offers all coursework in an online format and prepares currently licensed nurses for Level I School Nurse Certification. In this program, students must earn 17 credits with classes that center on diversity in education, school health services, and exceptional students. Students must all complete a pair of capstone courses that consist of in-person field experiences, including 105 supervised hours in a school nursing setting.

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania has a flexible 21-credit School Nurse Certification program that features all online coursework and is designed for current RNs who want to earn Level I School Nurse Certification. Students study a range of topics, including nursing practice for school populations, developmental disabilities, and instructional strategies. They must also complete a 100-hour in-person practicum, and the entire program can be completed in only 4 semesters.

University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh offers an online School Nurse PK-12 Certificate program for currently licensed RNs who wish to earn Level I School Nurse Certification and work with a diverse student population. This is a 15-credit program that features online coursework in health promotion, the management of psychiatric conditions, and diagnostic physical exams. Students must also complete a 120-hour practicum under the supervision of a certified school nurse. This program can be completed full time in only 3 terms or on a part-time basis.

Requirements for National School Nurse Certification

In addition to becoming certified as a school nurse in Pennsylvania, you can also earn an optional certification from the National Board for Certification of School Nurses (NBCSN). The Nationally Certified School Nurse (NCSN) credential proves that you have specialized knowledge, experience, and skills in the field of school nursing. To earn this certification, you must pass an exam.

NCSN Exam Eligibility

In order to take the NCSN exam, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. First, you must hold a current RN license and have an accredited bachelor's degree or higher in nursing. Those who are in a master's program in nursing that doesn't confer a bachelor's must wait to take the exam until after they have completed their program. Next, you must have at least 1,000 hours of clinical practice that has been completed in the 3 years before you take the exam. Further, this clinical experience must be either direct-practice, meaning it has taken place in a school setting or indirect practice, which could include clinical supervision of school nurses.


The NCSN exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. You have 4 hours to take the exam, and must pay a fee beforehand. The exam covers a range of topics, including professional issues, health appraisal, nursing management, health promotion, and special health issues.

NCSN Recertification

To keep your NCSN credential current, you must recertify it every 5 years. This process entails retaking and passing the NCSN exam or completing continuing education. You can earn continuing education credits through completing approved courses, authoring a school nurse text or journal article, joining an editorial board, presenting at conferences, and participating in leadership activities.

To become a school nurse in Pennsylvania, you must hold at least a bachelor's degree, be an RN, and complete an approved school nurse program, many of which can be completed partially online. Further, you can earn national certification as a school nurse.

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