How to Choose a Degree for Neonatal Nurse Schooling

This article will provide you with helpful information about neonatal nurse schooling degrees, and how this degree can be a smart choice for a health care career. This article also will offer you good information about quality online degree programs in neonatal nursing.

What Is a Neonatal Nursing Schooling Degree?

If you are interested in the specific field of neonatal nursing, you may want to earn your bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) with a specialty in neonatal nursing.

A nurse with a degree in neonatal nurse schooling will work with newborn infants who have a variety of problems that range from being born premature, birth defects, infections, cardiac problems and various surgical and birth issues.

Neonatal nursing generally works on caring for infants who have experienced problems shortly after they were born. It also however can involve caring for infants who have experienced long term problems that relate to prematurity and illness after they were born. Some neonatal nurses could care for infants up to around two years of age.

Many nurses earn their BSN and RN designation and decide to specialize in neonatal nursing. There are many opportunities for advancement in this speciality field. You could work in a managerial or critical care position with this type of speciality, and possibly work as a charge nurse in the neonatal area.

There are approximately 40,000 low birth weight babies born each year in the US. Because of the medical advances and efforts of doctors and nurses who provide for these premature babies, survival rates are much higher than 20 years ago.

Another option to work with neonates is to become a neonatal nurse practitioner, or NP. This would require you to earn your Master of Science in Nursing or MSN degree. This program would require you to have your BSN and RN, and then you can earn your MSN in this speciality and work as a highly paid NP with neonates.

Why Earn a Neonatal Nurse Schooling Degree?

Many professionals are entering the health care and nursing field because of the strong demand for health care services that is only rising year by year. Generally speaking, demand for all healthcare services will increase by 19% by 2024 as more people are aging and living longer.

In the nursing field specifically, we will see a rise of 16% demand for nurses by 2024, which is much faster than average. Older people tend to have more healthcare problems than the young, and there is more need for nurses to staff all of the new and expanding healthcare facilities.

More nurses are needed to educate and care for many types of patients, including those with arthritis, dementia, diabetes and cancer.

In the neonatal speciality, improving technology allows more premature babies and babies with defects to be viable outside of the womb. For this reason, there are more nurses in the neonatal field needed than ever before.

There is more financial pressure on hospitals today to discharge all types of patients as fast as possible to save money. This is going to cause more people to be admitted into outpatient care and long term care facilities. There will be more need for home healthcare as well. All of these factors will increase demand for nurses and neonatal nurses.

For nurses who earn their MSN and want to become a nurse practitioner for neonates, there will be a huge surge in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the demand for NPs will surge by 35% by 2024, which is much faster than average.

The number of people who have access to health insurance is increasing, and NPs can perform most of the duties of doctors at a lower cost. With more premature babies living longer, there will be a similar growth in demand for neonatal NPs.

Nurse practitioners earn a median salary of $98,100, while regular nurses earn a median salary of $62,000. In both cases, the salary for these positions is excellent, and the demand will mean that you may be able to choose from several different positions.

Choosing Your Neonatal Nurse Degree Path

Nurses who work with neonates will have either a bachelor of science in nursing or a master of science in nursing. Which will depend upon if you want to work as a nurse practitioner, or simply as a registered nurse.

Online Degree Options


If you want to earn your BSN and work with neonates, we recommend that you consider this online BSN degree from Chamberlain University. If you already have an active RN license, you can earn your BSN specializing in neonates in as few as three semesters.

You have the option of working part time or full time as you complete this CCNE accredited program. Students will enjoy experiential learning activities that will enhance how you learn the curriculum, as you will be applying what you learn in the classes in your current job.

Also, you do not need to complete any classes before you start the program. If you have your RN designation, you will automatically get 77 proficiency credits before you start.

Required courses in this online BSN include the following:

  • RN Health Assessment
  • Transitions in Professional Nursing
  • RN Information Systems in Healthcare
  • Statistics for Decision Making
  • RN Community Health Nursing
  • RN Evidence Based Practice
  • Healthcare Policy
  • Foundational Concepts and Applications
  • Advanced Research Methods

After you have earned your BSN and passed your national examination, you have the option of earning your CCRN (Neonatal) certification. This will provide you with the credentials to offer direct care to neonatal patients who are critically or acutely ill. You will be qualified to work in NICUs, cardiac car centers, ICUs and medical/surgical ICUs.


For nurses who already have their BSN and want to become a neonatal NOP, consider earning your MSN degree from Duke University’s renowned School of Nursing.

This two year, online MSN will prepare you to provide advanced nursing care for both low and high risk neonates and families in many different healthcare settings. Your coursework will include advanced classes in pathophysiology, pharmacology, diagnostic reasoning and physical assessment.

Students will receive clinical practice one on one in many settings that usually include neonatal intensive care units, neonatal transitional care and step down units, neonatal surgery and radiology, and stabilization of the infant in the delivery room.

This program consists of 43 total credit hours and 616 credit hours. You will enjoy access to some of the world’s best medical libraries, and also expert faculty who are active experts in clinical research and practice.


When you are looking at various BSN and MSN programs online, we recommend that you review the matter of accreditation carefully. In the nursing profession, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is the most widely respected national accreditation agency. The CCNE will ensure that your nursing program has both quality and integrity.

When your potential employer sees you graduated from a CCNE-accredited BSN or MSN program, they will know you have the nursing education to be successful.


Becoming a neonatal nurse or NP will provide you with many excellent career options. You will be able to often select your own job, given the great demand in the nursing field, and this means you will be able to maximize your potential earnings, too.