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Nursing Education National League for Nursing - Certification for Nurse Educators

Can the eligibility requirements be waived?
In order to maintain the integrity of the Certified Nurse EducatorCM (CNE) credential, eligibility requirements cannot be waived. When determining the eligibility requirements, a variety of factors were taken into consideration including the results of the 2011 Academic Nurse Educator Practice Analysis, State Board of Nursing education requirements for nurse educators, nursing program accreditation standards and criteria, the NLN's position statement on on The Preparation of Nurse Educators, and the National League for Nursing's Scope of Practice of Academic Nurse Educators.

Below are some examples of questions we have received about eligibility requirements. In each case, the candidate does not meet the eligibility requirements for the CNE examination:

  • Can I register for the examination if I am in the process of completing the eligibility requirements?
  • I do not have a master's degree in nursing; however I have taken nine credits of graduate-level education courses. Am I eligible to take the CNE examination?
  • My State Board of Nursing does not require that I possess a master's degree in nursing to teach in our nursing program. Since I have more than four years experience as a nurse educator in the academic setting, can the eligibility requirements be waived?
  • I have a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and a Master's degree in Education. Am I eligible to take the CNE examination?
  • I have three years of part-time teaching experience and one year of full-time of teaching experience. Could this combination be considered as two years of full-time experience?
  • I have a master's and doctoral degree in nursing, however I have not worked as a full-time faculty member for two of the past five years. Am I eligible to take the CNE examination?

We have also received questions in which potential candidates do meet the eligibility requirements. Here are some examples:

  • I have twelve years of full-time experience as an academic nurse educator in a practical nursing program and received a master's degree in nursing education six months ago. Am I eligible to take the CNE examination?
    Note: There is no specified or required sequence for degree and practice requirements.
  • I recently took an administrative position in our nursing program after working for ten years as a full-time faculty member. I have a master's degree in nursing. Am I eligible to take the CNE examination?
    Note: Candidates do not need to be currently working in the faculty role, as long as they meet the other requirements

What does " employment in the academic faculty role" mean?
The academic faculty role includes university, college, community college and other educational settings. The role of staff development in acute care or chronic care settings is not included in the definition of the role.

Do I need to be a member of the NLN to sit for the Certified Nurse Educator exam?
NLN membership is not a requirement for taking the CNE examination, however, there are many benefits associated with NLN membership. Please be aware that if you are a faculty member employed in an agency member school you have full NLN membership benefits. To find out if your school is an agency member, please contact your dean/director or send an inquiry to For information about becoming a member, please visit

When and where is the CNE examination available?
The CNE examination is available year round, via computer-based testing. Please refer to the Candidate Handbook for registration and testing dates. Our testing partner, Applied Measurement Professionals, Inc. (AMP) has over 180 testing centers available nationwide. To locate a testing center near you, click here.

What types of questions are on the examination?
The CNE examination is comprised of 150 multiple-choice items written, primarily at application and analysis level of Bloom's Taxonomy. Of these items, 130 count toward the final scoring of the exam. The additional twenty unscored items are being pretested for future exams. Candidates will not know which items are scored and which are pretest items.

What format will be used to deliver the CNE examination?
Computer-based testing (CBT) — the CNE examination is available via computer-based testing, Monday through Saturday at AMP Assessment Centers throughout the United States.

How do I prepare for the CNE exam?
To prepare for the CNE exam, review the following documents:

  • The test blueprint to identify the percentage of questions in each area.
  • The detailed test blueprint to identify the content areas that will be on the exam.
  • The recommended resource list to identify references specific to each of the content areas. The recommended list is provided to serve as a guide and is not intended to be all-inclusive.
  • The Candidate Handbook for complete information about the CNE examination.
  • The Scope of Practice for Academic Nurse Educators describes academic nursing education as a specialty area and an advanced nursing practice role within professional nursing. The description includes: definition, historical perspective, values and beliefs, theoretical framework, scope of practice, and competencies or standards of practice.
  • CNE Certification Prep Workshops – for complete information please visit the Professional Development Bulletin located at

What is the Self-Assessment Examination (SAE)?
The Self-Assessment Examination (SAE) is an internet-based, 65-item, multiple-choice practice exam, parallel in form to the actual CNE examination. The CNE SAE meets the examination specifications including content outline coverage, percentage of items in each of the content categories and the cognitive complexity item distribution. Every item is coded to the test blueprint and rationales are provided for correct and incorrect options. After completing the SAE, candidates will receive a score report to assess their strengths and areas for additional study. Note: those who purchase the SAE will be provided online access to this product for 60 days from the date of purchase. For complete information about the SAE, click here.

How do I register for the CNE examination?
Candidates must apply and register for the CNE examination online at
Applications will not be accepted via mail or fax.

What is the cost of the CNE examination?
Information about fees can be found at
Credit card payment is the only method of payment accepted.

What credential will I receive?
Candidates who meet the eligibility criteria and pass the CNE examination may use the certification mark "CNE" after their name upon receiving an official, passing score report (This includes the score report you receive at the testing center, immediately following your exam.) Proper use of the credential is typically conveyed as highest degree earned, license, certification, and fellowship appointments. The certification mark may be used only as long as certification is valid, after which time certification may be renewed.

How long is my CNE credential valid?
CNE certification status is granted for a period of five years. A certification period begins on the day you received your official passing score and ends on December 31st of the fifth year. Your CNE expiration date is located on your CNE certificate.

How long will it take to find out if I passed?
Those who take the examination at an AMP assessment center will receive their official score report on site. The score report will indicate a "pass" or "fail" with additional detail provided in the form of raw scores by major content category. A raw score is the number of questions answered correctly. Pass/fail status is determined by the raw score. Even though the examination consists of 150 questions, the candidate's score is based on 130 questions; the remaining 20 questions are being pretested for use on future examination forms. You will receive an official certificate in the mail from the NLN's Academic Nurse Educator Certification Program approximately six to eight weeks after passing the CNE exam.

What will I need to do to maintain my Certified Nurse Educator credential?
To maintain certification, certified nurse educators (CNEs) must renew their certification prior to the certification expiration date. Expiration of the credential occurs if the renewal has not been received by January 31 of the year following the expiration date. You can obtain certification renewal by maintaining the required practice requirements and a.) fulfilling professional development requirements, or b.) taking the Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) examination. You must submit activities for five of the eight identified competency areas. Audits are performed on random renewals. If you are selected for audit, you will be notified to send all verification documentation for the activities you have listed on the activity form. For complete information about the certification renewal, please visit

How long is the CNE recertification cycle and when does it begin?
Each recertification cycle will be a five year period. The certification period begins on the day the CNE received his/her official passing test score and ends on December 31st of the fifth year. An expiration date is located on each CNE certificate.

What is the fee for CNE recertification?
The fee for recertification is:

NLN Member: $325
Non-member: $425

How does the NLN define functioning in the full scope of the academic faculty role?
Functioning in the full scope of the academic faculty role means that as a condition of one's employment, the individual is required to engage in each and every one of the following competencies: facilitate learning; facilitate learner development and socialization; use assessment and evaluation strategies; participate in curriculum design and evaluation of program outcomes; pursue continuous quality improvement in the academic nurse educator role; function as a change agent and leader; engage in scholarship of teaching; and function effectively within the institutional environment and the academic community.

What are the NLN's Core Competencies?

  • Facilitate Learning
  • Facilitate Learner Development & Socialization
  • Use Assessment & Evaluation Strategies
  • Participate in Curriculum Design and Evaluation of Program Outcomes
  • Function as a Change Agent and Leader
  • Pursue Continuous Quality Improvement in the Nurse Educator Role
  • Engage in Scholarship
  • Function within the Educational Environment

Renewal Credit Conversion Table
Qualifying Activities Renewal Credit Conversion
College or University CoursesOne (1) university/college course (3 semester hours) = 15 renewal credits (RC)
Seminars, Workshops, or Conferences One (1) Continuing Education Unit (CEU)=1 renewal credit (RC)
One (1) continuing education clock hour or contact hour credit = 1 renewal credit (RC)
Faculty Development & Scholarship One (1) hours of faculty development or scholarship = 1 renewal credit (RC)
Innovative Teaching/Learning Activities Three (3) hours of innovative teaching/learning activities = 1 renewal credit (RC)
Publications or PresentationsOne (1) clock hour of professional presentations = 1.5 renewal credits (RC).
  1. Referred journal = 5 renewal credits
  2. Non-referred journal =2 renewal credits
  3. Published Book = 10 renewal credits
  4. Chapter in published book = 5 renewal credits (RC)
Leadership & Community Service Activities Five (5) hours of leadership or community service activities = 1 renewal credit (RC)
Five (5) hours of professional service activities = 1 renewal credit (RC)

What happens if I Fail to Satisfy Recertification Requirements?
If you fail to satisfy the recertification requirements prior to the conclusion of the current recertification cycle will become inactive and placed on an inactive list of certificants. Following the issuance of a suspension notice, you will be placed on immediate suspension status for up to a one (1) year period or until you fulfill the relevant recertification requirements.

Failure to satisfy the relevant requirements within a one (1) year period after the conclusion of a recertification cycle (during the suspension period) will result in revocation and termination of certification.

If the CNE certification credential has been suspended or revoked the certificant may not represent himself or herself as an active certificant or as certified by the NLN, and may not use the CNE credential or certification mark until such time as he or she receives notice from the NLN Certification Program that: the relevant recertification requirements have been satisfied; or, his or her active certification status has been reinstated.

What are the qualifying activities for earning certification renewal credits and what documentation is required?
Qualifying Activities Documentation Required
College or University Courses: Renewal credit may be earned for the successful completion of graduate-level academic coursework at an accredited university or college during the current recertification cycle. Courses must be related to education and facilitate one's development in the academic nurse educator roleCertificants must maintain: a transcript, grade report, or verification form issued by the educational institution, which indicates a passing grade in the course; and, a course description.
Seminars, Workshops, or Conferences. Renewal credit may be earned for attending continuing education seminars, workshops, conferences, or other educational programs offered by the NLN, and other educational program providers, consistent with the terms of this Policy. Certificants must maintain: a certificate or letter verifying attendance; and, a program description.
Faculty Development. Credit may be earned for attending educational programs offered by NLN. A list of NLN faculty development courses is posted on the NLN website at Certificants must maintain: a certificate or letter verifying attendance; and, a program description
Other Providers. Credit may be earned for attending certain educational programs offered by other organizations. Program content must relate to nursing education or higher education. The continuing education activity must be approved by an accreditation body and grant continuing education (CE) contact hours. Such programs must be relevant to the academic nurse educator role or the maintenance of competence related to one's area(s) of teaching responsibility. Certificants must maintain: a certificate or letter verifying attendance; course materials explaining the subject matter covered; and, qualifications of the instructor or content expert.
Faculty Development/Scholarship: Participation in activities that help faculty function effectively within the institutional environment and academic community. Content must be relevant to the academic nurse educator role or maintenance of competence related to one's area(s) of teaching responsibility. Examples include: attending a faculty development program; reading journal articles, books, monographs, dissertations, or other publications on nursing education or higher education.  
Publications. Credit may be earned for authoring certain publications directly related to academic nurse education or the academic nurse educator role. Publication authorship activities are limited to: articles published in refereed and non-refereed journals; a chapter in an edited book; or, a published book. Credit is granted based on the type of publication (see Section C.2.a above for details).Certificants must maintain: a complete copy of each publication; and, a personal record of actual publication preparation time.
Presentations. Credit may be earned for acting as a speaker or presenter during professional presentation activities through which one shares her/his expertise as an academic nurse educator. Courses taught to students as part of one's teaching workload are excluded. 1.5 renewal credits will be granted for each 1 hour of presentation time. Examples include: presenting a paper, workshop, poster, seminar, or other activity to nurse educators and/or academic colleagues at a local, regional, national or international forum.Certificants must maintain: a written copy of the presentation; a document from the organizational sponsor verifying presentation activity and explaining the time and content of the presentation; if available, a summary of the evaluations from the event; and, a personal record of actual presentation preparation time.
Leadership Activities. Credit may be earned for service in certain leadership positions, or for engaging in certain leadership activities, that demonstrate the individual's contributions to the advancement of nursing education on a broad scope. Leadership activities are limited to active service to nursing organizations, associations, or committees. A minimum of 6 consecutive months of service is required to qualify for credit. Credit may be granted for actual service or participation time only. Five (5) hours of participation time are equivalent to one (1) renewal credit. Examples include: serving as an item writer for a certification, achievement, or licensure exam; membership or leadership on a committee or board pertaining to nursing education or higher education; appointment to a special panel or think tank on an education issue; representing nursing education on a multidisciplinary work group; representing nursing education in a nursing professional association or State Board of Nursing; serving as an accreditation program evaluator or consultant to a nursing education program; providing testimony or supporting documentation for nursing education policy issues; appointment as a visiting professor; participation in a formal mentoring program.Certificants must maintain: records indicating the name and location of the professional organization; the leadership position held; the manner in which the service was related to the nursing profession; the start and end dates of the period in which the service occurred; a personal record of actual service or participation time; and, a document from the organization acknowledging services provided, including the dates and type of service.
Community Service Activities. Credits may be earned for providing non-compensated nursing education services to non-client individuals or organizations as a community service. Community service activities are limited to the provision of non-compensated services to persons and groups with whom the certificant has no paid contractual employment or client relationship. Examples include service as a volunteer to a community or charitable group. Renewal credit may be granted for actual service time only.Certificants must maintain: a document from the organization explaining the services provided, including the dates and type of service; and, a personal record of actual service time.
Innovative Teaching/Learning Activities: Development of educational courses, programs, materials, or products using innovative teaching-learning and evaluative strategies and the scholarly investigation of teaching processes. Three (3) hours of teaching/learning activities are equivalent to 1 renewal credit. Examples include: creating innovative learning activities; producing a new nursing education product; designing and developing a new nursing course; designing and developing a new nursing curriculum or program; designing and developing service learning projects; conducting nursing education research; collaborative ventures with community partners; engaging in multi-site collaboration to develop innovations in nursing education.Certificants must maintain: written verification of the activity or project including date(s).

Can I voluntarily change the status of my CNE certification?
Yes. You may be eligible to change your status to "Retired" or you may voluntarily relinquish your credential. For more information, please contact the NLN certification department at

What is the best way to document for my CNE renewal?
Complete the application and renewal form. Remember that five CNE competencies must be met by activities. Each activity also will meet only one competency. Submit online with a credit card or mail into the CNE office with a check. Your CNE certification must be renewed by December 31 of the year of expiration.

What counts toward renewal?
The activities form on the website gives explanation of what may be counted. Remember that continuing education activities may not be the only activities listed. Much of what you do as faculty will also count, such as committee membership, community activities, etc.

How do I know if I am being audited?
The only time to submit documentation of activities is when an audit is requested. CNE audits 10 percent of renewal applications. The audit applications are randomly chosen. If requested as an audited application, instruction will be given on submission of evidence.

How can I become more involved in the CNE program?
The first step is to submit an online application to become a CNE test item writer. Item writing sessions are held annually.

Who can be contacted in order to verify if a faculty is certified as a CNE?
Email request to Susan Pyle at

Should the CNE exam be used as a measurement of program outcome?
The Certified Nurse Educator exam was developed to measure competence in the full scope of the academic nurse educator practice role. Even though the CNE eligibility criteria have been expanded to include new graduates of master's and doctoral programs focused in nursing education, the test itself was not developed as a measure of graduate program outcomes.



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