For registered nurses who have obtained their Bachelor’s degree, neonatal care is an attractive speciality. Because of the acute care that needs to be administered to infants, a different level of clinical and practical knowledge is needed as opposed to that required of a nurse caring for adult or pediatric patients. Because of the unique and delicate nature of neonatal care, many schools have developed programs that address the skill set needed to work in a neonatal unit. The top neonate programs concentrate on four tiers of knowledge: nursing theory, research practices, pharmacology and clinical practices.

Baylor  University

Considered the number one school for neonatal nursing education. Located in Dallas, Texas,the school has a Master’s program with an Advanced Neonatal Nursing Major. Graduates complete the program with a Doctor of Nursing Practices (DNP) and a certification as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner. Nurses wishing to gain entry into this program need 1-3 years experience working in a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit).

Arizona State University, ranks second in neonatal nursing education. Arizona’s neonatal nursing program promotes application of theory and pathophysiology. One of the advantages to their neonatal nursing program is that some of the courses can be done online, allowing a working nurse to spend as little time away from work as possible. Only two or three dates of attendance on campus are required. This program is for nurses pursuing further education after having earned a bachelor’s degree.

Ranked third in the nation for neonatal nursing education, University of California San Francisco places much of its focus on grooming leaders within the ranks of nursing professionals. The university offers programs for nurse practitioners and neonatal clinical nurse specialists.

School NameMore detailsLocation
University of FloridaFocus on patient and family dynamicsGainesville, FL
Vanderbilt UniversityEmphasis on embryology and pharmacologyNashville, TN
East Carolina UniversityFull and part time courses; emphasis on research and theoryGreenville, NC
University of Pennsylvania2-3 year part time degree available; emphasis on high-risk neonatal treatmentsPhiladelphia, PA
Northeastern UniversityRequires 2 years of experience in a NICUBoston, MA
Wayne State UniversityFocus on preventing disease and family involvement in child’s careDetroit, MI
University of TexasRequires experience working in a NICU for at least 2 years; focus on prevention and family involvement in care plan.Austin, TX


Photo credit: Jessica Scagnioli