Successful Student has compiled The 20 Best Nurse Midwife Programs in the United States. Childbirth is both the most natural process in the world, and for many women (and men) one of the scariest. And as much variation as there is between women, so also is the difference between their birthing preferences. Since many of these preferences may not go according to plan it is beneficial to have a medical professional immersed in all of the potential issues with the experience to handle them gracefully keeping the health of both mother and child in mind.
The Nurse-Midwife is trained with specialized graduate nursing education and may work independently or as part of a healthcare team. Their training covers all areas from conception through delivery and the first few months of caring for and adjusting to the new arrival. The median pay in 2015 for a midwife was $92,510 and the field is expected to expand rapidly at approximately 31 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It should be noted that not all states allow for, or hire midwives. Students should be diligent about investigating their state’s policy on midwife practice.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, there are 5 kinds of midwives: Certified Nurse Midwife, Certified Midwife, Certified Professional Midwife, Direct-Entry Midwife, and Lay Midwife. Successful Student ranks these programs from the student’s point of view, taking into consideration what would be important to students aspiring to be midwives, such as classroom instruction and clinical experiences, academic reputation of the school, and variety of courses.
1. Columbia University (New York, NY)
Since its founding in 1955 as one of the first midwifery programs in the country, the program has prepared its students for all aspects of pregnancy and delivery, from well-woman gynecology, to antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum depression.
Offered through the Columbia School of Nursing, graduates are exposed to intense clinical situations in order to turn theory into practice and classroom lectures into reality. At the end of the program students will be prepared to sit for the national certifying examination administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board. Currently directed by Laura Zeidenstein DNP, CNM, FACNM, and Assistant Directory Rebekah Ruppe, DNP, CNM, the Nurse Midwifery Program at Columbia University has over 60 years of experience providing comprehensive theoretical and clinical exposure to its students.
2. Yale University (New Haven, CT)
Founded in 1923, the Yale School of Nursing was one of the first programs of its kind to offer nursing as an educational degree, not just as an apprenticeship program.
The Master of Science in Nursing at Yale University offers six program specialties, one of which covers Nurse Midwifery. Accredited by the Accreditation Committee for Midwifery Education, the curriculum includes courses such as Theoretical Foundations for Care in Childbirth, Theoretical Foundations for Care of at Risk Childbirth, Transitions to Professional Practice, and Promoting Health in the Community.
A total of 50 – 53 program credits are required and are usually completed within two years. Educators of the program are practicing midwives with established patients at the Yale New Haven Hospital and Women’s Center. The members of the Yale Midwifery Faculty Practice care for approximately 100 women giving birth at the Women’s Center every month.
3. University of California, San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)
In 1975 the University of California at San Francisco established the Nurse-Midwifery Service at the San Francisco General Hospital. Since that time faculty midwives have been maintaining their clinical practices serving thousands of women and children and training students to the highest standards of the profession.
Available through the School of Nursing, students may enroll in a two year Master of Science degree with concentrations in nurse-midwifery or women’s health nurse practitioner. This program has been fully accredited by both the ACME and the CCNE.
The curriculum requires students to attend classes one to two days per week and train in a clinical setting one to four days per week. By the end of the program students will have completed one thousand hours of clinical training and will be prepared for the national board certification exams.
4. University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
Catering to students already established as advanced practicing nurses, the University of Washington offers a graduate certificate in Nurse-Midwifery. The curriculum of the degree is thorough and consistent ‘with the requirements for nurse-midwifery preparation as defined in the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) Core Competencies for Basic Midwifery Practice’.
Classes are taught from a holistic approach covering a wide range of topics, from patient education in nutrition and breast-feeding, to the use of pain medications and epidurals during labor. Students are also taught to be sensitive to cultural preferences.
Upon graduation students will be prepared to sit for the American Midwifery Certification Board exam. Current practicing midwives at the University of Washington work at the Northwest Hospital’s Childbirth Center.
5. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI)
The study of Nurse-Midwifery at the University of Michigan starts with a comprehensive foundation in primary care, and builds up to the care for pregnancies, childbirths, and newborns. Some course examples include Antepartum Care of Essentially Normal Women, Care of the Childbearing Woman, and Intrapartum/Postpartum and Newborn Care.
Some of the core courses may be taken online, however the majority of classes are only available on campus. The program also has a September only start date, but does offer a two year or three year track. All classes and hands-on practice culminate in an intensive 10 week clinical experience.
A minimum of 48 credits and 730 clinical hours are required for graduation. Overall, the program ‘meets and/or exceeds the Core Competencies for Basic Midwifery Practice as outlined by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM)’.
6. Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)
Located adjacent to one of the most prestigious academic medical centers in the nation, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the Vanderbilt School of Nursing manages one of the largest nurse-midwife faculty practices in America. The Vanderbilt School of Nursing has been serving women since 1995.
These highly experienced professionals are also part of teaching the Master of Science in Nursing program with an advanced specialty in Midwifery. Students interested in a dual Certification are encouraged to take the Family Nurse Practitioner option.
All classes for the Midwifery program must be taken on campus, but not all clinical hours must be completed in Tennessee. Any student going out of state, however, is responsible for obtaining additional state licensing. The rotation of clinical sites is encouraged to give students a greater depth of experiences.
7. University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)
The full-time, three year Midwifery program at the University of Minnesota requires a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Professional Master’s in Nursing prior to admission. Accredited by the ACME, students will start with four days of on-campus course work, which will increase with time.
Students will cover a variety of topics, including evidence-based practice, informatics, and economics. Many courses will be available through the Center for Spirituality and Healing, which takes an integrative and holistic approach to women’s health.
Throughout the program, students will complete nearly 1,000 hours of clinical experience at sites arranged by the school. ‘Upon successful completion of the midwifery course of study, graduates are eligible to take the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) national certification examination’.
8. University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
The University of Pennsylvania offers some flexibility for students applying to the Midwife program, which may be taken full-time, part-time, or as a post-Master’s Certificate. Only students who are already established as nurse practitioners may apply for the post Master’s program.
The curriculum is focused on family-centered, comprehensive care, with courses ranging from ‘advanced physiology and pathophysiology to the use of ultrasonography during pregnancy’. In an effort to be culturally sensitive and increase patient advocacy, students will also be exposed to topics such as public policy, complementary therapies, and fetal evaluation.
The current program Director is William McCool, PhD, CNM, RN, FACNM, FAAN. Students who complete the Midwife program will be prepared to sit for two national certifications, the certification exam for Certified Nurse-Midwives or the certification exam for Women’s Health Nurse-Practitioner.
9. Oregon Health and Science University (Portland, OR)
The Portland metropolitan area is well known for its affinity towards midwives. In fact, the Nurse-Midwife Faculty Practice of the Oregon Health and Science University has attended approximately 20 percent of the births in the area for over 30 years. Students attending the Midwifery program have access to the intimate experience of this long standing practice, and will work one-on-one with mentors in lactation clinics, birthing rooms, and mother-baby units. Students can expect to obtain over 1,000 hours of clinical experience.
The majority of students who apply to the program will already have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. However, for those who do not, an Accelerated Bachelor’s Program/Nurse-Midwifery Graduate Program is available. Both the accelerated track and the standard graduate degree ‘include the option to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, which adds an additional year to the educational timeframe after certification’.
10. New York University (New York City, NY)
The study of Midwifery at New York University is available as an Advanced Certificate through the Rory Meyers College of Nursing. Students interested in the program must already have a Master’s in Nursing as well as a New York State nursing license. No GRE test scores are required for admission. The program requires a total of 33 course credits and 42.5 clinical hours. There are three core courses:
- Advanced Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan I
- Advanced Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan II
- Clinical Pharmacotherapeutics Across the Lifespan
An additional six specialization courses include: Midwifery Management and Practicum I: Health Assessment and Gynecology, Professional Issues and Role Development in Midwifery, and Primary Care of Women. The entire program content ‘is based on American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) core competencies’.
11. University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)
One of the oldest DNP (Doctor Nursing practice) Certified Nurse Midwife program’s west of the Mississippi is offered at the University of Utah through the College of Nursing. Accredited by the ACME since 1969, this Certified Nurse Midwife program requires approximately 85 credit hours and 1,000 practicum or residency experience hours.
Many students complete their mentored clinical hours through the Faculty Practice program ‘Birthcare Healthcare’. Students have the option of adding a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner specialty for an additional semester of work. Both tracks are only available as full-time programs with a minimum of nine credit hours per semester.
Students are expected to complete the program within three years, including two summer semesters. Residents of Utah who are more than 60 miles from the University may be eligible for distance learning courses. This program is especially tailored to meet the healthcare needs of “geographically and ethnically diverse populations.”
12. University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM)
The UNM Midwives have been providing pregnancy and well-woman care to the community since 1975. Only available as a full-time program, the School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology offers a Master of Science in Nursing with a Certification in Nurse-Midwifery.
This six term graduate program requires 55 credit hours and over 1,000 hours of clinical experience before graduation. Students who are applying should have a minimum of one year experience as a registered nurse. With nearly ⅓ of all the births in New Mexico being attended by a midwife, and over 10,000 births at the UNM Hospital, clinical experience will be easily obtained.
The majority of courses are also easily completed, given that they’re available in an online format. ‘Classroom teaching is grouped into 1-3 week long blocks interspersed with clinical blocks of 4-5 weeks’. Students will have the opportunity for a more personalized experience with small class sizes of 8 – 10 students.
13. Emory University (Druid Hills, GA)
The Nurse-Midwifery service of Emory University is the oldest practice of its kind in the Atlanta metropolitan area, being established in 1971 and operating in the Grady Health System. In 1977 the Emory Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing Nurse-Midwifery program was established.
Taken full-time, this four semester program requires 52 credit hours, though a part-time track is also available. GRE test scores are typically required for admission, but may be waived at the department’s discretion if the student has a previous Master’s degree or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a GPA equal to or greater than 3.5. Course topics of the program may include: Human Lactation and Breastfeeding Management, Management of Acute and Chronic Illness, Mental Health Issues for Advanced Practice Nursing, and Palliative Care across the Spectrum.
14. Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH)
Since 1984, the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University has offered a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in Midwifery. This program is fully accredited by the ACNM Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education. The program requires 48 credit hours, which is typically completed in three years, with a two year accelerated option.
Courses may include: Ethical Issues in Advanced Practice, Health Care Delivery and Finance in Advanced Practice, Well Woman Health Care, The Childbearing Family, Pharmacology and Therapeutics for the Advanced Practice Nurse, Primary Care for Women, and Labor and Birth. Students may also apply for a dual Certification in Women’s Health with the completion of four additional clinical hours. A Post-Master’s Certification program is also available.
15. Stony Brook University (Stony Brook, NY)
For the Advanced Practice Nursing Program in Nurse Midwifery at Stony Brook University, the strongest student applicants will have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing, at least one year of relevant experience, and a current Registered Nurse’s License. Students applying without a BSN will be required to submit a clinical practice portfolio for review.
This Midwife Certification program is a combination of distance learning with some on-site requirements. A total of 45 credits should be completed before graduation, 22 of which are dedicated to clinical experience. Some course examples include Health Policy and Advocacy, Applications in Clinical Nursing Research, Pharmacology, and Primary Care, all of which have been accredited by the ACME. The program is directed by Dr. Kelly Walker.
16. University of Kansas Medical Center (Lawrence, KS)
The University of Kansas Medical Center offers an Advanced Doctor of Nursing with a practice specialty area in Midwifery through the School of Nursing. The strongest applicants to the program are those students ‘living in or willing to work in under-served areas, or in other areas with critical maternal and infant indicators’. A total of 76 credit hours of coursework are required for graduation.
Unlike many other midwife programs, the majority of this required work is available in an online format. Of the 76 credit hours, 23 credits are dedicated to the Midwifery Specialty Core. Part of completing the Specialty Core requires students to visit the KU Medical Center for clinical seminars two to five times per semester. These clinical hours should be arranged at the start of the semester with the course coordinator. Upon graduation students will be able to sit for the Midwifery Certification exam and may apply for the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse license.
17. University of Colorado (Denver, CO)
The accredited graduate level Nurse-Midwife program offered at the University of Colorado leads to a post-graduate certificate upon graduation. A total of 48 credits must be completed which includes 30 credits of core courses, 10 credits of AP courses, and 26 credits of AP nurse-midwifery courses. This does not include clinical hours.
Some course examples may include Foundations of Healthcare Informatics, Advanced Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Primary Health Care of Children: Well Child Care, Care of the High Risk Pregnancy, and Women’s Gynecologic Health Care. Students may enroll in this program full or part-time and also have an online option. For students taking distance classes, clinical hours may be completed at a local facility. GRE test scores may be waived for this program if the student applying has 12 or more graduate level courses.
18. State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn (Brooklyn, NY)
The State University of New York Health Science Center, also known as SUNY Downstate, offers a 38 graduate credit Midwifery Certificate Program with an optional 12 graduate credit Master’s component through the College of Health Related Professions. The Certificate program alone is only an option for students who have already obtained a Master’s degree in a related field.
Both programs typically run five semesters, however a seven semester study option is available. Courses may include Neonatology, Medical and Obstetric Complications of Pregnancy, Postpartum Care, and Obstetric Pharmacotherapeutics. The certificate Midwife program consists of 328 hours of classroom instruction with approximately 875 hours of clinical supervision. With the addition of the Master’s track, students will complete an extra 180 hours of classroom instruction. Only a fall semester start is offered. All students who apply must already have a Bachelor’s degree.
19. Baylor University (Waco, TX)
Maintaining a unique Christian environment throughout its educational programs, Baylor University offers a Doctor of Nursing with specialization in Nurse-Midwifery through the Louise Herrington School of Nursing. Admission to the program requires students to have a license to practice and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. One year clinical experience is strongly preferred but not required.
Accredited by the ACME and the CCNE, this 79 credit degree can be completed in nine semesters for full-time students. Part-time enrollment is also available. Classes may include topic such as Advanced Human Pathophysiology, Professional Issues and History of Nurse Midwives, Care of the Childbearing Family, and the High Risk Family. Overall, the program maintains a family centered approach with scientific content and cutting-edge material.
20. Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)
The traditional Master of Science in Nursing program at Ohio State University offers 12 graduate specialty tracks. The nurse-midwifery specialty track, directed by Penny R. Marzalik, PhD, APRN, CNM, IBCLC, is available for both full-time and part-time students, and may also be taken online.
The nursing core includes classes such as Health Promotion and Disease Prevention across the Life Span, Pathophysiology of Altered Health States, and Advanced Pharmacology in Nursing while the Specialty Core classes include Conceptual Framework for Nurse-Midwifery, Labor & Delivery Clinical Immersion, Advanced Reproductive Dynamics, and four clinical practicums. Students are expected to complete a minimum of eight to 28 hours per week of clinical experience. A Post Master’s option is also offered.