The Educational Path for Certified Nurse Midwifery

May 1, 2013 in Nursing Programs

Nursing Student

The traditional approach to college isn’t for everybody. But if the goal is to become a certified nurse midwife–commonly known as a CNM–not only is higher education required, an advanced degree is a must. In 2010 the American College of Nurse-Midwives decreed that all those wishing to become a certified nurse midwife must obtain a graduate (Master’s) degree in order to practice legally.

So what is required of a person who wants to apply for a midwifery graduate program? The good news is that there are a few different options to choose from. Like other licensed nursing careers, each state has its own rules and regulations dealing with what credentials a person must have to practice legally. The same goes with admissions requirements for midwifery graduate programs. Students must first turn to these resources to find out specifically which of the following educational paths would successfully allow them to seek employment in the healthcare industry.


To date, the most direct path towards enrolling in a midwifery graduate program is to first complete a BA/BS degree and go on to become a registered nurse. The education that RNs walk away with after graduation encompasses much of what is involved with a career as a certified nurse midwife. RNs go into midwifery programs a bit ahead of the curve, which is what makes this particular route to becoming a CNM very appealing.

In most cases, RNs will have little to no difficulty getting into a midwifery graduate program with this type of background and formal training.

Bridge Program

Opting for a bridge program gives RNs with a diploma or an Associate’s degree the chance to take the courses needed to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. Upon successful completion of the courses and with the Bachelor’s degree in hand, they can then apply for acceptance into a midwifery graduate program.

Distance Learning

Not all students have access to schools or programs close to where they live. Completing the required educational components through an online degree program is a convenient and effective way for students to reach their academic goals. Depending on the institution, students may be able to take 100% of their coursework online. However, the clinical component will require them to be in-person at a local hospital or other approved medical facility to fulfill that part of the curriculum.

Other online programs use the hybrid approach, which combines both online coursework as well as participation in a traditional classroom setting.


This option is only available for those wishing to become certified professional midwives (CPMs). Unlike the methods mentioned above, those pursuing this approach are not nurses but do hold a Bachelor’s degree in a similar or unrelated field. After taking the necessary prerequisite courses, new graduates are then eligible to take the same national certification examination that graduates from a midwifery program do.

Once the national certification examination has been passed, CPMs are then qualified to practice in the following 5 states: Delaware, Rhode Island, Missouri, New York and New Jersey.

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