Nursing Continuing Education Requirements

What is Nursing Continuing Education (CE)?
As a nurse in a changing world, you must keep pace with changing trends and developments in the nursing and overall health care field. This is where continuing education comes in. CEs are required by all state boards of nursing to enable registered nurses renewal their licenses.

They are planned educational programs designed to equip nurses with current developments in nursing to ensure maintained and improved clinical performance. They are usually programs where participants engage in learning experiences beyond the entry level. They can also be taken to enable nurses diversify their nursing practice and develop knowledge and skills in a different nursing field.  When nurses participate in continuing education programs, they earn contact hours.

Contact Hours

It is a common thing to confuse a continuing education unit (CEU) and contact hours while both imply different things. You get contact hours after taking CEUs. A continuing education unit is on the other hand is not equivalent to one contact hour. Normally, 1 CEU can be between 1 to 10 contact hours depending on the time taken to complete it. Every state has a set the number of contact hours required to meet licensure renewal for the different levels of nursing.

Factors Affecting Nursing Continuing Education Requirements

Meeting nursing CE requirements depend on a number of things:

Nursing Level

Depending on the level of nursing you are in, there will be different CE requirements. This means that renewing entry-level registered nurses licenses would require different CE from those of Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses LPN/LVN or even Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) licensure.

Continuing Education Units by state

As mentioned earlier, each state board of nursing has its own CE requirements for nurses at different levels. Some states may require many contact hours as compared to others. The state in which the nurse is licensed dictates the number of contact hours required for renewing the license. RNs and LPN/LVN seeking licenses in other states may benefit from compact state licenses. This gives a student a multi-state licenses without having to take CEUs from both states.

Level of Working Experience

Boards of nursing also have a set number of contact hours depending on the mode of working a nurses has. Nurses who have been employed on a full time basis during the license validity cycle require fewer contact hours than those that practice on a part time basis.

Reason For Taking The CEUs

The reason for which a nurse is taking CE also dictates the number of contact hours needed for re-licensure.  Inactive/dormant nurses are usually required to take more contact hours than active nurses seeking re-instatement of their licenses.

Nursing Continuing Education Requirements by State

Below is a tabulated and simplified overview of the important nursing CE requirements on a state to state basis. You will notice that a number of states do not require nursing contact hours. Rather, nurses in those states require national certification to keep their nursing licenses valid and active.  The table also shows the number of years nurse licenses remains active until the next applicable renewal cycle. Since information of CE requirements is bound to change at the sole discretion of a particular board of nursing, students may find it important to verify the information given on the table below.

State Renewal Cycle

Continuing Education  (CE)Requirements (contact hours )

Registered Nurses Advanced Practice Nurses
Alabama 2 24 hours of CE  Similar to RN +6 in pharmacology for Certified midwives & Nurse Practitioners
Alaska 2 Any two from:

30 hours of CE

30 hours of Professional Activities or

320 hours of employment



National Certification
Arizona 4 None National Certification
Arkansas   Any one of below:

15 hours of CE

Recertification by a national certifying body or

Completion of Nurse refresher Course

National Certification with preceptor authority
California 2 30 hours of CE NONE
Colorado 2 NONE National Certification
Connecticut 1 NONE National Certification
Delaware 2 30 hours of CE and 400 hours  clinical practice If National Certification is available:

1500 clinical hrs over the last 5 years

600 clinical hrs in the last 2 years or

Graduated within the last 2 years

If National Certification is Unavailable:

1000 clinical hrs in the last 2 years

      NB: APNs with prescriptive authority must take 10 hrs of CE in addition to any one of the above requirements.
District of Columbia 2 24 hrs of CE 24 hrs of CE: 15 in pharmacology & 9 in specialty area
Florida 2 24 hrs of CE National Certification
Hawaii 2 NONE National Certification
Georgia 2 NONE National Certification
Idaho 2 NONE National Certification
Illinois 2 20 hrs of CE 50 hrs of CE
Indiana 2 24 hrs of CE, 6 each in Legal, Assessment, Documentation and Pharmacology 30 hrs of CE, 8 in pharmacology
Iowa 3 36 hrs for license older than 3months

24 hrs for license less than 3months

Maintain National Certification from credentialing body of the APRN
Kansas 2 30 hrs of CE 30 hrs of CE
Kentucky 1 14 hrs of CE and other requirements:

2 hrs of CE in HIV/AIDS every 10 yrs

14 hrs of CE or National Certification
Louisiana 1 10 hrs of CE for part time nurses

5 hrs of CE for full time nurses

10 hrs of CE for part time nurses

5 hrs of CE for full time nurses

Maine 2 None 75 hrs of CE
Maryland 2 None National Certification
Massachusetts 2 15 hrs of CE National Certification
Michigan 2 25 hrs of CE National Certification
Minnesota 2 24 hrs of CE National Certification
Mississippi 2 None National Certification
Montana 2 None National Certification
Montana 2 None 40 CEUs and additional 10 CEUs for APRN  with prescriptive authority
Nevada 2 30 hrs of CE 30 hrs of CE and additional 15 in APRN specialty
New Hampshire 2 30 hrs of CE 30 hrs of CE similar to RN and additional 30 hrs in APRN specialty
New Jersey   30 hrs of CE. Contact hours exceeding 30 can be carried over to the next cycle National Certification
New Mexico 2 30 hrs of CE 50 hrs of CE, 30 similar with RN and 20 for the APRN specialty
New York 2 3 hrs in infection control every 4yrs National Certification
North Carolina 2 30 hrs of CE National Certification
North Dakota 2 12 hrs of CE National Certification plus 15 hrs of CE for APRN with prescriptive authority
Ohio 2 24 hrs of CE RN CE plus National Certification
Oklahoma 2 None National certification

APRNs with prescriptive authority:

15 hrs of CE every 3 years

Oregon 2 7 hrs of CE in pain management Nurse Practitioners:100 hrs of CE

Clinical nurse Specialists with prescriptive authority: 100 hrs of CE

Clinical Nurses Specialists without Prescriptive authority:40 hrs of CE

Other APRNs: 15 hrs of CE

Pennsylvania 2 30 hrs of CE 30 hrs of CE
Rhode Island 2 10 hrs of CE National Certification
South Carolina 2 30 hrs of CE National Certification
South Dakota 2 None National Certification
Tennessee 2 None National Certification plus 3 hours in pharmacology
Texas 2 20 hrs of CE 20 hrs of CE

An additional 5 hours for those with limited prescriptive authority


Utah 2 At least 400 hrs of clinical practice, no CE

200-400 clinical hours: 15hrs of CE

0-200 clinical hours: 30 hrs of CE


National Certification
Vermont 2 None National Certification
Virginia 2 None National Certification

Additional 8 hrs of CE for APRNs with prescriptive authority

Washington 2 45 hrs of CE plus 531 hours of clinical practice 30 hrs of CE

Additional 15 hrs of CE for APRNS with prescriptive authority

West Virginia 1 12 hrs of CE National Certification


Wisconsin 2 NONE National Certification

Additional 8 hrs of pharmacology CE for APRNS with prescriptive authority

Wyoming 2 None if 1600 hrs of clinical are met in the last 5 years

If no clinical hours, 20 hrs of CE

National Certification  plus 30 hrs of CE or

60 hrs of CE plus 400 hours of clinical practice


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