Continuing Education (CE) in Nursing consists of planned, organized learning experiences designed to augment the knowledge, skills, and attitudes for the enhancement of nursing practice, with the goal of improving health care to the public. The overriding consideration in determining whether a specific program/offering qualifies as acceptable CE is that it be a planned program of learning which contributes directly to the professional competence of the licensed nurse. The nursing regulations pertaining to CE can be found at 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education pdf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education
rtf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education . It is the responsibility of each licensed nurse to maintain an authenticated record of CE offerings completed, and to submit evidence of the required number of contact hours (CH) for that specific registration period upon request of the Board of Registration in Nursing (Board).  Evidence of continuing education attendance must be maintained for two consecutive renewal periods.

All licensed nurses in Massachusetts nurses are required to obtain 15 contact hours (CH) of CE to renew their licenses. Renewal is on your birthday in the even numbered year for RNs, and odd numbered year for LPNs. If this is your first renewal, there is no CE requirement. Only CHs earned within the two years immediately preceding licensure renewal satisfy the requirement.

In order for licensed nurses to maintain their national certification status, most certifying organizations require that a portion of their CE program requirements receive approval through a specific peer review process.

As a reminder, all Advance Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) must maintain current certification through a Board approved national certifying organization in order to maintain current Board authorization to practice. The CE requirements of your certifying organization are separate from those required by the Board for license renewal.  Contact your specific certifying organization for details.

It is the responsibility of each licensed nurse to select CE programs based upon the Board's regulatory requirements and to determine whether or not the learning experience meets the regulatory requirement of a planned experience that augments the knowledge, skills and attitudes for the enhancement of their individual nursing practice.

Through your signature on your nursing license renewal form, you attest under penalties of perjury to compliance with state tax and child support laws, mandatory reporting laws, and regulations pertaining to your practice, including CE requirements.

I would like to offer an educational program and offer contact hours for nurses.  What do I need to do? The Board of Registration in Nursing (Board) defines Continuing Education (CE) as planned, organized learning experiences designed to augment the knowledge, skills, and attitudes for the enhancement of nursing practice, to the goal of improving health care to the public. The overriding consideration in determining whether a specific program qualifies as acceptable CE is that it be a planned program of learning which contributes directly to the professional competence of the licensed nurse. The nursing regulations pertaining to CE can be found at 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education pdf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education
rtf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education .

A CE program does not require the approval of the Board or of a professional nursing organization in order for the nurse to meet the Board's regulations for license renewal. CE program approval is a voluntary Peer Review Process and is usually conducted by a professional nursing association, or, as is the case in some states, through that state's board of nursing.  If you choose to have your nursing continuing education program approved, you must contact a professional nursing association for information.

Prior to offering or advertising that a program offers CH that satisfy Board requirements, it is the responsibility of the provider to determine that the program is consistent with the Board's regulatory requirements at 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education pdf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education
rtf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education .

The provider of the education program is required to describe the subject matter in outline form and include:

  1. learner objectives that are specific, attainable, measurable, and describe expected outcomes;
  2. content of appropriate subject matter, such as:
    1. research findings in nursing science, nursing practice, or nursing education;
    2. health care delivery management;
    3. social, economic, political, legal aspects of health care;
    4. patient teaching and consumer health education;
    5. meeting educational requirements for a formal nursing program or related field, beyond those taken for original licensure;
    6. other educational program which improves competency.
  3. sufficient time allotment for the learner to meet the objectives of the program;
  4. teaching methods, such as lecture, panel discussion, demonstration, academic courses, self-study, workshops, correspondence courses and planned clinical experiences with supervision that incorporate principles of adult education;
  5. faculty that are competent in and hold credentials appropriate to the content presented (a licensed nurse must present content related to the science of nursing);
  6. program evaluation that evaluates the participant's attainment of the stated learner objectives and include an opportunity to evaluate faculty, learning experiences, instructional methods, facilities and educational resources used for the program.

Additional considerations:
Academic Courses must be within the framework of curriculum that leads to an academic degree in nursing or relevant to nursing, or any course within that curriculum that is necessary to an individual's professional growth and development.

Self-Study Courses must be developed by a professional group such as an educational corporation or professional association, follows a logical sequence, and involves the learner by requiring active response to program materials and provision of feedback.  Self-study courses must supply a bibliography for continued study and contain a test to indicate progress and verify completion of the program.  

Planned, Supervised Clinical Experiences must be beyond the basic educational level of preparation of the licensee and be based on a planned program of study.  The instructor must possess the appropriate credentials related to the discipline being taught. The experience must take place in an appropriate clinical setting.

Educational programs that consist of employee orientation subject matter do not satisfy the continuing education requirement for licensed nurses.

The provider must keep a record of the program for a period of four years that contains:

  • objectives of the program;
  • an outline of the content of the program;
  • faculty qualifications;
  • teaching methods and materials presented during the program;
  • evaluation tools and data; and
  • a list of participants.

The provider must furnish to each participant an authenticated record of attendance specifying provider, title of program, date of program, number of contact hours awarded for successful completion of the program.  A statement such as “program meets the requirements of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing at 244 CMR 5.00 for _X_ contact hours” is recommended. A contact hour is equal to 50 minutes of attendance and participation in a program. By example, the following assist in calculating contact hours:

  • Lecture - One CH for each 50 minutes of didactic instruction
  • Planned, supervised clinical - One CH for each 100 minutes of clinical instruction
  • One (1) semester college credit - Fifteen (15) CH
  • One continuing education unit (CEU) - Ten (10) CH

How do I know if an educational program satisfies my continuing education requirements? It is the responsibility of each licensed nurse to select CE programs based upon the regulations at 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education pdf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education
rtf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education and to determine whether or not the learning experience provides a planned experience that augments the knowledge, skills and attitudes for the enhancement of their individual nursing practice.

In general, programs approved by a professional review process or by other jurisdictions’ boards of nursing satisfy the Massachusetts continuing educational requirements. However, it remains the responsibility of the licensee to determine whether or not the program contains all the Board’s requirements (see above).  

Where do I send my continuing education certificates? You do not need to send evidence of CE program completion or certificates to the Board unless you are requested to do so by the Board. If you receive a request, you will be directed where to mail them. If you are selected for audit or named in a complaint, you may be required to send two cycles worth of CE certificates to the Board.

Through your signature on your nursing license renewal form, you attest under penalties of perjury to compliance with state tax and child support laws, mandatory reporting laws, and regulations pertaining to your practice, including CE requirements.

It is the responsibility of each licensed nurse to maintain an authenticated record of CE programs completed for two consecutive registration periods (four years).  

How many contact hours do I need to satisfy the Board’s requirement? All licensed nurses in Massachusetts nurses are required to obtain 15 contact hours (CH) of CE to renew their licenses. Renewal is on your birthday in the even numbered year for RNs, and odd numbered year for LPNs. If this is your first renewal, there is no CE requirement. Only CHs earned within the two years immediately preceding licensure renewal satisfy the requirement.

This is my first time renewing my license.  How many contact hours do I need? If this is your first renewal, there is no CE requirement.

How do I calculate contact hours? A CH is equal to 50 minutes of attendance and participation in a program that meets the Board's requirements for CE programs. Acceptable types of CE programs include lectures, workshops, academic courses, planned supervised clinical experiences, home study courses and Web based programs. By example, the following assist in calculating CH:

  • Lecture - One CH for each 50 minutes of didactic instruction
  • Planned, supervised clinical - One CH for each 100 minutes of clinical instruction
  • One (1) semester college credit - Fifteen (15) CH
  • One continuing education unit (CEU) equals Ten (10) CH

What is the difference between contact hours (CH) and continuing education units (CEU)? They are both a unit of measure. A Continuing Education Unit (CEU) is a nationally recognized unit of measure. There are ten (10) CH in each CEU. Pursuant to the Board's regulations at 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education pdf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education
rtf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education , 1 CH is equal to 50 clock minutes. A nurse licensed in Massachusetts is required to earn 15 CH every two years.

Will a program that offers continuing medical education (CME) satisfy the Board’s requirement for continuing education? Yes, if the program meets the Board's regulations at 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education pdf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education
rtf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education and the content contributes directly to the professional competence of the licensed nurse. There is no automatic conversion of Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits to nursing CH, nor does the Board possess a formula for converting CME to CH. Just remember when attending a CME program that every 50 minutes of continuous learning is equal to 1 CH of CE for nursing license renewal.

Where can I find On-line CE programs? When looking for on-line CE programs type the term "nursing CE" into your computer search engine and then navigate through the multiple sites that will appear. CE earned on-line, just like any other home study program, is acceptable if the program meets the Board's regulations at 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education pdf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education
rtf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education .

Does the Board have a list of approved CE programs being offered? No, the Board does not approve programs and it does not compile or maintain CE lists.

I have been out of nursing for a while and I am interested in taking a refresher course, where can I find a program and will it be acceptable as CE for license renewal? Refresher programs are not regulated by the Board and should be considered the same as any other CE program. If a refresher program contains a clinical experience, please note the Board's regulations at 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education pdf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education
rtf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education . Refresher programs are generally offered through a college or university and occasionally through a healthcare facility. The Board does not compile or maintain lists of refresher courses.

How many CHs do I need to renew my APRN authorization? Board approved Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) are required to maintain RN licensure and certification through a Board approved national certifying organization in order to practice in Massachusetts. As a condition of continued certification, a national certifying organization may require that all or a portion of the required CE program receive approval through a specific peer review process. CE required by your certifying organization is separate from the 15 CH required by the Board for renewal of your RN license. Contact your specific certifying organization for details.

Can I apply college course work towards my CE requirement? Academic or college courses that are part of a curriculum relevant to nursing or leading to an academic degree in nursing may be used to satisfy the CE requirements as long as the course meets the requirements of the Board's regulations at 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education pdf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education
rtf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education . Each semester credit is the equivalent of 15 CH.

I am currently enrolled in a course of study other than nursing; may I use this towards my CE requirement? Courses or subject matter acceptable for nursing CE for license renewal are outlined in the Board's regulations at 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education pdf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education
rtf format of 244 CMR 5.00: Continuing Education . Appropriate subject matter is a planned program of learning which contributes directly to the professional competence of the licensed nurse.  Each semester credit is the equivalent of 15 CH.

Is taking a CPR or ACLS course acceptable for my CE requirement? CPR courses can not be applied as CE. Initial certification of ACLS and PALS may be applied, but not re-certification.

My work place often holds in-services that I am required to attend, is this acceptable for CE for license renewal? No, in-services are considered necessary information for performing your job safely and effectively.  


This information is provided by the Division of Health Professions Licensure within the Department of Public Health.