What are the Continuing Education Requirements for my Nursing License?

As a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) you are required to complete a set amount of continuing education units (CEUs) in order to maintain licensure in most states. While each state in the U.S. has specific requirements for nurses, you can expect to obtain at least 15 hours of continuing education in most cases, and up to 40 hours in some states.


There are a handful of states that do not require you to earn any CEUs to maintain your nursing license. As of September 2015, the states that allow RN license renewal without CEUs are:

  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

In the remaining states, you will need to fulfill specific requirements, as set forth by your state's board of nursing. You may need to attend conferences, complete CEU offerings in a peer reviewed journal, or meet requirements for actual nursing practice hours. Some states, like Oklahoma, may even require actual college courses for license renewal.

It's a good idea to take some time to review your state's requirements for CEUs as soon as you become a nurse, to ensure you are prepared when it comes time to renew your license. You can find a full listing of all the state boards of nursing on the NCSBN page to begin. From there, you will be able to see exactly how many and which type of CEUs are needed in your state.

What Does 'Peer Reviewed' Mean?

There are several topics that you can choose to focus on when getting your nursing CEUs such as Medication Safety, Patient Privacy, Standards of Nursing Care, Nursing Ethics, Culturally Competent Care and Infection Control. You may notice that some of the courses you find are labeled as peer reviewed.

A course that is peer reviewed has been subjected to scrutiny by other nursing professionals, medical researchers and/or academic faculty for accuracy and significance. CEUs offered in peer reviewed nursing journals have been subjected to review by an editorial and/or research review panel in order to ensure that they adhere to current research, practice standards and nursing knowledge based on evidence based practice and expert opinion.

Where Can I Find Nursing CEUs?

There are several sources, both online and off, where you can find nursing CEUs. If you subscribe to any nursing journals, you may find nursing CE offerings in each edition, often focusing on the content or nursing specialty of the periodical. You may also find that attending nursing conferences is a great way to earn CEUs while also networking with other nursing professionals.

You may find that you receive fliers or invitations in the mail that offer continuing education for nurses and other healthcare professionals in your area via conference, mail order or subscription. Be sure to check and make sure these CE offers are approved by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing or by your own state nursing accreditation agency.

Finally, you may want to look into options for earning your nursing CEUs online or through an academic institution. Some of the more common resources include, Medscape, nursing organizations such as the AACN, along with local universities and schools of nursing.

Contact the CEU providers listed below to determine if their resources are right for you. Remember to make sure they are accredited and meet the standards of your state board.