The criteria for midwifery degrees differ greatly depending on the level of education pursued, with the fundamental academics involving coursework in chemistry, nursing, microbiology and anatomy. The most basic degree, an associates in nursing (ADN), typically requires approximately two years of schooling and prepares the candidate for entry-level positions in the nursing/midwifery field.
Many midwifery students may complete an associates and then use it as a "bridge" degree, or the foundation for the eventual pursuit of the bachelors of science. The bachelors then typically expands upon the scientific expertise of the student while also enhancing her communication skills. For example, a student at this level may not only study chemistry, anatomy and physiology, but public speaking, community and family theory as well.
Masters degrees in midwifery generally take between 18 and 24 months when students can attend full-time, whereas degree completion may be spread over three to four years for part-time students. Masters study focuses increasingly on broader analytical issues, such as the theoretical basis of nursing, public policy and understanding the dynamics of the health care system. While doctoral degrees are not necessary for midwifery practice, they can vitally advance the careers of those keen to do research and prepare talented women to teach future midwifery students. These degrees often require intense focus on women's health policy concerns, the interpretation of clinical information, communication and leadership skills.