Program Overview & the Midwifery Institute

About the Midwifery Institute

The Midwifery Institute at Jefferson has been educating midwives for more than two decades. Through an innovative online distance learning model of midwifery education, the program is able to offer a wide range of students, faculty and alumni a supportive, encouraging network to learn and explore.

We've been educating nurses to become midwives since 1996, and applicants from a variety of disciplines to become midwives since 2010. We continue to look forward to educating midwives from nursing and a variety of disciplines to be prepared to practice as Certified Nurse-Midwives and Certified Midwives after graduation.

The Midwifery Institute at Jefferson is committed to the development of the profession of midwifery. We believe that midwives provide a distinctive type of care that benefits women, individuals, and families.

Our mission is to promote midwifery through education, practice, advocacy, and research to improve lives.

The Midwife Tutor faculty are able to see the individual midwife in each student while also keeping in perspective the vision for the future of midwifery. We seek to maintain the time-honored practices of midwives while adapting to our evolving world by weaving tradition with technology.

The Midwifery Institute was founded in 1996 by a group of midwifery educators as the Institute of Midwifery, Women, and Health. The Founding Board of Directors all had extensive experience in midwifery practice and education, and wanted to create an institution that would speak clearly on issues related to midwifery in the United States and that would be inclusive of all types of midwives in our country. The Midwifery Institute at Jefferson offers midwifery educational programs in a community-based distance learning format. 

The students who are attracted to the program represent a cross-section of individuals who prefer the independence of on-line/community based education or for whom on-campus programs are inaccessible. The reasons may relate to their geographic locale, the expense of many on-campus programs, or their need for more creative and flexible scheduling of their studies. Many of the students come from small towns and rural communities, where they plan to stay. Of our graduates, approximately 72% are working in rural or underserved areas.

Jefferson was the first program in the United States to offer a Master of Science (M.S.) program in Midwifery, and since our first class in June 1998, we continue to offer real world, active, collaborative learning in our innovative master’s and doctoral curricula.

Our mission is to promote midwifery through education, practice, advocacy, and research to improve lives.


The staff and faculty of the Midwifery Institute at Jefferson believe:

  • midwifery care is the exemplary health care standard for women and for primary reproductive and sexual healthcare.
  • midwifery education models midwifery practice.
  • online learning provides accessible quality midwifery education.
  • it is imperative to educate students who reflect the racial, ethnic and cultural diversity of our country in an environment that promotes social justice and inclusion.
  • effective educators use a wide variety of methodologies in well-prepared, digital environments that value relationships and intellectual rigor.
  • adult learners are committed and curious partners who actively engage with faculty, classmates and others to broaden and deepen their education.
  • education in the Core Competencies for Midwifery Practice is optimal in the United States’ complex health care environment.
  • the post-professional Doctorate in Midwifery seamlessly prepares professional leaders with a discipline specific focus and interdisciplinary competence.  
  • graduates of the Midwifery Institute advance the Hallmarks of Midwifery in education, practice, advocacy, and research.

Structure of the Academic Programs

The Midwifery Institute ascribes to a modified mastery learning approach. This means that we believe each student can successfully master the learning objectives set before them. This approach is modified to accommodate the time limits set by our term calendar. Students are expected to begin and complete a course within a specified time frame. Online courses are delivered via Canvas.

Most course work is completed in an asynchronous format and requires students to contribute to course discussion via asynchronous online discussion rooms.  Asynchronous learning activities such as papers and case studies are submitted through Canvas. Mastery sessions are synchronous course sessions often held after several units have been explored individually and in the course seminar room, typically before exams, though they can be held solely as a learning experience and not as an exam review. These are not lectures. These are a time for faculty guided discussion of issues brought by students to the discussion. Attendance is strongly encouraged, but is not required for mastery sessions.

Problem Based Learning (PBL)

Synchronous online groups are threaded throughout the midwifery curriculum in selected courses. This educational modality is introduced during orientation. PBL is student centered education that uses real life scenarios as a stimulus to learn how to approach discipline-specific issues. PBL is designed to facilitate the development of critical thinking skills, team building, communication skills, and professional behaviors in the beginning practitioner. To facilitate real-time discussion among members of the PBL tutorial group, the scenario is introduced, learning issues are identified, students individually investigate the learning issues, and findings are discussed at the next PBL session. Video conference support real-time discussion of midwifery based clinical scenarios. These synchronous discussions will be scheduled prior to the start of each semester. Students are required to be present.

Course Tutors

The role of the tutor at The Midwifery Institute at Jefferson is the foundation of our model for midwifery education. The Midwife Tutor model mimics the midwifery model of care: students are treated with respect as individuals, with a personalized approach that encompasses involvement in all aspects of the educational processes of advising, evaluation and supervision.

The Midwife Tutor’s primary focus is the facilitation of learning. This facilitation of the learning process is similar to the midwife’s role during labor. Both roles require the ability to challenge, assess, confront, encourage, provide feedback, assist, listen and problem solve. The challenge of distance education is to facilitate learning at a distance, where students and faculty share the responsibility for life long learning.

We are fortunate to have a diverse, experienced faculty in both midwifery education and clinical practice. We believe in lifelong learning and continue to be partners in the growth and development of ourselves, our students and the profession of midwifery.

It is wonderful to be able to continually renew our vision of midwifery and midwifery education through the minds, hands and hearts of the students and faculty of the Midwifery Institute at Jefferson. With the advances and advantages of on line learning, adult learners are able to reach their professional goals without losing the personal connectedness of midwifery education.