The external degree is not new in higher education. However it has not as yet been fully developed. Its usefulness has been demonstrated at the undergraduate level where students are able to move up the career ladder to licensure or degree. It appears to be a viable alternative for nurses seeking educations at the masters level also. By definition it is a nontraditional method of delivery. Nursing as a profession abounds with nontraditional potential students. The author has made no attempt to sell the "external degree" to nursing educators. The focus has been on heightening the awareness of readers to this rapidly developing change in higher education. In a time when concepts such as recurrent education, part-time students, credit for life and work experience, meaningful education and the adult student are much discussed in higher education, nursing educators should not be left behind. The external degree, modified or unmodified may well be the mechanism needed for providing quality education for nurses with varying backgrounds.