- 2019’s Top Online Nurse Practitioner Programs
- Program Levels for Nurse Practitioners
- How Online Nurse Practitioner Programs Work
- Signs of a Strong Online NP Program
- Nurse Practitioner Courses Online
- How Much to Online NP Programs Cost?
- Tackling the Tuition of Your Online NP Program
- Nurse Practitioner Certification & Licensure
- Nurse Practitioner Concentrations & Credentials
- Career Advancement & Outlook
Nurse practitioners work on the front lines of medical care, ensuring patients receive top-tier services while in their charge. A typical day may include diagnosing illnesses or injuries, reviewing test results, taking medical histories, or prescribing medicines and/or developing treatment plans. Operating as advanced practice nurse practitioners (APNPs), these professionals must complete at minimum a master’s degree. Some roles call for a doctoral degree. Finding the right educational path means reviewing numerous options to identify one that mixes virtual and in-person elements. Keep reading to see how online NP programs can help push your education and career to the next level.
Featured nurse practitioner programs online:
Best in Class: 2019’s Top Online Nurse Practitioner Programs
With so many online nurse practitioner programs available, you may feel overwhelmed when it comes to picking one to meet your needs. To help, EduMed’s “Best in Class” initiative spotlights some of today’s best schools and programs. We pull together the most affordable and comprehensive accredited programs with the flexiblity you need to balance work, school, and family responsibilities. See which online nurse practitioner programs are making a huge difference in 2019.
Program Levels for Nurse Practitioners
Because nurse practitioners must perform many advanced medical services, it’s imperative that they possess the knowledge and skills to discern how to handle a wide array of medical issues. Most registered nurses begin their careers by completing either an associate or bachelor’s degree. Because NP programs require applicants to possess a bachelor’s degree when applying, those who pursued an associate degree may need to complete a bridge program before enrolling. The following section takes a look at the different levels of nursing degrees and how each contributes to becoming a nurse practitioner.
Undergraduate Nursing Degrees
Graduate NP Degrees
How Online Nurse Practitioner Programs Work
As online learning continues to expand and options become more sophisticated, potential virtual learners can choose from several different learning styles and find one that best suits their individual needs. Given that nurse practitioner programs require time spent in clinical rotations, it’s impossible for all learning to take place from the comfort of home. Many programs also require learners to visit campus to take part in intensives lasting a few days to a week. But degree seekers do have some control over how and when the learning takes place, making it important for them to understand the differences of each option.
Online Program Options
Signs of a Strong Online NP Program
Even with so many online nurse practitioner degrees available, potential students can easily narrow their options when considering program components. For starters, only attend programs accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, as this better ensures your chance of receiving licensure and competing for jobs. Also make sure the program offers a concentration in your area of focus, such as gerontology, family, or pediatric care. Program delivery also matters, so check whether the program exists in a synchronous or asynchronous format. Lastly, look for faculty with experience.
Nurse Practitioner Courses Online
While many nurse practitioner online programs offer similar courses, it’s important to remember that all are not created equally. Students should carefully examine curricula, look for alumni reviews, and ask probing questions about the level of rigor involved. They should also make sure that a program covers both basic and advanced topics, with electives that help them build population-specific skills. Check out a few popular courses below.
How Much Do Online NP Programs Cost?
Online nurse practitioner programs, like any other degree, range in cost depending on the institution, number of credits required, and whether the student plans to transfer any existing hours when they matriculate. The following list gives prospective degree seekers a sense of what to expect, but they should check with individual schools to get exact numbers. In general, online degrees tend to cost less, both in terms of per-credit fees and savings on transportation, housing, and other costs related to studying on campus.
|1||1. Mount Carmel College of Nursing,
Family Nurse Practitioner
|2||2. Duke University,
Doctor of Nursing Practice
|$1,769 per credit|
|3||3. Simmons University,
Family Nurse Practitioner
|$1,385 per credit|
Tackling the Tuition of Your Online NP Program
The costs of online nurse practitioner programs vary. While some tuitions may seem initially prohibitive, it’s important to remember that plenty of funding options exist to help offset costs and help learners avoid student loan debt. Check out the options below, but also speak with admissions personnel at potential schools to learn if any other options exist, such as fellowships or teaching assistantships. Our guide to financial aid can help get you on the right path, too.
Scholarships have the broadest appeal as this type of funding does not need repayment so long as students meet all requirements. Learners should research scholarships originating from schools, academic departments, private foundations, nonprofits, and all levels of government. See 50 of today’s top scholarship opportunities for students of healthcare.
These can be both subsidized and unsubsidized. The federal government offers a number of subsidized (meaning interest does not accrue while enrolled) and unsubsidized loans at the graduate level. Students should exhaust all other funding options before taking out loans, and only take exactly what they need to pay for tuition and fees.
- Veterans benefits
Students previously enrolled in a branch of the military can take advantage of educational assistance programs to cut costs. The Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill, and the Yellow Ribbon Program all provide financial support to qualified veterans.
- Employer tuition assistance
Employers who choose to participate in these programs can provide learners with up to $5,250 in tax-free educational benefits per year. In exchange, most require the employee to study a particular topic and/or commit to working at the organization for a certain number of years.
- Payment plans
Some schools allow students to make payments on their education while enrolled rather than taking out a loan. This option is usually open to those who don’t need a loan, but can’t pay the full balance up front. Schools usually charge a small administrative fee or low interest rate.
Nurse Practitioner Certification & Licensure
After finishing a master’s in nursing program, graduates are eligible to sit for exams from two nursing certification agencies. While not necessarily required, certifications can help newly minted nurse practitioners stand out from the competition and provide more options for individuals to network and continue building their specialized skills. Students looking to understand more about their options can read about the two credentialing agencies below.
- The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP) Exam:
The AANPCP offers certifications in areas of family NP, adult-gerontology NP, and emergency NP for individuals who want to demonstrate their competencies and clinical knowledge within each specialty area. Graduates must successfully pass the exam to receive certification and apply for recertification every five years to maintain good standing. To be eligible to sit for the AANPCP exam, applicants must have the following:
- MSN, post-master’s certificate, or doctorate
- Active RN license
- At least 500 clinical hours supervised by a faculty member
- Final transcript
- The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Exam:
The ANCC provides certifications in several nurse practitioner focus areas, including family, psychiatric-mental health, adult-gerontology acute care, and adult-gerontology primary care. These cost $395 for non-members and $295 for members. After passing the initial exam, NPs must renew their certification every five years and demonstrate a history of continuing education from the time of their first certification. To sit for the ANCC examination, applicants must demonstrate the following:
- Current RN license
- A master’s degree, post-graduate, or doctoral degree in their specialization
- At least 500 clinical hours supervised by a faculty member
- Graduate courses in physiology, pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology
- Graduate-level content in health promotion and maintenance, disease management, and differential diagnosis
Nurse Practitioner Concentrations & Credentials
After deciding to pursue a nurse practitioner online program, students must then figure out which specialization speaks to their career ambitions. Because NPs work across a diverse spectrum of clinical areas, finding the right niche represents an important step in the educational process. Some may feel drawn to work with specific populations such as women or children, while others may derive more satisfaction from working with different types of individuals. Read up about common concentrations below to get a sense of popular sub-disciplines.
Career Advancement & Outlook
Before taking the plunge and enrolling in an online nurse practitioner program, potential students want to ensure an ample return on investment and job security for the future. For nurse practitioners in training, the future looks extremely bright. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that roles for these professionals will grow by 31% (as compared to the national average of 8% for all occupations) by 2026. In total, approximately 65,000 new jobs will be added to the existing 204,000. This growth is due to a higher demand for medical services in general, but also more emphasis on gerontology services and preventative care.
While many jobs within medical support show higher than average growth, numbers for nurse practitioners are particularly strong. The majority (46%) find work in physicians’ offices, but they can also seek employment in hospitals, outpatient care centers, nursing education services, and offices of other health practitioners.
How Much Do Nurse Practitioners Make?
Given their advanced education and credentialing, nurse practitioners typically earn salaries far above the national average. While those receiving median wages earn approximately $110,000 each year, individuals in the highest echelons can make close to $200,000 annually. In terms of location, those working in hospitals earned the highest median wage at $117,850. Individuals working in educational services, conversely, earned the lowest at $101,600. Check out the table below to get a better sense of what to expect while remembering that factors like experience, location, and type of facility can all impact the final number.
|Lowest 10%||Median||Highest 10%|
What Are the Career Advancement Opportunities for Nurse Practitioners
Nurse practitioners who want to continue moving up the career ladder can elect to focus their skills in particular areas of the field, thereby increasing their specialized knowledge and positioning themselves to be in high demand. Some may decide to work in psychiatrics while others may feel more drawn to pediatric care.
Another option to for increasing income and career advancement opportunities is to move to a state seeing the most growth in the field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New York, California, Texas, Florida, and Ohio possess the highest employment levels. California, Alaska, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York currently pay the highest annual mean wages.