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Best Online Nurse Practitioner Programs for 2024

Ready to take your nursing career to the next level? Review top schools, compare program cost, and learn how you can start your journey to an advanced career as a nurse practitioner.

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WRITTEN BY: Kathleen Curtis
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REVIEWED BY: Edumed Editing Staff

Last Updated: 09/06/2023

Editorial Values and Practices

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are some of the most experienced nurses in medical and health settings. They perform many of the tasks that physicians do, including ordering and interpreting medical tests, diagnosing ailments, and collaborating with others on patient care. NPs work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, and other healthcare facilities and in both primary and urgent care.

In addition to being some of the most experienced medical professionals, NPs are also some of the highest paid. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurse practitioners earned a median annual salary of $120,680 as of May of 2021. Those in the top 10% of the profession earned $163,350. Due to increased demand of their services, the BLS estimates a 52% growth in NP job openings between 2020 and 2030, one of the fastest rates for all U.S. occupations.

Most nurse practitioners have either a master’s degree (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). An MSN can take 2 years to complete, with a DNP taking another 3-4 years after that. For students who need flexibility, online nurse practitioner programs are a great option. Many online NP programs allow nurses to take courses online and tackle any necessary patient-facing elements on-the-job or on-campus.

Online NP programs offer a convenient way to continue your nursing education. That said, no one should spend their time, money, and energy on an online program without learning how they work and, more importantly, how they can take your nursing career exactly where you want to go. The following page gives you the inside scoop on the best programs, the different specialties available, and what you’ll face when you apply, enroll, and graduate.

Top Online Nurse Practitioner Programs for 2024

With dozens of online nurse practitioner programs out there, it can be hard to find the right one for you. How much can you afford? Will the ones in your price range have quality instruction and online flexibility? What about career placement? The best way to get answers is to dive into the details of some of today’s most popular nurse practitioner programs online. We’ve researched and reviewed a pair of solid programs to get you started.

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About the ranking

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Base Methodology for EduMed’s Best Online College Rankings for the ’23-’24 school year.

One: Create list of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on data pulled from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which was self-reported by the schools themselves.

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least 1 online component in a program within the ranking-subject area.

Two: Assign Weighting

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of metrics, which were all self-reported by the schools themselves to the U.S. Department of Education and IPEDS.

The metrics are listed below in order of most- to least-heavily weighted.

Online Programs – Number of online programs in the relevant subject area.

Online Student % – Number of total students who are enrolled in at least 1 distance-learning course in the relevant subject area.

Tuition – The average in-state tuition for undergraduate students studying full-time, as self-reported by the school.

Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.

Career Placement Services – Existence of this service on campus or online.

Student/Faculty Ratio

About Our DataEduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2023

# School Name Type Tuition Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 University of Cincinnati-Main CampusCincinnati, OH Public $$ 3

The MSN Family Nurse Practitioner program at the University of Cincinnati is offered fully online by the nationally recognized UC College of Nursing. The program offers the same asynchronous coursework as the on-campus program, allowing working nurses to enhance their careers within healthcare. The program is designed for BSN-prepared nurses with flexible enrollment options in spring, summer, and fall semesters. Most students complete the program in two years, but additional options are available at a slower pace. The online program is not currently available to students located in Arizona, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, or Tennessee.

Program Highlights:

MSN Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 51
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $892.00/credit (resident); $907.00/credit (non-resident)
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: CCNE
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
Online
Student %
65%
2 Maryville University of Saint LouisSaint Louis, MO Private not-for-profit $$$$ 5

Maryville University of Saint Louis' Family Nurse Practitioner online program is formatted for practicing BSN-holding RNs who want to pursue a higher education status and healthcare profession. The program spans 15 courses, all of which can be completed online. Successful completion of the program does require in-person clinical training and field practice, which can be completed at a preferred local setting. Admission into the program does not require GMAT or GRE test scores.

Program Highlights:

Online Master of Science in Nursing -- Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN FNP)

  • Credits: 74
  • Length: 15 courses
  • Cost: $838/credit
  • Mode: Online, in-person training
  • Accreditation: CCNE
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
13/1
Online
Student %
84%
3 Ohio University-Main CampusAthens, OH Public $$ 4

Ohio University's online MSN Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN-FNP) degree is a flexible, online program that provides practicing BSN-holding RNs the advanced skills needed to provide high-quality treatment in primary care settings. The program boasts a low teacher to student ratio and does not require GRE or GMAT test scores. Additionally, students may choose from two different start dates throughout the year. While courses are online, students are required to complete in-person, on-campus intensives in the beginning, middle, and end of the program to receive task-specific instruction and coaching.

Program Highlights:

Online MSN Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

  • Credits: 40
  • Length: 6 semesters
  • Cost: $668/credit
  • Mode: Online, in-person training
  • Accreditation: CCNE
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
78%
4 The University of Texas Rio Grande ValleyEdinburg, TX Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
20/1
Online
Student %
78%
5 University of Southern IndianaEvansville, IN Public $ 4 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
Online
Student %
63%
6 Indiana Wesleyan University-National & GlobalMarion, IN Private not-for-profit $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
93%
7 Youngstown State UniversityYoungstown, OH Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
56%
8 Winona State UniversityWinona, MN Public $ 4 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
Online
Student %
56%
9 Texas Tech University Health Sciences CenterLubbock, TX Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
7/1
Online
Student %
64%
10 San Francisco State UniversitySan Francisco, CA Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
20/1
Online
Student %
94%
11 Purdue University GlobalWest Lafayette, IN Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
27/1
Online
Student %
100%
12 Radford UniversityRadford, VA Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
13/1
Online
Student %
70%
13 Clarkson CollegeOmaha, NE Private not-for-profit $$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
18/1
Online
Student %
95%
14 University of Massachusetts GlobalIrvine, CA Private not-for-profit $$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
22/1
Online
Student %
99%
15 New Mexico State University-Main CampusLas Cruces, NM Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
Online
Student %
76%
16 The University of West FloridaPensacola, FL Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
21/1
Online
Student %
88%
17 Midwestern State UniversityWichita Falls, TX Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
65%
18 Herzing University-MadisonMadison, WI Private not-for-profit $$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
99%
19 The University of Tennessee-ChattanoogaChattanooga, TN Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
18/1
Online
Student %
68%
20 Davenport UniversityGrand Rapids, MI Private not-for-profit $$$$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
Online
Student %
81%
21 Arkansas State UniversityJonesboro, AK Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
14/1
Online
Student %
69%
22 Wheeling UniversityWheeling, WV Private not-for-profit $$$$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
12/1
Online
Student %
96%
23 Harding UniversitySearcy, AK Private not-for-profit $$$$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
Online
Student %
30%
24 Angelo State UniversitySan Angelo, TX Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
Online
Student %
49%
25 University of ArizonaTucson, AZ Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
56%
26 Husson UniversityBangor, ME Private not-for-profit $$$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
14/1
Online
Student %
69%
27 Morehead State UniversityMorehead, KY Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
Online
Student %
57%
28 Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaff, AZ Public $$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
21/1
Online
Student %
55%
29 Marshall UniversityHuntington, WV Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
48%
30 Ball State UniversityMuncie, IN Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
14/1
Online
Student %
60%
31 Columbus State UniversityColumbus, GA Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
Online
Student %
70%
32 Eastern Kentucky UniversityRichmond, KY Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
Online
Student %
72%
33 The University of Texas at ArlingtonArlington, TX Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
24/1
Online
Student %
63%
34 South Dakota State UniversityBrookings, SD Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
50%
35 The University of Texas at El PasoEl Paso, TX Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
20/1
Online
Student %
63%
36 Colorado Technical University-Colorado SpringsColorado Springs, CO Private for-profit $$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
30/1
Online
Student %
100%
37 Chamberlain University-IllinoisAddison, IL Private for-profit $$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
Online
Student %
96%
38 South University-Savannah OnlineSavannah, GA Private for-profit $$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
Online
Student %
100%
39 South CollegeKnoxville, TN Private for-profit $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
20/1
Online
Student %
71%
40 Delta State UniversityCleveland, MS Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
10/1
Online
Student %
68%
41 East Carolina UniversityGreenville, NC Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
18/1
Online
Student %
74%
42 Herzing University-AtlantaAtlanta, GA Private not-for-profit $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
14/1
Online
Student %
90%
43 Texas A & M International UniversityLaredo, TX Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
21/1
Online
Student %
61%
44 University of MemphisMemphis, TN Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
Online
Student %
58%
45 University of Central MissouriWarrensburg, MO Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
50%
46 Georgia College & State UniversityMilledgeville, GA Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
Online
Student %
35%
47 Herzing University-KenoshaKenosha, WI Private not-for-profit $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
Online
Student %
79%
48 Montana State UniversityBozeman, MT Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
18/1
Online
Student %
21%
49 Presentation CollegeAberdeen, SD Private not-for-profit $$$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
11/1
Online
Student %
70%
50 Herzing University-BrookfieldBrookfield, WI Private not-for-profit $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
13/1
Online
Student %
76%

Simmons University

Simmons-University

From its home base in Boston, Simmons University provides women-centered degrees that prepare graduates to make meaningful contributions in their field. The online family nurse practitioner program maintains accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and allows learners to choose from part- and full-time plans of study.

Simmons focuses on providing individualized education and does that by ensuring class sizes stay small so professors can interact with each student separately. Most classes have 15 or fewer learners. The program requires 48 credits and at least 672 clinical hours to graduate. Some of the topics covered include advanced pharmacology across the lifespan, clinical decision-making, global perspectives in health promotion, and scholarly inquiry.

Simmons’ program uses a cohort model, meaning learners enter as a group and progress through coursework together. The school offers four different start dates each academic year. Regardless of where they live, all students pay the same tuition rate of $1,385 per credit. The department offers several scholarships to help offset these costs. Students can rest assured knowing Simmons adequately prepares learners for careers after graduating. In 2017, the school maintained a board pass rate of 94.2%, as compared to the national pass rate of 81.5%.

Georgetown University

Georgetown-University

Georgetown University’s School of Nursing and Health Studies provides a family nurse practitioner program for individuals who want to offer primary care services across the lifespan. Designed for registered nurses who already possess a bachelor of science in nursing, this program consists of 44 credits and requires at least 650 clinical hours to graduate.

Full-time graduates finish in 19 months while part-time students spend 27 months moving from start to finish. Regardless of chosen path, both require two on-campus intensives. Upon completing all requirements, newly minted graduates qualify to seek board certification and credentialing through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). They can also sit for the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners’ Certification Program (AACNP). As of 2017, the school maintained a 100% pass rate for the ANCC and a 97.8% pass rate for the AACNP.

After completing all curricular requirements, NPs in training move on to clinical requirements. Program administrators are on hand to help students find approved sites in their area. Georgetown’s program maintains accreditation via the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Online NP Program Specializations

Interested in a more specialized online nurse practitioner program? Nurse practitioners have a wide range of education and career tracks from which to choose. Get the details on these popular specializations, or read on to learn how today’s online nurse practitioner programs work.

Program Levels for Nurse Practitioners

Because nurse practitioners must perform many advanced medical services, it’s important they possess the knowledge and skills to discern how to handle a wide range of medical issues. Most registered nurses begin their careers by completing either an associate or bachelor’s degree. Because online 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

  • ASN/ADN:
    The Associate of Science in Nursing allows you to begin work as RNs after graduating and passing all licensing exams. Because this degree only requires two years of full-time study, it appeals to individuals who think they want to pursue this field but do not feel fully confident embarking on a full bachelor’s program until they test the waters. Since this program exists as an introductory degree, most schools do not require prerequisites. While an ASN does allow people to work as RNs, they’ll need to complete a bridge program before they can start an online NP program. Read more about campus and online associate degrees in nursing.
  • BSN:
    Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees appeal to those who know they want to work in the nursing field and already possess aspirations to progress their careers in years to come. These four-year programs, like an ASN, allow individuals to work as RNs, but also allow them to move immediately into MSN programs. Common prerequisites include chemistry, human anatomy and physiology, biology, and statistics.
  • LPN-to-BSN:
    Licensed Practical Nurses gain their qualifications after completing a year-long educational program. While this allows them to work in a supervised support role, salaries tend to be far lower than those commanded by RNs. After working as an LPN for a while, some decide they want to take their careers to the next level by completing an LPN-to-BSN bridge program. These programs typically take four semesters of full-time study. Applicants must possess an unencumbered LPN license, have at least one year of employment history, and credits in statistics, chemistry, microbiology, anatomy, and physiology. Check out campus, hybrid, and online LPN to BSN programs.
  • RN-to-BSN:
    RN-to-BSN programs serve as the most common option for individuals who completed an ASN but now want to upgrade their degree. These programs admit registered nurses and typically take 18-24 months to complete. Applicants must already possess an ASN degree with courses in chemistry, English, biology, anatomy, and microbiology.

Graduate NP Degrees

  • MSN:
    To become a nurse practitioner (or nurse anesthetist, or nurse midwife), individuals must possess at minimum a Master of Science in Nursing. These programs take approximately three years to complete and require students to undertake coursework alongside an extensive clinical internship (usually totaling between 600-800 hours, depending on the state). Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree at minimum, although it does not always need to be in nursing. Students should have multiple credits in areas of human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, microbiology, biology, behavioral sciences, and statistics. These programs tend to cost more per credit than undergraduate degrees, but also lead to higher annual wages.
  • DNP:
    Completing a Doctor of Nursing Practice takes between three and four years of full-time study, including approximately 80 credits and 1,000 clinical practicum hours. These programs allow nurse practitioners to move into the upper echelons of the field and prepare them for clinical, research, and teaching roles. Learners who decide to undertake DNPs usually want to specialize their knowledge in a particular area or move into an academic position. Options exist for those with BSNs or MSNs, with prerequisites depending on the highest level of education already completed.

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 online NP 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 NP Program Options

Synchronous programs

Nurse practitioner classes taught through synchronous learning most closely mimic brick-and-mortar classrooms. Nursing students must log-in at specific times to take part in live, face-to-face learning sessions. Most use videoconferences, telephones, and webcasts to connect peers and professors in real time. This method can increase student engagement and make it easier for learners who need more of a hands-on approach to feel involved and connected. They also make it easier to stay on track with learning, as classes happen at the same time each week.

Asynchronous programs

Asynchronous learning appeals to nursing students with busy schedules who possess the discipline needed to complete readings, assignments, and responses on their own timeline. While professors in your online NP program still set overarching deadlines for when work must be turned in, NP students can watch lectures, respond to peers, and study for exams at times that fit their schedule. Students who choose this option must know how to remain focused and on task without the weekly requirement of face-to-face interactions.

Hybrid programs

Hybrid learning includes both classroom and online learning, making it possible for nurse practitioner students to enjoy the benefits of both over the course of their degree. This appeals to those enrolled in schools near their home who feel they might miss out on a traditional experience if they do online only, but also do not possess the time or resources to visit campus multiple times per week. On the flip side, students may feel too stretched or have trouble switching their brains between the two learning styles.

Signs of a Strong Online NP Program

Even with so many online nurse practitioner programs available, potential students can easily narrow their options when considering program components. For starters, only apply to 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.

Population-Health

Population Health: Students in this course examine population-specific health issues across the lifespan and how evidence-based practice informs treatment decisions. Learners also cover topics related to epidemiology, statistics, and the use of biostatistics when caring for patients.

Roles-of-APNs

Roles of APNs: This class familiarizes advanced practice nurses with common responsibilities, legal and regulatory requirements, and ethical standards. The course introduces case studies to help students understand how to respond to myriad scenarios throughout the course of their careers.

Advanced-Pharmacology

Advanced Pharmacology: In this course, learners cover various therapeutic modalities, the diagnosis and ongoing management of health issues, common treatment plans, and the role of clinical pharmacology within primary healthcare.

Health-and-Illness-Across-the-Lifespan

Health and Illness Across the Lifespan: Primarily designed for individuals pursuing family nurse practitioner positions, this class takes a look at each developmental stage of human life and how to both assess and provide care at each level. Learners also discover how things like genetics affect treatment plans.

Informatics

Informatics: This class helps learners better understand existing and emerging health information technologies and how they can inform patient care. Students pay close attention to the use of technologies in evidence-based practice and how these can be used to create safe care environments.

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
$27,340 total
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 there are plenty of highly affordable online nurse practitioner programs as well as other funding options 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.

  1. Scholarships
    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. Explore over 15 of the top scholarships for nurse practitioner students and see if you qualify.
  2. Loans
    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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 an online NP 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

Licensure

Given the importance of this profession and its position within medical support professions, all states require licensure. In order to obtain licensure as an advance practice registered nurse, you must first pass all RN licensure requirements. To gain this next level of licensure, individuals must successfully complete an MSN program or post-graduate nursing degree. If you are unsure about the specific mandates of your state, check with the state licensing board.

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.