Earning a degree to become a nurse practitioner often takes two years or more. This advanced practice option allows future NPs to specialize in a variety of nursing areas, including administration, mental health, and education. But can a nurse earn an NP-related degree in fewer than two years? How about one year? Online coursework, previous experience, and heavy credit loads can speed up the process, but even then it might take extra time or effort to dip below a two-year completion. The good news is, we’ve found programs that make it possible. Review some of today’s best accelerated nurse practitioner programs available either partially or fully online.
University of Southern California’s 21 Month Online FNP
The online Master of Science in Nursing at USC gives nurses advanced training to provide care to infants, children, adolescents, and adults throughout the lifespan in its Family Nurse Practitioner Program. Partnering with the School of Social Work, the FNP program utilizes social work coursework to enhance understanding of how the environment affects human behavior and to promote the ability to think globally about patients and their families while providing care.
Coursework covers health promotion and education, disease prevention, physical assessment and diagnosis, pathophysiology and pharmacology, and illness management. In addition to standard nursing courses, students also complete Human Behavior in the Social Environment, a core social work course, and two social work electives.
This FNP program requires applicants be RNs interested in becoming FNPs. Application for this program requires:
- A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) from an accredited college or university
- At least a 3.0 grade point average in your BSN program
- Completion of a 3-credit course in statistics with a grade of C or better
- Residing in the U.S. upon application and throughout the program
- One year of clinical experience
In addition to submitting a completed online application, a résumé, official transcripts, and a personal statement, applicants must also provide letters of recommendation from a clinical supervisor/nurse manager who directly supervised them; a professor, faculty member, or advisor who can meaningfully discuss their academic record; and a practicing advanced practice nurse (APRN) who served as a mentor or whom they shadowed. The GRE is not required, but you must submit a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System score if your native language is not English.
To help students who may have struggled with their earlier nursing education, the program’s 2-credit Bridge Course offers preparation in pathophysiology and pharmacology, two of the more challenging courses in the accelerated NP program. This course is required for students with:
- A grade of C+ or lower in undergraduate anatomy and physiology
- A grade of C+ or lower in undergraduate microbiology and chemistry
- A cumulative average grade of C+ or lower in undergraduate science courses
- An undergraduate/BSN completed overseas
- Academic transcripts more than five years old
- No undergraduate science courses beyond anatomy and physiology
The accelerated NP program uses both virtual and in-person education that includes online discussion groups with peers and faculty, regular office hours, and two On-Campus Intensives. The program is 49 credit hours of coursework plus 784 clinical hours and costs $1,995 per unit. The Bridge Course is not eligible for federal student aid, and students who must take it should plan on an additional $3,990 cost.
For your clinical placement, the Clinical Placement Team meets with you to discuss policies and give an overview of the placement experience before helping you secure a placement in or near your community. Placement requirements include:
- 4 completed unique rotations
- 14 weeks at each rotation
- 14 hours per week at each rotation
- 2-3 days per week
- 784 total hours
The placement team also screens all sites to ensure they provide diverse primary care clinical experiences.
USC’s FNP program offers both full- and part-time program tracks. The full-time track takes 21 months (5 semesters), and the part-time track, which allows you to continue working while earning your FNP, takes 33 months (8 semesters).
Simmons University’s Accelerated FNP Online
Simmons University’s online FNP program helps working nurses complete their MSNs while continuing to provide care. It offers full-time, part-time, and extended program options, all with ongoing support from faculty and staff. The flex scheduling for lectures means courses are offered multiple times per week, so students can choose the session that best fits their schedule. All lectures are also recorded and accessible asynchronously as well. Simmons also provides an experienced APRN as an academic coach available outside of live sessions to answer questions, offer feedback, and provide advice.
Simmons’s FNP curriculum prepares RNs to become clinical experts who can serve the holistic needs of their patients and meet the challenges presented in today’s primary care settings. The academically rigorous curriculum focuses on developing evidence-based NP skills and a strong background in research, enabling you to immediately apply what you learn. Coursework focuses on promoting health and well-being as well as assessing, preventing, and managing chronic illness and disease.
Students take foundational courses in pharmacology, pathophysiology, and physical assessment to help them think critically. This includes learning about which medications to prescribe and why as well as performing live assessments to demonstrate skills. Clinical practice skills developed during rotations enable students to provide acute and chronic care across diverse populations. In addition to learning to conduct a complete physical exam, graduates will:
- Advance their knowledge of prescribing medications
- Improve their communication skills
- Become familiar with diagnosing acute and chronic illnesses
- Know what resources to turn to for developing plans for patients
- Understand the synthesis of various medications
Cost for this 48-credit-hour program is $1,210 per credit. Students can begin on one of five start dates, and admission is on a rolling basis. The program has a holistic approach to evaluating a student’s personal, professional, and academic experiences and determining preparedness for the program. To be considered, applicants must:
- Be U.S. citizens or permanent residence
- Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. college or university with a preferred GPA of at least 3.0
- Have a current unencumbered and unrestricted RN license
- Earn an 83 or better in a three-credit course in statistics and a three-credit course in health assessment
- Submit a current résumé, personal statement, and official transcript(s)
- Take the English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) if their native language is not English
In addition, applicants should supply three letters of recommendation from:
- A current clinical supervisor/nurse manager who has direct knowledge of their skills and potential in an FNP role
- A professor, faculty member, or advisor who can meaningfully discuss their academic record. If you have been out of school for more than five years, a nurse educator or clinical instructor can provide an academic recommendation
- A practicing advanced practice nurse (APRN) who served as a mentor and can address nursing abilities and potential to become an FNP.
GRE scores are not required. However, you may submit them if you think they’ll strengthen your application.
Courses are a mix of synchronous and asynchronous sessions with live courses offered on the same designated days each week. Flex scheduling includes utilizing recorded lectures where students can return to material for review. The Clinical Placement Team collaborates with students to identify and liaise with an appropriate clinical placement and preceptor for their 672 clinical hours.
Full-time students can complete the program over six terms (24 months) and part-time students over seven terms (28 months). Extended students can complete the program over 8 terms (32 months). Each term is 14 weeks.
The Ohio State University’s Accelerated FNP Program
The FNP program at OSU prepares students to work collaboratively with other healthcare providers and patients at many stages of health and in a variety of complex family situations. OSU offers both a traditional Master of Science in Nursing as well as a Post-Master’s Study option to accelerate the program for those who already have MSNs.
This FNP specialty track prepares graduates for advanced practice nursing in a variety of clinical settings ranging from private practices, clinics, hospital systems, and businesses to managed care organizations and governmental agencies. It gives the knowledge, values, and skills necessary to enter the field as an advanced practice nurse. Along with the clinical placement, which takes place during the last three semesters and must be completed in sequence, students develop an understanding of nursing through classic nursing pedagogy and updated best practices. Standard courses include health assessment and pharmacology, but specialty courses like Pathophysiology of Altered Health States and Evidence-Based Nursing Scholarship are also offered.
Admission is open to students with either a BSN or MSN and active RN licenses. While a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on the last degree earned is preferred, individuals with lower GPAs may still apply for individual consideration. Through holistic review, the Admissions Committee reviews applications carefully for future cohorts of NP students. The Admissions Committee seeks individuals with:
- A clear understanding of the role of an advanced practice nurse
- Previous experience in their intended patient population
- Leadership and collaboration skills
- Community engagement
- Diversity of thought and experiences
- Personal resilience and growth
- Emotional intelligence, humility, and professionalism
- An overall commitment to the nursing profession
Non-residents pay a $1,622 surcharge to the $972.50 cost per unit that residents pay for tuition. Some courses in the distance-enhanced program meet at set times using web conferencing software, and students complete clinical experiences in their community. Students in the distance-enhanced learning option also spend two days on campus for in-person learning and evaluation of clinical skills during their second clinical course. Students in the on-campus option can take advantage of the online format for some of their courses, but their clinical courses meet on campus and their clinical sites are in Ohio.
Core courses in the Post-master’s Study Option are completed online with clinical experiences in a student’s community. Applicants for this option may be able to have some course requirements waived if they completed them during their MSN programs. The specialty track director works with students after admission to determine their course of study.
Traditional Master’s students can complete their coursework in five terms (20 months) with full-time study or eight terms (32 months) part-time.
Georgetown University’s Online Accelerated FNP Program
The Accelerated Family Nurse Practitioner program from Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies prepares advanced practice RNs to provide primary care for the whole family in a variety of clinical settings. Its online accelerated FNP program is designed for RNs with BSNs who are interested in primary care, promoting health, and preventing disease.
Georgetown’s FNP curriculum is grounded in the Jesuit ideal of care for the whole person. Students cultivate a holistic view of family health that encompasses physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Through this lens, students come to learn how to care for the whole patient and think critically about social and physical forces that affect family health.
Courses cover requirements like pathophysiology, pharmacology, and assessment but also include Care of the Family in Crisis and Foundations of Health Systems and Policy. The two required Objective Clinical Intensives take place on campus for three days, where students complete Standardized Patient interviews and assessments under program supervision. These workshops focus on patient care over the lifespan and teach students how to manage realistic primary care office emergency situations. Clinical Rotations take place at a site that you and the Clinical Faculty Advisors identify as meeting the requirements for the degree and Georgetown’s standards of care.
To apply for the Georgetown online MSN degree, you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Hold a BSN or CNL/entry-level MSN from a CCNE- or ACEN-accredited program
- Be an RN
- Have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA and a 3.0 science GPA
- Have completed a college-level three-credit course in statistics with a grade of C or better
Applications must include a professional résumé, official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended, including any community college coursework, and a personal statement. Applicants must also complete a live recorded interview. During the interview, you’ll answer a series of provided prompts for assessing how your personal and professional experiences have prepared you for an advanced practice role. You must also submit three letters of recommendationfrom:
- A clinical supervisor or nurse manager who directly supervised you in a clinical setting
- A professor, faculty member, or academic advisor who can provide meaningful input regarding your academic record
- A practicing advanced practice nurse APRN who has served as a mentor or whom you have shadowed preferably in the APRN specialty to which you are applying
You must also complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) if your native language is not English. Finally, contact the admissions committee to see whether the GRE might strengthen your application
The programcosts $2,278 per credit hour and includes 44 credit hours and 650 clinical hours. Courses can be completed online through a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning. The accelerated NP program requires three-day intensives twice throughout the program. Your clinical site may be in your community, and the Clinical Faculty Advisors helps you identify a suitable placement. Full-time students can complete the program in 5 terms (19 months), and part-time students take 7 terms (27 months).
LaSalle University’s Accelerated Online FNP Program
If you are looking for a streamlined, accredited, affordable online FNP program that prepares you for certification exams, consider LaSalle University. LaSalle considers your budget, existing degree, areas of interest, and your responsibilities when offering admission and putting together its curriculum. Its online accelerated nurse practitioner program offers frequent start dates for added convenience.
LaSalle’s MSN online program is grounded in evidence-based practice and combines theory, clinical practice, and current advanced nursing research. Students explore the psychological, social, cultural, environmental, and economic influences on health care to prepare to meet the needs of diverse groups and populations, build their practice as FNPs, and work in private practices, public clinics, or hospital-based outpatient clinics.
FNP Students complete 45 credits over 16 courses, including 9 credits of core courses, 3 elective credits, 11 credits of field study/clinical courses, and 12 credits of advanced core courses. Advanced topics include women’s health, gerontology, and primary care of children. The program also requires 692 clinical hours with corresponding field study/clinical courses.
Admission requires a BSN with a minimum 3.2 GPA. Applicants with less than a 3.2 GPA can submit MAT/GRE scores showing a score above the 50th percentile on verbal and quantitative skills. Applicants must also submit official transcripts from all institutions attended and have unencumbered RN licenses and one year of relevant clinical experience as RNs. They must also complete an online application that includes a:
- Personal statement
- Professional résumé
- Letter of reference from a supervisor or an academic reference
Completed applications are evaluated weekly for admission for the next upcoming cohort cycle.
LaSalle costs $905 per credit hour for a total of $40,725. Coursework is 100% online. For the 692 clinical hours, the program helps students identify appropriate placements and preceptors. Graduates are suited for work in internal medicine offices, community clinics, long-term care facilities, specialty clinics, university student health centers, rehab centers, ambulatory care centers, home care, and private practice.
Accreditation for Online Nurse Practitioner Programs
Accreditation serves to ensure the overall integrity and quality of curriculum and maintains a set of standards across institutions, so students, employers, and patients can trust the competency of a nurse practitioner. Additionally, without accreditation, you may complete a degree but not be eligible for NP licensing exams.
There are two key factors to consider when evaluating the quality of an online accelerated nurse practitioner program. First, make sure it is accredited by an outside independent body like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Second, make sure that your geographic location is included in the institution’s coverage area. While learning should be universal, many industries, particularly academics and healthcare, are still adjusting and shifting their regulations to account for the prevalence, accessibility, and ease of virtual services and learning.
Any program that is accredited will proudly display accreditation information on its website, and all programs featured in this guide are properly accredited.
One substantial barrier for nurses can be accessing affordable continuing education, which could then ultimately decrease or limit their lifetime earning potential. This guide provides a great starting point for finding an online program that is not only accredited but that is also affordable.
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