Explore Top Online Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Programs

See the best schools, learn about enrollment, timelines, and what you need to succeed. Find the training you need to advance your nursing career and salary potential.

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Chalice Blinick
Chalice Blinick

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Chalice Blinick is a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner with 12 years of experience in hospital and outpatient settings including renal care, ortho-neuro-trauma, medical-surgical, family medicine, and urgent care. She also runs a blog nursechalice.com

Because many prospective FNPs are current RNs, a growing number of universities have developed online family nurse practitioner programs that provide the maximum amount of flexibility for working nurses. But choosing the right online program can be tough. Our 2020 rankings of online FNP programs can help in your search. We analyzed hundreds of nursing schools on factors like affordability, accreditation, and learning flexibility to come up with our final top-50 list. Learn which online family nurse practitioner programs are best-in-class this year.

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About the ranking

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Methodology for EduMed’s 2020 Rankings

To be considered for this ranking, each school must have the following:

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Program(s) offered at least partially online.

School Metrics Explained

EduMed.org data scientists analyzed government higher education data and created a proprietary algorithm to rank each U.S. postsecondary institution and its online programs using 5 primary factors:

  • Cost: Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Online Program Availability: Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to Department of Education.
  • Academic Counseling: Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement: Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid: Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

Most recent data pull: February 2020

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 The University of Texas at TylerTyler, TX Public $$ 2

Nurses seeking advanced training to become a family nurse practitioner have two main options available to them when they attend the University of Texas at Tyler. For incoming students without a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree, there’s the MSN Family Nurse Practitioner program. For those who already hold an MSN degree but wish to become a family nurse practitioner, there’s the Post-MSN Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate. Both of these programs are available in a hybrid online format. This means most classwork is delivered online, but students are required to spend one to two days on the University of Texas at Tyler’s campus every semester.

Program Overviews:

MSN Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 47
  • Length: Two to three years
  • Cost: $893/credit (resident); $1,364/credit (non-resident)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CCNE (program)

Post-MSN Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate

  • Credits: 29
  • Length: Two to three years
  • Cost: $893/credit (resident); $1,364/credit (non-resident)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
48%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
2 Angelo State UniversitySan Angelo, TX Public $$ 3

Angelo State University’s College of Graduate Studies and Research provides two opportunities for professional nurses looking to begin practicing as family nurse practitioners. Nurses who do not have a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree can enroll in the Family Nurse Practitioner Master’s Degree program. For those that already have an MSN degree, but lack the education to take on an advanced clinical role as a nurse, there’s the Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate program. In both programs, much of the classwork requirements can be met online, using Blackboard. However, a few on-campus visits will be required. Additionally, clinical requirements will necessitate in-person instruction and can usually be completed at any approved medical site, as long as it’s in the state of Texas.

Program Overviews:

MSN Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 49
  • Length: Approximately two to three years.
  • Cost: $228/credit (resident); $638/credit (non-resident)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CCNE (program)

Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate

  • Credits: 25
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $228/credit (resident); $638/credit (non-resident)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
60%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
3 University of UtahSalt Lake City, UT Public $$ 1

The University of Utah offers several Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs, including Primary Care – Family DNP. Students learn advanced clinical skills necessary to provide primary care to patients throughout their entire lifespan. Typical classes include foundations of health informatics, advanced pharmacotherapeutics across the lifespan, common pediatric problems, and gynecological management. Upon graduation, students will be ready to sit for the AANPCP (American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program) and ANCC (American Nurses’ Credentialing Center) national certification exams. Only after passing an exam will students be officially certified and licensed to start treating patients as a nurse practitioner.

Program Overview:

Doctor of Nursing Practice – Primary Care Family NP

  • Credits: 80
  • Length: Three years
  • Cost: $3,550-$12,711/semester (resident); $6,492-$32,132/semester (non-resident)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: NWCCU (school); CCNE(program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
71%
AccreditationNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
4 Morningside CollegeSioux City, IA Private, Not-for-Profit $ 1

Morningside College provides students interested in a career as a family nurse practitioner two pathways to achieve the necessary training. The first pathway is through the Family Primary Care Nurse Practitioner degree program. The curriculum consists of 22 core classes and 25 specialty courses. In addition to these classes, students will need to obtain 600 clinical hours to earn a master of science in nursing degree (MSN). The second pathway is the Family Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate program. This program requires completion of 600 clinical hours in addition to the classwork and will allow students to sit for either the American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) exams.

Program Overviews:

MSN Family Primary Care NP

  • Credits: 47
  • Length: Three years
  • Cost: $550/credit
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)

Family Primary Care NP Post-Master’s Certificate

  • Credits: 34
  • Length: Usually less than two years
  • Cost: $550/credit
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
100%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
5 Texas Tech University Health Sciences CenterLubbock, TX Public $$ 2

The Texas Tech University Health Science Center’s School of Nursing offers a variety of programs, including the MSN Family Nurse Practitioner, Post-Master’s Family Nurse Practitioner, and the BSN to DNP Family Nurse Practitioner programs. The MSN Family Nurse Practitioner program allows students to earn a master of science in nursing (MSN) through classwork that is mostly online, with a few on-campus visits. The Post-Master’s Family Nurse Practitioner program results in a certificate for those who already hold an MSN degree. And for nurses with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree, there’s the BSN to DNP Family Nurse Practitioner track. All of these programs will prepare students to achieve national certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner.

Program Overviews:

MSN Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 48
  • Length: Approximately two to three years
  • Cost: $743/credit (resident); $1,165 (non-resident)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CCNE(program)

Post-Master’s FNP Certificate

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: Usually less than two years
  • Cost: $743/credit (resident); $1,165 (non-resident)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CCNE(program)

BSN to DNP Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 74
  • Length: Three years
  • Cost: $787/credit (resident); $1,209 (non-resident)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school)

Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
6 Winona State UniversityWinona, MN Public $$ 3

For nurses who want to become nurse practitioners, Winona State University provides multiple program and specialization tracks. For those seeking to become a family nurse practitioner, there are two primary options available. Nurses with a graduate degree in nursing can apply to the Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate program. Classwork will cover topics like primary care of children and primary care of adult and gerontology clients. Students looking for a terminal degree in nursing can choose enroll in the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program. There are multiple tracks available, including advanced standing, post-master’s, and post-baccalaureate. In most of these tracks, students will get to choose among several specialization options, including family nurse practitioner.

Program Overviews:

FNP Graduate Certificate

  • Credits: 20
  • Length: Two years
  • Cost: $794/credit
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)

DNP Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 73
  • Length: Two to four years
  • Cost: $794/credit
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
49%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
7 Saint Joseph’s College of MaineStandish, ME Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 2

Saint Joseph’s College of Maine allows nursing students to work as family nurse practitioners by either earning a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree or a graduate certificate. Students who take the MSN option will have the ability to earn their degree in as little as two years or as many as five, based on their course load. There is no on-campus residency required when in the family nurse practitioner concentration. The graduate certificate option is for nurses who not only have a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), but also an MSN. In addition to completing the 30 credits, students will need to finish 600 supervised clinical hours. This can be accomplished at an approved location close to the student.

Program Overviews:

MSN Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 48
  • Length: Two to four years
  • Cost: $644/credit
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: NECHE (school); CCNE (program)

FNP Post-Master’s Certificate

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: Usually less than two years
  • Cost: $644/credit
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: NECHE (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
98%
AccreditationNew England Commission of Higher Education
8 Texas A & M University-College StationCollege Station, TX Public $$ 1

Texas A&M University at College Station’s Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner track prepares nurses for a more advanced role in providing primary care to patients. The classes are mostly delivered online. However, students will need to travel to campus several times each semester during the course of the program. There will also be clinical hour requirements that must be met. These clinicals can be completed at a location close to the student as long as they meet program requirements, including having a clinical preceptor practicing as a nurse practitioner, physician, or physician assistant. Only individuals who reside in Texas and have active registered nurse credentials for the state of Texas may apply to this program.

Program Overview:

MSN Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 48
  • Length: Six to eight semesters
  • Cost: $5,240/semester (resident); $10,880/semester (non-resident)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
48%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
9 The University of Texas at ArlingtonArlington, TX Public $$ 1

The University of Texas at Arlington has a robust online program for aspiring family nurse practitioners. There are multiple program pathways to best accommodate each student’s prior educational background. For example, for students with only a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), there’s the MSN-FNP program. Registered nurses without a BSN can apply to the RN to MSN-FNP program. Students can not only earn a master of science (MSN), but their BSN as well. Finally, there’s the Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate program. This option is perfect for nurses who already have their MSN degree, but would like additional training to become eligible to sit for the AANP (American Academy of Nurse Practitioners) or ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center) exams.

Program Overviews:

MSN Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 46
  • Length: 31-36 months
  • Cost: $30,084 (total program cost)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CCNE (program)

RN to MSN Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 75
  • Length: As little as 42 months
  • Cost: $38,308 (total program cost)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CCNE (program)

Post-Master’s FNP Certificate

  • Credits: Varies based on each student’s prior educational background.
  • Length: Usually less than two years
  • Cost: $654/credit
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
54%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
10 Texas A & M University-Corpus ChristiCorpus Christi, TX Public $$ 1

The MSN Family Nurse Practitioner degree program from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi is intended to help existing registered nurses to become advanced practice registered nurses. Specifically, completion of the curriculum will allow students to serve as certified family nurse practitioners after passing the necessary national certification examination. New students are only admitted for the fall semester and will begin by taking classes in subjects such as science in nursing, nursing research, and diverse care environments. In addition to completing all coursework online, students will need to obtain at least 630 clinical hours through hands-on experience at an approved clinical site.

Program Overview:

MSN Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 49
  • Length: Three years
  • Cost: Varies based on number of credits and residency
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
4%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
11 Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaff, AZ Public $$$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
83%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
12 Texas State UniversitySan Marcos, TX Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
12%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
13 Minnesota State University-MankatoMankato, MN Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
27%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
14 Georgia College & State UniversityMilledgeville, GA Public $$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
10%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
15 Gardner-Webb UniversityBoiling Springs, NC Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
100%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
16 University of Central MissouriWarrensburg, MO Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
70%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
17 Graceland University-LamoniLamoni, IA Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
100%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
18 University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences CenterOklahoma City, OK Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
19 The University of Texas Medical BranchGalveston, TX Public $$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
20 Ball State UniversityMuncie, IN Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
51%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
21 Briar Cliff UniversitySioux City, IA Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
97%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
22 Regis UniversityDenver, CO Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
97%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
23 Columbus State UniversityColumbus, GA Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
21%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
24 Southeastern Louisiana UniversityHammond, LA Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
56%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
25 Cedarville UniversityCedarville, OH Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
99%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
26 Stony Brook UniversityStony Brook, NY Public $$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
70%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
27 Clarkson CollegeOmaha, NE Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
61%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
28 Concordia University-WisconsinMequon, WI Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
98%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
29 East Tennessee State UniversityJohnson City, TN Public $$$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
37%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
30 Purdue University Globalpurdueglobal.edu, IA Private, For-Profit $$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
31 Eastern Kentucky UniversityRichmond, KY Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
60%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
32 University of Alabama in HuntsvilleHuntsville, AL Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
75%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
33 The University of Tennessee-ChattanoogaChattanooga, TN Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
43%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
34 University of ArizonaTucson, AZ Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
83%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
35 University of MemphisMemphis, TN Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
39%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
36 Jacksonville UniversityJacksonville, FL Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
94%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
37 University of MaryBismarck, ND Private, Not-for-Profit $$$$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
99%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
38 Chamberlain University-IllinoisAddison, IL Private, For-Profit $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
50%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
39 University of the CumberlandsWilliamsburg, KY Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
97%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
40 Grand Canyon UniversityPhoenix, AZ Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
97%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
41 University of St FrancisJoliet, IL Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
98%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
42 University of Missouri-St LouisSaint Louis, MO Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
83%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
43 Maryville University of Saint LouisSaint Louis, MO Private, Not-for-Profit $$$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
62%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
44 American International CollegeSpringfield, MA Private, Not-for-Profit $$$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
100%
AccreditationNew England Commission of Higher Education
45 The University of Texas at El PasoEl Paso, TX Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
27%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
46 Saint Xavier UniversityChicago, IL Private, Not-for-Profit $$$$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
100%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
47 George Washington UniversityWashington, DC Private, Not-for-Profit $$$$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
75%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
48 Duquesne UniversityPittsburgh, PA Private, Not-for-Profit $$$$$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
99%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
49 Simmons CollegeBoston, MA Private, Not-for-Profit $$$$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
100%
AccreditationNew England Commission of Higher Education
50 Loyola University New OrleansNew Orleans, LA Private, Not-for-Profit $$$$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
98%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

Nursing School Profiles: Online FNP Program Insights

If you’re thinking about earning your FNP degree online, you probably have a lot of questions about how it all works. Is hand-on, clinical training included? If so, where do I go to complete it? How long will the program take to finish? And how much is it all going to cost? To help answer these and other questions, we’ve researched three popular nursing schools offering online FNP programs and spotlighted them below.

Georgetown University

Georgetown-University

Georgetown University is a world-renowned school with more than 200 years of experience delivering high quality education.  Georgetown’s online Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program is available in both part-time and full-time hybrid formats for students who have already earned a BSN. The program consists of 44 credit hours at a cost of around $2,065 per credit hour.

While most classes can be taken online, students also attend two on-campus intensives and complete 650 clinical hours. The part-time format is specifically made for working students or for those with personal obligations that would interfere with a full-time program. With this lighter course load, most part-time students can finish their MSN degree in 27 months. Georgetown also offers a full-time track, which shaves eight months off the time to graduate, thanks to an accelerated curriculum.

Regardless of which path a student takes, they will be well-prepared to practice as a family nurse practitioner. Georgetown’s FNP graduates consistently boast NP certification exam first time passage rates that range between 95 and 100%.

Chamberlain University

Maryville University

Online FNP Program Q&A

The more information you have about schools with online family nurse practitioner programs, the easier you can choose the one that best meets your needs. We recently interviewed Michelle Paysan-Modina, program dean and director of post-licensure nursing programs at West Coast University, to give prospective students an inside look at what makes its online MSN FNP program special.

University name location School type online programs Get more info Program Description
West Coast University location: Campuses in CA, FL, TX School type: Private for-profit online programs: 1 Get more info
Laurus College Logo

Q&A with Dr. Michelle Paysan-Modina

DNP, AGNP, ANP-C

Program Dean/Director of Post-licensure Nursing Programs
Online MSN – Family Nurse Practitioner Track

What’s your involvement at WCU with online learning?

I provide nursing leadership, student-centric strategic and operational direction for all post-licensure nursing programs. [I also] assume and maintain oversight responsibility of student clinical placements, outcomes, and evaluation of student progression throughout the students’ didactic and clinical courses.

What makes your online MSN – FNP program stand out from other programs?

You receive access to faculty and program dean. Our faculty mentorship program for FNP students is a resource available to them throughout their coursework to offer advice, assistance, and individualized support to each student. We provide a dedicated clinical placement team. We understand the needs of working professionals who desire both a concentrated curriculum and flexibility to make it all work, so we have student services for advising and support to help accommodate these needs. We are passionate in supporting our students and their needs to succeed. We offer national boards prep, so you feel confident when taking the exam. Our 24/7 technical support is available to you when you need it. We are there for you for career placement upon graduation. WCU supports its MSN FNP online students beyond the last day of class, and we are committed to helping our MSN family nurse practitioners by providing ongoing assistance with professional and career development. Lastly, we have an amazing alumni network who are there to enhance your continuing success.

How does your online program in MSN – FNP prepare students for successful careers in the field?

WCU is focused on student-centricity and with that, we are committed to student success. In the real world, we learn on our own, but also, you learn from your peers. We feel that a student centric model is better that way to prepare our students to exercise their adaptability and instincts in performing better to prepare them for the future. We incorporate this model through our dynamic online learning platform such as video and forum discussion. Our instructors are there for you during this process, so we have ongoing faculty support and engagement. WCU uses live collaborative sessions with faculty, on-Site Intensive sessions (hands-on learning with faculty) for immediate training and feedback, and synchronous access to courses. At West Coast University, a student-focused learning has major benefits because we focus on the individual student’s needs.

What support services do you offer students enrolled in your online MSN – FNP program?

WCU’s online MSN FNP program takes your education to another level by preparing you for more. We want you to take advantage of all of our support services when you are enrolled in our program. Our online classes are energizing, engaging, and enriched with video content, simulations, adaptive quizzing, and on-the-go resources. On top of that, we offer the support you need to succeed. Our Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) faculty mentorship program is available to for personal and profession development.

Our support services include:
  • Writing and tutoring resources
  • On-Site Intensive sessions (hands-on learning with faculty) for immediate training and feedback
  • Dedicated Clinical placement team
  • Student Services for Advising and Support
  • National boards prep
  • 24/7 technical support
  • Career placement upon graduation
  • Alumni networking and support

Any other information you’d like prospective students to know about your program?

Today, nurse practitioners are gaining more and more responsibility and autonomy as a primary healthcare provider. They practice in different settings, such as urban suburban & rural settings. We have an aging population and there is a lack of primary care providers, therefore, NPs can fill in the gap. NPs are being recognized as key members of the healthcare team. We prepare you to become employable and marketable through an abundance of education and career advancement opportunities.

Does an Online Family NP Program Work for You?

Distance learning has revolutionized higher education. Though online programs are consistently rising in popularity, not all of them are designed the same way. Depending on your academic, professional, and personal needs, one program might be better suited for you than another. For example, if you want to work full-time while in school, a part-time program with more flexible learning options may be the right choice. You might also want the ability to focus on a particular FNP specialization, which may not be available at all schools. When figuring out if an online FNP program is right for you, let’s first look at the two primary online learning formats.

Flexibility in Online Learning

  • Fully Online:
    In fully online FNP programs, all coursework may be completed virtually. However, students should keep in mind that in-person practicums may be required. Clinicals also need to be completed in person; however, fully online FNP programs may offer greater flexibility in completing them. For example, some programs allow practicing RNs to complete their clinical requirements at their current place of employment.
  • Hybrid:
    The format of hybrid online family NP programs may differ based on the school, but most require students to spend at least some time on campus completing the non-clinical curriculum requirements. Depending on the program, these may be referred to as intensives, immersions, or labs. Despite the need for on-campus study, these programs still offer a lot of  flexibility for FNP students.

Family NP Degrees Options

1. Masters of Science in Nursing
The Master of Science in nursing (MSN) track is the most popular degree route for aspiring family nurse practitioners. Full-time students with a bachelor of science in nursing degree can expect to complete their MSN program in about two years, sometimes less. For those wishing to continue working full-time as RNs, it can take about two-and-a-half years to complete their MSN. Some MSN programs can even be taken online.

Some programs offer opportunities to specialize in particular areas. In addition to training for skills needed to treat a wider range of patients, MSN curriculums also prepare students to sit and pass national licensing exams so they can become certified nurse practitioners in their respective states. Students can expect to complete about 650 hours of clinical training before graduation.

2. Doctor of Nursing Practice
A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree includes additional coursework in emerging and more advanced fields that relate to the non-clinical practice of medicine such as leadership, policy, evidence based practice, research, and information systems technology. Nursing leaders and policymakers anticipate that future changes in the healthcare setting will make these skills important for nurse practitioners who want to provide the best patient care possible.

With these additional classes, students with a BSN can expect to add about one more year of full-time study, for a total of three years. For those who already have an MSN degree, they can expect to take one year to complete their DNP degree.

Here are a few additional factors to consider when choosing among nurse practitioner programs:

Class Size: As a general rule, smaller classes can lead to more interaction with your teachers and peers. This, in turn, can lead to greater opportunities to learn and get any extra help you might need.

Faculty: The faculty’s experience, skills, and knowledge is directly related to the quality of education you’ll receive. Before committing to a program, take a look at the faculty’s degree levels, published work, and years of clinical practice.

Cost of attendance: In addition to tuition, fees and travel expenses can add significant cost. On the other hand,  financial aid, such as scholarships, can cut down the cost of more expensive programs. Make sure to look at all the full financial picture for each program you’re considering.

Program length: While a shorter program may be ideal for some students, those working full-time may need to take more time to complete their degree. Future nursing students need to find the right program length that will fit their professional and personal needs.

Certification exam passage rate: A sign of a good program is a high certification exam passage rate, such as on the AANC (American Nurses Credentialing Center) exam. While a high or perfect passage rate doesn’t guarantee all students can expect the same results, it does make it more likely that you’ll be fully prepared to practice as a family nurse practitioner.

Admissions Requirements

Every school will have its own specific admissions requirements, but most MSN and DNP nurse practitioner programs require the following:

  • Possession of an active and unrestricted registered nurse license
  • Completion of the application
  • BSN degree from an accredited program. Some DNP programs may require an MSN degree.
  • Completion of a statistics course
  • Curriculum vitae or resume (providing evidence of clinical work experience)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement or essay

Some programs may have additional admissions requirements, including GRE scores, a personal interview, and at least one year of clinical experience.

Curriculum Breakdown: Online Family NP Programs

Coursework in an FNP program consists of theory and clinical practice courses designed to prepare graduates to meet the healthcare needs of children and adults of all ages. Program courses meet the criteria set by the state as well as the national accreditation bodies.

The first year of the program typically focuses on broad nurse practitioner education, with themes you may have encountered in clinical experience if you’re a working RN. The second year of study will concentrate on the family specialty and any further specializations you choose, if specializations are available in your program.

The following are common course offerings in FNP programs:

Advanced Practice Nursing in Primary Care of the Adult:

How to identify, manage, diagnose, and treat adult patients. Topics include socioeconomic and cultural considerations during treatment.

Advanced Primary Nursing in Primary Care of the Child:

How to provide primary care to children, with an emphasis on building good health habits, prevention, and common health issues in younger patients.

Clinical Decision Making for the Family Nurse Practitioner:

Building from prior training and experience, how to apply evidence-based practice knowledge to effectively treat and manage patients with serious or long-term health issues.

Research Methods:

The research process within healthcare, with a special emphasis on the scientific method for the observation and investigation of problems found in the clinical setting.

Advanced Pathophysiology:

How to apply current scientific understanding of pathophysiology to primary care practice. This course builds on priod knowledge of pathophysiology.

Theoretical Foundations for Advanced-Practice Nursing:

How to apply ethical, scientific, and legal principles to the modern clinical practice.

Pharmacology for Advanced Practice Across the Lifespan:

How complex pharmacological principles, such as anesthetic administration and pharmacokinetics, apply to a wide array of patients.

Family Nurse Practitioner Clinical I:

This introduction to clinical experiences covers the basic diagnostic challenges encountered in a primary-care setting.

Advanced Health Assessment:

Advanced diagnostic and treatment skills and strategies to effectively treat patients commonly seen in primary care.

Common Online Family NP Subspecialties

While the family nurse practitioner track is a specialty for the MSN or DNP degree, many programs also offer subspecialties for those who wish to work in a particular area. If you’re considering a subspecialty, make sure the program you choose to attend offers specific courses in that area. It can be more difficult to gain the necessary knowledge and skills through employer training.

Pediatrics is one of the most common, but there are a variety of other subspecialties to suit your interests. The following are some of the most popular choices:

  • Dermatology:
    Given their role as a primary care provider, FNPs are likely to encounter patients with skin problems. Dermatological issues can affect all ages, from adolescents dealing with acne to geriatric patients with possible skin cancer. By choosing the Dermatology-Certified Nurse Practitioner subspecialty, future family nurse practitioners can obtain additional knowledge concerning issues with skin, hair, and nails.
  • Emergency medicine:
    Family nurse practitioners often treat patients in a non-emergency setting by providing preventative care as well as treatments for acute and chronic health issues. However, some nurse practitioners may wish to practice in the emergency setting while still gaining the necessary training to provide primary care to a range of patients. Students can work toward the Emergency Nurse Practitioner Specialty Certification available from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB).
  • Nephrology:
    Nephrology is the study of kidneys and their function within the human body. A common health problem primary care medical providers encounter is chronic kidney disease. Given how often a FNP may treat these types of patients and those at risk for kidney problems, obtaining additional training in this subspecialty can be quite useful. To better serve patients, nephrology certification is available for FNPs that want to become Certified Nephrology Nurse Practitioners.

Obtain Your National FNP Certification

Graduation from an accredited family nurse practitioner program isn’t enough to start practicing as an FNP. In most cases, individuals must become licensed in the state they intend to practice in. In addition to completing a graduate level program, nurses must also sit for and pass a national certification exam.

There are a number of nurse practitioner certification exams available, although the two primary certifications for family nurse practitioner are offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB).

  • American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

    The ANCC Family Nurse Practitioner board certification (FNP-BC) is an entry-level credential. The primary component of this certification is passage of a 200-question multiple choice computer exam over the course of three-and-a-half hours.

    Eligibility requirements include:

    • Current and active RN license
    • A master’s or doctoral level degree from an accredited FNP program
    • Completion of coursework in advanced physiology/pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, advanced pharmacology, health maintenance/promotion, and differential diagnosis and disease management

    The exam costs between $290 and $395, depending on whether the applicant is a student or member of the ANA or AANP. The initial certification lasts five years and can be renewed by paying the renewal fee and completing continuing education coursework.

  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB)

    The AANPCB FNP certification is the second major entry-level national certification for family nurse practitioners. It ensures that they possess the requisite level of knowledge necessary to treat patients across their lifespans within a primary care setting. The certification exam consists of 150 questions and must be completed in three hours.

    Eligibility requirements include:

    • Current and active RN license
    • A graduate-level family nurse practitioner degree from an accredited program
    • Completion of APRN core courses, which include advanced physical assessment, advanced pharmacology, and advanced pathophysiology
    • At least 500 clinical hours of providing direct patient care under faculty-supervision

    As a part of the application process, non-AANP member applicants must pay $365 while AANP members only pay a $290 certification fee. The AANPCB certification can be renewed every five years. There are two avenues for renewal, both of which require payment of a renewal fee. The first option requires maintaining an active RN license, presenting evidence that the applicant has obtained at least 1,000 clinical hours practicing as a FNP, and completion of 100 contact hours of advanced continuing education. The second option requires taking the FNP certification exam again.

Pricing Your Online Family Nurse Practitioner Program

Since there are many factors that can affect the cost of education, the cost of becoming a family nurse practitioner can vary dramatically. For example, tuition costs can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per credit hour. To see examples of the wide range, take a look at the spotlight schools we profiled above.

The number of courses also makes a difference in your bottom line. There are two degrees that can lead to a FNP: the MSN and the DNP, with the latter adding about one year to the education timeline. Students with an MSN degree may also need less time to earn a DNP than someone with a BSN degree. Other factors might include potential travel costs for required on-campus visits and the availability of financial aid.

Here are a few other considerations to keep in mind:

  • Financial aid: 
    Government-sponsored loans are one of the most common sources of financial aid for nursing school. Completion of the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is required to apply for these. Completing the FAFSA is also neeeded for requesting other forms of financial aid, including scholarships and grants from private and public sources. To learn more, see our guide to financial aid.
  • Scholarships: 
    Scholarships are usually awarded based on the student’s personal achievement or other traits, such as belonging to a particular group (such as veteran status) or maintaining academic excellence. Luckily, there are many scholarships available to FNP students, such as Tylenol’s Future Care Scholarship or the AfterCollege/AACN Scholarship Fund.
  • Private loans: 
    Assuming scholarships and government student loans aren’t enough to pay for the cost of attendance, nursing students have the option of going to private banks or credit unions for school loans. While these often have less generous terms than other forms of financial aid, they’re an option to consider.
  • Career ladder programs: 
    Career ladder programs are run by healthcare employers to promote the professional advancement of healthcare workers. Each program is different, but many offer benefits similar to tuition reimbursement plans. Specifically, some employers provide a scholarship or other form of financial support to employees who seek out additional schooling. In return, the employee comes back to work with the same employer for higher pay or a new position.