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Top Online NP Programs in Massachusetts for 2024

Discover high-quality online NP programs in Massachusetts, learn about key program features and degree types, and explore career and salary potential in the Bay State.

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Author: Emily Kelley
Editor: Kari Scare

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Panoramic view of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's great dome, flanked by lush green trees under a clear blue sky, symbolizing the opportunities afforded by scholarships and financial aid.

As a registered nurse in Massachusetts, you are already hard at work on the front lines of healthcare. But if you have been considering ways to take your career to the next level, transitioning into the role of nurse practitioner is probably weighing heavily on your mind.

After all, there are many excellent reasons to become an NP. Aside from a significant increase in pay and greater autonomy, you’ll have more opportunities to specialize in a niche that you’re passionate about, like women’s health, acute care, pediatric care, or adult gerontology, among others. Furthermore, the demand for NPs is booming — according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the profession is expected to grow by 45% over the next decade.

As great as this all sounds, you may still be wondering how you will fit your studies into your already hectic schedule. That’s where we can help. In this guide, we’ll introduce you to some top-notch online NP programs in Massachusetts that offer the flexibility you need to reach your goals. We’ll also outline features to look for in NP programs, explain what types of degrees are out there, and give you an overview of your career and salary potential. A realm of fresh possibilities lies just over the horizon, so keep reading to explore your options.

As you begin researching online NP programs in Massachusetts, you’ll want to make sure that the programs on your list offer the quality and flexibility you need to reach your goals. Below are profiles of top-notch programs you can use to guide and refine your search.

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Logo of Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, featuring a circular seal on the left with a stylized mortar and pestle, alongside text in red and blue.


The part-time, 24-month family nurse practitioner (FNP) program at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is open to those with bachelor’s degrees in nursing earned with a minimum GPA of 3.0 from an accredited institution. During the first year of the program, students study entirely online, learning advanced pathophysiology, pharmacology, and health assessment across the human lifespan. In the second year, students complete three, 180-hour clinical rotations in family primary care. They can fulfill this requirement locally to avoid the need for excessive travel, but they must hold an unencumbered nursing license to practice in the intended jurisdiction. On top of clinicals, students must complete three on-campus residences one to three days in length each.

Fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) the FNP program at MCPHS boasts impressive student outcomes. In 2022, the program’s American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC) and American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) first-time pass rates were 97.5% and 78%, respectively.

Simmons University

Simmons University offers three flexible completion options — full-time, part-time, or extended — for its CCNE-accredited family nurse practitioner program. Depending on the specific option, this means students can finish their studies in 24 to 32 months. The program consists of foundational courses, a research project, a one on-campus immersion experience in Boston, and two clinical rotation placements. Foundational courses are completed synchronously online with live virtual instruction on designated weekdays. Some courses also offer flexible attendance, which allows students to view lecture recordings if they are unable to attend live.

In 2022, the MSN program at Simmons was ranked #9 of the best online FNP master’s programs by U.S. News & World Report, and its first-time ANCC pass rate was 96.05%. Students are fully supported by a dedicated academic advisor and student success specialist as well as by a clinical placement team that helps them find sites in or near their communities.

UMass Lowell

At UMass Lowell, students can choose one of two specialization options — the adult gerontological primary care nurse practitioner track or the family health nurse practitioner track — for the two-year MSN degree program. Courses are delivered online in one of three formats: 100% online (asynchronous), live online (synchronous), or HyFlex (a synchronous format where students attend on campus or via Zoom). During their studies, students also attend four half-days of on-campus learning that are built into certain required courses. In addition, students complete 750 hours of direct patient care during their clinical practicum.

UMass Lowell’s CCNE-accredited program offers students many benefits, including one of the lowest online tuition rates ($750 per credit hour) in the nation, scholarships for graduate students, small class sizes, assistance in finding clinical placements, and a high return on investment with an NP exam pass rate of 93.2%.

Qualities of a Top Nurse Practitioner Program in Massachusetts

There are a few hallmarks that set quality online NP programs in Massachusetts apart from the rest. Keep reading to learn more about these features, including accreditation, flexible formats, specialization options, and more.

Accreditation

For online NP programs in Massachusetts, there are two accrediting agencies: the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). In addition to being a mark of educational quality, attending an accredited program ensures you’re eligible to take the certification exams you must pass to gain authorization to practice. For example, the eligibility guidelines for the ANCC FNP board exam include a degree or certificate conferred by an accredited program.

Affordable Tuition & Fees

The cost of online NP programs in Massachusetts can vary quite a bit from one school to the next, and it’s important to find one that fits your budget to avoid graduating with a mountain of debt. In general, public institutions such as UMass Lowell and UMass Dartmouth offer more affordable tuition and fees than private schools. In fact, UMass Lowell reports that its tuition is typically half that of private colleges. There are also plenty of financial aid options and scholarships available to help reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.

Certification Exam Pass Rates

Exam pass rates are a reasonable barometer for gauging the quality of an NP program. Although there are many exams nurse practitioners can take, there are just a few certification boards that offer them. These include ANCC and AANPCB. The FNP program at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, for example, has one of the highest pass rates in the state, with 97.5% on ANCC exams and 78% on AANPCB exams.

Comprehensive Curriculum & Clinical Options

Look for programs with a comprehensive curriculum and clinical options. After all, these two components constitute the bedrock of your future success. A well-rounded curriculum includes the essentials (pathophysiology, pharmacology, physical and clinical assessment, etc.) plus courses on leadership and collaboration, healthcare finance, health policy, and more. For clinicals, look for programs like the one at Simmons University that provide placement assistance and give you the option to complete this requirement close to home.

Flexibility in Format & Enrollment

Another important aspect to look for in an online NP program is flexibility. Ask yourself whether the program offers the course format and enrollment options you need to fit your studies into your life. Consider, for example, schools such as Simmons University and UMass Lowell that excel in these respects. Students at Simmons have a choice of three enrollment options (full-time, part-time, or extended), and the online courses at UMass Lowell are offered in three different formats.

Specialization Options

Depending on your specific career goals, there are many specializations that you can pursue. Some online NP programs in Massachusetts offer multiple concentrations, each with its own curriculum designed to prepare graduates to pass relevant certification exams and work in their chosen niche. One school with abundant options is Northeastern University, which offers four different concentrations — family NP, adult-gerontology primary care NP, psychiatric mental health NP, and neonatal NP.

NP Degree Types: Discover the Academic Path for You

The right online NP program for you will depend on your current circumstances and educational goals. Some NP programs are designed to take you straight from registered nurse (RN) to NP, while others can help you build on an existing graduate degree. Keep reading to discover your best path to becoming an NP.

MSN

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program with an NP concentration provides advanced training in healthcare topics such as health assessment, disease prevention, diagnosis, and case management. The most common type is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to MSN, which requires an existing BSN. However, bridge programs like RN to MSN or Associate Degree in Nursing (and) to MSN programs that accept licensed nurses who hold associate degrees. A few others, often called direct-entry MSN programs, are for candidates with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees. Typically, a BSN to MSN program takes about two years, while bridge and direct-entry programs take around three.

Featured Programs:

Northeastern University

Salem State University

Certificate

Post-master’s certificate programs are designed for registered nurses with MSNs or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees who have at least one to two years of professional experience and want to specialize as NPs. Certificate programs are also useful for current NPs who want to add a specialty. Depending upon a student’s existing graduate nursing education, most certificate programs take one to two years to complete. The required coursework varies from one specialty to the next, but post-master’s certificate programs generally focus on refining professional clinical skills and developing expertise in topics relevant to the NP specialization.

Featured Programs:

University of Massachusetts Boston

Regis College

DNP

The DNP is a terminal nursing degree that prepares registered nurses for advanced practice and leadership roles. Although nurses can pursue DNPs without a specialty, many schools feature DNP programs with NP concentrations, such as FNP. These programs provide the highest level of nursing education in topics like evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and healthcare outcomes while simultaneously preparing students for NP certification. Such programs often require applicants to have existing MSNs, but some also offer BSN to DNP/NP options. Depending on the specific program type, DNP/NP programs take three to four years.

Featured Programs:

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Bay Path University

Massachusetts NP Career and Salary Potential

Even after you find the perfect program, your research is not complete until you analyze your prospects for future employment and earning potential. The state and national data in the tables below give you an idea of what to expect by showing you the trends for NPs in Massachusetts and the US overall.

The demand for NPs both nationally and statewide is enormous. The projected job growth rate for NPs across the country is 52.2%. In Massachusetts, this figure is forecast to be even higher at 55.7% with 4,030 new jobs expected over the next ten years. Based on these projections, future NPs should have no difficulty finding job opportunities.

Earning potential for NPs in Massachusetts is also quite impressive. The statewide median wage for NPs in Massachusetts is $133,030, which significantly exceeds the national median wage of $121,610 for the profession. Massachusetts NPs make the most money in New Bedford where they earn a median wage of $139,930, but even in the area with the lowest median wage (Leominster-Gardner) NPs still do quite well with a median wage of $128,600.

AreaEmployment
(2020)
New Jobs
(2020-2030)
Job Growth RateAvg. Annual Openings
(’20-’30)
Massachusetts7,2404,03055.7%890
US220,300114,90052.2%26,000

Source: Projections Central

Location10th PercentileMedian90th Percentile
United States$87,340$121,610$165,240
Massachusetts$105,410$133,030$178,690
Barnstable Town, MA$96,820$136,030$159,530
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH$105,970$134,480$178,690
Leominster-Gardner, MA$94,640$128,600$185,600
New Bedford, MA$99,640$139,930$179,270
Pittsfield, MA$97,270$129,700$171,020
Springfield, MA-CT$96,310$130,180$157,150
Worcester, MA-CT$105,660$130,400$176,010

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics