Most Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

Explore low-cost, high-quality online NP programs and learn other ways to save on your nursing grad degree.

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last updated

Last Updated: 10/04/2021
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Finding a top-quality, accredited nurse practitioner program at an affordable price is one of the most important things you can do as a prospective student. Reducing costs helps you limit student debt once you graduate, allowing you to focus on what matters most: providing the best treatment and care to patients.

This guide identifies top online MSN and DNP nurse practitioner programs, using affordability as a key benchmark. It looks at what these programs offer, including how they can help you lower expenses, and details how each program works in terms of flexibility and online learning. You’ll also find helpful tips and resources for lowering costs even more and determining school affordability.

50 Most Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs in 2021

While every student weighs different factors when selecting a nursing school, overall cost tops the list for many. We created the ranking below with those concerns in mind, using a combination of quality and affordability metrics from the latest Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data; see “About the Ranking” for more information on method and metrics.

Find out which online nurse practitioner programs rise to the top in 2021 and learn how they can help you advance your career without breaking the bank.

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About the ranking

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Methodology for EduMed’s 2021 Most Affordable Rankings

1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

 

2. Assign Weightings

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Affordability

  • Cost Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement Existence of this service on campus or online.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.

 

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2021

# 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 Morningside CollegeSioux City, IA Private, Not-for-Profit $ 4

Morningside University’s Nylen School of Nursing offers two online nurse practitioner programs: a master of science in nursing and a doctor of nursing practice. Both are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) to prepare students for work as nurse practitioners in hospitals, clinics, and treatment centers. Morningside delivers all course material online. Aspiring nurse practitioners complete courses in nursing leadership, evidence-based practice, and other topics in a virtual environment that maximizes flexibility and convenience. The only in-person requirements include a three-day skills lab and a one-day presentation at the Sioux City, Iowa, campus.

Students pursuing an MSN at Morningside select from three concentration tracks: clinical nurse leader, family primary care practitioner, and adult gerontology primary care. The DNP program offers similar opportunities, including specializations in transformative leadership and direct patient care. Most students complete at least 500 hands-on hours at an approved clinical site in their area. The school accepts full-time and part-time students. Qualified applicants need a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a competitive GPA.

Program Highlights:

Master of Science in Nursing

Doctor of Nursing Practice

  • Credits: Varies
  • Length: 3+ years
  • Cost: $570-$710/credit
  • Mode: Partially Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
100%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
2 Otterbein UniversityWesterville, OH Private, Not-for-Profit $ 1

The graduate nursing programs at Otterbein University focus on developing specialized nurse practitioners in family primary care and psychiatric mental health. The school offers a range of pathways for each concentration, including BSN and MSN bridges, post-graduate certificates, ADN bridges, and standard MSN and DNP courses of study. All students maintain active clinical practice in a supervised environment where they hone specialized skills in patient-centered care. Each program uses a combination of hybrid elements: virtual instruction, lab simulations, classroom-based experiences, and clinical placements in your own community.

Otterbein’s family nurse practitioner track boasts a 95% pass rate for first-time applicants on the national certification exam. Students complete 66 credits and accrue potential DNP credit along the way. The psychiatric and mental health track provides a similar pathway, allowing students with an interest in doctoral study to expedite their studies. Students in each track work with administrators and faculty advisors to develop customized learning plans that meet CCNE guidelines while accommodating individual circumstances. Programs are accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) as well.

Program Highlights:

Nurse Practitioner Programs

  • Credits: Varies
  • Length: 2-3 years
  • Cost: $642-$1,250/credit
  • Mode: Partially-Online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE, COA (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
100%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
3 Fort Hays State UniversityHays, KS Public $ 2

A public institution in central Kansas, Fort Hays State University offers a DNP program designed for BSN students in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska who are interested in work as family nurse practitioners. Students who already have a graduate degree and Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) license can upgrade their skills through the school’s MSN to DNP course. Each program includes core instruction in key subjects like healthcare evaluation and management, epidemiology, and primary care practice. Fort Hays State delivers all courses entirely online for these programs, so students can learn at home and on their own time.

The BSN bridge program does involve some campus visits and publishes required residential days at least six weeks before each term. Students receive clinical placements throughout the Sunflower State in facilities that focus on primary family nurse care. Students in the MSN bridge program only need to visit campus one day each academic year. They also complete a DNP project near the end of the program, synthesizing new skills in the nurse practitioner field.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Nursing Practice

  • Credits: 30-75 credits
  • Length: 2-4 years
  • Cost: $400/credit
  • Mode: Partially-Online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
77%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
4 Northwestern Oklahoma State UniversityAlva, OK Public $$ 1

Northwestern Oklahoma State University administers a doctor of nurse practice program for qualified students with a BSN and unrestricted RN license. Working professionals with an accredited MSN can also receive advanced placement in the program. The 73-credit course develops core skills for prospective family nurse practitioners with an additional emphasis on nursing in rural communities (the only track of its kind in the state). The school delivers all academic class content entirely online, using webcasts for course lectures in topics such as nursing theory and interactive tools for skill-based lab simulations.

A hybrid offering, Northwestern’s program requires a six-day residency that must be completed the summer before courses begin. The school also provides clinical rotations, ultimately resulting in over 1,000 hours of practical experience with patients in fast-paced healthcare facilities. Graduates of the program come away fully equipped to provide direct, evidence-based care to individuals and families, communities, and vulnerable populations. New cohorts enter the program each year, allowing students to work collaboratively and build professional networks.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Nursing Practice

  • Credits: 73
  • Length: 3-4 years
  • Cost: $388/credit (in-state); $642/credit (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Partially-Online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
79%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
5 New Mexico State University-Main CampusLas Cruces, NM Public $$ 5

Established as a land-grant institution in 1888, New Mexico State University is the oldest institution of its kind in the state. It offers two pathways for its doctor of nursing practice program to accommodate students with varying education levels. Learners complete core credits in key competency areas like healthcare policy, evidence-based practice for nurse practitioners, nursing informatics, and clinical data analysis. For admitted students with a BSN, New Mexico State offers concentrations in family nurse practitioner and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. MSN-holders have an additional option in population health leadership.

The school uses a blend of synchronous and asynchronous online experiences to administer all course material, offering a balance between self-paced study and structured instruction. Most hands-on clinical requirements take place in the final year of the program and include 1,000 hours of supervised experience in students’ home locations. Students also complete an integrative DNP project, applying their new knowledge in research methods, clinical practice, and nursing administration.

Program Highlights:

Doctor of Nursing Practice

  • Credits: 36-74
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $411/credit
  • Mode: Partially-Online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
65%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
6 Kentucky Christian UniversityGrayson, KY Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
99%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
7 Southwest Baptist UniversityBolivar, MO Private, Not-for-Profit $ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
70%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
8 Midwestern State UniversityWichita Falls, TX Public $$ 2
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
69%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
9 Ashland UniversityAshland, OH Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
95%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
10 University of the CumberlandsWilliamsburg, KY Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
97%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
11 Missouri State University-SpringfieldSpringfield, MO Public $$ 3
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
59%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
12 Arkansas State University-Main CampusJonesboro, AR Public $$ 2
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
67%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
13 University of Central ArkansasConway, AR Public $$ 3
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
60%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
14 University of Nevada-RenoReno, NV Public $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
44%
AccreditationNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
15 University of Nevada-Las VegasLas Vegas, NV Public $$ 2
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
32%
AccreditationNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
16 Montana State UniversityBozeman, MT Public $$ 3
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
61%
AccreditationNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
17 Angelo State UniversitySan Angelo, TX Public $$ 4
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
60%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
18 Florida Atlantic UniversityBoca Raton, FL Public $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
59%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
19 Mount Marty CollegeYankton, SD Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 4
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
91%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
20 Texas A & M International UniversityLaredo, TX Public $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
37%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
21 Stephen F Austin State UniversityNacogdoches, TX Public $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
54%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
22 Ferris State UniversityBig Rapids, MI Public $$ 2
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
74%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
23 The University of Texas at TylerTyler, TX Public $$ 6
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
48%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
24 Georgia Southwestern State UniversityAmericus, GA Public $ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
32%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
25 Colorado State University-PuebloPueblo, CO Public $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
71%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
26 Wichita State UniversityWichita, KS Public $$ 2
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
64%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
27 Delta State UniversityCleveland, MS Public $$ 5
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
66%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
28 The University of Texas at El PasoEl Paso, TX Public $$ 3
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
27%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
29 American Public University SystemCharles Town, WV Private, For-Profit $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
52%
AccreditationDistance Education Accrediting Commission
30 Spring Arbor UniversitySpring Arbor, MI Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
100%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
31 University of West GeorgiaCarrollton, GA Public $$ 4
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
15%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
32 University of North GeorgiaDahlonega, GA Public $$ 2
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
9%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
33 Stevenson UniversityStevenson, MD Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
99%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
34 Union UniversityJackson, TN Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 2
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
99%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
35 University of North AlabamaFlorence, AL Public $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
71%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
36 West Texas A & M UniversityCanyon, TX Public $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
37%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
37 Indiana State UniversityTerre Haute, IN Public $$ 4
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
64%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
38 Texas Woman’s UniversityDenton, TX Public $$ 3
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
44%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
39 Western Carolina UniversityCullowhee, NC Public $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
68%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
40 East Carolina UniversityGreenville, NC Public $$ 3
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
49%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
41 University of South AlabamaMobile, AL Public $$ 5
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
61%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
42 Texas A & M University-Corpus ChristiCorpus Christi, TX Public $$ 5
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
4%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
43 University of Central MissouriWarrensburg, MO Public $$ 1
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
70%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
44 University of Southern MississippiHattiesburg, MS Public $$ 2
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
73%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
45 Saint Joseph’s College of MaineStandish, ME Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 3
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
98%
AccreditationNew England Commission of Higher Education
46 Winona State UniversityWinona, MN Public $$ 9
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
49%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
47 Southern Illinois University-EdwardsvilleEdwardsville, IL Public $$ 3
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
69%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
48 Western Governors UniversitySalt Lake City, UT Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 2
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationDistance Education Accrediting Commission
49 Boise State UniversityBoise, ID Public $$ 2
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
76%
AccreditationNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
50 Clayton State UniversityMorrow, GA Public $$ 2
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
12%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

What Makes an Online Nurse Practitioner Program Affordable?

Several factors impact tuition rates and the overall cost of your online nursing program. Here are a few things to look out for as you weigh the bottom line, consider the potential expenses, and prepare to finance your degree.

How much financial aid you can secure for your online nurse practitioner program

Securing reliable financial aid is the easiest and most effective way to cut costs. Most programs offer at least a few opportunities, with some schools offering more aid than others–including awards specifically for nurse practitioner students. You can also determine your eligibility for federal aid by completing the FAFSA.

If the NP program has a class schedule that allows you to continue working

This won’t reduce your tuition rate, but it puts you in a good position to cover the expenses. Some programs discourage outside work during school, while others allow it or even integrate it into the clinical fieldwork component. Either way, the ability to continue working while you study not only helps you advance your career, but it also provides additional financial support.

If your NP program is offered by a private or public college

The general rule of thumb here is that private institutions cost more than state schools. This is true for virtually all disciplines, including nursing. Private schools do not receive state subsidies the way public colleges and universities do. Instead, they rely on tuition and donations to support their operations.

Whether you live in-state or-out-of-state

Attending a public college or university may not automatically guarantee cheaper tuition. Each institution follows a different approach, but keep in mind that many public schools charge higher rates if you live out of state–even if you plan to complete an online program. If you live in state, however, you could benefit from lower tuition.

How much of the NP program coursework is offered online

If you attend a program that requires significant in-person learning components you’ll need to consider the costs associated with travel. For example, commuting to and from campus for class, meetups, and other mandatory functions creates an additional expense that may not be reflected in the tuition figures alone.

How expensive application fees are

Some schools waive application fees, but this is not a universal feature of most online nurse practitioner programs. Application and processing fees aren’t too expensive – usually around $50 each – but they can add up, especially if you plan to apply to more than one program at a time.

How to Lower the Cost of Your Online Nurse Practitioner Degree

What else can you do to help make your nurse practitioner degree more affordable? Consider the following tips as you work to defray the costs and take full advantage of incentives, discounts, and other opportunities.

  1. Search for scholarships and grants designed specifically for NP students

There are quite a few scholarship and grant opportunities that go beyond the scope of federal or school-based aid. Outside scholarships for nurse practitioner students are a great way to help reduce expenses. Some scholarships only apply to tuition, but others can help you pay for things like books, travel, and other study materials. Organizations like the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners offer scholarships to new and returning students.

  1. Take advantage of student discounts

Small discounts may not seem like much, but they add up. Companies like Apple and The North Face offer regular student discounts on their products, as do Verizon, AT&T, and other internet providers (a key consideration for online students). See our handy guide to discounts and incentives for nursing students for more tips and ideas.

  1. Ask about tuition reimbursement

If you’re pursuing a nurse practitioner degree, odds are you’ve already launched a healthcare career and built a few key relationships. Those built-in networks can also help you lower costs. Many hospitals and other facilities have tuition reimbursement opportunities. It’s worth checking with your employer to see what they offer or even switching employers if you can get substantial help with tuition. Read the fine print to make sure you know how long you must be employed to take advantage of these benefits. At the federal level, you can also participate in the nursing education loan repayment program.