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Top Online Nurse Practitioner Programs in North Carolina

Learn how to identify successful components of online nurse practitioner programs in North Carolina and explore the variety of academic pathways you can take to accomplish your nursing career goals.

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Author: Kyra Sutherland
Editor:

Kristin Marino

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Perhaps not long ago nursing was everything you ever wanted to do. It checked all the boxes — you worked with other talented people, you got to help others, your days were varied, and you had flexible work options. As much as you may still enjoy these perks, you may also be ready for something more. Perhaps you want to be the one making the diagnosis or maybe you just know that you have more to offer and want to get the most from your talents and abilities. Online nurse practitioner programs in North Carolina can help you do just that, and we’re here to guide you every step of the way.

Going back to school can seem intimidating, especially if it’s been a while since you graduated. In this guide we’ll give you a bird’s-eye view of what to expect, so you can focus on making the more important decisions like which program works best for you and what specialty you’d like to pursue. We’ll highlight three quality online nurse practitioner programs in North Carolina, discuss the essential components of a top program, and offer some career and salary insights. Keep reading to dive in.

Profiling Popular Online NP Programs in North Carolina

Start your search with a snapshot of several high-quality online nurse practitioner programs in North Carolina. Getting a peek into these programs can help you understand what will happen throughout your program and how long it will take you to complete your education as a nurse practitioner. Although the programs below aren’t ranked in any particular order, they do represent some of the state’s best options.

East Carolina University

The BSN to DNP from East Carolina University is a great representation of online nurse practitioner programs in North Carolina with its family nurse practitioner specialty requiring 70 semester hours to complete. The curriculum is designed for students who have earned a bachelor’s (or higher) degree in nursing and want to pursue an advanced nursing practice role. Students will complete 840 clinical practice hours in primary care settings and will complete a four-semester DNP project. The program is given in a hybrid format with most classroom work completed online. The program looks for students who are committed to rural and underserved populations in Eastern North Carolina and beyond.

Throughout the program, students are required to hold an active registered nursing license in North Carolina or a compact state. The school offers assistance with clinical placements to be completed in North Carolina, academic advising, and student-support services. Graduates are eligible to sit for the American Nurses Association (ANCC) or American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) certification examination for family nurse practitioners.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The nurse practitioner degree options at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill include focus areas in adult-gerontology primary care, adult-gerontology primary care oncology focus, family, pediatric-primary care, and psychiatric-mental health. The program takes BSN graduates three years of full-time study to complete and requires 66-75 total credits, depending on the focus area chosen. The program is offered in a hybrid format, with 50-75% of the work completed online. Students will complete 1,000 practice hours and a DNP project. MSN graduates can complete their DNP entirely online in two years of full-time study, or they can study part-time over three years. Both tracks are great online nurse practitioner programs in North Carolina.

Example courses within each curriculum include Informatics and Safe and Effective Health Care, Leading Organizational and Systems Change, Theoretical Principles of Evidence-Based Practice, Economics and Financing of Health Care Systems, Public Policy and Advocacy in Health Care, and Pharmacotherapeutics in Advanced Nursing Practice.

Western Carolina University

Logo of Western Carolina University, located in North Carolina, featuring large, stylized purple letters "WCU" on a green background, with the full name "Western Carolina University" in smaller purple text below.

The list of quality online nurse practitioner programs in North Carolina also includes the BSN to DNP family nurse practitioner program at Western Carolina University. It takes 36 months of full-time study to complete, with admissions occurring once a year. Students will complete much of their coursework online, with on-campus days happening most Tuesdays. This hybrid program requires 83 semester hours of coursework, 1,000 total clinical hours, and the completion of a DNP project. Admission to the program requires a BSN from an accredited school, a minimum 3.0 GPA, three professional references, and at least one year of clinical experience in the past five years.

The curriculum includes courses such as Advanced Pathophysiology for Nurse Practitioners, Advanced Health Physical Assessment & Diagnostics, Advanced Pharmacology for Nurse Practitioners, Primary Care of Adults, Primary Care of Female Adolescents & Women, and Economic & Financial Aspects of Health Care Systems. Both undergraduate and graduate nursing students are eligible for several scholarship opportunities and forgivable loans through the College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) and the North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA).

What to Look for in an Online North Carolina NP Program

There are several factors you should be aware of as you research the various online nurse practitioner programs in North Carolina. Below, we discuss what they are and how they set quality NP programs apart from the rest.

Accreditation

When looking for online nurse practitioner programs in North Carolina, it’s important that you only consider ones that are properly accredited. This shows that the program has been periodically evaluated and meets rigorous standards to provide high-quality education to its students. In addition, employers are more likely to hire candidates who have graduated from an accredited nursing program. Not only should the institution be accredited, but your individual program as well. Accreditation should be from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Affordable Tuition & Fees

In your search for online nurse practitioner programs in North Carolina, keep in mind the total cost of tuition and fees, since tuition isn’t the entire cost of earning a degree. Remember that the most expensive program isn’t necessarily the best. Luckily, North Carolina has several financial aid options for those looking to work as nurse practitioners, including the NCNA, the CFNC, and the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA).

Certification Exam Pass Rates

You’re probably familiar with the NCLEX-RN exam since you must pass it to become a licensed nurse. In the same way that you might have looked at a school’s NCLEX pass rates when you first enrolled in a nursing program, it can be helpful to research a school’s NP certification exam pass rates. To become a certified family nurse practitioner (FNP), for example, you must earn an FNP credential from the ANCC or AANP by passing their respective FNP certification exam. Recertification happens every five years, which involves the completion of continuing education credits.

Comprehensive Curriculum & Clinical Options

Since knowledge and experience are both important in the work of a nurse practitioner, carefully research both the curriculum and clinical options offered by each program. You’ll want a curriculum that covers both healthcare for different populations, but also instruction on the leadership and administration side of things. You’ll want a program that offers clinical practice hours in both areas so you feel prepared to dive into your field of work upon graduation.

Flexibility in Format & Enrollment

Students looking for online nurse practitioner programs in North Carolina care a lot about flexibility. This includes the format of the program and the number of enrollment dates each year. As you research various programs, pay particular attention to how the majority of coursework is delivered, whether online, in-person on the college campus, or a mix of the two. Clinical practice hours will most likely need to be completed in person, whether it’s near the university or at a partner site near you. Also be aware of each program’s admission and starting dates, as different programs could start once a year or have various start dates throughout the year.

Specialization Options

Becoming a nurse practitioner allows you to help a lot of people. However, if there’s a certain group of people that you are particularly interested in working with, make note of different program options as you do your research. Some online nurse practitioner programs in North Carolina provide focus areas such as family practice, pediatrics, gerontology, and mental health.

A Closer Look at Nurse Practitioner Degree Options in NC

There are several different ways to earn your nurse practitioner degree, depending on where you’re starting and where you’d like to go. We’ll discuss these various pathways to help you gain an understanding of what your path will look like from here on out.

MSN

If you have your bachelor’s degree in nursing, then you’re perfectly set up to earn your Master of Science in Nursing – nurse practitioner degree. Most MSN-NP programs have various concentrations that you can choose from, such as women’s health, family, neonatal, psychiatric mental health, pediatrics, nurse anesthesia, and adult gerontology. Many programs have coursework available online, with a few on-campus intensives throughout the year. This degree requires several classes and a chunk of clinical hours under a licensed, experienced professional in your chosen concentration. In addition to nursing courses, students will take professional core courses and learn to conduct research.

Featured Programs:

Duke University

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Certificate

Though not as robust as a degree, certificates still offer a beneficial, in-depth education in a specific area of nursing. There are many different options when it comes to graduate certificates in nursing. Several nursing certificates that you can find in North Carolina include nurse education, nurse administration, Applied Nursing Informatics, Healthcare Emergency and Disaster Management, and Clinical Research Operations. Each certificate is between 9-12 credit hours and can typically be completed in less than one year of part-time study. They can be taken in tandem with a graduate degree or can stand on their own.

Featured Programs:

University of North Carolina – Pembroke

University of North Carolina – Wilmington

DNP

The Doctor of Nursing Practice program typically comes after the MSN, though there are some BSN to DNP programs available at select universities. A post-master’s DNP prepares health systems and organizational nursing leaders (non-APRNs) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to lead nursing practice, organizations, and systems of care. Students will complete clinical hours to facilitate learning and skill mastery and will participate in a DNP project.

Featured Programs:

University of North Carolina – Charlotte

East Carolina University

Career and Salary Insights for North Carolina Nurse Practitioners

The desire to help people can take you a long way, but you still need to make a living. So, how much does a nurse practitioner make in North Carolina?

As you’ll see in the tables below, there will be an estimated 3,130 job openings for nurse practitioners in North Carolina between the years 2020-2030. Considering there were only 5,670 total employed nurse practitioners in 2020, you can see that this field is growing quickly and substantially. In fact, it’s projected to see an increase of 55% in the state through the year 2030.

Though North Carolina’s need for nurse practitioners is growing at a faster rate than the rest of the country, the same can’t quite be said of the median annual wage NPs earn. This figure falls below the national median by $10,000. However, that is not to say that North Carolina NP salaries are not competitive. The top 10% of nurse practitioners in North Carolina make above $137,390 each year, while the lowest 10% make $94,990 per year. And while the NC median is lower than the national median, the lowest 10% of earners in North Carolina make approximately $7,000 more than the lowest 10% nationally, making North Carolina a great place to start your career a nurse practitioner.

In the second table you can see that NPs make the most in Winston-Salem, NC, and the least in New Bern, NC.

AreaEmployment
(2020)
New Jobs
(2020-2030)
Job Growth RateAvg. Annual Openings
(’20-’30)
North Carolina5,6703,13055.2%690
US220,300114,90052.2%26,000

Source: Projections Central

Location10th PercentileMedian90th Percentile
United States$87,340$121,610$165,240
North Carolina$94,990$111,140$137,390
Asheville, NC$96,550$104,930$140,440
Burlington, NC$85,080$105,200$126,720
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC$96,140$106,710$136,490
Durham-Chapel Hill, NC$107,260$126,110$134,630
Fayetteville, NC$96,660$108,310$135,910
Goldsboro, NC$80,000$97,660$131,030
Greensboro-High Point, NC$97,710$113,790$129,950
Greenville, NC$86,630$108,390$136,490
Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC$79,450$106,130$137,470
Jacksonville, NC$87,650$104,050$148,260
New Bern, NC$78,590$103,680$125,840
Raleigh, NC$98,500$116,290$137,830
Rocky Mount, NC$83,620$98,120$127,740
Wilmington, NC$82,800$102,720$123,640
Winston-Salem, NC$99,510$130,410$157,650

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics