Online NP Programs in Kentucky

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Earning an MSN or DNP degree can help you to become a nurse practitioner (NP), allowing you to bring unique skills in healthcare to a specialty area, such as family care, women’s health, or even adult-gerontology care. While there are many campus-based programs available in the Bluegrass State, earning your degree from a Kentucky-based online NP program enables you to complete most or all of your education through distance learning, and complete your clinical hours at a nearby hospital or facility.

There are three universities in Kentucky that offer online NP degrees. While an nurse practitioner program typically takes two to four years to complete, depending on your starting point and whether you attend full-time or part-time, the potential pay-offs can be rewarding. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that growth in job demand for NPs is expected to be 35 percent from 2014-2024, which is not only five times faster than the average for all occupations (7 percent), but also greater than the percentage growth in job demand for registered nurses.

Also, career opportunities for NPs are no longer limited to a clinical setting. As Melissa, a DNP and certified psychiatric NP, points out in 5 reasons to become a nurse practitioner, the role of the NP has grown tremendously since its inception 50 years ago, becoming ever more autonomous, and NPs now play a part in research, advocacy, corporations, and more.

How Do I Become an NP in Kentucky?

You must work your way up to at least an MSN degree in order to be able to seek advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) licensure and work as an NP in Kentucky. If you already have an MSN degree, you could seek a post-master’s certificate or even work on a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), but the MSN degree is still the baseline terminal degree for becoming an NP.

  • 1
    STEP 1: Undergraduate Education (duration: 2 – 4 years)

    An undergraduate education is typically necessary to later advance toward NP education and licensure. An associate degree in nursing (ADN) usually takes around two years to finish and a bachelor’s degree typically takes four years. Both provide an education in nursing fundamentals, but a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) degree includes more advanced coursework, such as in statistics, and broader-based courses like HealthCare Systems or Partnerships in Community Health. While an ADN could enable you to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN), depending on the scope of the program, a BSN degree is the baseline for acceptance into most MSN programs. However, some schools, like Frontier Nursing University in Kentucky, do provide a bridge option for a licensed RN with an ADN degree to earn an MSN degree and become either a nurse practitioner or nurse-midwife.

  • 2
    STEP 2: RN Licensure (duration: less than 1 year)

    RN licensing in Kentucky is overseen by the Kentucky Board of Nursing, and new applications are generally reviewed within seven to 14 days, once submitted. It’s easy for nursing graduates to know what is expected next by looking at the status of their application online after applying. The general steps to RN licensing in Kentucky are listed below, but keep in mind that there are usually fees associated with applications and tests.

    • Completing a nursing program at an approved school
    • Taking the 35-question Kentucky Jurisprudence Exam
    • Passing the NCLEX-RN exam
    • Having fingerprint cards done by the Kentucky State Police
    • Having a Kentucky Criminal Background Report done

    Also, once applicants have been granted their RN licensure, they need to complete three hours of domestic violence education and 1.5 hours of pediatric head abuse trauma within three years. Additionally, information on a provisional license and license by endorsement also can be found on the Kentucky Board of Nursing website. Since Kentucky is part of the Nursing Licensure Compact, nurses who have RN licensure in other compact states should be able to have their RN license recognized in Kentucky.

  • 3
    STEP 3: Post-Graduate Education (duration: 2 – 4 years)

    Graduate-level education for becoming an NP in Kentucky typically takes two to four years to complete, but this can depend on the requirements of the program, whether you attend full- or part-time, and whether there are pre-requisites that you need to complete.

    Typically, in an MSN program, you learn about evidence-based practices, advanced health assessment, health statistics and more, and also work toward obtaining more skills in your area of specialization and complete clinical hours in this area.

  • 4
    STEP 4: Obtain Nurse Practitioner License (duration: less than 1 year)

    After you have completed your MSN degree, you will need to take several steps to work toward advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) licensing in Kentucky. The very first step will be to apply for APRN licensure through the Kentucky Board of Nursing. Other steps include:

    • Submitting a fingerprint card
    • Obtaining a Kentucky criminal history report
    • Submitting official nursing school transcripts
    • Showing proof of current national certification from an organization like the American Nurses Credentialing Center, National Certification Corporation or others

    There are also other application options listed on the Kentucky Board of Nursing website that include having an RN license in another state and applying for APRN licensure in Kentucky, having RN licensing in another state and endorsing an APRN license in Kentucky, or having an RN license in Kentucky or another state and applying for APRN licensing after a lapse.

Admission Requirements for Kentucky Online NP Programs

Admission requirements for acceptance into NP programs in Kentucky vary, but, in general, necessitate applicants having an ADN or BSN degree and an RN license before applying. Schools have their own lists of requirements and some can be more extensive than others. However, applicants generally need to submit a number of materials to be eligible for admission. Some of the more common steps for admission into an MSN degree program include:

  • Application Process

    Most schools now offer online forms for students to begin the application process to an MSN program. This typically requires creating a username and password and applying for admissions through a school’s Graduate Department of Education. Students are typically asked to include background information on themselves and to provide undergraduate transcripts that show the classes they have taken and their grade point average (GPA).

  • GPA + Test Scores

    Most nursing schools require students to have a specific grade point average to be eligible for acceptance, and although this will vary from school to school, it is typically around a B average. For example, this is true at Northern Kentucky University, in Highland Heights, which requires a 3.0 GPA of MSN degree applicants. Some schools also require students to submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores, but this does not appear to be the case for any of the online NP programs in Kentucky discussed in this article.

  • Other Common Admission Requirements

    There are many different admission requirements for the online NP programs in Kentucky mentioned in this piece and even other online NP schools. Some may seek professional references, a resume or curriculum vitae and even an essay while others may look for an in-person interview or even a year of experience before students apply for admission. Frontier Nursing University, in Hyden, Kentucky, for example, requires applicants to submit both a goal-statement essay and time-management statement essay. Other schools, like Eastern Kentucky University, in Richmond, require students to have an undergraduate or graduate level statistics class. Finally, be sure to keep upcoming deadlines in mind. While some schools nationwide offer enrollment on a continual basis, other schools do have specific deadlines for admission. At Eastern Kentucky University, these are three specific deadlines every year to apply for MSN admission in the fall, winter or summer terms.

Kentucky Online Program Accreditation

  • It is important to attend a school that is accredited either by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). This is because graduation from an accredited program is usually necessary to seek national certification, but also a requirement to seek APRN licensure in Kentucky. In fact, the Kentucky state statutes say that: “An applicant for licensure as an advanced practice registered nurse shall complete an accredited education program that prepares a registered nurse for one (1) of the four (4) APRN roles established under Section 12(5) of this administrative regulation and clinical experience.”

    What is accreditation? It is a process through which a school’s nursing program is closely examined by an outside, independent organization. The qualifications of faculty members are assessed, as are the types of nursing topics being taught, the methods for instruction and delivery, and other facets. Accreditation can be a rigorous process for a school, and, after it is granted, the school has to meet specific guidelines to be able to maintain future accreditation. The online nurse practitioner schools in Kentucky discussed in this article all have accreditation from:

    • Eastern Kentucky University: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Frontier Nursing University: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
    • Northern Kentucky University: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Influential Kentucky NP Professors Who Teach Online

Sarah Sauntry
MS,RN, CPNP-PC Northern Kentucky University Kentucky, KY

Sarah Sauntry, MS,RN, CPNP-PC is the pediatric nurse practitioner coordinator at Northern Kentucky University and a member of a number of national organizations, including the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and the Association of Faculties of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. She has APRN licensure in both Kentucky and Ohio and also provides care at the Northern Kentucky Pediatric Group.

Rhonda Arthur
DNP, CNM, WHNP-BC, FNP-BC, CN Frontier Nursing University Kentucky, KY

Rhonda Arthur, DNP, CNM, WHNP-BC, FNP-BC, CNE is an associate professor at Frontier Nursing University who began teaching at the school in 2006 and was the program director of family nursing from 2010 to 2015. Not only did she complete her own Certificate in Midwifery and MSN at the university, she also finished both a post-master’s certificate in family NP and women’s health NP at Frontier. She’s presented on positive communication and precepting students at state and national conferences, been involved in research, and even provided volunteer relief in Haiti in 2010 and 2011 in a mobile clinic and field hospital. In addition to teaching, she continues to work clinically in a rural area.

Alison Connell
PhD, APRN Eastern Kentucky University Kentucky, KY

Alison Connell, PhD, APRN is an associate professor at Eastern Kentucky University with expertise as a family nurse practitioner. She has given a presentation on the effects of fitness training and education on the cardiovascular health of inmates in Kentucky state prisons, and was a co-investigator in the project, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Online Nurse Practitioner Schools Based in Kentucky

Online nurse practitioner programs in Kentucky give you the opportunity to complete your education over the Internet while keeping a full-time job, raising a family or balancing their schooling with other commitments. While much of the theory-based learning of an MSN program is offered through online delivery, the practicum hours still need to be completed at a physical location, like a local hospital.

  • Eastern Kentucky UniversityCampus Location: Richmond, KY

    Students accepted for enrollment in Eastern Kentucky University's MSN program can complete either an online MSN degree or a post-master's certificate for becoming a Rural Health Family Nurse Practitioner. Many of the NP courses at Eastern Kentucky University are eight weeks in length, and students can complete their MSN degree in 39 credit hours plus practical experiences. The MSN degree in Rural Health Family Nurse Practitioner gives students a total of 810 clinical hours. Students also can complete a psychiatric /mental health NP program at EKU, a degree which also is 39 credit hours plus clinical hours.

    Meet The Professors

    Evelyn Parrish

    Evelyn Parrish, PhD, APRN is a professor at Eastern Kentucky with expertise in the psychiatric nurse practitioner field. She obtained her PhD and MSN in the United Kingdom, but completed her BSN at EKU.

    Micah Scott, ODU
    Sharon Edwards

    Sharon Edwards, DNP, APRN is an associate professor at EKU who also received her Doctor of Nursing Practice there. Her area of expertise is as a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

  • Frontier Nursing UniversityCampus Location: Hyden, KY

    Frontier Nursing University has several offerings for students interested in graduate-level nursing education. This includes an online MSN degree or post-master's certificate to become a family nurse practitioner (FNP) and an MSN degree or post-master's certificate to become a women's health nurse practitioner. The MSN in FNP is 61 credits in all, (including clinical hours) but you also can complete a companion DNP that requires an additional 17 credit hours. The MSN in women's health is 59 credits in all, but a companion DNP also can be completed in 17 more credit hours.

    Meet The Professors

    Lisa Chappell

    Lisa Chappell, PhD, FNP-BC is an associate profession at Frontier Nursing University, but has been employed at the school since 2009. She also is the associate dean of family nursing and has been in nursing for more than 40 years, including 20 as an FNP.

    Nicole Lassiter

    Dr.Nicole Lassiter, CNM, MSN, WHNP, a senior instructor at Frontier Nursing University, has taught at the university for close to eight years and teaches primary care and nurse-midwife courses online and on campus.

  • Northern Kentucky UniversityCampus Location: Highland Heights, KY

    This university offers a wide variety of online options to students interested in advanced nursing education. This includes an MSN degree in the areas of adult-gerontology, family NP, pediatric NP, and adult-gerontology acute care. Post-master's certificates also are available in adult-gerontology acute care, adult gerontology, family NP, family psych NP and pediatric NP. The MSN degrees typically take between 34 to 49 credit hours to complete, and students are expected to take coursework year-round, including in the summer. Overall, they should finish their MSN degree in seven to 11 semesters, depending on their area of concentration. Also, according to the university's website, the school has an average passing rate of 92 percent on ANCC and AANP certifying exams.

    Meet The Professors

    Roxanne Gall

    Roxanne Gall, MSN, ARNP, CNS is the program concentration coordinator in the adult-gerontology acute care NP concentration at Northern Kentucky.

    Tracey Adams

    Tracey Adams, MSN, APRN, ANP-BC is a full-time faculty member at Northern Kentucky University, board certified in adult nurse practitioner care, and a member of the American Nurses Association and the Kentucky Nurses Association, among other organizations.

Campus Visitation Requirements for Online Programs in Kentucky

Two of the three online NP schools in Kentucky featured in this article do necessitate some on-campus attendance. Frontier Nursing University, for example, requires two on-campus sessions – true whether students are enrolled in its FNP or women's health MSN degree program – of four days for one visit and eight days for the other. And while the coursework at Frontier can be completed online, clinical hours can be completed in a student's home community. The MSN NP programs offered through Northern Kentucky University also require an on-campus session. This session is typically three to four days in length and scheduled during the summer before the start of clinical hours. Eastern Kentucky University reports that its classes are 100 percent online and that clinical hours can be completed by students in their hometown. This can be advantageous, as it opens up enrollment to students from other states. By contrast, some online NP schools do require clinical hours to be completed within the state where the campus is located.

Complete List Of Online NP Programs In Kentucky

School Name Program Name Degree Offered
Select All
Post-Graduate Certificate
Select All
Accreditor Campus Visits Required (Yearly) Requires RN? Requires BSN? Requires MSN?
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights , KY
Adult-Gero Acute Care Nurse Practitioner MSN AG-ACNP ACEN 1 yes yes no
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights , KY
Adult-Gero Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate Post-Graduate Certificate AG-ACNP ACEN limited yes no yes
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights , KY
Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate (Adult Gerontology Specialty) Post-Graduate Certificate AG-PCNP ACEN limited yes no yes
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights , KY
Family Nurse Practitioner MSN FNP ACEN 3 yes yes no
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights , KY
Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate Post-Graduate Certificate FNP ACEN 2 yes no yes
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights , KY
Post-Master's Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Post-Graduate Certificate FPMHNP ACEN 2 yes no yes
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights , KY
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner MSN PNP ACEN 3 yes yes no
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights , KY
Post-Master's Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (Pediatric NP Track) Post-Graduate Certificate PNP-PC ACEN 2 yes no yes
Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond , KY
Rural Health Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN) MSN FNP CCNE 0 yes yes no
Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond , KY
Rural Health Family Nurse Practitioner (post-MSN certificate) MSN FNP CCNE 0 yes no yes
Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond , KY
Master of Science in Nursing - Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner MSN PMHNP CCNE 0 yes yes no
Frontier Nursing University
Hyden , KY
Family Nurse Practitioner MSN FNP ACEN 2 yes no no
Frontier Nursing University
Hyden , KY
Family Nurse Practitioner Post-Graduate Certificate FNP ACEN 2 yes no yes
Frontier Nursing University
Hyden , KY
Women's Health Nurse Practitioner MSN WHNP ACEN 2 yes no no
Frontier Nursing University
Hyden , KY
Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Post-Graduate Certificate WHNP ACEN 2 yes no yes
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights , KY
Adult-Gero Nurse Practitioner MSN Adult/GNP ACEN 3 yes yes no

Preceptorships & Licensure

Students in online NP programs in Kentucky do need to complete clinical hours as part of their degree program. These provide students with hands-on skills in their area of concentration and are necessary to be able to seek licensure in the state. Also, NPs in the state work under a reduced practice authority. This means that although they can apply for licensure to prescribe some types of medications in Kentucky, they can only do this after obtaining a collaborative agreement with a licensed physician in the state. As an important note, all APRNs in the state are required to complete five continuing education hours in pharmacology, whether or not they are seeking prescriptive authority.

Online NP Programs for KY Nurses

Simmons College

Online RN to MSN - FNP

Online Bachelor's to MSN - FNP

Online BSN to MSN - FNP

Maryville University

Online MSN - FNP

Online MSN - PNP-PC

Online MSN - AC-AGNP

Online MSN - PC-AGNP

Online BSN to DNP - FNP

Barry Franklin

Barry Franklin


Barry is the Editor in Chief of NPS, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures, which he co-owns. When not managing content, Barry sits on the board of a K-8 school, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, children, and dogs.