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Accelerated Online MSN-NP Programs

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Accelerated Online NP Programs (RN + Non-Nursing Bachelors to MSN)

Several schools have created accelerated online nurse practitioner (NP) programs designed specifically for students who have a registered nurse license and a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, who wish to earn a master’s of science in nursing (MSN) degree. Not named for their swiftness but rather their difficulty, accelerated programs are perfect for highly motivated, determined individuals ready to practice medicine.

This section discusses these accelerated programs and reviews their specialty options, admission requirements, prerequisites, and overall online experience. This post also summarizes three exemplar programs: Allen College, Northern Arizona University, and Simmons College.

Admission Requirements

While specific admission requirements for accelerated programs vary by school, they almost always include:

  • A current, unencumbered license as a registered nurse.
  • An associate’s degree in nursing.
  • A non-nursing bachelor’s degree.
  • A minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • A personal statement that includes career goals and reason for becoming a nurse practitioner.
  • A resume or curriculum vitae.

Some schools require the Graduate Record Exam, and some schools have specific RN-experience requirements. For example, if the applicant is applying for a psychiatric nurse practitioner program, the school may require previous RN psychiatric clinical experience.

Prerequisites

Most nurse practitioner schools require students to have completed prerequisite courses with at least a B grade. These prerequisite courses might include:

  • Statistics
  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Nutrition
  • Developmental psychology
  • Abnormal psychology

Some accelerated programs additionally require completion of nursing-specific courses such as fundamentals of nursing, nursing research, health assessment, and community health nursing.

Clinical Specialty / Curriculum

Please visit the main online MSN NP programs page for a breakdown of the clinical specialties available to aspiring nurse practitioners, as well as the curricula associated with each.

Duration

Programs designed for RNs with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree generally last two to four years and require 45 to 55 credit hours of coursework. The actual duration depends on the student’s chosen medical specialty and full- or part-time status. Upon graduation, students become eligible to sit for their board-certification exam.

Accreditation

Nurse practitioner programs are accredited by either the the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. (ACEN). Accreditation ensures that the program meets high standards of quality, rigor, and value. You can search for accredited programs through the CCNE and ACEN websites.

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Allen College possesses more than 90 years of excellence in healthcare education. Located in Waterloo, Iowa, Allen College is close to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls metropolitan areas, which combines the diversity of a large city and small town. Allen College was originally the Allen Memorial Hospital School of nursing that graduated it first group of nurses in 1928. In 1998, they created their first nurse practitioner program. Their goal is to prepare outstanding nurse practitioners who are committed to lifelong learning by recruiting and retaining highly qualified and engaged students.

Allen College is fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, and they exemplify their core values of caring, community, integrity, learning, and quality. Their mission is a commitment to, “preparing exceptional healthcare professionals through educational programs of excellence, to developing and sustaining a diverse community of learners, faculty, and staff; and to promoting community service, scholarship, and lifelong learning.” They have an impressive alumni network of over 3,500 graduates and they were recently named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction. Their nurse practitioner certification pass rates are excellent; in 2014, 97.6% of graduates passed their national exams.

Program Overview

Allen college accepts applications who have an associate’s degree in nursing and another non-nursing bachelor’s degree. Nurses with an associates degree must take three additional courses including statistics, nursing research, and community health. They offer four different nurse practitioner specialties including family, adult-gerontology acute care, adult-gerontology primary care, and psychiatry. The program is divided into core classes and specialty classes. Regardless of specialty, every student takes 17 credit hours of core courses, which include (1) Leadership for Advanced Nursing, (2) Policy Organization, & Financing of Health Care, (3) Population Health, (4) Evidence-Based Practice, (5) Health Care Informatics, and (6) a few graduate seminar courses. All of these courses are available online.

The specialty courses differ by the chosen clinical track. These courses typically focus on the assessment and diagnosis of disease along with the pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatment options. Every specialty completes 600 clinical hours with assigned preceptors. At Allen College, students are responsible for locating their own preceptors; however they can request assistance from their clinical faculty or the MSN coordinator.

Specialty Options

Allen College offers four different specialty tracks: family, adult-gerontology acute care, adult-gerontology primary care, and psychiatry. They require a total of 42 to 43 credit hours and 600 clinical practice hours. Prior to admission, students must select their specialty area. Allen College also allows family and adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioners to subspecialize in community/public health for an additional 12 credit hour and 150 clinical hours. Table 1 below outlines the different requirements per specialty and subspecialty.

Table 1: Allen College
Specialty Track Requires Prior RN Experience? Total Credit Hours NP Clinical Hours
Family Yes; 800 hours prior to starting clinical courses 42 600
Family with Community/Public Health subspecialty Yes; 800 hours prior to starting clinical courses 53 750
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Yes; 800 hours prior to starting clinical courses 42 600
Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Yes; 800 hours prior to starting clinical courses 42 600
Adult-Gerontology Primary Care with Community/Public Health subspecialty Yes; 800 hours prior to starting clinical courses 53 750
Psychiatric Mental Health Yes; 800 hours prior to starting clinical courses 43 600

Admission Requirements

The Admission requirements for the Allen College nurse practitioner school include:

  • An associates degree in nursing combined with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
  • A minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale.
  • Current licensure as a registered nurse.
  • Computer literacy.
  • Successful completion of baccalaureate level statistics, nursing research, and community health nursing courses.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • A biographical sketch.
  • A copy of current CPR certification.
  • Applicants for the adult-gerontology acute care program must also submit proof of completed ACLS and have recent acute care nursing experience.

Prerequisites

Applicants with an associate’s degree in nursing and a non-nursing bachelor’s degree are required to complete baccalaureate level courses in statistics, nursing research, and community health nursing prior to starting their classes at Allen College. Applicants must also demonstrate proof of at least 800 hours of registered nursing experience.

Online Experience

Allen College offers their courses in a variety of formats including face-to-face, hybrid, and online. Regardless of course format, Allen College recommends that all students possess basic computer literacy skills such as using word processing software, navigating the internet, printing documents, and using email. Allen College uses two learning management systems, Blackboard and Evolve, and they recommend that students have access to an up-to-date personal computer and high-speed Internet connection. They do provide students 24/7 access to The Allen College Computer lab, and remote students have access to all the online library databases to complete their assignments.

Allen College does admit students who live outside the state of Iowa. These applicants should consult with an admission counselor prior to applying to discuss how they will arrange clinical experiences and online courses. Some states require approval prior to Allen College offering online courses in those states. Certain state board of nursing outside of the state of Iowa also require the applicant to seek formal approval.

Professors

DeBonis
Dr. Ruselle DeBonis DNP, FNP, CFCH, CNE

Dr. Ruselle DeBonis is a board certified family nurse practitioner and professor at Allen College. She is also the MSN Clinical coordinator and has earned additional certification in foot care and nursing education. She teaches Advanced Health Assessment as well as clinical courses for primary care students.

Diane
Dr. Diane Young PhD,GNP

Dr. Diane Young is a board-certified gerontological nurse practitioner and professor at Allen College. She teaches a variety of courses including the graduate seminar project course. Her scholarly interests include pain in elders and end of life care.

Timeline

An MSN at Allen College can be completed in two years of full-time study. Most students, however, complete the program in three to four years of part-time study while maintaining a job as a registered nurse. Given that the application process typically takes 6 months and students typically spend 3 to 6 months studying for their board certification post-graduation, the entire process of becoming a nurse practitioner at Allen College ranges from three to five years.

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Northern Arizona University (NAU) offers a family nurse practitioner program for students with an associate degree in nursing, registered nurse license, and non-nursing bachelor’s degree. This program prepares its students to assess, diagnose, and treat patients across all age groups. Northern Arizona University was ranked one of the best graduate nursing schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report, and they are fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Northern Arizona University is a public schools with affordable tuition. The NAU School of Nursing is small, which awards a student to faculty ratio of 8:1. Students can expect to form lasting relationships with their professors and colleagues. The School of Nursing emphasizes the impact students will make on the health of individuals and their communities as they journey through the nurse practitioner program. Uniquely, the NAU School of Nursing conducts field students in Tanzania and provides healthcare services for the Navajo Nation.

Program Overview

The NAU School of Nursing offers an MSN for applicants with an associates degree in nursing, registered nurse license, and non-nursing bachelor’s degree. This program prepares students to become a family nurse practitioner. Students who complete this program will be eligible to sit for board-certification upon graduation, and they will learn to provide primary care services to patients of all ages. The family nurse practitioner program includes 48 credit hours and 780 clinical hours. The courses are divided into required core courses and speciality courses. The core curriculum includes courses such as Applied Pathophysiology, Advanced Pharmacology, and Healthcare Systems.

Specialty Options

Northern Arizona University offer one MSN specialty: family nurse practitioner. This program is 48 credit hours and requires 780 clinical hours. This program requires a minimum of three to five years of prior registered nursing experience in relevant clinical settings. Their website does note, however, that students may begin the MSN program prior to three years of experience and will be considered on an individual basis.

Admission Requirements

The Admission requirements for the NAU School of Nursing family nurse practitioner program include:

  • Either a bachelor’s degree in nursing or an associate’s degree in nursing and a non-nursing bachelor’s degree.
  • A minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in all previously completed nursing courses. If the applicant’s grade point average is below 3.0, the School of Nursing recommends taking two non-matriculated graduate nursing courses and earning a “B” or higher prior to applying.
  • A current registered nurse license in good standing with eligibility to obtain an Arizona license.
  • Three letters of recommendation from professional persons who understand the applicant’s potential to work effectively as a nurse practitioner.
  • A comprehensive statement regarding the applicant’s experiences, interests, and goals.
  • Completion of a structured interview with a faculty member.
  • The Graduate Record Exam is not required for admission.

Upon acceptance to the program, students will also have to submit the following documentation:

  • Current registered nurse license.
  • Proof of health insurance.
  • American Heart BLS CPR certification.
  • Documentation of good physical and mental health for participation in the program
  • Proof of tuberculin skin test.
  • Proof of hepatitis B vaccine.
  • Proof of tetanus and Tdap vaccine.
  • Evidence of varicella immunity.
  • Fingerprint clearance card.
  • Photo identification.
  • Proof of malpractice insurance recommended but not required.

Prerequisites

Applicants are required to submit proof of the following prerequisite courses:

  • Undergraduate statistics course with a grade of “C” or higher, or a graduate statistics course with a grade of “B” or higher.
  • Undergraduate nursing research course with a grade of “B” or higher.
  • Undergraduate clinical and theoretical courses in public health nursing with a grade of “B” or higher.

Applicants are also required to have three to five years of nursing experience before beginning the program; however, exceptions are made on an individual basis.

Online Experience

The courses are online and ‘asynchronous’ meaning that students can view them through the Internet at their convenience. Some courses, such as Health Assessment, requires student to attend live sessions either online or on campus. During their final year of the program, students must come to campus for exams.

Professors

Kimberly
Dr. Kimberly Gould DNP, FNP-BC

Dr. Kimberly Gould is a board-certified family nurse practitioner and assistant clinical professor at the NAU School of nursing. She maintains a clinical practice in Cottonwood, Arizona. Her scholarly interests include increasing the human papilloma virus uptake in young women and cervical cancer prevention. Clinically, she is also interested in investigating diabetes, women’s health, aging, and menopause.

Timeline

The family nurse practitioner program can be completed in two years of full time study and around four years of part time study. Given that the application process typically takes 6 months and students typically spend 3 to 6 months studying for their board certification post-graduation, the entire process of becoming a family nurse practitioner at NAU ranges from three to five years.

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Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences offers a family nurse practitioner program for students with an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing, registered nurse licensure, and non-nursing bachelor’s degree. Simmon’s is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Since 1902, they have educated nurses and attracted renowned faculty. Students attending Simmons experience low student to faculty ratios, and upon graduation, they join an elite group of 50,000 alumni.

Program Overview

Designed for registered nurses with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, this program stretches 48 credit hours over one to three years of study. Students take a set of core nurse practitioner courses along with specialty courses specific to becoming a family nurse practitioner. The core curriculum includes courses like Advanced Pathophysiology, Advanced Pharmacology, Clinical Decision Making, and Research Methods. The specialty curriculum includes courses like Primary Care of the Childbearing and Childrearing Family and Family Theory: Health and Wellness.

In addition to developing foundational clinical knowledge as a primary care provider, students also complete a scholarly research project. They learn how to conduct both qualitative and quantitative studies, fostering their ability to translate the scientific evidence into clinical practice. Students begin the program as novices working side-by-side with their preceptor, and they graduate with the ability and confidence to independently assess, diagnose, and treat patients of all ages. Upon graduation, students are awarded a master of science in nursing and are eligible to sit for their family nurse practitioner board-certification.

Specialty Options

Students entering this program have the option of becoming a family nurse practitioner. This program is 48 credit hours and 672 clinical hours.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for the family nurse practitioner program at Simmons include:

  • Current and unencumbered registered nurse licensure.
  • A bachelor’s degree, which may be either a non-nursing or nursing degree.
  • One or two-page personal statement. This message should include the applicant’s career goals, specific clinical experiences related to becoming a family nurse practitioner, and how Simmons will help them achieve their goals.
  • Official academic transcripts from all previously attended colleges or universities.
  • Three letters of recommendations from professional references. One of the recommenders must be a clinical supervisor or nurse manager who understands the applicant’s clinical skills. Another recommender must be a previous professor who can attest to the applicant’s academic record. The final recommender must be a practicing nurse or nurse practitioner who has served as the applicant’s mentor in the past.
  • A professional resume that includes education background, relevant employment history, volunteer experience, awards, publications, presentations, and professional organization memberships.
  • The Graduate Record Exam is not required; however, if the applicants believe their scores would strengthen their application, they should contact Simmons admissions.

Prerequisites

Simmons does not specify any course prerequisites, but they do state that all applicants should possess a strong understanding of anatomy and physiology, microbiology, chemistry, statistics, fundamentals of nursing, and health assessment techniques.

Online Experience

Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences offers an innovative online path to becoming a family nurse practitioner. The online classes are academically rigorous and comparable to on-campus education. Simmons provides every student with a dedicated admission counselor and ongoing support services throughout the program. Students may also meet with professors via webcam, and they attend courses in real-time using a virtual classroom. Furthermore, each student is assigned a Clinical Placement Specialist who works with the student to find a local preceptor to complete clinical requirements.

Professors

Julie
Dr. Julie Vosit-Steller DNP, MSN, FNP-BC, AOCN

Dr. Julie Vosit-Steller is a board-certified family nurse practitioner who has been teaching at Simmons for the past 10 years. She is an Assistant Professors of Practice and the director of the online family nurse practitioner program. Dr. Vosit-Steller typically teaches oncology, end-of-life care, and women’s health topics along with Advanced Health Assessment. She is the founding member of the New England Alliance for Hospices of Hope in Romania, which promotes a patient’s right to dignified dying in the country of Romania. Her scholarly interests include pain and palliative care, gynecologic oncology, and cultural issues that influence end-of-life care.

Patricia
Dr. Patricia White PhD, ANP-BC

Dr. Patricia White is a board-certified adult nurse practitioner and associate professor of practice at Simmons. She is currently the director of the doctor of nursing practice program, and she maintains a clinical practice in a nurse practitioner-owned geriatric primary care clinic. Dr. White leads lectures in the family nurse practitioner program on the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of adults and geriatrics. Her scholarly interests include clinical consultation, polypharmacy, ethics and bereavement, and DNP program pedagogy and program evaluation. . She also worked closely with Dr. Vosit-Steller on the end-of-life care in Romania, and she co-founded the Learning Collaborative on Accelerated Nursing Education.

Timeline

Full-time students complete this program in about one calendar year compared with part-time students who complete it in about 2.5 years. Upon graduation, students usually spend six months studying and taking their board-certification exam while also applying for jobs. The entire process of becoming a family nurse practitioner can take anywhere between 1.5 to 3 years at Simmons.

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Direct Entry Hybrid-Online NP Programs (Non-Nursing Bachelors to MSN)

This section provides a general overview of nurse practitioner programs designed specifically for students without an RN license or nursing background. These programs, sometimes called “direct entry,” offer an intensive program for non-nurses to become both registered nurses and nurse practitioners through seamless education. This article covers specialty options, admission requirements, prerequisites, and online experience.

Because students enter these programs without a nursing background, these programs typically complement online coursework with campus visitation, particularly in the first phase of the program wherein students learn nursing fundamentals. These programs are typically hybrid in nature, meaning they can be completed partially but not completely online.

In addition to providing an overview and a listing of these programs, this section details offerings from three schools with exemplar direct entry programs: the University of Alabama Birmingham, Ohio State University, and the University of South Alabama.

Overview

Designed similarly to medical school, these direct entry online nurse practitioner programs accept students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. Typically applicants have completed certain prerequisite science courses and have passed a national standardized exam. Students entering these programs possess a strong academic record and a non-nursing bachelor’s degree.

Students complete rigorous science courses and complex patient simulations. Usually, parts of the program can be completed online and at a distance, while other parts must be completed on campus. Upon graduation, students are eligible to sit for their board certification and become licensed to practice as a nurse practitioner.

Admission Requirements

Admission to these nurse practitioner programs vary by school but they almost always include:

  • A baccalaureate degree or higher in a field other than nursing from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale; however, admission to these programs is extremely competitive and most school recommend a 3.5 or higher.
  • A personal statement of the student’s professional goals.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • A successful in-person or telephone interview.

Some schools require the Graduate Record exam and successful completion of a certified nurse assistant, personal care assistant, or state-tested nurse assistant course.

Courses and Curriculum

Direct entry programs accept students without a background in nursing; therefore, their curriculums are usually divided into two segments: the registered nurse (RN) phase and the nurse practitioner (NP) phase.

The RN phase includes courses that prepare students to pass the National Certification Licensure Exam for Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). These courses include traditional nursing courses and clinical experiences.

The NP phase includes courses and clinical experiences that prepare students to work independently as a nurse practitioner and pass their national board certification, as well as courses tailored to their medical specialty and subspecialty. These courses are listed above in the accelerated programs section.

Duration

These programs typically last three to six years depending on status (full- or part-time) as well as the area of clinical specialty (pediatrics, psychiatry, oncology, etc.). Most direct entry programs require 85 to 110 credit hours and 600 to 1000 clinical practicum hours under the supervision of a nurse practitioner.

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Ranked one of the best graduate nursing schools by U.S. News and World Report, the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) offers an excellent online, accelerated program. This nurse practitioner school stands out due to its medical partnerships, premier technology, and impressive faculty.

Their slogan, “Knowledge that will change your world,” rings true: the UAB provides innovative education, start-of-the-art clinical simulation, and interprofessional experiences. For example, UAB faculty recently implemented a video-based series called “Clinical Pearls, where students can learn about complex cases from medical experts. Also at the UAB, medical students and nurse practitioner students are educated in the same clinical simulation lab with over 150 different case simulations to encourage interprofessional respect and equality.

Program Overview

The UAB’s accelerated program is called the Accelerated Master’s in Nursing Pathway. This pathway offers an excellent educational program for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in something other than nursing who still want to become a nurse practitioner. This program developed due to an increased demand for highly educated nurse practitioners across the country. The UAB divided their accelerated program into two phases: (1) the pre-licensure phase and (2) the MSN specialty phase. Approximately 50% of this program can be completed exclusively online.

The pre-licensure phase consists of 50 credits completed over 12 months of study. This phase of the accelerated program cannot be completed at a distance. Students should expect to dedicate 40 or more hours per week to course work, clinical practice, and studying. The UAB recommends that students do not work while completing phase one of the program. Students complete courses such as Foundations of Professional Nursing, Pharmacotherapy & Disease Process, and Health Assessment. They also undergo rigorous clinical experiences in adult health, geriatrics, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, psychiatry, critical care, and public health. At the end of the pre-licensure phase, students will have finished the required courses and clinical experiences equivalent to a bachelor of science in nursing. Upon completion, students are eligible to sit for the National Certification Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

The MSN specialty phase consists of four or more semesters of part-time study. Students can complete these requirements online and at a distance. Before starting phase two, students must select a clinical specialty, which ultimately determines the length of the program. Courses vary based on the clinical area of focus; however, most students, regardless of specialty, take Leadership in Advanced Nursing Practice Roles, Translating Evidence into Practice, Health Care Systems for Advanced Nursing Practice, Advanced Pathophysiology, and Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning. Clinical experiences are dictated by the chosen speciality. Upon successful completion of the MSN specialty phase, students become eligible to sit for their national board certification and practice as a nurse practitioner.

Specialty Options

At the beginning of the MSN specialty phase, students must declare clinical focus area. Specialties include: family, adult-gerontology primary care, adult-gerontology acute care, psychiatric mental health, pediatric primary care, and pediatric acute care. Uniquely, the UAB offers a variety of subspecialization: individuals who choose family may opt to subspecialize in palliative medicine, those who choose adult-gerontology primary care may sub-specialize in women’s health, occupational health, or oncology, and those who choose adult-gerontology acute care may subspecialize in surgical first assist.

Each specialty and subspecialty option changes the coursework, clinical experiences, and overall duration of the program. The adult-gerontology primary care program with a subspecialty in occupational health requires the most credit hours of any program (108 credit hours). On the other hand, the family, adult-gerontology primary care, adult-gerontology acute care, psychiatric mental health, and pediatric primary care programs require the least (94 credit hours). The combined pediatric primary and acute care program requires the most clinical hours (1020) compared with the family, adult-gerontology primary care, adult-gerontology acute care, psychiatric mental health, and pediatric primary care, which require the least (600 hours). Table 1 below outlines the different requirements per specialty and subspecialty.

Table 1: University of Alabama Birmingham
Specialty Track Total Credit Hours NP Clinical Hours
Family 94 600
Family with Palliative Medicine subspecialty 104 900
Adult-Gerontology Primary Care 94 600
Adult-Gerontology Primary Care with Women’s Health subspecialty 108 900
Adult-Gerontology Primary Care with Occupational Health subspecialty 115 660
Adult-Gerontology Primary Care with Oncology subspecialty 107 900
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care 94 600
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care with Surgical First Assist 94 780
Psychiatric Mental Health 94 600
Pediatric Primary Care 94 560
Pediatric Primary and Acute Care 104 1020

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for the UAB School of Nursing Accelerated Master’s in Nursing Pathway program include:

  • A baccalaureate degree or higher in a field other than nursing from a regionally accredited college or university prior to beginning the pre-licensure phase.
  • A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0; however admission is extremely competitive and the UAB recommends a strong record of full-time study and no course repeats.
  • A minimum score of 297 on the GRE, 480 on the GMAT, or 410 on the MAT. Students may waive this requirement if their cumulative grade point average is above 3.2.
  • A one-page resume outlining the student’s previous health care interest and experience, community or campus involvement, leadership, and employment.
  • An interview with UAB school of nursing leadership and faculty.

The UAB emphasizes the competitive nature of admissions and encourages all applicants to submit proof of health care experience although it is not required. This experience should be documented by a letter from a supervisor on organization letterhead.

Prerequisites

The UAB School of Nursing Accelerated Master’s in Nursing Pathway program requires 32 credit hours of specific prerequisite coursework. In these classes, students must earn a “C” or higher and a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0. Required prerequisite classes include Human Anatomy, Microbiology, Chemistry, Descriptive Statistics, Human Physiology, Inorganic Chemistry, Pre-calculus or Finite Math, Developmental Psychology, and Nutrition.

Online Experience

The UAB school of nursing uses the application Canvas for web-based learning. Students access this program through the Internet to attend virtual classes, download important documents, view assignments, and communicate with professors. The UAB offers technology assistance for their students via email, live chat, or in-person. The school of nursing also provides a helpful step-by-step guide to preparing a computer for class including identifying the operating system, selecting a web browser, and installing Java, Adobe Reader, and Adobe Flash Player.

For most clinical specialties, online students visit the UAB School of Nursing campus in Birmingham, Alabama, for orientation and two additional multi-day intensives throughout the program. Students are expected to contract with the State Board of Nursing in their state of residence to locate an appropriate preceptor.

Professors

Pamela Bowen
Dr. Pamela Bowen PhD, CRNP, FNP-BC

As an assistant professors in the MSN program at UAB, Dr. Pamela Bowen educates students on the health disparities among minorities, specifically African Americans. Her university biography begins with a powerful quote from Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” With 14 years of experience as an FNP, Dr. Bowen offers expertise in chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. She is particularly interested in reducing obesity health disparities among African Americans using a multifaceted approach.

McGinness
Dr. Teena McGinness PhD, CRNP, PMHNP-BC, FAAN

She is a professor and interim chair for the Department of Family, Community, and Health Systems. A psychiatric nurse practitioner at heart, Dr. McGuiness focuses her research scholarship on vulnerable youth adopted from orphanages. Her passion lies in educating the next generation of psychiatric nurse practitioners. Beginning in 2013, she also co-directed a joint nurse practitioner residency between the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the UAB School of Nursing. Her university bio includes a quote from herself, “There’s no health without mental health”.

Timeline

Many factors, including the student’s part-time or full-time status and the chosen clinical specialty, influence the time from beginning prerequisite courses to starting a job as a nurse practitioner. If attending the UAB Accelerated Master’s in Nursing Pathway program, students can expect to graduate and start their first job in 2.5 to 6 years.

The UAB School of Nursing requires 32 credit hours of prerequisite courses, which can be completed during a student’s baccalaureate program, 12 months of full-time study, or 24 months of part-time study. While completing these prerequisites, students may begin their application for the UAB Accelerated Master’s in Nursing Pathway program. Once accepted, students can expect their coursework to range from 94 to 115 credit hours and 2 to 5.5 years of study.

Upon graduation, students become eligible to sit for their board certification exam. Generally, students prepare for their board exam by taking a certification preparation course or studying independently for three to four months. During this time, students may also begin their job search. After passing the exam, students apply for their nurse practitioner licensure in their state of residence, which can take an additional two to three months. While waiting, students may continue their job search and begin interviewing. On average, three to six months will lapse between graduation and a new nurse practitioner starting his or her first job.

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Ohio State University celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2014. They began as a small diploma program and have grown into one of the top 25 graduate nursing schools with nearly 700 students. Ohio State University is known for their innovative teaching styles, evidence-based research, and special Leadership Academy. Their campus sports the Technology Learning Complex where nurse practitioner students learn to diagnose and treat complex medical cases during their education.

They proudly state their mission: “We exist to revolutionize healthcare and promote the highest levels of wellness in diverse individuals and communities throughout the nation and globe through innovative and transformational education, research and evidence-based clinical practice.” Ohio State University undoubtedly lives up to their mission through one-on-one academic advising, strong preceptor network, and focus on diversity and inclusion. They also strive to enhance global health through many study abroad opportunities.

Program Overview

The Ohio State University’s accelerated program is called the Graduate Entry option. This program accepts students with a bachelor’s degree in something other than nursing. The Graduate Entry option prepares students to become a nurse practitioner, and it typically takes three full-time year-round years to complete. Nurse practitioner specializations include adult-gerontology primary care, family health, neonatal health, pediatric primary care, psychiatric mental health, and women’s health. Only family health and psychiatric mental health are available as distance education options. At the time of application, students must select their specialty.

The Graduate Entry option is divided into two phases. During the first phase, students take all the courses necessary to become a registered nurse. Most of the courses are offered in person. They undergo extensive clinical experiences including community health, pediatrics, geriatrics, adult, women’s health, and psychiatry. After the first five semesters, students take the NCLEX-RN before continuing their studies.

Upon passing the NCLEX-RN and receiving their registered nurse license, students begin their master’s level studies. Courses vary by chosen clinical specialty; however, everyone takes innovative leadership, quality improvement and informatics, health promotion and disease prevention, the American healthcare system, and evidence-based practice. All of these courses are completed online. Students also undergo precepted clinical experiences in their chosen specialty. Upon graduation, students will have earned a Master of Science in Nursing and become eligible to sit for their board-certification exam.

Specialty Options

Prior to admission, students must declare a clinical specialty area. The Ohio State University College of Nursing offers six clinical specialties for Graduate Entry students: adult-gerontology primary care, family health, neonatal health, pediatric primary care, psychiatric mental health, and women’s health. Only the family and psychiatric mental health specialties can be completed at a distance.

The required number of credit hours and precepted clinical hours varies by chosen specialty. The family health specialty requires the most credit hours (106), compared with adult-gerontology primary care, which requires the least (89). The women’s health specialty involves the most precepted clinical hours (637.5), compared with the family health specialty, which requires the least (450). Table 2 below outlines the different requirements per specialty.

Table 2: Ohio State University
Specialty Track Total Credit Hours NP Clinical Hours
Adult-Gerontology Primary Care 89 500
Family 106 450
Neonatal 105 600
Pediatric Primary Care 99 600
Psychiatric Mental Health 103 600
Women’s Health 100 637.5

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for the Ohio State University College of Nursing’s Graduate Entry program include:

  • A baccalaureate degree in a non-nursing field from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • A competitive undergraduate grade point average. The average grade point average for accepted applicants is 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Completion of a certified nurse assistant, personal care assistant, or state tested nurse assistant course. This course must be completed prior to starting the program but not prior to applying for the program. It must also include a minimum of 16 hours of direct patient care, and online courses are not acceptable.
  • A copy of the applicant’s resume and curriculum vitae.
  • Three letters of recommendation from those who are familiar with the student’s academic ability, work experience, contributions to the field of nursing, and potential to succeed in a challenging education environment.
  • An essay that reflects on the students purpose and professional goals. This essay should be less than three pages and demonstrate the student’s writing abilities.
  • Graduate Record Exam scores are not required unless a student has a grade point average below 3.0 or is interested in being nominated for the Graduate School’s University Fellowship competition.

Prerequisites

Prior to beginning the Graduate Entry program, students must complete 14 credit hours of prerequisite courses. These courses include human anatomy, human physiology, microbiology, human nutrition, and pharmacology. Students must earn a final grade of a “B” or higher. A “B-” will not satisfy their requirements.

Online Experience

The pre-licensure phase of this program is completed on campus and in a classroom. The master’s level phase can be completed remotely if the student chooses to specialize in either family health or psychiatric mental health. The courses are completed online using the software StudentWeb, while the clinicals are completed with a local preceptor. Ohio State University provides their students access to an extensive preceptor network. These preceptors are available in a variety of geographic locations and clinical sites throughout Ohio and outside the state as well.

Professors

Anderson
Dr. Cindy Anderson PhD, WHNP-BC, FAHA, FNAP, FAAN

Dr. Cindy Anderson is the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Education Innovation and Associate Professor at Ohio State University. She is a board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner as well as a fellow of the American Heart Association, the National Academies of Practice, and the American Academy of Nursing. She is also a member of the National Advisory Committee at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Her research focuses on hypertension in pregnancy.

Karl
Dr. Joyce Karl DNP, ANP-BC, COHN-S

Dr. Joyce Karl is an Associated Faculty Clinical Instructor at Ohio State University. She is a board-certified adult nurse practitioner with a doctorate degree in nursing practice. She is a Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialist with a background in medical-surgical nursing and primary care. Her research focuses on health literacy. She continues to practice as a nurse practitioner while also teaching in the family health specialty.

Timeline

The student’s full-time or part-time status as well as their chosen clinical specialty can impact the timeline to becoming a nurse practitioner. In general, students can expect to graduate and begin working in 3.5 to 6.5 years.

The Ohio State University College of nursing requires 14 credit hours of prerequisite courses, which can be completed during a student’s baccalaureate program, 6 months of full-time study, or 12 months of part-time study. While completing these prerequisites, students may begin their application for the Graduate Entry program. Once accepted, students can expect their coursework to range from 89 to 106 credit hours and 3 to 6 years of study.

Upon graduation, students become eligible to sit for their board certification exam. Generally, students prepare for their board exam by taking a certification preparation course or studying independently for three to four months. During this time, students may also begin their job search.

After passing the exam, students apply for their nurse practitioner licensure in their state of residence, which can take an additional two to three months. While waiting, students may continue their job search and begin interviewing. On average, 3 to 6 months will lapse between graduation and a new nurse practitioner starting his or her first job.

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Located in Mobile, Alabama, the University of South Alabama (USA) College of Nursing is known for their early adoption of technology and online education. They offer the lowest tuition rates in the state, and they provide many scholarship and financial aid opportunities. In 2009, the College of Nursing moved into a brand new 170,000 square-foot building with state-of-the-art classroom space, a human simulator laboratory, a computer and media room, faculty offices, and conference rooms.

The USA College of Nursing’s mission is “To provide quality, innovative educational programs to a diverse student body, to participate in research and scholarly activities, and to provide service to the University, the profession, and the public.” They accomplish this by cultivating an engaging environment that empowers students, faculty, and staff. In the words of the Dean, Dr. Debra Davis, “The faculty and I invite you to allow us to assist you in achieving your goal for a challenging and rewarding career as a professional nurse.”

Program Overview

The USA College of Nursing’s accelerated program is called the BSN/MSN Pathway. This program was designed for individuals with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree who want to become a nurse practitioner. The USA notes that this program was developed due to high student demand alongside the increased need for qualified healthcare professionals in the United States. The BSN/MSN Pathways is completed in two phases: (1) professional phase and (2) the specialty phase.

The professional phase is completed in five semesters over 12 months of full-time study. The curriculum and credit hours are exactly the same as those required for a traditional bachelor of science in nursing degree. Courses include Foundations of Professional Nursing, Evidence-based Practice, Nursing Decision Making, and Trends in Modern Healthcare. Clinical experiences include but are not limited to psychiatry, pediatrics, geriatrics, and public health. The USA College of Nursing recommends that students do not work while completing this phase of the program. Also during this time, students are expected to complete three additional graduate level courses in pharmacology, pathophysiology, and health assessment. Upon completion, students are awarded a bachelor of science in nursing degree and are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam.

Before beginning the nurse practitioner specialty phase, students must obtain a minimum of two years of clinical experience. After these two years, students may re-enter the program as an online student to become a nurse practitioner. During this phase, students must select their area of clinical focus, which also determines the length of their program. Courses vary by specialty, but all include Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, Organizational Leadership, Healthcare Policy and Finance, and Quality Improvement in Healthcare. Upon successful completion of the specialty phase, students graduate with a master of science in nursing and become eligible to sit for their national board certification.

Specialty Options

Specialty options include adult-gerontology primary care, adult-gerontology acute care, family health, emergency medicine, psychiatric mental health, neonatal, pediatric acute care, pediatric primary care, and women’s health. University of South Alabama offers three subspecialties: cardiology, oncology, and palliative care. These subspecialties require additional coursework and additional clinical hours as indicated in the table below.

Each specialty option changes the amount of coursework, clinical experiences, and overall duration of the program. The emergency nurse practitioner program with a subspecialty in oncology requires the most credit hours (131) and the most clinical hours (1150). On the other hand, the adult-gerontology primary care, adult-gerontology acute care, family health, psychiatric mental health, neonatal, pediatric primary care, pediatric acute care, and women’s health programs require the least credit hours (109) and the least clinical hours (600). Table 3 below outlines the different requirements per specialty and subspecialty.

Table 3: University of South Alabama
Specialty Track Total Credit Hours NP Clinical Hours
Adult-Gerontology Primary Care 109 600
Adult-Gerontology Primary Care with Oncology Subspecialty 119 660
Adult-Gerontology Primary Care with Palliative Care Subspecialty 115 780
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care 109 600
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care with Oncology Subspecialty 119 660
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care with Palliative Care Subspecialty 115 780
Family 109 600
Family with Cardiovascular Subspecialty 117 600
Family with Oncology Subspecialty 119 660
Family with Palliative Care Subspecialty 115 780
Emergency 121 1080
Emergency with Cardiovascular Subspecialty 129 1080
Emergency with Oncology Subspecialty 131 1150
Psychiatric Mental Health 109 600
Psychiatric Mental Health with Oncology Subspecialty 119 660
Neonatal 109 600
Pediatric Acute Care 109 600
Pediatric Primary Care 109 600
Women’s Health 109 600
Women’s Health with Oncology Subspecialty 119 660

Admission Requirements

The Admission requirements for the USA College of Nursing’s BSN/MSN Pathway program include:

  • A baccalaureate degree or higher in a field other than nursing from a regionally accredited college or university prior to beginning the professional phase.
  • A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Completion of all prerequisite courses with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. No grade less than a “C” is accepted.
  • A one-page resume.
  • Completion of a personal interview with USA nursing faculty.

Prerequisites

The USA College of Nursing’s BSN/MSN Pathway requires 34 credit hours of specific prerequisite coursework. In these classes, students must earn a minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. No grades less than a “C” will be accepted. Required prerequisite courses include Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II with a lab, English Composition I and II, Microbiology, Statistics, Finite Math (or higher), Chemistry with a lab, Introduction to Psychology, and a Biology Elective with a lab.

Online Experience

The first phase of the BSN/MSN Pathway must be completed on campus at the USA. The second phase of the accelerated program can be completed at a distance: courses are completed online and clinical rotations are completed in the student’s home town with a local preceptor. Students are expected to contract with the State Board of Nursing in their state of residence to locate an appropriate preceptor. Students are required to attend a three-day orientation session on campus prior to starting specialty courses, and they must return at the end of the program for their final presentation. The software Remote Proctor Now is used to monitor online students during course exams to prevent cheating. In addition, the library, bookstore, and all other student resources can be accessed online.

Professors

USA_Dolan
Carolyn Dolan JD, MSN, CRNP, FNP-BC, PNP-BC, CCRN

She is a professor in the Community Mental Health Nursing Department at the USA College of Nursing. She is both a lawyer and a nurse practitioner with a dual certification in family health and pediatrics as well as an additional certification as a critical care registered nurse. Her research focuses on migrant health and underserved populations as well as HIV/AIDs and emergency care. She teaches Advanced Health Assessment and Pharmacology in the pediatrics and family nurse practitioner programs.

USA_Huffman
Dr. Penni Coates Huffman DNP, APRN, NNP-BC

She is a board certified neonatal nurse practitioner with a decade of experience and an assistant professor in the department of Maternal Child Nursing at the USA College of Nursing, where she is also coordinator of the MSN and DNP Neonatal Nurse Practitioner specialty options. She teaches in both the Neonatal MSN and DNP programs as well as the DNP core curriculum. Her research focuses on central line associated bloodstream infections in neonates. She teaches a variety of courses including Clinical Prevention and Population Health and Organizational Systems Analysis. She is an active member of the Academy of Neonatal Nurse Practitioners, National Association of Neonatal Nursing, and Sigma Theta, Tau.

Timeline

Factors such as full or part-time status and area of clinical specialty impact the length of this accelerated program. If attending the USA College of Nursing BSN/MSN Pathway program, students can expect to start their first job as a nurse practitioner after four to six years.

The USA College of Nursing requires 34 credit hours of prerequisite courses, which can be completed during a student’s baccalaureate program, 12 months of full-time study, or 24 months of part-time study. While completing these prerequisites, students may begin their application. Once accepted, the first phase of the program lasts 12 months. Then, students are required to practice as a registered nurse for an additional 2 years before re-entering the nurse practitioner program. The specialty phase lasts 1.5 to 2.5 years. Students can expect their coursework to range from 109 to 131 credit hours.

Upon graduation, students are eligible to sit for their board certification exam. Usually, students prepare for this exam by taking a certification preparation course or studying independently for three to four months. During this time, students may also begin their job search. After passing the exam, students apply for their nurse practitioner licensure in their state of residence, which can take an additional two to three months. While waiting, students may continue their job search and begin interviewing. On average, three to six months will lapse between graduation and a new nurse practitioner starting his or her first job.

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Dr. Melissa DeCapua, DNP, PMHNP

Dr. Melissa DeCapua, DNP, PMHNP

Author

Melissa DeCapua is a board-certified psychiatric nurse practitioner who graduated from Vanderbilt University. She has a background in child and adolescent psychiatry as well as psychosomatic medicine. Uniquely, she also possesses a bachelor’s degree in studio arts, which she uses to enhance patient care, promote the nursing profession, and solve complex problems. Melissa currently works as the Healthcare Strategist at a Seattle-based health information technology company where she guides product development by combining her clinical background and creative thinking. She is a strong advocate for empowering nurses, and she fiercely believes that nurses should play a pivotal role in shaping modern health care. For more about Melissa, check out her blog www.melissadecapua.com and follow her on Twitter @melissadecapua.

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*Also requires a non-nursing bachelor's degree; please see the "Online Accelerated MSN - NP" programs page for more details.