Registered nurses who want to advance in their career – or take on more responsibilities – may be interested in a career as a nurse practitioner. This career path typically involves completing a master’s of science in nursing degree (MSN) or a post-master’s education in the form of a certificate or a doctoral degree. Some, or many, of the core and specialization classes available in these programs can be found through online learning, in some cases leaving only preceptorships or clinical experiences to be done at an actual healthcare site. Online NP programs in North Carolina are available through Duke University Medical Center, East Carolina University and Gardner-Webb University.
An online education can allow students to complete their learning at their own time or, as a nurse, even during breaks in a shift. Other national-based schools, like Frontier University and Samford University, also provide online educational opportunities, but North Carolina-based schools have the advantage of being right in the backyard of a North Carolina resident, which makes required campus visits (more on this below) much more convenient.
According to 2014 data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 3,380 nurse practitioners employed in the state, and the mean annual mean wages for the occupation were $96,020. That’s significantly above the $47,230 earned for all occupations combined. Of course, no level of income is ever guaranteed, but having an advanced education could create new opportunities for nurses, including the ability to practice with greater autonomy. To learn more about becoming a nurse practitioner in North Carolina, keep on reading.
There are usually typical steps to follow to become a nurse practitioner in North Carolina, and from start to finish, this process can take 6-7 years or more to complete. However, this begins with an initial nursing education, as detailed below:
An undergraduate education is needed to be able to work toward a nursing license credential. Students can complete a certificate program, associate degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing, any of which could qualify them to test for licensing through their state board of licensing. Depending on the program, they could be prepared to sit for licensure either as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN).
Becoming an RN is necessary for admission into many nurse practitioner programs. In North Carolina, applicants applying for RN licensure through the North Carolina Board of Nursing (NCBON) need to:
North Carolina also is part of the nurse licensure compact (NLC) model,which allows for greater mobility for nurses between states. Nurses who already have an RN license in another state may be eligible to work in North Carolina by applying for RN licensure through the ‘endorsement’ process.
To become an NP in North Carolina, individuals usually need to have a master’s of science in nursing degree, although they may be able to bridge from a bachelor’s to a doctoral (DNP) degree or complete a post-master’s certificate. Online NP programs in North Carolina typically require students to have a RN license, although some nationwide-based online programs may accept students without a nursing background or who only have an associate of science in nursing degree.
Students may be able to find both part-time and full-time post-graduate options. Typically, they begin by taking foundational core classes and then continue on to specialize in their specific NP field. For online NP schools in North Carolina, these NP fields may include:
Clinical hours are typically needed in the student’s chosen NP field, providing them with the opportunity to gain new hands-on experiences in a health care setting while working under the guidance of a supervisor or mentor.
Nurse practitioner licensing in North Carolina is regulated by the Joint Subcommittee of the Medical Board and the Board of Nursing. To become a nurse practitioner in North Carolina, applicants must complete several steps that include:
Applicants also need to submit a $25 application fee. Since NPs work under physician approval, they also can register physicians on a volunteer or non-volunteer basis, for which there are additional fees. The primary supervisory physician also needs to sign the NP identification application document.
The requirements needed for admission into online NPs schools in North Carolina will vary. However, many of these requirements are similar in focus, giving admissions officials the opportunity to learn more about a student and form a picture about their aptitude for success. Schools also can have cut-off deadlines for admission into graduate studies as well as into graduate-level nursing programs, so it will be best to research these ahead of times. Some of the common admission steps for MSN programs in North Carolina are listed below.
In many cases, an application for advanced nursing studies can be submitted online, although a printed and mailed application also may be acceptable. An application fee is typically required to help process an application, but this fee can vary from school to school. An RN license is needed for applicants applying for the online nursing programs at East Carolina University, Duke University Medical Center, and Gardner-Webb University. Other online programs that are nationally based may have different standards regarding prior RN licensure.
A specific GPA, often a 3.0 or higher, is needed for some programs, but this is not always true. Also, some nursing schools do require students to submit GRE scores, such as at East Carolina University, where those scores must be from the past five years. However, at Duke University, applicants can have the requirement for GRE scores waived if their undergraduate GPA was 3.4 or higher.
There are many other steps that comprise the application process. This can vary from school to school, but often includes supplying copies of transcripts, letters of recommendation, and an essay outlining goals. Also, some schools prefer that applicants have at least a year of nursing experience, but this often is just a preference because it may help students to succeed when they have contextual work in the field. A personal interview with a nursing faculty member may also be required, as is the case at East Carolina University.
The North Carolina state board of nursing maintains a list of programs that have been approved at the bachelor’s level of nursing, but not at the graduate level. However, NP licensing applicants to the state are required to have graduated from an MSN or above program that has accreditation. Most accreditation at the graduate level is done through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Full listings of accredited schools can be found on their websites. The North Carolina Board of Nursing also has a list of in-state schools offering MSN and Doctorate degrees on its website.
Accreditation is important in providing external veracity to a program. An outside agency does an in-depth review of a program, which can include a look at teaching methods, education level of faculty members, and the curriculum used. The three nursing schools in North Carolina that are state based and have online graduate level offerings are accredited by:
Gayle Casterline PhD, RN, AHN-BC is an associate professor at the Hunt School of Nursing at Gardner-Webb University. She received her PhD from Loyola University Chicago, and both her MSN and BSN from the University of Pittsburgh. She has worked with Dr. Jean Watson as a faculty associate for the Watson Caring Science Institute since 2008, and is an expert in caring science and caring pedagogy. She is a member of the American Holistic Nurses Association and the International Association for Human Caring. Other areas of interest include non-pharmacologic strategies for pain relief, spirituality and health, holistic care for nurses and patients, and caring in nursing education and leadership. She is a manuscript reviewer for several nursing journals and enjoys mentoring students and staff nurses developing research and evidence-based practice projects.
Amy Jnah, APRN, DNP, NNP-BC is the director of the NP neonatal concentration areas at East Carolina University. She also is a clinical assistant professor, who has been published multiple times, including in “Advances in Neonatal Care. ” She has given several conference presentations, including in 2014 at the Association of Neonatal Nurses National Convention in New Orleans. Her research interests include mentoring and building self-confidence in NP students, and transcutaneous bilirubin monitoring in premature infants.
Katherine C. Pereira, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, ADM-BC, FAAN, FAANP helps to coordinate the FNP instructional areas at Duke University, and is a fellow of both the American Academy of Nursing and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. She obtained her MSN and DNP through the school as well. In both 2015 and 2013, she received the Outstanding MSN Faculty Award in Duke’s school of nursing.
While an education that is entirely online can be exciting, some programs may still require a campus visit or several campus visits during the length of the program. Also, keep in mind, that just because coursework can be completed online, clinical hours cannot. Often, online programs will help students to find preceptorship experiences at nearby facilities, but in other cases, students may need to line these up, and have these approved, on their own.
Duke University has various MSN and post-master's certificates available to help students pursue an NP education. Although billed as distance learning, students do need to attend seminars every semester on campus and these typically last between two to five days. Online NP areas of study available at the master's level include:
Students in the MSN program need to complete between 42 to 49 credits hours in all, depending on their field of specialty. The above specializations are also open to students as post-master's certificates, but the number of credit hours required may vary.
Jane E. Blood-Siegfried, PhD, RN, CPNP has been involved in the education of NPs for more than 30 years. Not only does she help to arrange global clinical experiences for students at Duke, she also is affiliated with the MSN and DPN programs.
Margaret (Midge) T. Bowers, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, CHFN, A.A.C.C., FAANP has affiliations with both the MSN and DPN programs at Duke University. In 2014, she received an AANP State Award for Nurse Practitioner Excellence.
East Carolina offers MSN degrees in multiple advance practice fields, for seven fields in total. In the past, it accepted applications for its online NP programs in adult-gerontology and family NP, but is no longer doing so. As of November 2015, applications at the NP level are only being accepted for neonatal care – but both at the MSN and post-master's level. The MSN program is 42 credit hours in all, and includes full-time and part-time options. Upon completion of the neonatal program, graduates should be eligible to sit for certification through the NCC.
Tracey Robertson, DNP, NNP-BC is a clinical instructor for the neonatal program at East Carolina who was published in "Advances in Neonatal Care" in 2014. She received her MSN in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Desi Newberry, DNP, NNP-BC also is a clinical instructor in East Carolina's neonatal program. She has also been published in the journal "Advances in Neonatal Care," is employed at WakeMed Physician Practices, Neonatology in Raleigh, and presented at the 2015 neonatal symposium presented by the Carolinas Association of Neonatal Nurse Practitioners.
The MSN program to become a family nurse practitioner (FNP) at Gardner-Webb University, a Christian school, takes three years to complete and can be done through a combination of online classes and face-to-face learning on campus. A post-master's FNP certificate also is available. The program requires completions of 51 credit hours, but prepares students to seek national certification. Nurses also can work toward a dual MSN/MBA degree at the school that requires completion of 69 credit hours.
Janet Arthurs EdD, RN is an associate professor at the school who obtained her MSN from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her areas of interest include maternal-infant care, nursing student retention and transformational leadership.
Tracy Arnold DNP, RN knows what it's like to be a student at Gardner-Webb as she completed her AND, BSN, MSN and DNP at the school. Her research interests include new nurse graduates, job satisfaction and simulation.
The online NP programs in North Carolina listed on this page may be hybrid in some cases, meaning that they require on-campus visits. This is the case at Duke University Medical Center, where an on-campus visit is expected every semester. These visits are two to five days in length and allow students to participate in hands-on activities, have face-to-face interactions, and experience intensives with faculty members and experts.
Not a lot of detail about on-campus expectations is provided by East Carolina University, but the university's website does specify that the specialty classes for the Neonatal NP are offered entirely online. Some of the core curriculum also may be available online; overall, online learning at the school is described as using asynchronous and synchronous learning applications and streaming video. Gardner-Webb's program is hybrid in nature, making use of both online and campus-based classes.
|School Name||Program Name||Degree Offered
|Accreditor||Campus Visits Required (Yearly)||Requires RN?||Requires BSN?||Requires MSN?|
|Duke University Medical CenterDurham , NC||Adult-Gero NP Primary Care Post-Graduate Certificate||Post-Graduate Certificate||AG-PCNP||CCNE||limited||yes||no||yes|
|Duke University Medical CenterDurham , NC||Family NP Major||MSN||FNP||CCNE||limited||yes||yes||no|
|Duke University Medical CenterDurham , NC||Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate||Post-Graduate Certificate||FNP||CCNE||limited||yes||no||yes|
|Duke University Medical CenterDurham , NC||Neonatal NP Major||MSN||NNP||CCNE||limited||yes||yes||no|
|Duke University Medical CenterDurham , NC||Neonatal NP Certificate||Post-Graduate Certificate||NNP||CCNE||limited||yes||no||yes|
|Duke University Medical CenterDurham , NC||Pediatric Acute Care NP Major||MSN||PNP-AC||CCNE||limited||yes||yes||no|
|Duke University Medical CenterDurham , NC||Pediatric Acute Care NP Certificate||Post-Graduate Certificate||PNP-AC||CCNE||limited||yes||no||yes|
|Duke University Medical CenterDurham , NC||Pediatric Primary Care NP Major||MSN||PNP-PC||CCNE||limited||yes||yes||no|
|Duke University Medical CenterDurham , NC||Pediatric Primary Care NP Certificate||Post-Graduate Certificate||PNP-PC||CCNE||limited||yes||no||yes|
|Duke University Medical CenterDurham , NC||Women's Health NP Major||MSN||WHNP||CCNE||limited||yes||yes||no|
|Duke University Medical CenterDurham , NC||Women's Health Post-Graduate Certificate||Post-Graduate Certificate||WHNP||CCNE||limited||yes||no||yes|
|East Carolina UniversityGreenville , NC||Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (online)||MSN||Adult/GNP||CCNE||limited||yes||yes||no|
|East Carolina UniversityGreenville , NC||Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Certificate (online)||Post-Graduate Certificate||Adult/GNP||CCNE||limited||yes||no||yes|
|East Carolina UniversityGreenville , NC||Family Nurse Practitioner (online)||MSN||FNP||CCNE||limited||yes||no||no|
|East Carolina UniversityGreenville , NC||Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate (online)||Post-Graduate Certificate||FNP||CCNE||limited||yes||no||yes|
|East Carolina UniversityGreenville , NC||Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (online)||MSN||NNP||CCNE||limited||yes||no||no|
|East Carolina UniversityGreenville , NC||Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Certificate (online)||Post-Graduate Certificate||NNP||CCNE||limited||yes||no||yes|
|Gardner-Webb UniversityBoiling Springs , NC||Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner||MSN||FNP||ACEN||limited||yes||no||no|
|Gardner-Webb UniversityBoiling Springs , NC||Post-Master's Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate||Post-Graduate Certificate||FNP||ACEN||limited||yes||no||yes|
|Duke University Medical CenterDurham , NC||Adult-Gero NP Acute Care Major||MSN||AG-ACNP||CCNE||limited||yes||yes||no|
|Duke University Medical CenterDurham , NC||Adult-Gero NP Acute Care Post-Graduate Certificate||Post-Graduate Certificate||AG-ACNP||CCNE||limited||yes||no||yes|
|Duke University Medical CenterDurham , NC||Adult-Gero NP Primary Care Major||MSN||AG-PCNP||CCNE||limited||yes||yes||no|
The North Carolina State Board of Nursing does not outline the number of preceptor hours needed to seek NP licensure in the state, only that graduation from an accredited program is needed and that national certification must be obtained. However, clinical hours may be needed for continued licensing. In fact, 50 hours of continuing education are necessary every year, and up to 30 of these hours can come through preceptor experiences – with others allowable through clinical presentations, authoring for a journal article or volunteer experiences.
In North Carolina, NPs practice under what is known as a “reduced” environment. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), this means there are limitations to their freedom of practice and that they typically need to practice under team-management, delegation or supervision of a physician to be able to provide patient care.
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