Most Affordable Online FNP Programs 2021

Most Affordable Online FNP Programs 2021

Nurse practitioners (NPs) work in one of the fastest-growing professions in the country. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), about 290,000 nurse practitioners currently hold licensure in the industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the number of jobs for NPs could grow by 45% between 2019 and 2029. In comparison, the BLS projects a nationwide job growth rate of 3.7%.

NPs can pursue many different specialties, and about two-thirds of aspiring nurse practitioners earn certification as family nurse practitioners (FNPs), according to AANP data. FNPs offer primary healthcare services to patients of all ages. They play a pivotal role in their patients’ lives, addressing overall wellness and a wide variety of injuries and illnesses.

Prospective FNP students can take advantage of several pathways to becoming an FNP, including master’s programs, post-graduate certificate programs, and doctoral programs. Many registered nurses (RNs) become FNPs by earning a master of science in nursing (MSN).

MSN programs prepare registered nurses to take on the added responsibilities of nurse practitioners, including prescribing medication. MSN programs typically last about two years, although accelerated programs allow students to graduate more quickly.

Online family nurse practitioner programs are particularly suited for busy RNs, and offer a degree of flexibility that on-campus programs do not. Students who choose to pursue an online program can typically take advantage of asynchronous coursework and customizable schedules.

Top Online Programs

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Applying to an Online FNP Program

Just like any other field, admission requirements for FNP programs vary depending on the school and program type. Generally speaking, prospective MSN students must possess an undergraduate nursing degree and an RN license. Many schools offer RN-to-NP programs, which allow nurses who hold an associate degree to move straight into their master’s degree.

Schools usually set minimum undergraduate GPA requirements ranging from 2.0-3.0. Some programs require applicants to hold at least 1-2 years of nursing experience, and others allow students to enroll directly after graduating with their bachelor’s degree.

Prospective students typically need to submit their undergraduate transcripts and letters of recommendation from former professors. They may need to submit GRE scores, but many schools now bypass this requirement in favor of previous work experience.

Most Affordable Online Family Nurse Practitioner Programs


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  1. The University of Texas at Arlington

    Arlington, TX



    UTA's MSN-family nurse practitioner online program takes 31-36 months to complete and prepares graduates for evidence-based primary practice. The 46-credit hour curriculum includes coursework in advanced research, clinical management, diagnostics, health assessment, and pharmacology.

    Distance learners fulfill their clinical requirements at healthcare facilities in their local communities and access their asynchronous courses 24/7. Students pay tuition on a per-course basis. UTA provides online learners with services like advising, academic coaching, and tutoring.

    Admission requirements include an RN license, a bachelor of science in nursing with a 3.0 GPA, RN experience, and completed undergraduate coursework in statistics and/or research. Applicants submit transcripts, a statement of purpose or professional history, and letters of recommendation. Students with GPAs lower than 3.0 must provide GRE scores.

    UTA holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  2. Samford University

    Birmingham, AL



    Birmingham, Alabama-based Samford offers an MSN family nurse practitioner program online that includes just three campus visits and precepted clinical experiences near students' homes. Samford boasts a pass rate at or near 100% on the national FNP certification exam. MSN graduates can enter the university's doctor of nursing practice program without reapplying.

    Applicants must hold an RN license and a bachelor of science in nursing from an accredited program with a 3.0 GPA. Admission requires a video submission, undergraduate coursework in health assessment and nursing research, three recommendation letters, a resume, and a personal statement.

    The two-year curriculum covers advanced physiology and pathophysiology, statistics for advanced practice nurses, population health and policy, and care of family patient populations.

    Samford is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The MSN nursing programs hold accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  3. Bradley University

    Peoria, IL



    Peoria, Illinois' Bradley counts an MSN-family nurse practitioner degree among its online nurse practitioner programs. The program does not require campus attendance, and students can complete their clinical hours at sites near their homes. The 50-59 credit curriculum includes courses in advanced health assessment, evidence-based practice, healthcare policy, and nursing theories, along with a primary care immersion.

    Bradley allows BSN-holders and students with ADNs, diplomas, and non-nursing bachelor's degrees to start at different points in the program. Most graduate in 2-3 years.

    Candidates must possess an RN license, a 3.0 GPA, and the ability to arrange a clinical site and preceptor. Applicants with a non-nursing bachelor's degree must complete basic nursing courses. Conditional admission may be offered to candidates with lower GPAs. Bradley also requires an admission essay, two recommendation letters, and a resume.

    Bradley is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the FNP program by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  4. Morehead State University

    Morehead, KY



    MSU's online family nurse practitioner program culminates in an MSN in primary care. The 49-credit curriculum can be completed on a full- or part-time basis. Courses cover topics like care of the aging population, childbearing and women's health, pediatrics, and population health and epidemiology. Distance learners benefit from career services, including career planning, resume and interview preparation, and internship placement.

    Prospective students must hold an RN license with at least one year of clinical RN experience, show completion of a college-level descriptive statistics course, and submit three professional references. Candidates must also undergo criminal background checks and comply with immunization specifications. The MSU graduate school requests a cover letter/goal statement, resume, and transcripts showing a 3.0 GPA or higher.

    Based in Morehead, Kentucky, MSU holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The MSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  5. DeSales University

    Center Valley, PA



    Located in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, DeSales offers an online MSN as a family/across the lifespan nurse practitioner with two-year full-time or three-year part-time enrollment options. DeSales coordinates clinical placements in the Lehigh Valley area and beyond. The school's 60-hour advanced pharmacology class exceeds the minimum requirement to obtain prescriptive authority in Pennsylvania.

    Course delivery is available in an asynchronous format, in which students set their own schedules; a synchronous format with set class times; and a hybrid option.

    Applicants must hold an RN license and a bachelor of science in nursing with a 3.0 GPA. They should also provide proof of one year of full-time nursing experience within the prior three years, two recommendation letters, a resume, and a personal statement. Candidates with GPAs below 3.0 must provide GRE or MAT scores.

    DeSales holds regional accreditation through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and nursing program accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  6. Texas A & M University-College Station

    College Station, TX



    Located in College Station, Texas A&M offers an MSN-family nurse practitioner track that prepares graduates to become primary care providers. Coursework is delivered primarily online, and on-campus requirements include a new student conference, 45 hours of clinical work in advanced health assessment, and diagnostics and procedures and primary care courses. Precepted clinical experiences may be available in students' communities.

    The 48-credit full- or part-time curriculum also covers leadership and policy, primary care of families, healthcare quality and improvement, and health informatics.

    Applicants must be licensed RNs residing in Texas. Other admission requirements include a "C" in undergraduate elementary statistics, an admission essay, three professional or academic references, 1-2 years of baccalaureate RN work, and a background in leadership and service. The selection committee may invite candidates to interview.

    Texas A&M is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The FNP program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  7. Simmons University

    Boston, MA



    At Boston-based Simmons, working RNs can earn an online MSN-family nurse practitioner degree on a full- or part-time basis. The 68-credit FNP program includes 800 hours of clinical experience and takes 32 months to complete. Remote course delivery follows an interactive live format. In addition to core courses in pathophysiology, pharmacology, and physical assessment, students complete a scholarly research project.

    Simmons' FNP program does not require a bachelor of science in nursing. Instead, applicants need an associate degree or diploma in nursing and an RN license. Other requirements include academic transcripts evidencing a non-nursing bachelor's degree, a 3.0 GPA, and prior coursework in sciences, statistics, and health assessment. Applicants should also provide three letters of recommendations and a personal statement.

    Simmons boasts a 96% pass rate on national board certification exams and

    holds regional accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education, along with programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  8. University of Central Missouri

    Warrensburg, MO



    UCM houses one of the most affordable online nurse practitioner programs with a family nurse practitioner emphasis. The 44-credit FNP track leads to an MSN degree and covers research methods, nursing theories, family and population health, and advanced practice nursing topics. Students complete a capstone clinical experience at a Missouri healthcare site.

    The FNP program focuses on advanced practice nursing and clinical research within the family health context. UCM encourages part-time enrollment, defined as six or fewer hours in the fall and spring and three or fewer in the summer. Learners may also study full-time.

    Prospective students need a bachelor's degree in nursing with a 3.0 GPA and an RN license with at least a year of experience. Applicants must submit their immunization records and current CPR certification.

    Warrensburg, Missouri's UCM is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The School of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  9. Maryville University of Saint Louis

    Saint Louis, MO



    Located in St. Louis, Missouri, Maryville lists an online family nurse practitioner specialty track among its MSN-level nursing programs. Students can access asynchronous course materials entirely online and on their own schedules, completing clinicals at healthcare settings in their home communities. Graduates emerge with new perspectives on evidence-based practice, holistic health, and leadership.

    Remote learners take core courses in health promotion and disease prevention, theoretical foundation of nursing practice, and professional role development, along with FNP courses exploring patient populations like adult-gerontology and pediatrics. Students can graduate in 2-3 years, depending on enrollment status.

    The FNP program admits practicing RNs with bachelor of science in nursing degrees. Graduate admissions requires transcripts showing a 3.0 GPA and a personal statement.

    Maryville and its FNP school of nursing program boast accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  10. Winona State University

    Winona, MN



    Rochester, Minnesota's WSU offers a family nurse practitioner program that develops advanced practice nurses skilled in evidence-based practice and nursing leadership. FNP candidates earn a doctor of nursing practice in 2-4 years, depending on whether they enroll with a bachelor's or master's degree in nursing.

    The hybrid FNP concentration requires in-person attendance for clinical hours and preparation for differential diagnosis and clinical coursework. Winona tries to arrange clinicals within 50 miles of students' homes.

    Admission requires a baccalaureate degree in nursing, a 3.0 GPA, and undergraduate coursework in physical assessment, nursing research, and statistics. Applicants with lower GPAs may be offered provisional admission. Winona also requires an RN license and recommends that candidates possess at least a year of clinical nursing experience. Required submission materials include three references and a statement of professional goals.

    WSU maintains regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The nursing programs hold accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can family nurse practitioners prescribe medication?

    Yes; however, family nurse practitioners’ level of prescriptive authority varies depending on the state. In about half the states, FNPs can prescribe with full authority, which means they do not need physician approval or supervision. Other states fall under the “reduced practice authority” category, which means FNPs need some sort of collaborative agreement with a physician to prescribe medication.

  • What is accreditation, and why is it important?

    Accreditation essentially ensures that academic programs equip their students with a quality education. If you find programs without accreditation, this should register as a red flag. Especially important for healthcare professionals, licensure guidelines require applicants to hold accredited degrees. Look for programs accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

  • Is a nurse practitioner a good job?

    Nurse practitioners perform essential, fulfilling work in a growing industry. BLS data shows that nurse practitioners earned a mean income of $111,840 in 2019, about double the average annual income in the nation. Plus, as the healthcare industry grows, NPs benefit from a job growth rate much faster than the national average, with jobs protected to grow by 45% from 2019-29.

  • What can I do as a family nurse practitioner?

    As a family nurse practitioner, you can provide medical assessments and treatments to people of all ages. FNPs ensure the long-term health of their patients, including performing physical exams and diagnostic tests, prescribing medications, and treating injuries and illnesses. You can work in several different types of healthcare facilities, like hospitals, community health centers, and university clinics.

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