Best Accelerated Nurse Practitioner Programs Online 2021

Best Accelerated Nurse Practitioner Programs Online 2021

Many registered nurses (RNs) choose to advance their careers by becoming nurse practitioners (NPs). NPs share many of the same duties as physicians. They meet with patients independently and earn higher salaries than RNs.

There are nearly 300,000 licensed nurse practitioners in the U.S., according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and that figure is growing rapidly. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of nurse practitioners may increase by 45% from 2019-29.

Prospective NPs must earn a master of nursing (MSN) and obtain state licensure. However, many RNs do not want to take two or more years off work to pursue a degree. Luckily for these individuals, many schools offer accelerated nurse practitioner programs online that let students graduate in as little as one year.

If an accelerated NP program appeals to you, read on for a list of the best and shortest online nurse practitioner programs.

View ranking methodology here.

Top 10 Accelerated Nurse Practitioner Programs Online

Rank School Location
1 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
2 The University of West Florida Pensacola, FL
3 Sacred Heart University Fairfield, CT
4 California State University-Dominguez Hills Carson, CA
5 Regis University Denver, CO
6 DeSales University Center Valley, PA
7 Olivet Nazarene University Bourbonnais, IL
8 The University of Texas at Arlington Arlington, TX
9 Simmons University Boston, MA
10 Concordia University-Wisconsin Mequon, WI

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The Best Accelerated Nurse Practitioner Programs Online for 2021

  1. University of Southern California

    Los Angeles, CA

    Located in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California serves roughly 46,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

    Its online MSN program prepares registered nurses with at least one year of clinical experience to serve patients as primary care providers.

    Coursework is built on an evidence-based curriculum designed for aspiring family nurse practitioners (FNPs). The program trains FNPs to offer integrative care for patients of all ages.

    Coursework covers pathophysiology, pharmacology, community-based research, and more. All coursework may be completed online, but students are also required to complete two on-campus intensives in Los Angeles during the program.

    Students enrolled full time take roughly 21 months to finish the program, while part-time students complete the program in 33 months. If enrolled full-time, this program is one of the fastest online nurse practitioner programs in the U.S.

    Applicants need a BSN from an accredited college or university and a 3.0 GPA. Transcripts also need to show a completed 3-credit course in statistics with a C grade or better.

  2. The University of West Florida

    Pensacola, FL

    Based in Pensacola, Florida, UWF offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide variety of disciplines. UWF's accelerated nurse practitioner program offers an online MSN for FNPs that prepares students for a national certification exam to receive a license as an advanced practice nurse.

    This MSN program is taught by nurse educators with direct experience in the field. With an accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), this program prepares students for an advanced career in primary care. Candidates must have a BSN from an accredited college or university.

    Coursework covers topics that range from diagnosing and evaluating a patient's health in a safe and cost-effective manner to the use of evidence-based theories to improve the general practice of nursing. FNPs graduate with the ability to effectively provide and improve current care to patients of all ages.

    The program typically lasts 27-30 months and consists of 45 credits, as well as a 600-hour practicum.

  3. Sacred Heart University

    Fairfield, CT

    A Catholic university, Sacred Heart University offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 9,000 students in Fairfield, Connecticut.

    SHU offers an online MSN-FNP degree program for registered nurses seeking to become advanced practitioners. Students learn how to diagnose various diseases and injuries, treat common illnesses, and conduct physical examinations. Coursework also includes providing health care guidance to a diverse set of patients.

    Students typically complete the 42 credit program in three years. Students can continue working while enrolling in the program either full or part-time.

    The program prepares students for national certification exams through both the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). The FNP program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Only students with a BSN degree may apply.

  4. California State University-Dominguez Hills

    Carson, CA

    Located in Los Angeles, California State University, Dominguez Hills teaches a diverse student body of 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

    CSUDH's MSN family nurse practitioner program prepares registered nurses for advanced primary care.

    Coursework consists of online meetings, occasional on-campus meetings, and 576 clinical hours in an outpatient setting. The program requires 48 credits taken over 3-4 years. Students can enroll full or part time, but CSUDH notes RNs working full-time may have difficulty completing coursework.

    Only registered nurses with at least two years of experience providing direct clinical care to patients will be considered for admission. Transcripts need to show a GPA of 3.0 or higher in the last 60 semester units enrolled in a BSN.

    CSUDH's NP program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN).

  5. Regis University

    Denver, CO

    A Catholic Jesuit university located in Denver, Colorado, Regis University offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs to its approximately 7,000 students.

    Regis offers an online MSN program for family nurse practitioners (FNPs) and a neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) program. The FNP program focuses on caring for rural and underserved communities.

    Students typically complete the 44-48 required credits in 5 or 6 semesters. Classes meet online once per week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students must also complete 630 hours of monitored clinical hours, which must be separate from a student's regular paid working hours.

    The program also requires two on-campus intensive sessions lasting up to three days. Students are advised to avoid working full-time during the last semester due to clinical hours.

    Candidates with a bachelor's degree from a NLN or AACN-CCNE accredited program with a minimum GPA of 2.75 or higher may apply. Applicants must also have an active RN license with two years of clinical practice as an RN. For NNP applications, experience in a level III or level IV NICU is preferred.

  6. DeSales University

    Center Valley, PA

    Located in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, DeSales provides a private Catholic education to just over 3,000 students.

    DeSales offers an online MSN in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP) degree to prepare BSN holders for treating diseases and managing chronic health issues in adults and older adults. The CCNE-accredited coursework will cover how to provide adequate healthcare advice to patients and to treat and prevent illnesses.

    Students can complete courses completely online or in a hybrid format. Hybrid courses meet, at most, one night a week. Students may enroll in either full- or part-time study, with full-time and part-time students completing the program in two and three years respectively.

    To graduate, students must complete 50 credits, 75 clinical laboratory hours, and 675 clinical practicum hours. Clinical requirements are completed through the university's network of approved clinical facilities in the Leigh Valley.

    All applicants must have a current BSN and an active RN license in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

  7. Olivet Nazarene University

    Bourbonnais, IL

    Based in Bourbonnais, Illinois, Olivet Nazarene University offers a Christian education to over 4,900 students.

    ONU's online MSN-FNP program prepares registered nurses for advanced practitioner roles. Coursework covers how to properly administer healthcare to individuals and families of all ages and demographics.

    FNP graduates work in clinics, community-based settings, hospitals, and more. Upon completion of the program, students that wish to teach nursing have the option of continuing on to a post-master's nursing education certificate.

    The 52 credit program also requires the completion of 720 practicum hours. Students typically complete the program in two years.

    Interested candidates must be registered nurses with a BSN and demonstrate proof of 2,000 hours of RN work experience.

  8. The University of Texas at Arlington

    Arlington, TX

    Located in Dallas-Fort Worth, the University of Texas at Arlington teaches more than 60,000 students in over 180 degree programs.

    UTA's MSN-FNP program is an online nurse practitioner program for registered nurses with a BSN in the state of Texas. Coursework covers diagnostics, health assessment, pharmacology, and more. Students must complete 720 clinical hours, intensive training in evidence-based primary care, and be mentored by a licensed nurse practitioner.

    The MSN-FNP program caters to students who must balance their education with a job, parenting, and other responsibilities by offering multiple start dates throughout the year. All coursework can be completed online, making it a good fit for working nurses with frequent overnight or on-call shifts. Most students complete the 46-credit program in 31-36 months.

    Applicants must submit official transcripts and possess an active RN license.

  9. Simmons University

    Boston, MA

    Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Simmons University enrolls 6,000 students in over 60 different majors and programs.

    Simmons' online MSN for working RNs offers registered nurses the opportunity to become a family nurse practitioner (FNP) even if they do not hold a BSN. Coursework involves extensive clinical experience, with over 800 hours required with clinical connections in Boston and across the country. Students can choose part-time, full-time, or extended enrollment options.

    All students must complete 68 credits to receive an MSN. The accelerated curriculum is typically finished in as little as 32 months.

    Applicants must hold an active RN license and an associate degree or nursing diploma. The degree also offers a partnership with a placement specialist upon graduation.

  10. Concordia University-Wisconsin

    Mequon, WI

    Located in Mequon, Concordia University Wisconsin provides a Lutheran education to over 8,000 students yearly.

    CUW's master of science in nursing program for nurse practitioners offers online courses for RNs looking to advance their careers as primary care providers. Accredited by the CCNE, coursework focuses on health policy, advanced pathophysiology and pharmacology, and more. Students may specialize as a family nurse practitioner (FNP) or an adult/gerontology primary care nurse practitioner (AGPCNP).

    Students may enroll on either a full-time or part-time basis and typically complete the 41-credit program in 3-4.5 years.

    Applicants must hold a current nursing license and CPR certification as well as a BSN with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. CUW does not accept students from certain states into the MSN program.

Applying to an Accelerated Nurse Practitioner Program Online

Admission requirements vary between MSN programs. However, all expect incoming students to possess an RN license and an undergraduate degree.

Accelerated nurse practitioner programs typically assume that candidates already hold foundational knowledge in nursing. Therefore, applicants may be expected to possess a bachelor of science (BSN) degree and even some relevant work experience. While many MSN programs consider candidates with an associate degree instead of a BSN and no work experience, these generally do not follow accelerated tracks.

Typically, applicants must submit a resume and undergraduate transcript demonstrating a relatively high GPA. Most MSN programs set the minimum GPA requirement at 2.5-3.2. Prospective students might also need to provide letters of recommendation and a personal essay.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does it take to complete an accelerated nurse practitioner program?

    Accelerated nurse practitioner programs typically last 12-20 months. Usually, accelerated programs require incoming students to possess previous work experience and a bachelor’s degree, which reduces the number of foundational or prerequisite courses that students must take. Accelerated programs also often require full-time enrollment so that students can complete their coursework quickly.

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    Just like teachers evaluate students, accreditation agencies evaluate schools and academic programs. Accredited programs offer a quality education, while unaccredited programs should appear as a red flag. Nursing students should look out for programs accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

  • Is a nurse practitioner a good job?

    NPs take on more responsibility and can work with more freedom than their RN coworkers. They also make significantly more money. According to the BLS, NPs earn a median annual salary of more than $115,000, while registered nurses enjoy median pay of about $73,300.

  • What can I do as a nurse practitioner?

    NPs can meet with and assess patients. Many states allow NPs to diagnose and prescribe medication independently. Other states require NPs to enter a collaborative or supervisory agreement with a physician in order to gain prescribe authority. NPs can also specialize in areas like women’s health, psychiatric mental health, or pediatrics.

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