Best Online Nurse Practitioner (NP) Programs 2021

Best Online Nurse Practitioner (NP) Programs 2021

Nurse practitioners (NPs) work hectic schedules, seeing three or more patients an hour and writing up to 20 prescriptions a day. The job offers challenges but also rewards. NPs rank among the top earning nurses in the field. NPs make a median annual wage of $115,800 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The field also provides security with a continued demand for qualified NPs. The BLS projects that from 2019-2029 jobs for NPs could grow by 45%, with employers adding 110,700 NP positions.

RN-to-MSN online programs let working nurses find the time to go to school. Programs require about 2-3 years to complete — longer if students pursue a specialization or study part time. Concentrations in clinical nurse leadership, nursing education, and public health let students study toward their career interests.

Begin your journey to become an NP by reviewing this guide on how to apply for the best online nurse practitioner programs.

View ranking methodology here.

Top Online Nurse Practitioner (NP) Programs

Rank School Location
1 Texas A & M University-College Station College Station, TX
2 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
3 George Washington University Washington, DC
4 Georgia College & State University Milledgeville, GA
5 Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA
6 Sacred Heart University Fairfield, CT
7 Samford University Birmingham, AL
8 Winona State University Winona, MN
9 DeSales University Center Valley, PA
10 Maryville University of Saint Louis Saint Louis, MO
  1. Texas A & M University-College Station

    College Station, TX



    Texas A & M's online master of science in nursing-family nurse practitioner program is open to state residents with a BS in nursing and a current Texas RN license. The program emphasizes prevention through health promotion, risk reduction, and health condition management.

    The full-time RN-to-FNP program spans six semesters over two years. Part-time learners study for eight semesters over two years, plus an additional fall and spring term.

    Prospective students should demonstrate a minimum GPA of 3.0, both cumulative and for their last 60 hours of undergraduate study. Applicants must also have completed an elementary statistics class with a "C" grade or higher.

    While the MSN-FNP program is presented largely online, students must complete an orientation session on campus, 45 clinical hours, and one or two on site components for particular courses. With faculty approval, candidates may fulfill the clinical practice requirement in their local community.

    The program's digital campus includes access to an online library and virtual student services. All nursing students are eligible for academic advising services, including assistance with accessing learning resources.

  2. University of Southern California

    Los Angeles, CA



    Presented through USC's School of Social Work Department of Nursing, this online nurse practitioner program features a family nurse practitioner specialization. Grounded in foundational social work theories and principles, the curriculum addresses social, environmental, and physical aspects of health.

    Students may enroll in the RN-to-FNP program on a part- or full-time basis. The full-time program lasts for five semesters and the part-time program takes eight, requiring 21-33 months in total. Candidates complete two intensives at USC's Los Angeles campus and perform clinical placements in their own communities.

    Classes are presented live and coursework is available online 24/7. All classes are limited to 12 participants. Learners enjoy online access to course materials and a career success team for assistance in career development.

    Applicants must hold a BSN or MSN degree, an RN license, and at least one year of clinical experience. Prospective students should also demonstrate a 3.0 GPA or better and a "C" grade or higher in a three-credit college-level statistics course.

  3. George Washington University

    Washington, DC



    GWU's online MSN-NP adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner program trains students to care for critically ill patients ages 13 and older, and to support patients' families. The program strives to develop fast-paced critical thinking skills required in acute care settings.

    Most of the RN-to-MSN courses are available online. However, candidates must travel to GWU's Washington, D.C. campus for intensives and certain exams, including a skills assessment at the end of the program.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in nursing, an active and unencumbered nursing license, and at least one year of clinical experience. The university also recommends that learners boast a GPA of at least 3.0. There are some restrictions on applicants from certain states. For the most recent information, please review the program's FAQ.

    Students in the online NP program can take advantage of academic and career services, including academic advising, online library services, programs and benefits for veterans, peer mentoring, and writing assistance.

  4. Georgia College & State University

    Milledgeville, GA



    Based in Milledgeville, GC offers a primarily online RN-to-FNP program that includes a four-day in-person onboarding session. During onboarding, candidates meet faculty, staff, and fellow students as they learn about the program and services available to students. The advanced assessment course includes a week-long in-person lab component, and other courses include brief on-campus sessions.

    Featuring both synchronous and asynchronous modules, the program is available on a full-time basis (six semesters) or part time (nine semesters). Learners must complete their studies within seven years and maintain at least a 3.0 average GPA. If a student receives a

    "C" or lower grade in a clinical class, they must repeat the class. Candidates take a comprehensive written examination in their final semester. Students must complete their clinical rotation hours in Georgia.

    Prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree in nursing, a current unencumbered Georgia nursing license, at least one year of clinical experience, and at least a 2.75 GPA for the last 60 hours of their nursing program.

    Students enjoy access to programming and services from the Career Center, including virtual practice interviews, and access to online services from the university library.

  5. Duquesne University

    Pittsburgh, PA



    Pittsburgh-based Duquesne's adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner program is ideal for busy professionals seeking an RN-to-NP program with minimal on-campus requirements.

    Learners are placed in cohorts of 12-15 individuals for the three-year, 12-course program's duration. Students attend three on-campus visits, while the rest of the program is presented online. The curriculum includes a four-course clinical sequence and classes on evidence-based practice, health promotion, and ethics.

    Each student is assigned a faculty mentor and can work with a team of advisors who assist with enrollment, academics, and career services. All students enjoy free tutoring and mentoring services, including access to a writing center. Career Center services include resume and application review and career counseling.

    Applicants should hold a BSN in nursing from an accredited program with a 3.0 or higher GPA, a current and unencumbered nursing license, and at least one year of experience as an RN by the time they enlist in clinical courses. They should also have completed at least one course in statistics with a "C" or higher.

  6. Sacred Heart University

    Fairfield, CT



    SHU's online family nurse practitioner program emphasizes what the university calls "the human journey," a holistic approach to patient care that integrates concepts from other disciplines. The largely asynchronous structure is designed for flexibility, making it ideal for prospective NPs with work or family commitments. All coursework in the RN-to-FNP program is available online.

    While students must complete a clinical placement, this component does not have to take place on campus. The program takes a minimum of two years and six months to complete, and students may take up to six years to graduate. The curriculum consists of three core courses, seven specialized courses, and 550 clinical hours that span three semesters.

    Applicants should hold a BSN in nursing from an accredited program with at least a 3.2 GPA and a current and unencumbered nursing license. They must also hold liability insurance valid in their state and pass a criminal background check. Applicants' undergraduate coursework must have included a statistics course and at least 30 hours in health assessment.

  7. Samford University

    Birmingham, AL



    Samford's online family nurse practitioner program claims a pass rate of nearly 100 percent on the FNP national certification exam. While the curriculum includes three campus visits, learners can complete the required 660 clinical hours in their own communities.

    The six-semester program starts in the spring of each year and the five-semester accelerated option starts in the fall. Candidates may seamlessly transition into Samford's doctor of nursing practice program without reapplying.

    Students can take advantage of career development resources, including a free job board, along with online library services like research guidance from librarians.

    Individuals applying to the online FNP program must hold a current and unencumbered nursing license and a BSN in nursing from an accredited program, along with a GPA of at least 3.0. Applicants must also have completed a research course in nursing with at least a "C" grade and a health assessment course with at least a "B" grade. Students from some states may not be eligible for admission; all prospective students should review the state-specific admission requirements.

  8. Winona State University

    Winona, MN



    Minnesota-based WSU's online NP programs include specialty programs such as adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (AGACNP), family nurse practitioner (FNP), and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP).

    Admission requirements for each speciality vary. Candidates applying to the online nurse practitioner program need a BSN with a 3.0 GPA, a current nursing license, and a recommended minimum one year of clinical nursing experience. These applicants must also complete an undergraduate course in nursing research and statistics and an undergraduate course in physical assessment.

    Clinical courses typically require a Minnesota state nursing license. Applicants for the post-master degree program must be MSN-holders who have completed graduate-level courses in related leadership topics and in statistics and a recommended minimum of one year clinical experience in a role requiring an MSN degree. They should demonstrate a GPA of 3.0 or higher and a valid nursing license.

    Students with an MSN can complete the DNP program in either two or three years. BSN-holders can graduate in three or four years.

  9. DeSales University

    Center Valley, PA



    DeSales offers an online adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (AGACNP) program, along with hybrid and traditional versions. The full-time program lasts for two calendar years and the part-time program requires three years. The curriculum includes 13 courses, a capstone portfolio, 75 clinical laboratory hours, and 675 clinical practicum hours.

    Graduate students enjoy access to an online library and DeSales' Career Development Center. They can also join student organizations like the Honor Society of Nursing and Sigma Theta Tau International Mu Omicron Chapter.

    Prospective students must hold a BSN degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher, a Pennsylvania nursing license, a New Jersey state nursing license, and 12 months of active clinical nursing experience in the last three years.

  10. Maryville University of Saint Louis

    Saint Louis, MO



    Maryville's online NP program offers five NP specialties: family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner; pediatric (primary care) nurse practitioner, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. These programs do not require on-campus study, and students can complete their clinical hours in their local communities.

    All RN-to-MSN programs require 29 core credit hours consisting of core nursing and NP courses. Each concentration requires an additional 12-21 credit hours.

    Applicants must hold a BSN from an accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 3.0, a valid nursing license, and at least one year of clinical nursing experience. Applicants receive assistance from a personal enrollment advisor and, as students, enjoy access to a personal student support advisor, a writing studio, online library services, tech support, and online tutoring. Maryville's Online Life Coach Team provides further online resources for students, including career services.

Top Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

Applying to an Online Nurse Practitioner Program

Nurses arrive at online nurse practitioner programs at different points in their careers. Most prospective NPs hold a bachelor’s in nursing and 1-2 years of nursing experience when they apply for an RN-to-MSN online program.

Every school sets specific admission requirements, including a minimum GPA. Applicants typically need to hold a minimum 2.75-3.0 GPA and a valid RN license. Additionally, students must have graduated from programs accredited by the National League for Nursing or Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredited programs.

When candidates submit their applications, they also need to include personal statements, official transcripts, resumes, and letters of recommendation. Sometimes schools want applicants to complete prerequisite courses, such as statistics, prior to beginning a program.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does it take to become a nurse practitioner?

    The entire process of becoming an NP takes up to eight years, including earning a four-year bachelor’s in nursing degree. BSN degree-holders work as nurses, earning 1-2 years of experience and spending the time to obtain a license before they take the last step to becoming an NP, which requires 2-4 years of graduate school.

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    The CCNE and Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing accredit online NP programs. For students, attending accredited online nurse practitioner programs ensures the quality of their education. Similarly, hospitals want recruits from accrediting online nurse practitioner programs to ensure that the NP has the skills to perform their job.

  • Is a nurse practitioner a good job?

    Yes, NP positions offer good opportunities in terms of pay scale and rewards. NPs deliver nursing services in specialized areas, such as geriatrics and pediatrics. The highest earning nurse practitioners work in state, local, and private hospitals where they earn a median annual salary of $122,420.

  • What can I do as a nurse practitioner?

    NPs enjoy relative independence in their working environments, whether they find jobs in mental health, pediatric health, or geriatric health. They can prescribe medications in all 50 states. In their jobs, NPs work alongside doctors and healthcare providers. Many — nearly 89.7% — hold certifications in a specialty area of primary care.

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