Post-master’s certificate nurse practitioner online programs can lead to specialty area credentials for nurse practitioners (NPs) who hold a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree. NPs who already practice in one specialty area may want to switch or augment their focus with certification in another area, such as acute care, family nurse practice (FNP), gerontology, pediatrics, or women’s health.
Online learners can earn their NP post-master’s certificates in 1-2 years of part-time study. Designed for working NPs, the curriculum typically includes about 20 credits and 650 supervised practicum hours in the NP’s new specialty focus areas. Programs may offer scheduled synchronous online classes or asynchronous courses, along with on-campus immersions. Clinical rotations take place at local healthcare sites.
This guide and program listings provide admission and certification information, along with information to help you choose the best program for your professional goals.
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Applying to an Online Post-Master’s Nurse Practitioner Program
Applicants to an NP post-master’s certificate program typically need active, unencumbered registered nurse (RN) and advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) licensure, an MSN or a DNP from an accredited program, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and at least one year of NP experience. Some programs accept applications from graduate degree-holders in healthcare fields with prerequisite courses, such as statistics.
Required submission materials usually include transcripts, goal statements, three reference letters, and a resume. Most programs evaluate potential transfer credits and many invite candidates to interview.
Once NPs earn their post-master’s certificates, they can apply to become nationally board-certified in their new specialization. NPs must still maintain their RN license, along with their APRN license, and any previous board-certification for specialty areas in which they plan to continue practicing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a post-master's certificate worth it?
Post-master’s certificates are worth the time and effort for those seeking a change in focus, career advancement, or higher pay. Clinical NPs may discover an interest in teaching and pursue certification as nurse educators, which are in-demand. NPs who become nurse anesthetists could increase their average annual salary to around $115,800, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What is accreditation and why is it important?
Accreditation indicates high academic standards and ensures prospective students that the program can effectively prepare nurses for their careers. The two primary accrediting bodies are the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, both of which review nursing programs on a regular basis.
What is a post-master's certificate nurse practitioner?
An NP with a post-master’s certificate qualifies to apply for national board-certification in an additional specialty area. For example, post-master’s FNPs can specialize in pediatrics, or an NP who focuses on women’s health can become a certified nurse midwife. Post-master’s certificates provide opportunities to change or refine an NP’s career direction.
How long does it take to complete a post-master's nurse practitioner program?
Most NP post-master’s online certificate program enrollees continue to work full-time and study part-time. The program typically lasts 1-2 years. Full-time learners can finish sooner, particularly in self-paced programs; however, specialty area timelines may differ, depending on clinical hours, course credit requirements, and transfer credit availability.
Top Online Post-Master’s Certificate Nurse Practitioner Programs
Spokane, Washington-based Gonzaga's online post-master's certificate nurse practitioner program culminates in a second master of science in nursing (MSN) degree. Geared to working registered nurses (RNs), the program offers two tracks: family nurse practitioner (FNP) and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.
Both tracks comprise 47 credits and 660 clinical hours. The psychiatric mental health curriculum spans 10 semesters and includes online classes and five on-campus immersions. The nine-semester FNP track includes online courses and six immersions. The immersions, led by practicing faculty members, allow participation in culminating observed structured clinical evaluations. Students also complete clinical hours in person.
Admission prerequisites include an RN license, a first MSN from an accredited program, a 3.0 GPA, and residency in one of the following states: Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, California, Nevada, Utah, Alaska, Wyoming, and Arizona.
Gonzaga is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Ohio's KSU offers online nurse practitioner (NP) certificate programs in four specialty areas: adult gerontology clinical nurse specialist (19 credits); nurse educator (14 credits); nursing administration and health systems leadership (23 credits); and women's health nurse practitioner (21 credits). Coursework covers topics in the specialty area and course credits include onsite clinical practicums. KSU also offers a number of other NP certificate programs on campus.
Admission requires a graduate degree in nursing (MSN or DNP) from an accredited program, a 3.0 GPA, and an RN license from the state in which the student plans to complete their practicum hours. Applicants submit official transcripts, a resume, a 250-word goal statement, three references, and syllabi of prior courses taken for a transfer analysis.
KSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Its nursing programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Thomas Jefferson University
The post-master's certificate nurse practitioner (NP) online program at Philadelphia's Jefferson focuses on midwifery and women's health. Students can opt for full- or part-time enrollment. Courses cover topics in physiology and pathophysiology, pharmacology, and genetics, along with health assessment, postpartum care, and women's healthcare. Students participate in two on-campus intensives and onsite clinical rotations.
Applicants must hold a graduate degree from a regionally accredited school in a health-related field, including completion of a three-credit statistics course, along with RN licensure from the state in which they plan to complete their clinical work. Jefferson prefers candidates with a year of midwifery experience.
The program offers advanced placement for NPs, along with midwives who attended midwifery school outside the U.S., or licensed, certified professional midwives who graduated from a Midwifery Education Accreditation Council-accredited program in the United States. Jefferson is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
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