Online Nurse Practitioner Programs in Missouri

Sponsored Schools

Some registered nurses (RNs) in the Show-Me State decide to become nurse practitioners (NPs) for several good reasons. NPs can provide a greater degree of care to their patients with relative autonomy and have the option to specialize in different fields, including women’s health, pediatrics, and adult-gerontology, among others. Additionally, this career is both high-paying and shows significant promise for growth in coming years. To the first point, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2016) reported that the 67,920 RNs in Missouri (MO) made an annual average salary of $60,830, while the 3,900 NPs enjoyed a mean salary of $93,140. To the second point, Projections Central (Dec. 2016) anticipated a 24.8 percent increase in NP openings across Missouri between 2014 and 2024, significantly more robust than the 7 percent average increase expected across all occupations during that time period.

To work as a nurse practitioner—one of several positions in advanced practice nursing (APRN)—a person in MO must achieve at least a master of science in nursing (MSN), which is one of the prerequisites for eligibility to become nationally and locally certified. Some choose instead to pursue a doctor of nursing practice (DNP), the terminal degree in the discipline, which may set up an NP to work in academia or as a manager in the MO healthcare industry. It’s worth noting that organizations such as American Association of Colleges of Nursing (April 2016) have called for the adoption of the DNP as the new standard of training in the discipline. This hasn’t yet been implemented formally as criteria for national certification or state APRN licensure in MO, although this could change in coming years.

Following credentialing, these professionals can tap into local associations which offer support in the industry, including the Association of Missouri Nurse Practitioners (AMNP). The AMNP provides continuing education (CE) opportunities, an active job board, legal advocacy for issues in the field, networking events, and other resources.

While some aspiring NPs in Missouri choose to attend traditional on-campus graduate nursing programs, others may find it more convenient to attend one of many online NP programs in MO. These programs may be ideal for residents of more remote regions of the state as well as those who would like to keep their jobs while pursuing an advanced online degree. Distance-based NP programs generally combine online coursework with clinical experiences through approved preceptor sites close to a student’s home. These programs continue to gain traction and popularity for several reasons: not only are they becoming more standardized and widespread throughout the US, but as the demand for healthcare services continues to increase nationwide with the aging of the Baby Boomers, so too does the need for trained NPs.

This guide explores how to become an nurse practitioner, including the array of accredited online NP programs in MO and details about professional credentialing in the field.

How to Become an NP in Missouri?

The path to becoming an NP in MO varies, but generally includes the attainment of both undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing from accredited institutions; getting certification from one of several, specialized national organizations; and achieving state APRN licensure.

Here is one possible route to become a Missouri nurse practitioner:

  • 1

    STEP 1: Complete an Undergraduate Degree (2-4 years)

    To begin, individuals who aspire to become an NP must first obtain their undergraduate degree. The Missouri State Board of Nursing reports that this is a prerequisite for eligibility to become a registered nurse (RN), which is necessary to become a nurse practitioner. Students should consider pursuing either a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or an associate degree in nursing (ADN). It’s worth noting that with rare exception, the majority of online NP programs—including all of the MO-based schools—require candidates to have at least a BSN prior to entry. This is because the longer degree program fulfills some of the clinical training hours and typical NP program course prerequisites, including anatomy & physiology; statistics; and microbiology, among others. The MO BoN provides a list of qualifying undergraduate programs to sit for the NCLEX-RN; additionally, prospective NPs in MO and beyond should seek out nursing programs accredited by one of two national organizations: the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. (ACEN). Generally, a bachelor’s degree in nursing will take approximately four full-time years to complete, while an associate degree will take two years, although individual experiences may vary.

  • 2

    STEP 2: Earn RN Licensure in MO & Accrue Nursing Experience (1-2 years)

    Upon completion of an undergraduate nursing degree, an aspiring NP must then pass the NCLEX-RN examination in order to become licensed as an RN in the state. Prior to getting the opportunity to sit for the exam, candidates must submit the following to the MO Board of Nursing:

    • Completed, signed, and notarized application;
    • A 2”x2” signed photograph; and
    • A non-refundable fee of $45, made payable to the Missouri State Board of Nursing

    Also, those interested in pursuing a graduate degree in nursing will likely be required to have at least one year of nursing experience, preferably in one’s intended NP specialty such as women’s health, neonatal care, or another field.

  • 3

    STEP 3: Complete a Graduate NP Education (2-4+ years)

    After completing an undergraduate degree, obtaining licensure as an RN, and subsequently attaining a year of nursing experience, an aspiring NP should continue by pursuing a graduate degree from a CCNE- or ACEN-accredited institution. As mentioned above, there are generally two degree options: a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctorate of nursing (DNP), both of which may qualify the person for national certification and regional APRN licensure. At this phase, there are six main NP specializations to pursue: adult-gerontology (primary or acute care), pediatrics (primary or acute care), women’s health, family health, psychiatric-mental health, and neonatal care. In addition to around 500 clinical hours, MSN programs generally involve courses such as health promotion & disease prevention; pathophysiology; nursing theory; and advanced health assessment. DNP programs include approximately 1,000 clinical hours and leadership-focused coursework in population-based & global health; healthcare economics; law & ethics in healthcare delivery; and advanced research study design, among others.

  • 4

    STEP 4: Achieve National NP Certification (up to 1 year)

    This step in the process will vary depending on the NP’s intended specialization, but typically involves sending one’s official NP program transcripts and passing a comprehensive examination. There are various national certifying bodies for NPs such as the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), the National Certification Corporation (NCC), the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) Certification Board, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), and the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB).

    To learn in depth about how to join any of the six major NP specializations enumerated above and more, check out the ‘specializations’ section on the online nurse practitioner programs page.

  • 5

    STEP 5: Obtain Licensure as a Nurse Practitioner (up to 1 year)

    After an aspiring NP has obtained a graduate degree and has met all other criteria necessary to become an APRN in Missouri, he or she must submit an application for a ‘Document of Recognition’ through the Missouri State Board of Nursing. This requires the submission of a completed, notarized application; a fee ($150); an authorization to release confidential information; a copy of one’s national certification; and proof of RN licensure.

Admission Requirements to Online NP Programs

Here is a basic overview of requirements that aspiring NPs will likely face applying to online programs in Missouri:

  • Undergraduate requirements

    All aspiring NPs in Missouri must first complete an undergraduate degree. As stated above, a majority of online NP programs—including all options in MO—require applicants to possess at least a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) from an accredited institution, which includes several qualifying courses such as statistics, microbiology, and anatomy. It’s worthy of note that the University of Missouri offers an accelerated RN-to-BSN option, also known as a ‘BSN completion program,’ but this is offered primarily on campus.

  • GPA and test scores

    St. Louis University requires applicants to have at least a 3.25 GPA in their undergraduate coursework, although most online MSN programs call for at least a 3.0. For prospective NP students in MO who don’t meet this requirement, some online institutions offer alternative methods of evaluation, including the evaluation of a clinical practice portfolio or the submission of additional test scores.

  • Other common admissions requirements

    Additionally, applications to online NP programs in Missouri typically require a personal statement or essay of purpose; letters of recommendation from professors or employers; a resume or CV; and proof of immunizations or health insurance. Some applicants may also be asked for a candidate interview or proof of having achieved additional certifications (e.g., Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support, CPR, etc.), depending on one’s intended specialty.

Missouri Online NP Program Accreditation

The Missouri State Board of Nursing provides a list of approved schools that offer nursing degrees in the state, a number of which offer online graduate degrees as well. Anyone who hopes to have a successful career as an NP in Missouri should highly consider applying to one of these institutions.

It’s worth noting that many online NP programs ask applicants to have completed an undergraduate programs from a school with accreditation from one of two aforementioned entities: the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. (ACEN). The program-approval process weighs several factors in its accreditation process such as quality of program facilities; curriculum standards; and student outcomes, among other variables. Fortunately for those in MO, all programs that award online graduate degrees are CCNE-accredited.


Influential Missouri Nurse Practitioner Professors in Online Programs

Dr. Helen W. Lach
Ph.D., RN, CNL, FGSA, FAAN St. Louis University St. Louis, MO

Dr. Helen Lach teaches various courses at St. Louis University such as gerontological nursing, health promotion, disease prevention, and disease self-management. Her primary research interest is how falling and injuries affect older adults. She has a number of impressive co-authoring credits to her name, including the ‘Changing the Practice of Physical Restraint Use in Acute Care,’ published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing (2016).

Missouri Online Nurse Practitioner Schools

  • Graceland UniversityCampus Location: Independence, MO

    Graceland University, located in Independence, offers both on online MSN and post-master’s certificate with a family nurse practitioner track for aspiring NPs in Missouri. The school also offers an online RN-to-MSN bridge program for those applicants with an associate degree in nursing (ADN) who want to advance directly to a master's degree and become nurse practitioners. Finally, recently Graceland introduced an additional online MSN program with an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (AGACNP) specialization.

    Graceland was established in 1895, and the school of nursing became the sixth academic area of the school in 1969. Since then, the university has been preparing students at the undergraduate and graduate level to succeed in the field of nursing. Indeed, in recent years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked the online graduate nursing programs among the top 10 in the nation.

  • Maryville UniversityCampus Location: St. Louis, MO

    Maryville University, located in St. Louis, offers numerous options for online graduate nursing students. Students here may pursue a fully online MSN degree, post-master’s certificate, or DNP with a nurse practitioner track. Available NP specializations include pediatric care, psychiatric-mental health, adult-gerontological care, and family care.

    A number of honors have been bestowed upon Maryville University recently. For one, U.S. News & World Report named Maryville University the No. 1 Overperforming University in the nation in both 2013 and 2014, and the school’s online graduate nursing programs were included in the U.S. News & World Reportlist of Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs.

  • St. Louis UniversityCampus Location: St. Louis, MO

    St. Louis University provides three different types of online graduate nursing programs: a DNP, a post-master’s certificate, and an MSN degree. Furthermore, five specializations exist in the school of nursing: adult-gerontological primary care, adult-gerontological acute care, family care, pediatric primary care, and family psychiatric-mental health. The school offers both an MSN-to-DNP and a BSN-to-DNP bridge program, as well.

    The school is known for delivering high-quality education and preparing students for success. Indeed, in 2016, 92.6 percent of undergraduate nursing students passed the NCLEX – a rate nine points higher than the national average. Furthermore, in 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked the MSN-NP program number 35 in their Best Online Master’s in Nursing survey.

  • University of Missouri—Kansas CityCampus Location: Kansas City, MO

    The University of Missouri—Kansas City (UMKC) offers an online master of science in nursing (MSN) degree for aspiring nurse practitioners. Available NP specializations include women’s health, pediatric care, neonatal care, family care, and adult-gerontological care. The school also offers online DNP programs and post-master’s certificate programs.

    The University of Missouri-Kansas City partners with a number of organizations in the community, including St. Luke’s Hospital, Truman Medical Center, VNA of Kansas City, Children’s Mercy Hospital and Health System, and the VA of Kansas City, among others. In addition, the school was ranked among the top 20 online graduate schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, ahead of all other public universities in both Kansas and Missouri.

  • University of Missouri—Columbia (Blended NP Programs)Campus Location: Columbia, MO

    Students at University of Missouri—Columbia, ‘Mizzou’, can pursue a blended (on campus combined with online instruction) DNP in three different NP specialties, including: family care, family psychiatric & mental health, and pediatric care. According to the website, full-time study can be completed in four years, while part-time study may take five to six; students must also complete 1,000 clinical hours at preceptor sites located close to their homes. Additionally, aspiring NPs in this program must complete a minimum of 72-74.5 credit hours of graduate coursework in areas such as evidence-based practice; improvement of healthcare outcomes; and organizational & systems leadership, among others. The blended online DNP programs require about one campus visit (lasting 1-3 days) per semester. Impressively, graduates of these programs boast 100 percent employment within one year of graduation.

    • Purdue University GlobalCampus Location: St. Louis, MO

      Purdue University Global located in St. Louis, offers several online advanced nurse practitioner degrees. To be sure students can pursue fully online post-master's certificates and MSN degrees in family care and adult gerontology primary care. In addition, an MSN in adult gerontology acute care is almost completely online with one 2.5-day campus intensive in Indianapolis, IN. The campus in St. Louis holds classes for other degrees, but not the advanced nursing degrees. Students can take advantage of student services at the campus, however, including financial aid services, admissions counseling, tutoring services, a lounge, and the like. Clinicals for all degrees are completed at an approved facility local to the student's area of residence.

      A number of honors have been bestowed upon Maryville University recently. For one, U.S. News & World Report named Maryville University the No. 1 Overperforming University in the nation in both 2013 and 2014, and the school’s online graduate nursing programs were included in the U.S. News & World Reportlist of Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs.

      Lastly, there is a range of other quality online NP programs available in other states which are open to MO-based students. To learn about distance-based MSN, post-master’s certificates, and DNP programs across all specializations, check out the online NP schools page.

Complete List Of Online NP Programs In Missouri

Degree Level
School Type

Preceptorships & Licensure for MO Nurse Practitioners

While preceptor hours aren’t required to pursue APRN licensure in MO, all graduate NP programs—including distance-based ones—require preceptorship hours. These generally range from 500 (MSN) to 1,000 (DNP). Furthermore, national NP certification organizations also require NPs to have at least 500 hours of clinical experience in their specialization. As such, aspiring NPs should perform adequate research on the requirements for their specialty area before making any final decisions.

Finally, those interested in becoming an NP should also note that Missouri is considered a ‘restricted practice’ state according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (2017). This means that ‘state practice and licensure law restrict the ability of a nurse practitioner to engage in at least one element of NP practice.’ Furthermore, the ‘state requires supervision, delegation, or team-management by an outside health discipline in order for the NP to provide patient care.’ Above all, while NPs in MO exercise relatively less professional autonomy, this may change in coming years with the increasing adoption of the DNP and lobbying efforts to grant NPs full practice authority across all US states.