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Accelerate Nurse Practitioner Programs Online

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Registered nurses (RNs) with non-nursing bachelor's degrees seeking to take their careers to another level by earning a master of science in nursing (MSN) can take advantage of accelerated MSN programs online. An MSN opens doors to nurse practitioner (NP) careers, which pay higher salaries and offer increased job opportunities.

As highly-trained specialists, NPs focus on specific patient populations, such as acute care adult-gerontology or oncology, and as pediatric NPs, family nurse practitioners (FNPs), and psychiatric NPs. As part of patients' medical teams, NPs provide primary care services, including diagnosis, treatment, and medication administration. Because of a nationwide shortage of physicians, NPs fill an important gap in healthcare.

While MSN programs typically span about two years, many online accelerated NP programs can be completed in 12-20 months. Accelerated RN-to-NP programs provide streamlined access to advanced practice nursing roles. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), NPs can expect a median annual salary of $115,800 and a 26% projected increase in jobs through 2028.

When choosing a program, students should ensure that it holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Many state licensing boards require it, as do the national organizations that confer certification in an NP's specialization area.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the quickest way to become a nurse practitioner?

The shortest online nurse practitioner programs can be completed in one year. Students should look for a 12-month FNP program online or for those in other specialty areas. Online accelerated MSN programs fast-track prerequisites for RNs, and students often graduate sooner than in other types of distance learning, such as direct entry or RN-to-MSN bridge programs.

Can you become an NP without being an RN?

No. You must become a licensed RN prior to entering an NP program. Paths to an RN license include an associate degree or diploma in nursing, or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). In addition to an RN license, many NP programs require 1-2 years of work experience as an

Are accelerated nursing programs hard to get into?

Yes, they can be difficult to get into. Accelerated RN-to-NP programs require rigorous study in order to graduate in as little as one year. While admission criteria varies by school, all tend to receive more applications than they can accommodate, and they seek to admit those who show the most promise of success.

Which nurse practitioner specialty is the highest paid?

According to the BLS, NPs working in community food and housing or emergency and other relief services earn the highest annual mean wages at $139,140. NPs specializing in public health work in community health centers, clinics, and health departments, and provide in-home and mobile services.

How long are accelerated nursing programs?

The length of an accelerated NP program depends on a student's specialization and pre-program preparation. Highly qualified students can graduate in one year. Other programs, such as those for RNs with non-nursing bachelor's degrees, might take two years to complete. Clinical experience comprises a major part of the MSN curriculum and different specialties impose varying requirements.


Admission Requirements for Accelerated Online MSN Programs


While specific admission requirements for accelerated programs vary by school, they almost always include:

  • A current, unencumbered license as a registered nurse.
  • An associate degree in nursing.
  • A non-nursing bachelor's degree.
  • A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • A personal statement that includes career goals and reasons for becoming a nurse practitioner.
  • A resume or curriculum vitae.

Some schools require the Graduate Record Exam, and some schools have specific RN-experience requirements. For example, if a learner applies for a psychiatric nurse practitioner program, the school may require previous RN psychiatric clinical experience.


Prerequisites for Accelerated MSN Programs

Most nurse practitioner schools require students to have completed prerequisite courses with at least a "B" grade. These prerequisite courses might include:


  • Statistics
  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Nutrition
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Abnormal Psychology

Some accelerated programs additionally require completion of nursing-specific courses, such as fundamentals of nursing, nursing research, health assessment, and community health nursing.


List of Accelerated Online MSN Programs

Allen College

Allen College, a private Christian institution, has prepared nurses for the workforce since 1925. Located in Waterloo, Iowa, this small college features 11 healthcare degrees, including accelerated nurse practitioner programs.

The school of nursing offers three degrees: a bachelor of science in nursing, a master of science in nursing, and a doctorate in nursing.

The mostly online master's program incorporates in-person requirements, such as a three-day residency. Students can develop specialized skills through nine tracks, including family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, and leadership in healthcare delivery. These tracks offer students the chance to complete a post-graduate certificate.

This two-year program has start dates in the fall and spring. Candidates without a bachelor's in nursing must hold an associate degree in nursing. They must also have 800 hours of clinical nursing experience and a current Iowa nursing license.

Allen College accepts out-of-state and international students, but they may need special permissions to take online classes and complete local practicum requirements.

Northern Arizona University

Opened in 1899, NAU distinguishes itself as a leader in healthcare education, featuring a nursing school that offers more than 60 years of experience in the Flagstaff community.

Students can pick from a variety of online accelerated nurse practitioner programs, including the master of science in nursing, a post-master's family nurse practitioner graduate certificate, and a doctorate in nursing. The master's program offers two tracks: generalist and family nurse practitioner.

The 30-credit master of science in nursing program includes classroom work, online courses, simulation labs, and clinical experiences. Required coursework includes pharmacology for advanced practice nurses, family nursing theory and practice, and an evidence-based capstone. The program recommends that students complete fieldwork experience.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in nursing or associate degree in nursing from an accredited college, with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and an RN license from Arizona.

Simmons University

A private college with women-focused undergraduate courses and a co-educational graduate school, Boston's Simmons University has educated nurses since 1902.

The Simmons School of Nursing offers three programs, including an RN-to-MSN, an MSN, and a doctor of nursing practice.

The online master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner program features small class sizes, live virtual courses, and cohort-based learning. The 48-credit online FNP requires students to complete at least 672 clinical hours.

Full-time students graduate in five terms, quicker than part-time learners. The curriculum covers advanced pathophysiology, research methods, leadership and management, and pharmacology.

The program suits working registered nurses who hold a bachelor's degree in nursing. The university also offers a registered nurse to master's in nursing degree for registered nurses with an associate degree or nursing diploma.

To provide greater access to healthcare education, Simmons University discounted its tuition in 2020. Students can also access about $10,000 in scholarships.

University of Alabama Birmingham

A public institution started in 1950, UAB educates more than 20,000 students a year, with an extensive catalog of programs that includes 59 master's degrees.

The university's nursing school offers several nursing pathways suitable for different students, including an MSN-NP that features nine specialties and one of the shortest online bridge MSNs for students with a non-nursing bachelor's degree looking to become an RN. Students enrolled in the bridge program can graduate in four semesters.

Topics covered in the bridge MSN include evidence-based nursing and healthcare technology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and professional leadership and role transition. While students can complete most of the coursework online through synchronous online courses, the program features on-campus intensives to provide clinical experience. By the fourth semester, students can take the NCLEX-RN to become licensed registered nurses.

To help nursing students finance their education, UAB offers around 79 scholarships.

The Ohio State University

Founded in 1914, The Ohio State University College of Nursing features an extensive list of offerings, including around 25 undergraduate and graduate nursing programs.

The program features two MSN tracks: a traditional master of science in nursing degree, and a master of science in nursing bridge program that prepares full-time students without a background in nursing to graduate within three years.

Consisting of online and on-campus coursework, the bridge program features four components: pre-licensure curriculum, a graduate core curriculum, specialty core courses, and clinical experience. Halfway through the program, students take the NCLEX-RN to become a licensed registered nurse.

The program's core courses include health policy and advocacy, pathophysiology, and advanced pharmacology. While many of the program's specialties can only be completed on-campus, distance students can choose between several specialties, such as family nurse practitioner and psychiatric mental health practitioner. The program's 2-4 semesters of clinical requirements provide students with experience and the hours necessary for certification.

University of South Alabama

Established in 1963, USA features more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs that emphasize practical research opportunities and personalized learning experiences.

One of the most affordable accelerated NP programs, the USA College of Nursing's accelerated BSN/MSN program provides students with a direct pathway to become a registered nurse.

The curriculum, designed for students without a bachelor's degree in nursing, takes 12 months to complete. Students earn specialties in topics like nursing informatics, nursing administration, neonatal nurse practitioner, and pediatric primary care nurse practitioner. By graduation, students can take the NCLEX-RN.

The program includes three online master of science in nursing classes, including pharmacology for advanced practice nurses, the physio-pathological basis of advanced nursing, and an advanced nursing assessment.

Students can start in January or July. Prior to starting the program, learners must complete a pre-professional component that takes about 12 months.


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