Accelerated Nurse Practitioner Programs Online

Accelerated Nurse Practitioner Programs Online

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The increasing need for healthcare services across the nation has led to expanding roles for nurse practitioners (NPs). NPs, who must hold a master’s degree to practice, provide many of the same services as physicians, with over 69% delivering primary patient care. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a 45% projected job growth from 2019-29 for all NPs. Accelerated NP programs provide the fastest route to employment in this high-paying nursing career.

While the terminology used to describe these degrees and prerequisites may differ by school, accelerated online NP programs take less time and require fewer credits than traditional formats. Accelerated RN-to-NP programs accept applicants who have a bachelor’s in a non-nursing field but hold an RN license. Other schools offer accelerated formats, also known as direct-entry or second-degree programs, for students without a BSN or an RN license.

Before enrolling in any accelerated program, prospective NP students should carefully research admission and credit requirements.

Top 6 Accelerated Nurse Practitioner Programs Online

Rank School Location
1 Allen College Waterloo, IA
2 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ
3 Simmons University Boston, MA
4 University of Alabama-Birmingham Birmingham, AL
5 Ohio State University Columbus, OH
6 University of South Alabama Mobile, AL
View ranking methodology here.
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Top Accelerated Nurse Practitioner Programs Online 2020

  1. Allen College

    Waterloo, IA

    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.

  2. Northern Arizona University

    Flagstaff, AZ

    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.

  3. Simmons University

    Boston, MA

    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.

  4. University of Alabama-Birmingham

    Birmingham, AL

    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.

  5. Ohio State University

    Columbus, OH

    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.

  6. University of South Alabama

    Mobile, AL

    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.

Applying to an Accelerated Nurse Practitioner Program Online

Admission requirements differ depending on the accelerated program format. Some programs restrict admission to students who already hold a valid RN license or a nursing background, while others accept students with non-nursing undergraduate majors. Students applying to accelerated RN-to-NP programs need to complete prerequisites in anatomy and physiology, nutrition, microbiology, statistics, and human growth and development.

Accelerated NP programs generally require a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, two to three letters of recommendation, a personal statement describing career goals, and a resume that documents any relevant nursing work experience or volunteer activities in healthcare settings. Because of their quick pace and rigorous format, many online accelerated NP programs require minimum scores on the GRE.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

    The length of time to complete an accelerated NP program depends on the number of prerequisites, the specialization, and enrollment status. The shortest online nurse practitioner program may take as little as one year to complete. For example, students interested in obtaining a family nurse practitioner specialization may pursue a 12-month FNP program

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    The Council for Higher Education Accreditation authorizes accrediting agencies to ensure a school’s academic quality. Employers and graduate schools prefer applicants who graduate from these regionally accredited institutions. Nursing programs also receive programmatic accreditation. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing accredit the best NP programs. Some programs also seek additional specialized accreditation.

  • Is a nurse practitioner a good job?

    NPs earn some of the highest salaries in the nursing profession and can expect expanding employment opportunities from 2019-29. Earning an NP degree takes less time and costs less than an M.D. while preparing graduates for many of the same roles and responsibilities.

  • What can I do as a nurse practitioner?

    NPs work with specific patient populations, such as infants, children and adolescents, the elderly, women, and cardiac patients. The majority find positions in physicians’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers, while others work independently. NPs hold prescriptive authority in all fifty states and the District of Columbia; they can order and evaluate medical tests and diagnose and treat health problems.

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