Nurse practitioners (NPs) who hold either a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP), and want additional certification in a specialty area can earn the appropriate credentials through an online post-master’s certificate nurse practitioner program.
MSN and DNP degree-holders with current registered nurse (RN) licenses, NP certification, and strong academic standing can add specializations to their expertise, such as acute care, adult-gerontology, mental health, pediatrics, and family nurse practice (FNP). While requirements vary by program, post-master's NP certificate programs typically require 9-25 credits and 650 supervised clinical hours.
NPs possess advanced nursing skills and serve as primary caregivers alongside physicians. As highly-trained healthcare professionals, NPs examine and diagnose illnesses and conditions, recommend treatments, and prescribe medications. NPs earn their degrees through traditional or online programs, along with direct entry, bridge, and accelerated alternative NP programs.
More job opportunities, higher pay, and rewarding work count among the benefits of pursuing a career as an NP. A post-master's certificate nurse practitioner online program can further increase salaries and career options. For example, FNPs might add a public health NP certification to their resumes and pediatric NPs might earn credentials as neonatal specialists.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the salary and job growth outlook for nurse practitioners?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, NPs can expect to earn a median annual salary of $115,800, with a 26% projected increase in jobs through 2028. NPs in California, Washington, and Hawaii fare even better, with median salaries of $138,660, $126,920, and $124,000 respectively. Mississippi boasts the highest concentration of jobs, and New York offers the highest employment levels.
What is a post-master's certificate for nurse practitioners?
Post-master's NP certificate programs provide opportunities for MSN and DNP degree-holders to pursue education and training in an additional specialty area. Once they earn their certificates, they can apply for national board certification in that focus area. Post-master's certificate programs admit those with active RN licenses, NP board certification, and high academic achievement.
How long does it take to get a post-master's certificate?
Most post-master's certificate programs take 1-2 years to complete. Students often work full-time as NPs while pursuing their certificates through part-time study. Typical requirements consist of less than 20 credit hours of coursework, along with 650 clinical hours under the supervision of an NP who practices in the student's new specialization.
No. An MSN fulfills one of the requirements for becoming an NP. Most states license NPs as advanced practice registered nurses. Additional requirements include a current RN license, national board certification in a specialty area, graduation from an accredited program, and at least 500 hours of supervised clinical experience.
Admission requirements for online post-master’s certificate programs vary by school, but they almost always include:
An unencumbered RN license
An unencumbered NP license
An MSN from an accredited school of nursing
A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
A personal statement of the student’s professional goals
Three letters of recommendation
A successful in-person or telephone interview
A resume or curriculum vitae
Additionally, some schools require applicants to submit their Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores.
Some schools offer programs designed for registered nurses who hold an MSN degree but not an NP specialization. These programs tend to require the completion of additional didactic credits and can thus take an additional semester or so to complete.
Post-master’s certificate programs usually offer a wide variety of specialty and subspecialty options. Specialty options include:
Some schools offer subspecialities. To practice in a subspecialty, students are required to take additional classes and complete extra clinical rotations. Nurse practitioner subspecialties include:
Both traditional and online post-master’s NP certificate programs are accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. (ACEN). Accreditation ensures that the program meets high standards of quality, rigor, and value. You can search for accredited programs through the CCNE and ACEN websites.
Online Post-Master’s NP Certificate 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.
Jefferson (Philadelphia University + 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.