Online NP Programs in Wisconsin

Table of Contents

  1. Online Nurse Practitioner Programs Based in Wisconsin
  2. Wisconsin Nurse Practitioner Career Information
  3. Licensure for Nurse Practitioners in Wisconsin
  4. Other Requirements for Wisconsin Nurse Practitioners
  5. Resources for Wisconsin Nurse Practitioners
  6. Nearby States

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s (WHA) Healthcare Workforce Report, the state experienced a 150% increase in the employment of advanced practice nurses (APNs) in the last decade. Despite this growth, APN positions still rank as some of the most common openings on hospital staff.

A growing aging population in Wisconsin has created a higher demand for qualified advanced health professionals, including nurse practitioners (NPs). NPs in Wisconsin hold the authority to diagnose illnesses and prescribe medication. To work as an NP in Wisconsin, you must earn at least a master of science in nursing (MSN) and obtain the required APN certification in your specialty area from an approved credentialing body.

Our guide provides further information for registered nurses (RNs) and prospective nursing students curious about how to become APN prescribers in Wisconsin, including licensure requirements, career and salary data for the profession, and valuable resources for NP students and clinicians. Keep reading to learn more about this field and how to kickstart your career.

Online Nurse Practitioner Programs Based in Wisconsin

To earn licensure as an NP in Wisconsin, you must meet specific education requirements. The state’s board of nursing sets and regulates all education requirements for practice. Each NP in Wisconsin must hold a graduate degree in nursing from a regionally accredited college or university. Wisconsin NPs receive prescriptive authority, so the board requires prospective NPs to complete at least 45 contact hours in pharmacology and therapeutics.


NP programs in Wisconsin vary in individual requirements, program lengths, and available specializations. Generally, MSN programs require 35-45 credits, which can take 2-3 years to complete, depending on full- or part-time enrollment. Typically, online MSN programs require some in-person elements, including clinical experience, which students can complete with their current employers or elsewhere in their communities.

Common specialty options include family and primary care, adult-gerontology, acute care, pediatrics, and neonatal care. Students often select specializations as they enter their MSNs and pursue that specialty throughout the program. Upon graduating, they then take the corresponding certification exam in that specialty area.


For admission to master’s NP programs in WI, applicants must hold a valid RN license and often must possess a bachelor of science in nursing degree. Some programs may require GRE scores and CPR certification, along with a 3.0 undergraduate GPA in science and nursing courses.

Although a master’s is the minimum requirement in Wisconsin, students may earn a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree following the MSN. Some employers may prefer this degree.

Wisconsin Nurse Practitioner Career Information

The WHA anticipates the need for APNs to continue to rise in response to a shortage of physicians to care for the aging population. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for nurse practitioners to grow by 26.6% in Wisconsin from 2016-26, a rate comparable to that of neighboring states like Minnesota and Iowa. The mean annual wages for NPs in Wisconsin also compares similarly to neighboring states and the national average for this profession.

According to the 2018 Wisconsin RN survey from the Wisconsin Center for Nursing, ambulatory care settings serve as the top places of employment for NPs in the state, and the majority of NPs (52.6%) pursue a specialty in family care. In Wisconsin, 97.8% of NPs hold prescriptive authority, making these clinicians a critical part of meeting the state’s healthcare needs.



Source: BLS, Projections Central

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Licensure for Nurse Practitioners in Wisconsin

To earn licensure as an APN prescriber in Wisconsin, you must complete the following steps:

  1. Hold a current, active RN license. As a member of the nurse licensure compact (NLC), Wisconsin allows RN licenses from other compact states.

  2. Earn a graduate degree in nursing. Wisconsin requires at least a master’s, but some employers or workplaces may prefer a doctoral degree. This degree must come from a regionally accredited college or university.

  3. Earn certification from an approved certifying body for NP credentialing. Wisconsin approves several certifying bodies, each with its own requirements for certification. Generally, candidates must pass a written exam.

  4. Apply for licensure. This application includes a standard application form, an application fee, and all necessary documentation. Applicants must submit proof of their education and certification, along with evidence of completing at least 45 contact hours in clinical pharmacology in the five years before the application.

  5. Submit documentation of passing a required jurisprudence exam specifically for NPs. The exam covers topics addressed in the state nursing policy, which students may review online.

  6. Renew your license biennially. NPs in Wisconsin must complete at least 16 hours of continuing education in each two-year period, specifically focused in clinical pharmacology. At least two of these hours should emphasize prescribing controlled substances.

Other Requirements for Wisconsin Nurse Practitioners

  • APNs in Wisconsin may earn certification as a nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife, certified registered nurse anesthetist, or clinical nurse specialist. These specialties hold the same requirements, including a graduate degree in nursing and certification from an approved credentialing body in that specialty area.
  • NPs in Wisconsin must renew their licenses in September of each even-numbered year. The renewal requires submitting a renewal application, proof of continuing education, and a $73 renewal fee. If submitted late, the fee increases to $98.
  • Continuing education requirements for NPs in Wisconsin include a minimum of 16 hours in each two-year renewal period. These hours should focus on clinical pharmacology, with at least two hours addressing controlled substances.
  • In Wisconsin, NPs hold prescriptive authority for most medications. However, NPs may not prescribe any schedule I controlled substances, and their prescribing authority for schedule II substances is limited to patients with specific medical needs.
  • NPs in Wisconsin must work in collaboration with licensed physicians or dentists. The terms of this collaboration, including prescriptive authority and full scope of practice, may be determined by the NP and physician jointly. NPs who prescribe medications without any collaboration must possess specific forms of malpractice insurance.


The NLC allows nurses to hold licensure in multiple states with one license. Currently, 25 states hold membership in this compact, including Wisconsin. This cost-effective cooperative keeps licensing costs low for nurses and allows them to easily travel between states to provide valuable and in-demand care in multiple locations. The NLC specifically covers licenses for RNs and licensed practical nurses.

NPs who hold licenses from other states must apply for Wisconsin licensure like any other new applicant. This includes providing evidence of a valid, active RN license from Wisconsin or a state within the NLC, documentation of graduate education, certification, and passing the jurisprudence exam for Wisconsin NP practice. NP licenses from other states are not valid in Wisconsin, so out-of-state NPs must establish new licenses.

Prescriptive authority for NPs varies from state to state. NPs from other states may have more or less prescriptive authority upon relocating to Wisconsin.

Resources for Wisconsin Nurse Practitioners

Wisconsin Chapter of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
This organization aims to advance the practice of pediatric nurse practitioners in Wisconsin through research, collaboration, and legislative change. Members receive access to discounted conference fees and networking opportunities.

Wisconsin Nurses Association
This association represents Wisconsin’s 80,000 nurses as a registered lobbying organization that advocates for the nursing profession in the state. Members receive access to a special newsletter, free webinars, and continuing education opportunities.

Wisconsin Board of Nursing
The Wisconsin Board of Nursing establishes policy and regulates all nursing practice in the state. The board provides information on licensure requirements, scope of practice laws, and all legislation affecting nursing practice in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Center for Nursing
This organization aims to empower nurses to provide quality and competent healthcare to the people of Wisconsin. The WCN curates and distributes an annual report on nursing in the state, providing valuable data on the growth of the profession.

Wisconsin Action Coalition
This branch of the national organization partners directly with the WCN to “transform health and healthcare through nursing.” The website provides information on projects and grants underway in the state.

Nearby States

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