7+ Best Online NP Programs + CCNE Accredited

Nurses work with patients, construct medical histories and strategize healthcare options, liaise between doctors and specialists to connect patients and families with appropriate care, and instruct patients on post-visit therapies. In short, nurses serve as the backbone of modern healthcare, and they often stand at the forefront of innovation and personalized assistance.

The chief distinction between a registered nurse (RN) and a nurse practitioner (NP) is responsibility. While RNs work in hospitals and clinics, assist physicians, and gain entry into a range of medical fields, NPs earn the right to independent, decision-making positions, whether in anesthesiology, midwifery, gerontology, or pediatrics and neonatal care. As a result, the difference in median wages between an RN and an NP amounts to over $40,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) — with RNs earning an average of $70,000 and NPs an average of $110,930. The differences in career growth and earning potential alone make the transition to NP a valuable professional move.

Best Online Nurse Practitioner Programs


#1 Georgetown University

georgetown logoGeorgetown University’s online MS in Nursing program will prepare you to lead change in your community as a nurse practitioner. Complete your degree in as few as 19 months to pursue certification in an advanced practice specialty area. RN and BSN required.

Advance your career with one of the following programs:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

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#2 Simmons School of Nursing and Health

SimmonsSHHS-2u (1)Designed for licensed registered nurses (RNs), [email protected] delivers the renowned nursing degree programs of the Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences (SNHS) in an innovative, online format.

[email protected]’s online program include:

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) — Family Nurse Practitioner (for bachelor’s degree holders)
  • RN to MSN — Family Nurse Practitioner (for non-bachelor’s degree holders)
  • Post-BS/BA to DNP (for bachelor’s degree holders)
  • Post-MSN to DNP (for MSN degree holders)

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#3 Maryville University

200x100_maryvilleuniversityHighly Recommended & 100% Fully Online! Study for your degree online with Maryville University. They offer Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs that can be completed 100% online. Online learning gives you flexibility to fit your studies into your busy life. You’ll be able to access classes anytime and from anywhere with internet access. Class sizes are small to enhance learning and ensure personal attention is given to the students. Designed for active nurses, the program teaches advanced skills and provides opportunities for clinical research focused on helping to improve your practice’s quality of care and patient outcomes.

  • Campus: St. Louis, Missouri or 100% Online
  • Type: Private, Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: CCNE/NLNAC
  • Tuition: Inquire
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 18 months (30 credits)
  • Degree Requirements: MSN, Advanced Practice Nurse certification, GPA of 3.5, letters of recommendation, essay and interview
  • Programs: DNP – Family Nurse Practitioner, DNP – Adult-Geriatric Nurse Practitioner and DNP
  • Rankings: Online Graduate Nursing Programs were named to the roster of U.S. News & World Report Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs.’Forbes and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazines consistently rank Maryville as a top private school. Kiplinger’s has named Maryville to its list of 100 best values in private colleges and universities for the past two years. Forbes has named Maryville to its “Best Colleges” list for the past three years.

#5 Clarkson College

Clarkson College offers a variety of online learning experiences for nurses, including two nurse practitioner programs at the graduate level. These programs allow for a majority of online learning which is convenient and flexible for students who are working while attending school.

  • Campus: Omaha, NE
  • Type: Online
  • Accreditation: the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
  • Tuition: $497 per credit hour
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 2-3 years
  • Degree Requirements: 38-73 semester hours
  • Programs: Family Nurse Practitioner, Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

#6 Albany State University

Albany State provides education to a multitude of industries, including online nursing courses for nurse practitioners. The academics provided through this institution includes a majority of online learning, although some practical applications may be required.

  • Campus: Albany, GA
  • Type: Online
  • Accreditation: The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $4,512 for in state students and $16,416 for out of state students
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 2-3 years
  • Degree Requirements: 80 credits with a B grade average or higher
  • Programs: Master of Science in Nursing
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

#7 Angelo State University

Angelo State University provides a Master of Science nursing track through online learning resources. This program allows for minimal attendance requirements, with some additional clinical training completed through the city of residence for each student within the state of Texas.

  • Campus: San Angelo, TX
  • Type: Online
  • Accreditation: The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Tuition: $5,464.60 per year
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 2-3 years
  • Degree Requirements: 39 credit hours and a 3.0 GPA
  • Programs: Master of Science in Nursing
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

#8 Ball State University

Ball State University has been offering online graduate study programs in nursing since 1999 and is recognized as a front runner in online education. The majority of the coursework throughout the MSN program is online, with a small practical portion to complete as well.

  • Campus: Muncie, IN
  • Type: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
  • Tuition: $17,220 for in state students and $29,136 for out of state students.
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 3-6 years with 1-2 courses per semester, making a full-time program 9 semester hours.
  • Degree Requirements: 50 credits plus additional clinical hours
  • Programs: Master of Science in Nursing with a focus on Gerontology and FPN
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid


Online Nurse Practitioner Programs: An Overview

No matter the program you pursue, all schools require a similar application process. Schools offer different specializations, including women’s health, pediatrics, psychiatry, gerontology, and anesthesiology. Consider the following criteria as you search for the right program.

 

 

Admission Requirements for an Online Nurse Practitioner Program

Most online nurse practitioner programs expect applicants to hold either an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing and a state RN license in good standing. Some schools offer NP degrees to nonspecialist applicants but may require you to complete courses such as statistics and biology. Standard application requirements include transcripts proving a minimum 3.0 GPA, a professional resume with clinical experience, and a personal statement explaining your reasons for pursuing the degree. Some schools also require GRE or GMAT scores.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Nurse Practitioner Program?

The length of your online nurse practitioner program depends on multiple factors. For those with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and an RN license, an NP degree typically takes one to two years, depending on the accelerated speed of the program. With an associate degree and RN experience, the length is typically three years, and nonspecialists programs usually require four or five years total.

Some of the variations in speed depend on the format of coursework available and the personal commitments of the participant. An asynchronous program, or an individual-pace curriculum, increases flexibility by allowing you to access and submit assignments and coursework around your busy schedule. Students with family or work commitments find this format ideal. A cohort program offers classes with set deadlines and degree benchmarks, which can keep students on track.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Nurse Practitioner Degree

Family Nurse Practitioner
Provide care to families and communities as a family nurse practitioner. While independent practicing depends largely on state legislation, 24 states in the U.S. allow nurse practitioners to work independently, inspecting patients, writing prescriptions, and monitoring patient progress. Following the degree, nurses sit for the family nurse practitioner board certification administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Careers this concentration prepares for: Independent practice in your local community, Pediatric clinic, General practice medicine

 

Psychiatric Mental-Health Nurse Practitioner
These professionals work with patients and families to provide psychiatric and physiological analysis and care for those suffering with mental disorders. They keep up to date with the latest statistical analyses, cutting-edge investigations, and current pharmacotherapeutics to improve a patient’s quality of living. This multidisciplinary approach to healthcare provides the best in psychiatric assistance.

Careers this concentration prepares for: Hospital psychiatric wards, Psychiatric clinics, Physiological/psychiatric research labs

 

Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Women often require complex medical assistance at various phases of their lives. These workers help young patients transition through puberty, assist women with family planning, help with maternity and postpartum issues, and walk women through the difficulties of menopause. Become a trusted member of healthcare as a women’s health nurse practitioner.

Careers this concentration prepares for: Women’s clinic, Hospital maternity ward, Ambulatory care

Example Courses for Online Nurse Practitioner Students

  • Information Technology and Data Management: Study the intricacies of the technological systems that organize modern medicine. Learn about technological data gathering systems, like MRI, PET, and CT scanners, and about electronic health records compiled on each patient. These systems help professionals maintain the comprehensive documentation necessary for quality healthcare.
  • Health Politics and Policy: This course explores the ethical and legal issues revolving around healthcare. Students discuss disparities in healthcare and ethical administration, the scope of independent versus community care, and the challenges of financing modern treatment programs. Participants in this course brainstorm government, private, and corporate policy improvements.
  • Advanced Pharmacology: Train for your future career and obtain prescriptive authority in this course on pharmacological therapies. Study medications across various therapeutic categories and drug classes, and hone skills in patient monitoring and assessment. Typically, this course covers primary care medications and long-term therapeutic strategies.
  • Advanced Psychology: The principles of psychological distress and mental imbalance serve as the foundations of this course. Delve into the behavioral, biological, cognitive, and social influences on mental imbalance. Study psychiatric medications and long-term therapeutic dosage and maintenance in this course, along with appropriate interpersonal patient interactions and risk assessment.
  • Adult and Geriatric Primary Care: This course focuses on the complex issues revolving around adult and aging patients with primary care needs. Study chronic illness and psychosocial limitations, and train in health assessment, diagnostic reasoning, and prescriptions and non-medicinal therapies. Additionally, build skills in patient education, referrals, and patient follow-up care.

Internship Component

Most NP programs require an internship or a series of internships prior to graduation. Though some online nurse practitioner programs provide clinical liaisons to connect students with healthcare facilities, most online students need to find their own opportunities to fulfill internship requirements. Consider your current work environment, or find hospitals or clinics in the community near you to meet this requirement.

Internships translate online coursework into real-world experience and provide a venue for students to demonstrate acuity. For example, work with the elderly in a retirement community, with expectant mothers in a maternity ward, or with adolescents struggling with mental instability.

Certifications and Licenses This Program Prepares For

  • American Nursing Credentialing Certification: The American Nurses Association (ANA) sanctions all nurses in the U.S. The ANCC tests specialized fields for nurse practitioners, including adult gerontology and acute care, family nursing, and psychiatric mental healthcare. Recertification is required every five years to ensure continual professional practice.
  • State Licensure: All states maintain individual licensure, with varying requirements. All NP licenses require a minimum number of clinical hours logged as an RN (typically between 200-300 hours). Additionally, specific nurse practitioner fields require logged hours with a trained professional, such as an anesthesiology nurse practitioner or a geriatric specialist.
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners Certification: Like the ANA, the AANP certifies professionals in the field, specifically nursing practitioners of gerontology, geriatric care, and family care. Regular recertification is required, and the AANP provides a variety of continuing education venues to stay up to date on issues relevant to nurse practitioners.

Accreditation for Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

Whichever school you select, ensure that it holds full accreditation. The U.S. Education Department awards accreditation through six regional governing bodies, including the Higher Learning Commission and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Specialized areas of nursing require additional accreditation to guarantee cutting-edge coursework and training. For example, nurse practitioners focusing on anesthesiology must attend a school accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Education Programs (COA). Without proper accreditation, your degree will not qualify you to sit for the ANA’s and AANP’s certifying exams. To find out about your school’s accreditation, check its website for voluntary disclosures or search for the school directly in the Council for Higher Education Accreditation website.

Job and Salary Outlook

Job Opportunities for Nurse Practitioners

According to the BLS, the field of nurse practitioner, including specializations such as anesthetists and nurse midwives, is projected to grow over the next decade by 31%, nearly four times higher than the national average. These strong job prospects indicate the high demand for advanced nursing degrees and greater earning potential across the profession overall. The following table details a few of the careers possible with an online NP degree.

Nurse Practitioner

 

Median Annual Salary: $103,880

Physically examine patients, document medical histories, and determine appropriate medications and therapies to address acute, chronic, and episodic medical issues as a nurse practitioner.


 

Nurse Anesthetist

 

Median Annual Salary: $160,270

Formulate anesthetic programs and administer treatment during and after surgical or medical procedures. Work with physicians, surgeons, dentists, and orthodontists, providing responsible medical assistance to patients.


 

Nurse Midwife

 

Median Annual Salary: $100,590

Help expectant mothers through childbirth and neonatal care. Maintain medical treatments, assist or take the lead in childbirth, and help new mothers adjust to the hormonal fluctuations that may lead to postpartum instability.


 

Medical and Health Services Manager

 

Median Annual Salary: $98,350

Organize and maintain productivity of a hospital, clinic, or private practice. Manage medical teams, monitor financial and facility use, and communicate with medical professionals, patients, and families.


 

Post-Secondary Nurse Instructor

 

Median Annual Salary: $71,260

Take on the responsibility of translating patient care to future generations of nurse practitioners as a post-secondary instructor. Work with graduate students to prepare them for ANCC or AANP certifications.


Source: PayScale, Nov. 2018

How Much Do Nurse Practitioners Make?

Given the high demand for NPs, salary continues to be competitive nationwide. The following table details the top five paying U.S. states for NPs. These states include high density populations — e.g. California — and more rural areas, such as Alaska. Check out the BLS webpage linked below for information on other states and territories.

State State Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
California 13,570 $60.95 $126,770
Alaska 440 $60.16 $125,140
Hawaii 410 $58.93 $122,580
Massachusetts 6,280 $57.76 $120,140
Connecticut 2,220 $56.97 $118,500

Source: BLS

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations help build professional connections and networking opportunities. They also allow NPs to maintain certifications through their continuing educational opportunities. Present your research or professional reflections at annual regional and national conferences, make a difference in advocacy groups by fighting for healthcare priorities, and improve your career through job search assistance and specialized certifications. The following organizations represent some of the national associations in the U.S. Make sure to look for local and regional opportunities as well.

American Nurses Association: As the primary association of registered nurses, the ANA certifies professionals and maintains a strict code of ethics to maintain quality across the healthcare profession.


American Association of Nurse Practitioners: The AANP provides certifications, educational opportunities, and networking and advocacy initiatives that bring together professionals nationwide.


Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association: The GAPNA prides itself on ongoing educational opportunities for professionals dedicated to gerontological research and healthcare. Membership includes copies of the Geriatric Nursing periodical.

Financing Your Online Nurse Practitioner Program

Deciding to go back to school requires a great deal of thought, especially given the cost of higher education. Once you commit to continuing your education, try to secure funding. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, to find out about the financial assistance available to you. The following list details some national options for additional funding. Look for local, regional, and national funding opportunities to defray the costs of your education.

Scholarships for Nurse Practitioner Students

AANP Scholarship

Who Can Apply: For members of the AANP, these scholarships support RNs transitioning into higher education across the country.

Amount: Up to $2,500


NURSE Corps Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The NURSE corps brings professionals into the field while simultaneously serving underrepresented areas. Applicants must claim U.S. citizenship, enroll in an accredited NP program, and possess a clean criminal record without outstanding fees. Acceptance to the program requires applicants to work in underserved communities for a minimum two years after graduation.

Amount: Varies (covers tuition, external fees, and provides a student stipend)


Army Health Professions Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The U.S. Army helps young professionals achieve higher educational aspirations while gaining real-world and military leadership experience. Sign up for active duty and enroll in an NP program. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and must maintain full-time enrollment throughout their schooling.

Amount: Full tuition, $20,000 sign-on bonus, and $2,200 monthly stipend


Nurse Practitioner Healthcare Foundation Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The NPHF provides multiple scholarships to registered nurses, including one in gastroenterology and another in community service. These awards support NPs in their final internship year. Applications require personal statements and references attesting to your devotion to the field.

Amount: $1,000-$4,000


National Black Nurses Association Annual Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The NBNA prioritizes increasing minority representation in the medical field. Applicants must maintain NBNA membership, be enrolled in an accredited nursing program, and have one year of school remaining before graduation. Strong applicants participate in student nursing organizations and volunteer work and involve themselves in the African American community.

Amount: $1,000-$6,000


National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Foundation Scholarship

Who Can Apply: NAPNAP assists future pediatric nurse practitioners on the path to NP certification. Applicants must belong to NAPNAP and must provide clear information about one’s academic and professional background, along with reasons for pursuing the degree in pediatrics.

Amount: Not listed


March of Dimes Graduate Nursing Scholarship

Who Can Apply: For future NPs interested in working with mothers and newborn children, the March of Dimes nursing scholarship provides funding for maternal-child nursing. Applicants must already hold RN certification, be enrolled in a graduate program focused on maternity and/or neonatal care, and maintain membership in the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, or the National Association of Neonatal Nurses.

Amount: $4,000


Oncology Nursing Society Scholarship

Who Can Apply: For students interested in working on cancer studies and treatment, the ONS offers yearly scholarships to students enrolled in an accredited oncology-focused program. Unlike other institutions, ONS supports both registered RNs and unlicensed students enrolled in a NP program.

Amount: $5,000