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The Best Accelerated Online NP Programs

Nalea Ko, MFANurseJournal Rankings Team
Updated November 30, 2023
Reviewed by
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Seeking a quick path to a rewarding and high-earning nursing career? Explore our guide and learn what to expect from top accelerated nursing programs online.
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Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

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If you want to switch careers in nursing and boost your salary in a single year, consider an accelerated online nurse practitioner program. Nurse practitioners (NPs) have greater professional freedoms with specialized nursing training, and they earn higher salaries than registered nurses (RNs).

Our guide features the best online NP programs that take 24 months — or less. Find out how to enroll in an accelerated NP program online, how they function, and what they cost.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best ADN-to-MSN (RN to NP) bridge programs, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including: Academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

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Learn About The Best Accelerated Online NP Programs and Schools

See our methodology to learn more about how we create our rankings.
#1 The Best Accelerated Online NP Programs

University of Southern California

  • Location-markerLos Angeles, CA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$59,260
  • Out-of-state$59,260
  • Retention Rate91%
  • Acceptance Rate16%
  • Students Enrolled46,287
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment89%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 The Best Accelerated Online NP Programs

Stony Brook University

  • Location-markerStony Brook, NY
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,070
  • Out-of-state$24,740
  • Retention Rate90%
  • Acceptance Rate49%
  • Students Enrolled26,782
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment90%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 The Best Accelerated Online NP Programs

George Washington University

  • Location-markerWashington, DC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$55,961
  • Out-of-state$55,961
  • Retention Rate88%
  • Acceptance Rate43%
  • Students Enrolled27,017
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment25%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 The Best Accelerated Online NP Programs

Cedarville University

  • Location-markerCedarville, OH
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$32,364
  • Out-of-state$32,364
  • Retention Rate88%
  • Acceptance Rate59%
  • Students Enrolled4,461
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment41%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 The Best Accelerated Online NP Programs

Texas A & M International University

  • Location-markerLaredo, TX
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$3,818
  • Out-of-state$13,634
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate59%
  • Students Enrolled8,525
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment59%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 The Best Accelerated Online NP Programs

Samford University

  • Location-markerBirmingham, AL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$33,248
  • Out-of-state$33,248
  • Retention Rate87%
  • Acceptance Rate84%
  • Students Enrolled5,729
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment37%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 The Best Accelerated Online NP Programs

Frontier Nursing University

  • Location-markerVersailles, KY
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$0
  • Out-of-state$0
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled2,436
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment0%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 The Best Accelerated Online NP Programs

SUNY Brockport

  • Location-markerBrockport, NY
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,070
  • Out-of-state$16,980
  • Retention Rate76%
  • Acceptance Rate58%
  • Students Enrolled7,592
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment86%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 The Best Accelerated Online NP Programs

Maryville University of Saint Louis

  • Location-markerSaint Louis, MO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$24,766
  • Out-of-state$24,766
  • Retention Rate83%
  • Acceptance Rate95%
  • Students Enrolled10,979
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment83%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 The Best Accelerated Online NP Programs

Sacred Heart University

  • Location-markerFairfield, CT
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$44,080
  • Out-of-state$44,080
  • Retention Rate87%
  • Acceptance Rate66%
  • Students Enrolled9,313
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment68%
  • AccreditationYes

Using Our Rankings: What to Look For in an Accelerated Online NP Program

When shopping for an online accelerated NP program, keep in mind the metrics listed below — factors that also shape our rankings.

Admission Requirements

There is no point considering a program unless you meet the admission requirements. The admission requirements give you an idea about the average student accepted into a nursing program, including their academic background, work history, and clinical experience.


Taking an accelerated NP program online gives you specialized training in areas of healthcare, such as family nursing NP, pediatrics NP, psychiatric mental health NP, or women’s health NP. The selection of specializations varies by school.

Program Curriculum

Most accelerated online NP programs offer similar advanced theoretical and clinical nursing curricula, but electives and specializations vary. For instance, one accelerated online NP program may focus on primary care management, while another emphasizes leadership in nursing.

Clinical Experience

Clinical hours are a core element of every accelerated online NP program. You can expect to complete in-person clinical hours. Some programs offer free clinical placement services and advisors, a process that can be otherwise time consuming.


You want your accelerated online NP program to have accreditation because it offers a distinction recognized by your peers and future employers. Accreditation also ensures that an accelerated online NP program meets the clinical and educational requirements needed to pass a national certification exam and get licensed.

Program Length

Consider how much time you have available to devote to earning a higher degree. Completing the average accelerated NP program online takes about 24 months, but some programs only take 18 months. Alternately, nurses can study part time and graduate in about 28 months.

School Graduation Rate

A school’s graduation rate provides clues about how well a program and its faculty prepare students to achieve their career goals. You can get an idea about how long it takes the average student to earn a degree by looking at the graduation rate.

Online Learning Format and Requirements

Accelerated online NP programs operate virtually but how students access lectures and materials differs. This matters because students may prefer mostly asynchronous courses with no set class times or live courses that offer face-to-face interaction.

Why Is Accelerated Online NP Program Accreditation Important?

The accelerated online NP programs featured in our rankings hold accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

Accelerated online NP program accreditation gives students the assurance that their education meets quality standards, but it also ensures that they can advance in nursing. State boards of nursing and certification agencies require prospective NPs to have graduated from accredited programs.

Employers also look favorably on nurses from accredited accelerated online NP programs.

Benefits of accreditation include:

  • Continual improvements to curriculum, student outcomes, and faculty
  • Ability to transfer credits to other accredited programs
  • Eligibility for national certification and licensure
  • Preference for candidates from accredited nursing programs in the job market

How Online Accelerated Online NP Programs Work

Accelerated online NP programs offer a quick path to a career as an NP. Instead of the usual 15-week courses, online accelerated NP programs often offer courses that last 4-6 weeks. Because of the accelerated format, online nursing students generally cannot work, at least full time, while they attend courses. In some cases, NP nursing students can opt for part-time tracks.

While online accelerated NP programs are mostly online, students must complete clinical placements in person. Additionally, nursing schools may require in-person orientation or labs.

Learn more about online nursing programs, such as how online nursing students get clinical experience, and how online differs from in-person nursing programs.

Applying to an Accelerated Online NP Program

You can expect admission requirements to vary by program, but generally every prospective student needs to have the same academic achievements and work history. They also submit similar supplemental materials.

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s in nursing degree from an accredited college
  • 1-2 years of nursing experience
  • Unencumbered RN license

Admission Materials

  • Criminal background check, before clinical placement
  • Official college transcripts
  • Three recommendation letters
  • Personal essay

GPA Requirement

  • Minimum 3.0 GPA for undergraduate studies

Paying for Accelerated Online NP Programs

Accelerated online NP programs often discourage students from working full time because of the fast-paced format. As a result, students may not be able to count on their income to pay for nursing school. Additionally, if you plan to attend a college out of state, you must factor in the increased expense of nonresident tuition.

Luckily, nursing students have financial aid resources to help them pay for college expenses. Loans —both private and federal —provide financial aid to nursing students to pay for tuition and books. Federal loans generally have lower interest rates and lenient repayment plans than private loans.

Students can also apply for nursing scholarships and grants, which they do not need to repay.

What Can You Do as a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse practitioners have an advanced education to perform assessments, make diagnoses, and prescribe medications in clinics, emergency rooms, hospitals, private physicians’ offices, and nursing homes. In their role, some NPs may work in collaboration with, or independently of, physicians. Each state regulates NP practice authority and determines whether they work in full practice, reduced practice, or restricted practice.

The pay for NPs exceeds what RNs earn. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), RNs make a median annual salary of $77,600, while NPs earn a median wage of $120,680. NPs also have the flexibility of working in a specialized area such as family nursing, neonatal nursing, or women’s health.

Frequently Asked Questions About Accelerated Online NP Programs

Are online nurse practitioner programs respected?

Yes. Accelerated online NP programs have the same rigorous coursework and reputation in nursing as in-person programs, often with the same faculty.

How quickly can I become a nurse practitioner?

Typically, it takes 2-3 years to complete an NP program. Completing an accelerated NP program online can take as few as 18 months or up to 24 months. It takes additional time to earn NP certification, which requires passing a national exam.

Can I work during an accelerated nursing program?

The fast-paced format of an accelerated online NP program often makes it difficult to work full time. Programs may also recommend that nursing students not work. There are accelerated online NP programs for working students, which offer part-time options that take up to two years.

Are nurse practitioners in high demand?

Yes. According to the BLS, the demand for NPs exceeds all other occupations at a projected growth rate of 46% from 2021-2031. Roughly 30,200 jobs for advanced practice registered nurses will be added to the workforce during that decade.

Related Pages

Page last reviewed October 24, 2022. Note: The ranking list and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by our Rankings Team.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.