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The Best Accredited Online NP Programs

Gayle Morris, BSN, MSNNurseJournal Rankings Team
Updated November 30, 2023
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Did you know you could become an NP without traveling to campus? Consider this guide of nonprofit schools that prioritize the students and their education
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Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Credit: SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images

Do you want to excel in your nursing career to become a nurse practitioner (NP) without having to travel to campus?

Online NP programs train registered nurses (RNs) to enter specialized areas of nursing and become certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse-midwives, and clinical nurse specialists.

Nonprofit universities rely more on state and federal funding than tuition. As such, programs at nonprofit universities, unlike for-profit universities that have private stakeholders, prioritize students and their education.

This guide will teach you how to apply to NP programs from nonprofit universities, and what to expect.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best online NP programs from nonprofit schools, 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.

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

Online nurse practitioner programs from nonprofit schools differ in convenience, flexibility, curriculum, and specialization.

The best programs prepare students for their careers. The following data points helped shape our rankings for the best online NP programs from nonprofit schools. Consider these metrics as you choose your online NP program.

Admission Requirements

Online nurse practitioner programs from nonprofit schools often require candidates to have an active and unencumbered RN license from the state, plus 1-2 years of work experience. Do not waste time applying to programs where you do not meet the admission requirements.


Unlike a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program that offers general nursing education, online NP programs prepare graduates to function in a specialty field. Apply only to programs that offer the specialty of your choice, such as family nurse practitioner or neonatal nurse practitioner.

Program Curriculum

The quality of the curriculum forms the foundation of preparedness for national certification. Consider course descriptions and elective options, as well as courses that align with your goals.

Clinical Experience

To meet credentialing requirements online NP programs require clinical hours. The best programs help students find appropriate clinical placements. Some online programs require in-person lab experiences.


Program accreditation is a voluntary process that ensures the student receives an education meeting national standards. Most financial aid institutions and organizations require students to attend an accredited program.

Program Length

The program length and intensity vary depending on the school. Candidates should choose a program that accommodates their schedule and responsibilities. Consider programs with greater flexibility if you must continue working or need a part-time option.

School Graduation Rate

Programs often publish their graduation rate. This metric indicates how likely a full-time student is to graduate on time. Candidates may infer that a high graduation rate means the program admits qualified students and provides them with the necessary support throughout the program to graduate.

Online Learning Format and Requirements

Online NP programs from nonprofit schools may offer a combination of asynchronous and synchronous coursework, or offer asynchronous programming only. Consider that online programs have technology requirements.

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Why Is Online NP Program Accreditation Important?

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing are the two accrediting organizations for online NP programs.

These independent groups review nursing programs to determine if they meet nationally established academic standards. Accreditation is a crucial indicator of program quality and has implications for several factors:

  • Accreditation ensures the program meets national standards
  • Your program must hold accreditation for you to receive federal student aid
  • Employers prefer nurses from accredited programs
  • Graduates from accredited programs have improved job options
  • Credits from a non-accredited school do not transfer
  • Graduates from a non-accredited school may not qualify for educational advancement, such as doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs
  • Many credentialing organizations require graduation from an accredited program to be eligible for certification and licensure
  • Curriculum improves with accreditation

Learn More About the Best Online NP Programs

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

The University of West Florida

  • Location-markerPensacola, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$3,735
  • Out-of-state$16,004
  • Retention Rate84%
  • Acceptance Rate58%
  • Students Enrolled13,061
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment97%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 The Best Accredited 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 Accredited 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
#5 The Best Accredited 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
#6 The Best Accredited Online NP Programs

Saint Louis University

  • Location-markerSaint Louis, MO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$46,400
  • Out-of-state$46,400
  • Retention Rate90%
  • Acceptance Rate56%
  • Students Enrolled12,229
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment74%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 The Best Accredited Online NP Programs

Bradley University

  • Location-markerPeoria, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$35,060
  • Out-of-state$35,060
  • Retention Rate86%
  • Acceptance Rate73%
  • Students Enrolled5,855
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment97%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 The Best Accredited Online NP Programs

University of Cincinnati-Main Campus

  • Location-markerCincinnati, OH
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,723
  • Out-of-state$25,057
  • Retention Rate88%
  • Acceptance Rate76%
  • Students Enrolled40,826
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment90%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 The Best Accredited 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 Accredited 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

How Online Nurse Practitioner Programs Work

Candidates who enroll in an online NP program from a nonprofit school find the program is not entirely online. NP students must complete clinical experiences under the supervision of an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) in the student’s specialty.

In some cases, the program may require the student to attend on-campus labs or skills checkoffs. Other programs use virtual technology, allowing students to meet with simulated patients and practice developing treatment plans. Candidates must understand how to meet the clinical experience requirement.

Programs may also have synchronous, asynchronous, or both types of coursework. Lecturers teach asynchronous classes through video lectures that the student may watch at their convenience. Lecturers teach synchronous lectures during a live online video session.

Many online programs also have one mandatory online class students must take that prepares them for online learning. Learn more about other differences between in-person and online programs and determine which is right for you.

Applying to an Online NP Program

After choosing the online nurse practitioner programs from nonprofit schools you wish to apply to, it’s time to ensure your applications give you the best advantage for admission.

Graduate programs seek candidates with appropriate academic and clinical experiences. The exact criteria for admission can vary by program.

  • checkAdmission Requirements: Online NP programs require candidates to hold an active and unencumbered RN license in the state, a BSN from an accredited program, and one to two years of clinical experience.
  • checkAdmission Materials: With the program’s application and fee, candidates must often submit letters of reference, a copy of their license, results of a background and drug check, and completion of prerequisite undergraduate coursework.
  • checkGPA Requirement: The GPA requirement from the candidate’s undergraduate program can range from 2.7 to 3.5 depending on the program. Students with lower GPAs may qualify for admission with other relevant material, which the program’s admission counselor can identify.

Paying for Online NP Programs

Becoming an NP is an investment in your future. However, initially, this investment can be costly. The expense of an NP program can vary.

This depends on the length of the program, the cost of each credit hour, whether students are in-state or out-of-state, and if they can work while in school.

Some students believe they must pay for their graduate education completely out of pocket. But, there are public and private funds available to students seeking a graduate education to practice as an NP. There are a variety of financial aid options.

Many graduate students are eligible for scholarships and grants. These are funds that do not need to be paid back.

Students may apply for loans through federal funding or private institutions. Some employer benefits include tuition reimbursement and other students qualify for loan forgiveness.

Read the forgiveness and reimbursement contracts carefully. In most cases, you must agree to work for the employer or with a population of patients for a specified period of time.

What Can You Do as a Nurse Practitioner?

An online nurse practitioner program from a nonprofit school prepares graduates to move into an APRN role in multiple different specialties. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), 70.3% become family nurse practitioners.

Other NP specialties from which to choose include neonatal NP, pediatric NP, adult-gerontological NP, and psychiatric-mental health NP. FNPs may choose to subspecialize in dermatology, orthopedics, forensics, and hospice to name a few.

It is crucial to understand the scope of practice in your state and recognize these roles are in flux in the state legislature. Yet, no matter where you practice, many NPs enjoy the rewards of working closely with patients and families.

According to a 2019 AANP salary survey, the average annual salary range for an NP differs by specialty.

Women’s health nurse practitioners earn an average of $105,000 and neonatal NPs earn an average annual salary of $122,500. This is the base salary without bonuses and benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nurse Practitioners

Is an online nurse practitioner degree worth it?

A degree from an online program offers NPs the opportunity to advance their education and improve their earning potential. However, for the degree to be worth your effort, it is crucial to choose an accredited program or you may be wasting your time and money.

Are online nurse practitioner programs respected?

Online nurse practitioner programs from nonprofit schools have rigorous coursework, often with the same faculty as the in-person program. When the program is accredited, employers respect the NPs as much as those graduating from an in-person program.

What are the highest-paying nurse practitioner specializations?

According to the AANP salary survey, psychiatric-mental health NPs earn the highest base salary. In 2019, this was $125,000. When other bonuses and benefits were included, the survey found the highest total income was tied between emergency NPs and psychiatric-mental health NPs with an average total annual salary of $135,000.

Which nurse practitioner specializations have the highest demand?

The primary care provider shortage contributes to the demand for family nurse practitioners. This is reflected in the far-higher percentage of FNPs in practice than all other specialties. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth is projected to reach 46% for NPs from 2021 to 2031.

Page last reviewed November 21, 2022. Note: The ranking list and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by our Rankings Team.