The Best Online Nurse Practitioner Programs of 2022

January 21, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Guide to the best online nurse practitioner programs, find out how to select a school and apply to online FNP programs. The best online nurse practitioner programs of 2022 will help you find a program that fits your schedule, budget, and career path.

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The Best Online Nurse Practitioner Programs of 2022
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Schools for Nurse Practitioners

The demand for nurse practitioners (NPs) is growing, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 52% job growth rate for NPs from 2020-30. While becoming an NP requires hard work, online nurse practitioner programs make it easier to achieve your career goals. Our guide to the best online nurse practitioner programs shows you how to select a school and apply to online FNP programs.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best online nurse practitioner programs and help you find a program that fits your schedule, budget, and career path. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

Read on to learn more about becoming an NP, or go straight to our list of the best online nurse practitioner programs.

What Can You Do as a Nurse Practitioner?

Thanks to their advanced training and education, NPs hold more clinical autonomy than RNs. NPs make key decisions in patient care and serve as primary caregivers, much like physicians. They hold hospital admitting privileges and may prescribe medication in collaboration with a physician, although NPs may prescribe independently in some states.

While some 47% of these advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) work in physicians' offices, others find jobs in hospitals, outpatient care centers, educational services, and health practitioners' offices. Around 90% are certified to work in specialized primary care areas like family, adult-gerontology primary care, and acute care.

An NP's earning potential depends on their specialty area and their work setting. Emergency departments are the top-paying setting for NPs, offering $135,000 a year. Read about other lucrative career options on this page.

What to Look For in an Online Nurse Practitioner Program

Be wary when NP programs offer a fast track to a six-figure salary. While NPs enjoy high pay, they earn their role through rigorous study. Classwork and clinical rotations prepare them to administer effective care, shape healthcare policies, and maintain professional standards. Candidates searching for a quality NP program should prioritize the following factors.

Admission Requirements

Applicants should ensure that they are qualified to attend their chosen NP program. Good programs use a competitive admissions process to vet applicants.

Program Curriculum

Students complete core courses in nursing research, pharmacology, healthcare policies and ethics, and advanced practice nursing. The best online NP programs offer a student-centered curriculum that lets degree-seekers pursue specializations like acute care, family, neonatal, or oncology nursing.

Clinical Experience

Every NP program includes a clinical component, and some make it easier for working students to complete clinical rotations. Online NP programs often allow degree-seekers to complete clinical rotations at their workplace, or during evening or weekend shifts at local facilities.

Accreditation

Earning your degree from an accredited institution ensures that you are receiving a quality education and making a worthwhile investment. Nursing program accreditation agencies include the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Many employers expect job candidates to hold a degree from an accredited program.

Graduation Rate

A school's graduation rate says a lot about its quality. Colleges with high graduation rates tend to prepare students for their future careers in a timely manner. A low graduation rate may reflect a lack of student support or rigorous coursework. That said, high rates may also indicate a less demanding NP program. Remember, students who take longer to graduate usually pay more in tuition.

Online Learning Format and Requirements

Some online NP programs are designed to accommodate working RNs. These programs let students complete coursework at their own pace, or offer asynchronous formats without set class times. Synchronous classes best suit online learners who enjoy a more structured class setting.


Applying to an Online Nurse Practitioner Program

Admissions qualifications and materials depend on the NP program and the applicant's educational background. While the following list does not represent every NP program's admission process, we have outlined a few common requirements below.

Admission Requirements: Online NP programs commonly expect applicants to hold a current RN license, clinical nursing experience, and a bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited college. Many schools also request GRE or GMAT scores, references, transcripts, and a personal essay. Program Length: Most programs take about 2-3 years to complete. Clinical Requirements: On average, NP programs require about 500 clinical hours. GPA Requirement: Candidates typically need a minimum 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate studies.

Why Is Program Accreditation Important?

​​Regionally and nationally accredited schools offer a quality education. Accrediting agencies review student outcomes, faculty, and curricula to ensure that they meet the highest standards.

Accreditation also influences the student journey in many other ways:

  • Credits earned at an unaccredited school may not transfer to accredited institutions.
  • Accredited graduate schools may not accept students who attended unaccredited undergraduate schools.
  • Unaccredited schools cannot provide students with federal financial aid.
  • Some employers do not recognize degrees from unaccredited schools.

Who Accredits Nurse Practitioner Programs?

How Do I Know an Online Nurse Practitioner Program Is Accredited?

Online and on-campus programs both undergo the same scrutiny to earn accreditation. Each nursing program's homepage typically lists its accreditation status. You can also verify a program's status by reviewing the directories listed above.

All schools listed on this page, and on NurseJournal.org, hold accreditation.

Featured Online Programs

Paying for Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

Many students struggle to pay their tuition out of pocket, even when an online NP program lets them work while attending school. Students who cannot pay their tuition up front can take out student loans, or access financial aid at the program level. Many institutions distribute scholarships based on merit, and some offer need-based grants specifically for future NPs.

Learn More About the Top Online Nurse Practitioner Programs and Schools

Georgetown University true View School Profile Washington, DC 95% 25% 15% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Description:

Georgetown University launched its nursing programs in 1903. Today, the school offers four online nurse practitioner programs grounded in the Jesuit ideal of serving the whole person.

Georgetown University's nurse practitioner programs comprise 44 credits and 650 clinical hours, along with two objective clinical intensives. On-campus intensives and clinical placement supplement live online classes.

Details:

  • Program(s): Family nurse practitioner; nurse-midwifery/women's health nurse practitioner; women's health nurse practitioner; doctor of nursing practice
  • Campus: Washington, D.C.
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $2,278/credit
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in nursing; current RN license; minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA and a 3.0 science GPA, course in statistics with a C or better
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 27 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $100,876
University of Southern California true View School Profile Los Angeles, CA 92% 26% 17% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Description:

USC offers part-time and full-time online NP program options, preparing nurse practitioners to provide care across the lifespan. The curriculum comprises 49 credits of live, online classes supplemented by 748 clinical hours, which USC helps secure.

Courses include pathophysiology, pharmacology, and community-based research. The program requires students to participate in two on-campus intensives.

Details:

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing
  • Campus: Los Angeles, CA
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $2,035/credit
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's or master's degree in nursing; current RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA; course in statistics with a C or better; at least one year of experience
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 21 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
Texas A & M University-College Station true View School Profile $$$ College Station, TX 82% 31% 14% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Description:

Texas A&M's master's in nursing for Texas residents preparing to become family nurse practitioners. These part-time and full-time online FNP programs require 48 credits and take 6-8 semesters to complete.

Students should plan to attend class on campus 1-2 times each semester and complete 45 of their clinical hours in two on-campus visits.

Details:

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing-family nurse practitioner
  • Campus: College Station, TX
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $6,464/year (in-state); 12,818/year (out-of-state)
  • Admission Requirements: Texas state resident; bachelor's degree in nursing; current RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA; course in statistics with a C or better
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 99.3%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $63,660
The University of West Florida true View School Profile $ Pensacola, FL 46% 64% 66% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Description:

UWF's online master's degree in nursing prepares current nurses to serve as healthcare providers among vulnerable and underserved populations. The program requires 45 credits, and each class lasts either eight or 16 weeks.

UWF accepts up to nine transfer credits. New students may begin in the summer or spring semester.

Details:

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing family nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Pensacola, FL
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $500/credit
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in nursing; current RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA; course in statistics with a C or better
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 27 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 91.5%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $58,450
George Washington University true View School Profile Washington, DC 82% 35% 22% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Description:

GWU provides four of the best online nurse practitioner programs to prepare leaders in advanced healthcare practice. Each program requires 48-50 credits and 600-700 clinical hours. Non-local students should locate their own preceptors.

Courses include direct instruction and education through online simulation centers. Depending on their program, students complete 1-7 on-campus requirements.

Details:

  • Program(s): MSN: adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner; MSN: adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner; MSN: family nurse practitioner; MSN: psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Washington, D.C.
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $1,395/credit
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in nursing; current RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA; one year of experience
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 90%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $101,250
Cox College View School Profile Springfield, MO 76% 100% Higher Learning Commission

Description:

A private, healthcare-focused institution, Cox College offers two online nurse practitioner programs: the family nurse practitioner and the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program. Each of these programs requires 42 credits for completion.

Cox College also offers 21-credit post-master's certificates to further equip nurse practitioners. Students can learn from anywhere they can access an approved clinical location.

Details:

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing-psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner; master of science in nursing-family nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Springfield, MO
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE); Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $600/credit
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in nursing with a 3.0 GPA or better in competence courses; current RN license
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.4%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $97,960
Cedarville University View School Profile Cedarville, OH 75% 46% 36% Higher Learning Commission

Description:

Cedarville's master of science in nursing equips primary care practitioners to use nursing as a ministry for Jesus Christ. This flexible degree requires four on-campus experiences and 600 hours of direct clinical care. Cedarville helps students secure clinical placement.

Among the best online nurse practitioner programs, Cedarville's part-time and full-time degrees start in August, January, and May.

Details:

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing-family nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Cedarville, OH
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $623/credit
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's in nursing with a preferred GPA of 3.0 or better; current RN license; professed faith in Jesus Christ
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 83.2%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $56,530
Georgia College & State University View School Profile $$$$ Milledgeville, GA 64% 42% 29% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Description:

Georgia College offers a master of science in nursing with four concentrations for aspiring nurse practitioners. The family nurse practitioner concentration calls for 40 credits and 630 clinical hours.

Although students take coursework online, the program requires one week of lab immersion on campus. Georgia College provides its FNP online programs in full- and part-time formats.

Details:

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing
  • Campus: Milledgeville, GA
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $373/credit
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in nursing; minimum GPA of 2.75 in the last 60 credits; current RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 99.1%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $91,740
Maryville University of Saint Louis View School Profile Saint Louis, MO 71% 79% 76% Higher Learning Commission

Description:

Maryville offers five of the best online nurse practitioner programs. These degrees do not require the GRE or a statistics course for admission.

Once enrolled, students take courses, such as advanced pathophysiology and healthcare policy in a flexible learning format accessible 24 hours a day. Learners complete the required 745-830 clinical hours at a location near them.

Details:

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing with specializations in family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, pediatric (primary care) nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
  • Campus: St. Louis, MO
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $813/credit
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in nursing; minimum 3.0 GPA; current RN license, at least one year of experience
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $93,720
Purdue University Global-Indianapolis View School Profile West Lafayette, IN 27% 48% 99% Higher Learning Commission

Description:

Students at Purdue Global can pursue one of six pathways to a master of science in nursing. In these online NP programs, degree-seekers may take courses in organizational theory, health policy, and healthcare systems. Students also complete an evidence-based project proposal.

Each course lasts 10 weeks and requires about 15 hours of study per week.

Details:

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing with specializations in adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner population focus area, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner population focus area, family nurse practitioner, primary care population focus area, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner population focus area, executive leader concentration, nurse educator concentration
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $420/credit
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in nursing; GPA of 2.5 or better; criminal background check
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No

Helpful Nurse Practitioner Program FAQs


Can you get a nurse practitioner degree online?

Yes, there are many general and FNP online programs to choose from. Online NP programs are just as prestigious as their on-campus counterparts and offer the same degree. However, distance learners must find a local placement for their clinical fieldwork.

What is the easiest nurse practitioner program?

Most online nurse practitioner programs cover the same topics and teach to the same standards of care. You can find a program that best suits your educational background and goals by looking at the admission rates, online learning formats, and graduation timelines for different online NP programs.

What is the fastest way to become a nurse practitioner?

While most online NP programs require two years of full-time study, some schools offer an 18-month option. Avoid non-accredited colleges that may feature shorter programs — you’ll be wasting your time and effort on a worthless degree.

What nurse practitioner makes the most money?

NP salaries depend on local demand and cost of living, specialty, and employer, along with individual factors like professional experience. The BLS reports that NPs in California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Ohio make the most money. According to the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), adult mental health NPs earn the highest wages, drawing a median annual salary of $125,000. The AANP also reports that Veterans Affairs facilities offer the highest median salary of all employers.

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Popular Resources

Nurse practitioners are in high demand and enjoy high salaries and professional autonomy. Learn about the best online nurse practitioner programs for your career goals.