The Best Online Nurse Practitioner Programs in 2021

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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.

Nurse practitioner (NP) programs train NPs to provide comprehensive patient care, with 69% of professionals delivering primary care and 65.4% choosing to become certified family nurse practitioners (FNPs). In addition to performing necessary work, NPs gain access to lucrative salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that NPs earn a median base annual salary of $115,800.

As the U.S. healthcare system grows, NPs benefit from the rising demand for their expertise. BLS data indicates a 45% projected job growth rate from 2019-29, pointing to the value of earning a degree through an online NP program.

NPs can pursue a master’s degree or higher through distance learning programs offering synchronous, asynchronous, or hybrid online classes. The necessary clinical experience must be obtained in person.

Students in NP programs can expect to encounter coursework covering topics like advanced health assessment, pathophysiology, and pharmacology. Students graduate in 2-4 years, depending on their specialization and enrollment status.

Graduates emerge prepared to perform many of the same job duties as physicians in their specialty areas. The demand for NPs should increase with the aging population and the need for preventive care. To help you select the best NP program for you, we’ve applied our methodology to rank the best online NP programs.

Read about our ranking methodology here.
Advertisement NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Programs

Top Online Nursing Practitioner (NP) Programs of 2021

Rank School Location
1 Texas A & M University-College Station College Station, TX
2 Samford University Birmingham, AL
3 Bradley University Peoria, IL
4 DeSales University Center Valley, PA
5 Maryville University of Saint Louis Saint Louis, MO
6 Winona State University Winona, MN
7 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
8 Georgia College & State University Milledgeville, GA
9 George Washington University Washington, DC
10 Morehead State University Morehead, KY

  1. Texas A & M University-College Station
    Location

    College Station, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Texas A&M University's online MSN with a nurse practitioner track prepares candidates for primary care roles. Full-time students can complete the 48-credit online nurse practitioner program in six semesters, while part-time learners graduate in eight semesters. This program includes some in-person components, such as clinical hours, diagnostics, and procedures.

    Applicants must hold a 2.0 GPA at minimum, provide essays and three letters of recommendation, and undergo an interview with the selection committee. Competitive candidates hold one or more years of professional experience. Individuals must live in Texas and hold an unencumbered RN license to apply.

    • Program: Master of science in nursing-family nurse practitioner
    • Campus: College Station, Texas
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $24,791 per year in-state; $31,721 per year out-of-state
    • Admission Requirements: RN license; 2.0 GPA
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 99.28%
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  2. Samford University
    Location

    Birmingham, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Samford's BSN-to-MSN Family Nurse Practitioner option gives RNs the knowledge and skills required to care for patients across the lifespan. Graduates qualify to take the FNP national certification exam. Samford also allows its MSN graduates to move seamlessly into the DNP program without reapplying.

    The program features start dates in the fall and spring semesters. Candidates beginning their studies in the spring can graduate in six semesters, while those who start in the fall can earn their degree in five semesters. Most coursework is offered online, although students must attend three campus visits.

    • Program: MSN family nurse practitioner
    • Campus: Birmingham, Alabama
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $888 per credit
    • Admission Requirements: 3.0 GPA; BSN from CCNE, CNEA, or ACEN and regionally accredited institution; video submission; RN license.
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 90.08%
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 32 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  3. Bradley University
    Location

    Peoria, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1897 in Illinois, Bradley serves nearly 6,000 students from over 43 countries. The university is home to eight colleges and schools, including the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which offers multiple advanced nursing programs. Students with an ADN and unencumbered RN license can take advantage of Bradley's RN-to-MSN online nurse practitioner program, which comprises 59 credits and 750 clinical hours.

    Bradley's BSN-to-MSN online NP program is intended for candidates with a BSN and a valid RN license. Requiring 50 credits and 700 clinical hours, the program was designed to suit working professionals. Neither program requires in-person attendance, and students can select their own preceptors for clinical components.

    • Program: ADN-to-MSN-FNP; BSN-to-MSN-FNP
    • Campus: Peoria, Illinois
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
    • Tuition: $930 per credit
    • Admission Requirements: ADN or BSN from CCNE-accredited school; RN license; 3.0 GPA
    • NCLEX Pass Rate: 96%
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 32 months
    • On Campus Requirements: No
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  4. DeSales University
    Location

    Center Valley, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Enrollees at DeSales can consider three different online nurse practitioner programs, preparing them for national certification in their desired area of practice. NP students can choose between an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner program, a family nurse practitioner program, or a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner option.

    Each NP program features the same admissions requirements and tuition rates, but learners focus on different course content depending on their focus area. Across programs, some course topics include advanced family health, role development with special populations in psychiatry, and advanced physical assessment.

    • Program(s): MSN adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner; MSN family nurse practitioner; MSN psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
      • Campus: Center Valley, Pennsylvania
      • Type: Private
      • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
      • Tuition: $885 per credit hour
      • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in nursing from a CCNE-accredited institution; 3.0 minimum GPA; one year of professional nursing experience; active RN license
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.85%
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  5. Maryville University of Saint Louis
    Location

    Saint Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Saint Louis, Missouri, Maryville offers a flexible online NP degree that features five opportunities for specialization. Focus areas include family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

    Prospective NPs complete coursework entirely online, fulfilling all clinical requirements in a location near their home. Regardless of specialization, each curriculum blends theory, research, and evidence-based practice, exposing learners to the field's best practices and training candidates to provide holistic care across patient populations.

    • Program(s): MSN family nurse practitioner; MSN adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner; adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner; pediatric nurse practitioner; psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
      • Campus: Saint Louis, Missouri
      • Type: Private
      • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
      • Tuition: $813/credit
      • Admission Requirements: BSN from a CCNE-accredited institution; 3.0 minimum GPA; active RN license; curriculum vitae or resume; 500-word essay; one year of professional nursing experience
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 92.97%
  6. Winona State University
    Location

    Winona, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    RNs considering doctoral-level online NP programs enjoy multiple options at WSU. Located in Winona, Minnesota, the university offers adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner specializations.

    All students enrolled in the nurse practitioner doctoral program must complete clinical hours along with the required coursework. Adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner students complete 74 semester hours and 1,260 clinical hours, and family nurse practitioner learners complete 73 semester hours and 1,080 clinical hours. Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner enrollees must satisfy 43-54 semester hours and 1,260 clinical hours.

    • Program(s): DNP adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner; DNP family nurse practitioner; DNP psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
      • Campus: Winona, Minnesota
      • Type: Public
      • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
      • Tuition: $428 per credit
      • Admission Requirements: MSN from a nationally accredited institution; minimum 3.0 GPA; one year of clinical nursing experience; active RN license; NP national certification; three letters of recommendation; background check
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93.01%
  7. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    USC offers one of the nursing field's most innovative online nurse practitioner programs. The unique curriculum allows students to build a foundation in both social work and advanced nursing practice, exploring topics in healthcare technology and innovation, pharmacology, and community-based research.

    Degree-seekers must complete 49 credits of coursework, 784 clinical hours, and two on-campus intensives. Learners can pursue part- or full-time enrollment. All applicants should hold a BSN or an MSN with a 3.0 minimum GPA. Along with a completed application, prospective students should possess an active RN license and demonstrate proof of one year of clinical experience and completion of a three-credit statistics course.

    • Program(s): MSN family nurse practitioner
    • Campus: Los Angeles, California
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $1,995 per unit
    • Admission Requirements: BSN or MSN; 3.0 minimum GPA; active RN license; one year of clinical experience
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 21 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  8. Georgia College & State University
    Location

    Milledgeville, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Milledgeville-based Georgia College's online nurse practitioner program allows BSN-holders to pursue concentrations in nurse midwifery, nurse education, women's health nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, and family nurse practitioner.

    Learners must complete their clinical rotations in Georgia with a School of Nursing-approved preceptor. Enrollees must satisfy all degree requirements within seven years. MSN graduates can also earn a post-master's nursing certificate in one of five specialty areas.

    • Program(s): MSN family nurse practitioner; MSN psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner; MSN women's health nurse practitioner; MSN nurse education; MSN nurse midwifery
    • Campus: Milledgeville, Georgia
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $7,286 per year
    • Admission Requirements: BSN from an accredited nursing program; active RN license; 2.75 minimum GPA; three letters of recommendation; current resume or curriculum vitae; statement of professional goals
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  9. George Washington University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    GW's online master of science in nursing features concentrations in adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, nursing leadership and management, nurse-midwifery, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

    GW nursing students experience a unique, hybrid program format that combines in-person training in simulation centers with online coursework. MSN graduates who want to continue their nursing education can also consider the university's DNP program and graduate certificate opportunities.

    • Program(s): MSN adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner; MSN adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner; MSN family nurse practitioner; MSN nursing leadership and management; MSN nurse-midwifery; MSN psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
    • Campus: Washington, D.C.
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $1,395 per credit hour
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution; minimum 3.0 GPA; two letters of recommendation; current resume; personal statement; active RN license
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  10. Morehead State University
    Location

    Morehead, KY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Morehead, Kentucky, MSU offers online nurse practitioner programs for RNs interested in expanding their career opportunities. The online FNP program prepares learners to take the national FNP certification exam and go into practice as advanced practice nurses.

    MSN candidates must complete 49 credit hours. The post-MSN option, intended for nurses who already hold a master's degree, includes 48 credit hours. MSU offers career planning services, internship placement, interview and resume preparation, and job search assistance for graduates.

    • Program(s): MSN family nurse practitioner
    • Campus: Morehead, Kentucky
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $374 per credit hour
    • Admission Requirements: BSN or MSN from an accredited institution with a 3.0 minimum GPA; cover letter; goal statement; current resume or curriculum vitae; active RN license; completed criminal background check
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94%
    • On-Campus Requirements: No
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

Applying to an Online Nurse Practitioner Program

Common admission requirements for a master of science in nursing (MSN) include a registered nurse (RN) license and a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree from a regionally accredited school. Bridge programs, such as RN-to-MSN programs, provide options for RNs that hold associate degrees or non-nursing bachelor’s degrees.

Most MSN programs require 1-2 years of clinical experience as a nurse, which applicants usually gain working as RNs prior to applying to graduate school. Some programs require minimum GPAs and/or GRE scores.

Applicants who have worked as RNs may not need to show specific coursework, but admissions committees generally prefer candidates who have taken anatomy and physiology, chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, psychology, and statistics. Programs typically ask for submissions of transcripts, letters of recommendation, and resumes.

In order to work as an FNP, graduates need to obtain state-specific licensure.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nurse Practitioner Programs

How long does it take to become a nurse practitioner?

Depending on the educational path, it can take about eight years, including earning a BSN, either on its own or as part of a bridge program, logging 1-2 years of nursing experience, and spending 2-4 years in graduate school. Certain specializations may also add to the timeline, as will part-time versus full-time study.

What is accreditation, and why is it important?

NPs become licensed as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and state boards require degrees from accredited programs. Most receive credentials from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). CCNE and ACEN also confer specialty accreditation for online FNP programs, online psychiatric nurse practitioner programs, and other areas.

Is a nurse practitioner a good job?

NPs perform many of the same job duties as physicians, but spend less time earning their degree. They also earn among the highest pay of those in the nursing profession. Both challenging and rewarding, the job can be stressful, but also fulfilling for those who want to help people.

What can I do as a nurse practitioner?

NPs find employment in physicians’ offices, hospitals, and care centers. They may work with a specific patient population, such as older adults, children and teens, patients with mental health issues, or those fighting cancer. NPs coordinate patient care and provide primary services, including diagnosis and treatments, assessment and testing, and referring patients to other specialists.