The Best Illinois Online Nurse Practitioner Programs and Requirements

By NurseJournal.org staff



Table of Contents


As the need for primary and specialty healthcare increases nationwide, nurse practitioners (NPs) continue to provide patients with in-demand care and services. They conduct patient examinations, issue prescriptions, diagnose illnesses, provide treatment, and order and perform diagnostic tests.

As a "reduced practice" state, Illinois requires doctors to sign off on certain treatments that NPs recommend. However, Illinois NPs regularly serve in a capacity similar to that of physicians. They frequently drive policy and serve in leadership roles within healthcare organizations, and many deal with management and financial matters.

NPs differ from registered nurses (RNs) in that they possess more responsibility and usually specialize in a particular practice area. They also work in private practice settings more often than in hospitals. Additionally, NPs earn significantly higher salaries, on average, than RNs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), NPs earn about $113,930 per year, while RNs earn a median annual salary of $71,730.

This resource offers information on nurse practitioner programs Illinois, information on specialization options, certification requirements, license renewal processes, job duties, and salary and career outlook data.


Best Illinois Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

1. Bradley University - Peoria, IL
2. Saint Xavier University - Chicago, IL
3. Olivet Nazarene University - Bourbonnais, IL
4. Northern Illinois University - DeKalb, IL

Bradley University

Lydia Moss Bradley founded Bradley University in 1897. Today, more than 5,000 students currently attend the institution and benefit from a 12-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. The university boasts over 70,000 graduates from its eight schools and colleges. Bradley holds Carnegie Classification and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Bradley's master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner (MSN-FNP) program offers two paths. The 74-credit RN-to-MSN-FNP option targets associate-holders and requires 800 clinical hours. Bachelor's-holders can choose the BSN-to-MSN-FNP path, which mandates 65 credits and 750 clinical hours. Program courses address concepts in health informatics, evidence-based practice, and pathophysiology.

Campus Peoria, Illinois
Type Private
Accreditations Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Tuition $910/hour
Admission Requirements Associate or bachelor's in nursing; nursing license; minimum 3.0 GPA for full admission; prerequisite statistics course; essay; two recommendation letters; resume
Minimum Time Commitment 36 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Program Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner
School site Tuition | Financial aid

Saint Xavier University

SXU began in 1846 as an all-female school affiliated with the Sisters of Mercy and the Catholic Church. Today, SXU educates more than 3,600 co-educational students. The institution holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, and U.S. News & World Report ranks SXU 61st among regional universities in the Midwest.

SXU's School of Nursing and Health Sciences offers a master of science in nursing family nurse practitioner program. The curriculum includes courses on healthcare systems, pharmacology, and pathophysiology. Students must also complete 600 clinical practicum hours.

After completing the program, graduates may take certification exams from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners or the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Campus Chicago, Illinois
Type Private
Accreditations Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Tuition $895/credit
Admission Requirements Bachelor's in nursing; minimum 3.0 GPA; RN license and 12 months of full-time experience; three recommendations; personal statement; CV or resume; health records; criminal background check
Minimum Time Commitment 36 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Program Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner
School site Tuition | Financial aid

Olivet Nazarene University

Founded in 1907, ONU is a Christian university with nearly 5,000 students and over 40,000 graduates living around the world. U.S. News & World Report ranks ONU 19th for best value schools and 52nd for regional universities in the Midwest. The university holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

ONU offers a 52-credit master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner (MSN-FNP) degree. Candidates complete a series of eight-week courses like nursing informatics and advanced pharmacology, along with 720 hours of fieldwork.

Applicants who have previously earned an associate degree in nursing may enroll in the university's RN-MSN program, which includes bachelor's- and master's-level coursework and practicums.

Campus Bourbonnais, Illinois
Type Private
Accreditations Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Tuition $795/credit
Admission Requirements RN license with a minimum of 2,000 hours of fieldwork; bachelor of science in nursing; minimum 3.0 GPA
Minimum Time Commitment 24 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Program Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner
School site Tuition | Financial aid

Northern Illinois University

NIU dates back to 1895, when it was established as a university for teachers. Today, the institution boasts more than 16,000 current students and over 230,000 graduates. The university boasts a 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

NIU's School of Nursing delivers a master of science in nursing with a family nurse practitioner specialization. Learners must finish the 50-credit program in six years or less. Candidates complete three internships in total, including experiences with children and adults.

Bachelor's-holders can also apply for admission into NIU's online doctorate program with a family nurse practitioner specialization.

Campus DeKalb, Illinois
Type Public
Accreditations Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Tuition $735.72/credit
Admission Requirements RN license; bachelor's in nursing; minimum 3.0 GPA; goal statement; three references; 2,000 specialty practice hours in three years
Minimum Time Commitment Five semesters
On-Campus Requirements No
Program Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner
School site Tuition | Financial aid

Requirements to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Illinois

Prospective certified nurse practitioner in Illinois must complete the following steps to obtain certification:

  • Earn a degree from one of many accredited nurse practitioner programs in Illinois. While most NPs hold a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree, others seek a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) or Ph.D. in nursing. Current practicing RNs may wish to explore an RN-to-MSN bridge program. Regardless of the path you choose, make sure your program holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
  • Choose an area of specialization. Most nurse practitioner programs in Illinois allow students to focus their studies on a specific practice area. The state's most in-demand specialties include acute care nursing and psychiatric/mental health care. Acute care NPs can secure a CCRN certification from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, which features two- and five-year options. The Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certification, remains valid for five years before it requires renewal.
  • Satisfy supervised practice-hour requirements. Aspiring NPs in Illinois must complete 500 hours of supervised practice to qualify for licensure. Most typically complete these hours as part of their MSN, DNP, or Ph.D. programs. During supervised practice experiences, students work directly with an established nurse practitioner to learn about the practical issues and challenges they address on a daily basis.
  • Apply for an Illinois advanced nursing practice (ANP) license. Candidates for licensure must submit their official graduate transcripts, current Illinois RN license numbers, and a copy of a qualifying national certification. The state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation requires applicants to hold certification from either the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Prospective NPs must fill out an application form, pay a $125 application fee, and undergo a criminal background check before receiving a license.
  • Renew your Illinois ANP license. Applicants for renewal must complete 80 continuing education hours every two years, including 50 hours in the nurse's practice area, 20 hours in pharmacotherapeutics, and 10 hours in safe opioid prescribing. Starting in 2020, all licensed NPs will also be required to engage in one hour of continuing education focused on sexual harassment prevention.

In-Demand Nursing Specialty Eligibility Requirements in Illinois

Acute Care (CCRN)

Years of Experience: 2-5 years

Clinical Hours Required: 1,750 hours over two years, with 875 hours occurring over the previous year; OR 2,000 hours over five years, with 144 occurring over the previous year

Continuing Education: N/A

Other: N/A

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC)

Years of Experience: None, but must hold a current, active RN license

Clinical Hours Required: 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours completed during a graduate-level mental health nurse practitioner program

Continuing Education: N/A

Other:

  • Completion of three graduate-level classes: advanced health assessment, advanced physiology/pathophysiology, and advanced pharmacology
  • Clinical training in at least two psychotherapeutic treatment modalities
  • Completion of classes in differential diagnosis and disease management and health promotion/maintenance

Salary and Career Information

Illinois nurse practitioners earn salaries comparable to the national average. However, job growth rates in the state are projected to be slightly higher than the national average in the coming years. With higher populations and more patients to serve, the state's larger metro areas, such as Chicago, Decatur, Springfield, and Champaign, are experiencing increased demand for NPs.

In addition, there is a pressing need to alleviate the shortage of primary care physicians in rural areas. Aspiring NPs may look to these regions for distinct opportunities in which they can make a positive impact on patients' lives.

Graduates of nurse practitioner programs in Illinois are in high demand for their skills, experience, and training. This trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. The BLS projects a 36% job growth rate for Illinois NPs over the next 10 years -- a rate which far outpaces nearly every other job category in the state.

RN vs. NP Salary and Projected Job Growth in Illinois
  Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
Illinois Mean Salary $73,890 $105,800
U.S. Mean Salary $75,510 $110,030
Illinois Job Growth 15.4% 38.3%
U.S. Job Growth 14.8% 36.1%

Source: BLS, Projections Central


Illinois Metropolitan Areas With the Highest Mean NP Wages
  Salary Employment
Decatur, Illinois $110,800 50
Springfield, Illinois $108,550 260
Chicago - Naperville - Elgin, Illinois - Indiana - Wisconsin $107,160 3,950
Champaign - Urbana, Illinois $106,750 270
Kankakee, Illinois $106,050 80

Source: BLS