The Best Massachusetts Online Nurse Practitioner Programs and Requirements

By NurseJournal.org staff



Table of Contents


Nurse practitioners in Massachusetts offer more advanced healthcare than registered nurses (RNs). A nurse practitioner (NP) can diagnose and treat health issues and refer patients to specialists. These individuals may also help communities and patients prevent health issues.

NPs typically specialize in areas like pediatrics and may work for hospitals, doctors' offices, nursing homes, and home-health services. Often, these professionals provide primary care. NPs may work under physicians, but typically can perform check-ups when the physician is not in the room. NPs may also prescribe medicine and open private practices in some areas.

These professionals assist patients with health issues, which can provide professional and personal satisfaction. NPs also enjoy high salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), NPs earn a median of $107,030, which more than doubles the Social Security Administration's reported average U.S. earnings for 2018 ($52,145). Massachusetts offers the nation's third-highest salary expectations for NPs, with average earnings of $117,860.

NPs may need a graduate degree, such as a master's in nursing or a doctorate in the field.

Read on to explore the best nurse practitioner programs in Massachusetts, including required examinations and certifications.

Read about our ranking methodology here.

Best Massachusetts Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

1. Simmons University - Boston, MA
2. Regis College - Weston, MA
3. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences - Boston, MA
4. American International College - Springfield, MA

Simmons University

Simmons University, a private school founded in 1899, currently educates over 6,600 students through an 8-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Learners can choose from 60 degree options and interact with more than 80 student organizations and clubs. The school maintains accreditation through the New England Commission of Higher Education.

The university offers a 48-credit master of science in nursing family nurse practitioner (MSN-FNP) degree. To graduate, learners must earn 672 hours of clinical experience and complete a research project.

Online classes for the MSN-FNP typically include no more than 20 students and are delivered in live formats. Coursework addresses topics like the healthcare system, clinical decision-making, and primary care nursing.

Campus Boston, Massachusetts
Type Private
Accreditations Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Tuition $1,410/credit
Admission Requirements Bachelor's degree; RN license; resume; personal statement; recommendation letters; prerequisite coursework in statistics and health assessment
Minimum Time Commitment 24 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Program Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner
School site Tuition | Financial aid

Regis College

Regis College dates back to 1927. This Jesuit school boasts over 3,000 students, and 97% of alumni enter graduate programs or full-time jobs within half a year of degree completion. The New England Commission of Higher Education accredits the college.

Learners must complete at least 46 credits to earn the school's master of science in nursing family nurse practitioner (MSN-FNP) degree. This MSN-FNP requires courses in health policy, nursing theory, and clinical pharmacology, along with clinical hours in advanced health assessment, community-based nursing, and primary care. The National League for Nursing labels this opportunity as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education.

Campus Weston, Massachusetts
Type Private
Accreditations Commission for Education in Nursing
Tuition $1,170/credit
Admission Requirements Bachelor of science in nursing; RN license; two recommendations; statement of purpose; resume
Minimum Time Commitment 28 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Program Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner
School site School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences started in 1823. As of 2018, MCPHS University educated more than 7,000 students from over 70 countries. The institution holds accreditation through the New England Commission of Higher Education.

The School of Nursing's master of science in nursing family nurse practitioner (MSN-FNP) program requires 630 clinical hours divided among four semesters. These hours must deal with children, adults, and the elderly. MSN-FNP learners also complete classes that address pathophysiology, pharmacology, and evidence-based practice and must visit campus three times throughout the program.

Graduates may apply to MCPHS University's online doctor of nursing practice.

Campus Boston, Massachusetts
Type Private
Accreditations Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Tuition $1,235/credit
Admission Requirements Bachelor's in nursing; minimum 3.0 GPA in nursing classes; RN license; recommendation; resume
Minimum Time Commitment 24 months
On-Campus Requirements Yes
Program Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner
School site Tuition | Financial aid

American International College

American International College in Springfield started in 1885. Current enrollment exceeds 3,000, with graduate candidates benefiting from an interactive 8-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. The New England Commission of Higher Education accredits this college.

The School of Health Sciences offers a master of science in nursing with a family nurse practitioner concentration. Candidates complete 46 credits on topics like pharmacology, health assessment, and nursing research. The program also mandates capstone experiences and may utilize tests and training from the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

The department accepts students with a bachelor's degree in non-nursing fields, provided they hold an RN license.

Campus Springfield, Massachusetts
Type Private
Accreditations Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Tuition $750/credit for first year; $920/credit for second year
Admission Requirements Bachelor's degree; minimum 3.0 GPA preferred; RN license; two recommendations; personal statement
Minimum Time Commitment 24 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Program Master of science in nursing with a family nurse practitioner concentration
School site Tuition | Financial aid

Requirements to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Massachusetts

The following section offers a roadmap for becoming an NP in Massachusetts.

  • Candidates must complete a board-recognized program. This restriction ensures programs train and educate learners in compliance with state standards. Approved programs include associate, bachelor's, and graduate programs.
  • Applicants must verify that their backgrounds reflect the state's Good Moral Character expectations. Candidates with a criminal history may need to submit evidence of treatment or compliance with judicial sentences to earn licenses. Some offenses, such as assault or drug trafficking, may prevent licensure. The board will not issue a license to applicants with a currently open criminal case.
  • Individuals must pass the National Council Licensure Examination, which includes multiple-choice questions and carries a $200 registration fee. The board must approve candidates to complete the exam within one year of registration. After this deadline, applicants must register again.
  • Candidates must apply for an RN license, which costs $230. The board issues an RN license to applicants who meet licensing criteria. RNs must renew licenses every other year by their birthdays. Renewal requires 15 continuing education (CE) hours that are earned during the licensing period, except for the first renewal. For this renewal, the board requires no CE hours. Candidates should keep records of CE experiences in case the board insists on verification. Nurses should ensure all CE opportunities reflect the board's standards. CE experiences may include workshops, classes, and lectures.
  • Applicants for advanced nursing licenses must provide transcripts that reflect the licensing focus. For instance, NPs should complete nurse practitioner programs in Massachusetts.
  • Candidates must complete graduate classes in three areas: pharmacotherapeutics, advanced physical assessment, and pathophysiology.
  • The board requires a certification related to advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) professions for APRN licensure. These certifications come from organizations, such as the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the National Certification Corporation, the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.
  • Certifications can also address specializations like gerontology, emergency services, mental health, and pediatrics. In-demand specializations in Massachusetts include acute care, mental health, and primary care. Applicants may need to complete supervised experience and relevant examinations for these credentials. Individuals may also need to pay application fees and attain specific degree fields and levels, such as a master's or doctorate.
  • APRN candidates must meet the state's Good Moral Character standards and may need to provide documentation of resolutions for previous offenses.
  • To earn an APRN license, individuals must submit an application for the credential and pay the $150 fee.
  • Nurses must continue to renew their licenses every two years by obtaining CE hours. APRN licenses expire during years with even numbers. Renewal costs $180.
  • APRNs in Massachusetts must also enroll in the state's Mandatory Enrollment in MassHealth.

In-Demand Nursing Specialty Eligibility Requirements in Massachusetts

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Certification (AGPCNP-BC)

Years of Experience: Candidates must have an RN license.

Clinical Hours Required: Certification requires 500 hours of clinical experience that is overseen by faculty.

Continuing Education: Nurses must renew credentials every five years. This process calls for 75 CE hours.

Other: Application fees are $290-$395, depending on group membership.

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC)

Years of Experience: Licensure requires an RN license.

Clinical Hours Required: Applicants must complete 500 hours of supervised experience related to mental health. Candidates also need training in mental health treatment.

Continuing Education: Renewal occurs every five years and requires 75 CE hours.

Other: Certification requires graduate courses in health assessment, pharmacology, and physiology.

Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN)

Years of Experience: Applicants must hold an RN or APRN credential and boast a minimum of two years of experience.

Clinical Hours Required: Candidates must complete 1,750 hours of fieldwork over two years or 2,000 hours of fieldwork over five years. Experience must relate to critical care.

Continuing Education: Certifications last three years. To renew, individuals complete clinical work and 100 CE recognition points.

Other: Applicants take the CCRN exam.

Salary and Career Information

Massachusetts offers comparatively high salaries for NPs. These professionals in the state average $122,740, which surpasses national rates by more than $12,000. Certain locations in Massachusetts deliver even higher salaries. For instance, New Bedford NPs average more than $156,000. These numbers exceed the average income for RNs in Massachusetts by more than $15,000.

Salary expectations can also vary by specialization. As examples, certified registered nurse anesthetists earn an average of $100,000, while orthopedic nurse practitioners average $70,000-$90,000.

The BLS projects 27.5% growth in Massachusetts NP positions, which more than doubles the 12.8% growth projection for in-state RN positions. National projections reflect this contrast since NP positions are projected to increase by 36.1%, while national RN positions are projected to grow by less than 15%. These statistics indicate a shift in healthcare professions that favors more advanced positions, such as NPs.

RN vs. NP Salary and Projected Job Growth in Massachusetts
  Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
Massachusetts Mean Salary $92,140 $122,740
U.S. Mean Salary $75,510 $110,030
Massachusetts Job Growth 12.8% 27.5%
U.S. Job Growth 14.8% 36.1%

Source: BLS, Projections Central


Massachusetts Metropolitan Areas With the Highest Mean NP Wages
  Salary Employment
New Bedford, Massachusetts $156,980 70
Leominster - Gardner, Massachusetts $145,020 50
Boston - Cambridge - Nashua, Massachusetts $124,490 4,680
Worcester, Massachusetts $120,850 510
Providence - Warwick, Rhode Island - Massachusetts $110,910 860

Source: BLS