Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

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Updated January 24, 2023

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Nurse practitioners are in demand and enjoy high salaries. Find the best online nurse practitioner program for your budget and career goals.
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Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Black male nursing student sitting at a classroom desk writing notes while preparing for class. He is wearing scrubs and referencing materials from a digital tablet. Credit: SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images

If you want to become a nurse practitioner (NP), it is important to find a nurse practitioner program that is both affordable and flexible. Online nurse practitioner programs can offer learners the opportunity to advance their nursing careers and increase their earning potential with the option to continue working while they study.

In this guide, learn more about how online nurse practitioner programs work, how you can apply, how to pay for your education, and what you can do with your degree after graduation. Find the top online nurse practitioner programs that meet your needs and your budget.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best affordable online nurse practitioner programs, 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.

Keep reading to learn more about the key factors to consider when choosing a program or go straight to our ranking of the best affordable online nurse practitioner programs.

Using Our Rankings: What to Look For in an Online Nurse Practitioner Program

If you're considering applying to online nurse practitioner programs, you should consider factors such as accreditation, program length, clinical experience, and board certification rate before you choose programs to apply to.

Program Tracks and Specializations

Online NP programs allow you to specialize in areas such as family nursing, pediatrics, women's health, and adult-gerontology. Nursing schools often offer different specialization tracks based on their faculty's expertise.


Clinical Experience

To be eligible to sit for your nurse practitioner certification exam, you will need to complete minimum required clinical hours. Find out if your nursing school assists with clinical placement, how many hours you'll spend in clinicals, and whether you have to complete clinical hours in the same state as the nursing program.

Typically, it's the certifying body (such as the American Association of Nurse Practitioners) that specifies the clinical hours needed to sit for the exam.


Accreditation

To become a licensed NP, you must graduate from an accredited program. In addition, most employers won't consider hiring graduates of an unaccredited program.


Program Length

You will complete 40-50 credits and at least 500 clinical hours in an NP program. Programs may add additional clinical requirements based on your specialty. How long it takes you to complete these requirements will depend on whether you take the program full time or part time.


Board Certification Rate

The board certification rate tells you how well the program prepares students to become board-certified NPs in their specialty. A low board certification rate may indicate a program does not prepare students well.


Online Learning Format and Requirements

Online does not necessarily mean self-paced. Some online courses still require you to attend virtual lectures at a set time. Many online programs may also require yearly or twice-yearly on-campus attendance to meet with advisors, professors, and other students.

If you have other commitments, you should make sure the online format fits your schedule. You will also need reliable internet and technology to participate in online classes. Consider your access to those resources before applying.

Featured Online NP Programs

Why Is Online Nurse Practitioner Program Accreditation Important?

This guide only lists accredited online NP programs. This is because states require you to graduate from an accredited program to earn your NP license. Accreditation for nursing programs is important because:

  • The most valuable nursing certifications also require graduating from an accredited program.
  • Very few employers consider hiring graduates of unaccredited programs.
  • It means independent experts have confirmed the program meets quality standards.
  • Accredited schools almost never accept transfer credits from unaccredited programs.
  • Many grants and loans, including federal loans, are only available to students attending accredited programs.

Learn More About the Best Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs and Schools

See our methodology to learn more about how we create our rankings.

#1 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

Texas A & M International University

  • Laredo, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Texas A & M International University offers an online and in-person family nurse practitioner program comprising 48 credits of core courses, nursing theory, and practicums, including 675 clinical hours. Typically, students complete two courses each semester for three years.

The program includes specializations in the primary care of adults, geriatrics, and families; primary care of pediatrics and families; and primary care of adults and women. Practicum courses focus on advanced health assessment, diagnostic reasoning and clinical procedures, and integrated family care.

The university also offers a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner post-master's certificate program.

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing – family nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Laredo, Texas
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
  • Tuition: $3,686 per semester for in-state residents; $9,572 per semester for out-of-state students 
  • Admission Requirements: BSN; active Texas RN license; 2.7 GPA or higher; completion of an undergraduate statistics course; a minimum of one year of inpatient work experience as an RN
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (YEAR): 86.1% (2021)
Average Tuition
In-state
$3,818
Out-of-state
$13,634
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
59%
Students Enrolled
8,525
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

Cedarville University

  • Cedarville, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Cedarville University's online MSN program provides concentration options in pediatrics and family care. Each concentration requires 44 credits that comprise 12 hours of core nursing courses, 20 hours of specialty courses, three hours of a Bible course, and nine direct care hours.

Both specializations offer full- and part-time options that can be completed in six and seven semesters, respectively.

While all courses are offered online, students must attend on-campus orientations for their four clinical experiences.

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing – family nurse practitioner; pediatric nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Cedarville, Ohio
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Higher Learning Commission; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $648 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: BSN; 3.0 GPA or higher (preferred); active RN license; profession of faith in Jesus Christ
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (YEAR): 84.4% (2021)
Average Tuition
In-state
$32,364
Out-of-state
$32,364
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
59%
Students Enrolled
4,461
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

George Washington University

  • Washington, DC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

George Washington University offers affordable online nurse practitioner programs at the master's and doctoral levels. Students can earn a master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) in adult-gerontology acute care, adult-gerontology primary care, psychiatric mental health, or family nurse practitioner.

Most of the school's MSN specializations require 48 credits and 600-700 clinical placement hours. Most DNP specializations require 72 credits and 1,000 clinical hours. The only outlier is the psychiatric mental health concentration, which requires 50 credits to earn an MSN and 74 credits to earn a DNP.

The school of nursing also offers post-MSN certificates in all nurse practitioner concentrations.

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing or doctor of nursing practice – adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Washington, D.C.
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Middle States Commission on Higher Education; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $1,395 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: BSN; 3.0 GPA or higher; active RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (YEAR): 87.4% (2021)
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $101,250 master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$55,961
Out-of-state
$55,961
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
43%
Students Enrolled
27,017
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
25% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#4 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

Samford University

  • Birmingham, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master of science in nursing (MSN) family nurse practitioner program at Samford University comprises 42 credits and 660 clinical hours. Most courses are completed through asynchronous learning, with periodic Zoom sessions 1-2 times per semester. Students must attend on-campus sessions at least 2-3 times during the program.

Students can also enroll in a dual-focus program that combines the family concentration with either emergency or psychiatric care. The family/emergency nurse practitioner option comprises 54 credits and 1,020 clinical hours; the family/psychiatric nurse practitioner dual focus comprises 61 credits and 1,200 clinical hours.

The university also offers MSN-to-DNP nurse practitioner programs and post-master's certificates in emergency medicine, psychiatry, and family care.

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing – family nurse practitioner; family nurse practitioner with emergency specialty dual focus; family and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner dual focus
  • Campus: Birmingham, Alabama
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $924 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: BSN; 3.0 GPA or higher; active RN license; previous completion of undergraduate courses in nursing research ("C" or better) and health assessment ("B" or better)
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (YEAR): 92.6% (2021)
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $99,380 master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$33,248
Out-of-state
$33,248
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
84%
Students Enrolled
5,729
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
37% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#5 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

Northern Arizona University

  • Flagstaff, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Northern Arizona University's family nurse practitioner program comprises 48 credit hours, a series of three family primary care practicums, and an evidence-based capstone project. The program prepares RNs to provide a broad range of family care services in rural settings.

Coursework is completed almost entirely online with students selecting their own semester-based schedule, providing them with the flexibility to continue part-time work if necessary.

The school also provides a family nurse practitioner certificate option for post-master's nurses.

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing – family nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Higher Learning Commission; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $585 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: BSN; 3.0 GPA or higher; active RN license; completion of an undergraduate statistics course ("C" or better) or completion of a graduate statistics course ("B" or better); completion of undergraduate courses in nursing research and public health nursing with grades of "B" or better
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (YEAR): 94.3% (2021)
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $92,630 master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$10,243
Out-of-state
$16,248
Retention Rate
76%
Admission Rate
82%
Students Enrolled
29,566
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#6 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

University of the Cumberlands

  • Williamsburg, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online

The family nurse practitioner master's program at the University of the Cumberlands comprises 48 credits, which includes didactic online coursework, 720 clinical hours, and a concentrated clinical internship.

The university's curriculum focuses on advanced areas of nursing, including research, evidence-based practice, pharmacology, health assessment, epidemiology, and pathophysiology.

The program focuses on the importance of healthcare technology, informatics, and data management and their role in the ever-evolving field of nursing.

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing – family nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Williamsburg, Kentucky
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $500 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: BSN; 3.0 GPA or higher; active RN license; completion of an undergraduate or graduate statistics course with a "C" or better
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (YEAR): 83% (2021)
Average Tuition
In-state
$9,875
Out-of-state
$9,875
Retention Rate
66%
Admission Rate
81%
Students Enrolled
19,110
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
99% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#7 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

SUNY Brockport

  • Brockport, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

SUNY Brockport offers a full- and part-time 42-credit master of science in nursing family nurse practitioner program that combines online coursework with in-person sessions. Students must complete approximately 750 clinical hours, 600 of which involve direct patient care.

Non-clinical coursework takes place entirely online, while clinical courses are structured in a hybrid format, requiring students to attend up to three Friday and Saturday sessions each semester.

The university also provides a certification program for nurse practitioners who are not currently licensed as family nurse practitioners.

  • Program(s): Family nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Brockport, New York
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Middle States Commission on Higher Education; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $471 per credit for in-state residents; $963 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: BSN; active New York RN license; completion of GRE; recent RN experience (preferred)
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (YEAR): 83.8% (2021)
Average Tuition
In-state
$7,070
Out-of-state
$16,980
Retention Rate
76%
Admission Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
7,592
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
86% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#8 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

University of Iowa

  • Iowa City, IA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Iowa's nurse practitioner program results in a doctoral degree that offers four population options: pediatrics, adult-gerontology, pediatric mental health, and family. Pediatrics and adult-gerontology are offered as both acute and primary care options.

The programs range 75-79 credit hours and 1,000-1,090 clinical hours, all of which have three- and four-year options.

Students can also choose a dual certification option, allowing them to combine any of the four main population concentrations. The added certification increases the necessary credits hours and clinical hours by approximately 25 and 500, respectively.

  • Program(s): Doctor of nursing practice – acute or primary care pediatric nurse practitioner; adult-gerontology acute or primary care nurse practitioner; psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner; family nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Iowa City, Iowa
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Higher Learning Commission; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $1,191 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: BSN or higher; active RN license; 3.0 GPA or higher (preferred); completion of an undergraduate statistics course with a "C" or better
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (YEAR): 96.6% (2021)
Average Tuition
In-state
$8,073
Out-of-state
$30,036
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
84%
Students Enrolled
30,318
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
52% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#9 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

  • Chattanooga, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The doctor of nursing practice program at the University of Tennessee - Chattanooga provides two options – adult-gerontology acute nurse practitioner and family nurse practitioner. The adult-gerontology specialization requires 80 credits and 1,050 clinical hours; the family specialization requires 83 credits and 1,050 clinical hours.

Students complete their coursework and clinical hours simultaneously, allowing them to immediately reinforce the concepts they learn from their classwork in a practical setting.

Both programs have a full-time option that takes eight semesters (30 months). Because courses are only offered once a year, enrolling as a part-time student increases the program's length. 

  • Program(s): Doctor of nursing practice – adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner; family nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $571 per credit for in-state residents; $618 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: BSN; 3.0 GPA or higher; active RN license; one year of clinical experience in chosen specialty
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 30 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (YEAR): 96% (2021)
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $145,900 master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$7,836
Out-of-state
$23,954
Retention Rate
77%
Admission Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
11,728
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#10 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

The University of Texas at Arlington

  • Arlington, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Texas at Arlington offers nurse practitioner concentrations in adult-gerontology, family, pediatric, neonatal, and psychiatric mental health. The specializations require 41-46 credit hours and 720 clinical hours for completion.

The adult-gerontology acute and primary care, psychiatric mental health, and acute care pediatric programs can be completed either on campus or online. The primary care pediatric and neonatal programs are only available on campus.

The school also offers two dual program options. One combines the adult-gerontology acute and primary care specializations, and the other combines the pediatric acute and primary care specializations. Both dual programs are only available in an on-campus format.

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing – adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, acute care pediatric nurse practitioner, primary care pediatric nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
  • Campus: Arlington, Texas
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $1,318 per credit for in-state residents; $2,260 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: BSN; active RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of previously completed undergraduate coursework; at least two years of clinical experience in the chosen specialty
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 30-36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (YEAR): 92.4% (2021)
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $106,420 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$8,910
Out-of-state
$26,056
Retention Rate
76%
Admission Rate
88%
Students Enrolled
48,072
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

How Online Nurse Practitioner Programs Work

You can complete your online nurse practitioner program almost entirely online. Some programs may even offer online labs, depending on their resources. Yet, most online nurse practitioner programs have an in-person clinical component.

Most NP students have to complete at least 500 hours of clinical experience. You may have to complete additional hours, depending on the requirements from your state board of nursing for your specialty. You may also have to complete additional clinical hours for specific classes you take.

You might have to find your own clinical site and get it approved by the nursing program. Some nurse practitioner programs offer clinical placement assistance to help you find a clinical site as an online nursing student.

After you complete your nurse practitioner program, you should take your board certification exam within one or two months. The American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board are two most common programs for you to get board certified. Depending on your specialty, you may have more options.

Learn more about whether an online nurse practitioner program is right for you with our comparison of in-person and online nursing programs.

Applying to an Online Nurse Practitioner Program

Give yourself plenty of time to apply to online NP programs. Ask somebody who knows you to review your application, especially your personal statement or essay to be an NP. Personalize your essay to the school's program and culture. Materials for graduate applications for nurses include the following.

  • Admission Materials

    Requested materials may include undergraduate transcripts, a current and unencumbered registered nurse (RN) license, a resume/curriculum vitae, at least two references, and an application that includes an essay or personal statement.
  • GPA Requirements

    Many schools require a minimum 3.0 GPA. If your GPA doesn't reflect your abilities, talk to an admissions counselor about your background, as you may have other qualifications that can offset a marginal GPA.
  • Other Requirements

    Most on-campus and online NP programs require or strongly prefer at least two years of experience as an RN.

Paying for Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

Financial factors for attending an affordable online NP program include tuition (in state versus out of state), program length, and books and equipment. You should also consider any travel for required on-campus components or clinicals and how many hours you can work while studying.

There are many financial aid resources for nurses available, both from your school and outside sources. Foundations, associations, corporations, and government programs offer nursing grants and scholarships.

Because the need for NPs is so high, some government programs pay the entire cost of your NP nursing degree, plus a stipend, if you commit to working in an underserved area once you graduate. You may also be eligible for student loan forgiveness for nurses.

Similarly, your current employer may help pay tuition costs, especially if you remain with them after graduation.

What Can You Do as a Nurse Practitioner?

Most nurse practitioners examine, treat, and diagnose patients under the supervision of a physician or under their own authority in full-practice authority states. Nurse practitioners enjoy more autonomy, opportunities for career advancement, and salary than registered nurses.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurse practitioners have a median annual salary of $120,680, which is about $43,000 more than the median annual salary for registered nurses. Registered nurses have a median annual salary of $77,600. The BLS projects the field for nurse practitioners will grow 46% between 2021-2031.


Frequently Asked Questions About Online Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

Can you become a nurse practitioner online?

Yes, you can take a nurse practitioner program online. The labs may even be online if the nurse practitioner program has the resources. However, you may have an in-person clinical component.

What is the fastest way to become a nurse practitioner?

The fastest way to become an NP depends on your existing degree. If you have a bachelor's in nursing, it takes about two years of full-time study to complete an on-campus or online NP program. If you have an associate nursing degree, it takes approximately three years.

What costs and fees are associated with online NP programs?

The costs and fees associated with online NP programs include the application fees, cost of tuition, cost of supplies and books, and other university fees.

Are nurse practitioners in high demand?

Yes, nurse practitioners are the fastest-growing occupation in 2022. BLS projects 46% job growth for nurse practitioners between 2021-2031.


Related Nurse Practitioner Resources


Page last reviewed November 8, 2022. Note: The ranking list and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by our Rankings Team.

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