Share this article

Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

Rebecca MundayNurseJournal Rankings Team
Updated August 29, 2023
Reviewed by
Our Integrity Network

NurseJournal.org is committed to delivering content that is objective and actionable. To that end, we have built a network of industry professionals across higher education to review our content and ensure we are providing the most helpful information to our readers.

Drawing on their firsthand industry expertise, our Integrity Network members serve as an additional step in our editing process, helping us confirm our content is accurate and up to date. These contributors:

  • Suggest changes to inaccurate or misleading information.
  • Provide specific, corrective feedback.
  • Identify critical information that writers may have missed.

Integrity Network members typically work full time in their industry profession and review content for NurseJournal.org as a side project. All Integrity Network members are paid members of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

Explore our full list of Integrity Network members.

Nurse practitioners are in demand and enjoy high salaries. Find the best online nurse practitioner program for your budget and career goals.
mini logo

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.

At a Glance: The Top 10 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

  1. Texas A & M International University
  2. Cedarville University
  3. George Washington University
  4. Samford University
  5. Northern Arizona University
  1. University of the Cumberlands
  2. SUNY Brockport
  3. University of Iowa
  4. The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga
  5. The University of Texas at Arlington
Loading...Learn More
Visit Site
Loading...Learn More
Visit Site
Loading...Learn More
Visit Site

Learn 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

  • Location-markerLaredo, TX
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$3,818
  • Out-of-state$13,634
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate59%
  • Students Enrolled8,525
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment59%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

Cedarville University

  • Location-markerCedarville, OH
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$32,364
  • Out-of-state$32,364
  • Retention Rate88%
  • Acceptance Rate59%
  • Students Enrolled4,461
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment41%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

George Washington University

  • Location-markerWashington, DC
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$55,961
  • Out-of-state$55,961
  • Retention Rate88%
  • Acceptance Rate43%
  • Students Enrolled27,017
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment25%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

Samford University

  • Location-markerBirmingham, AL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$33,248
  • Out-of-state$33,248
  • Retention Rate87%
  • Acceptance Rate84%
  • Students Enrolled5,729
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment37%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

Northern Arizona University

  • Location-markerFlagstaff, AZ
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$10,243
  • Out-of-state$16,248
  • Retention Rate76%
  • Acceptance Rate82%
  • Students Enrolled29,566
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment59%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

University of the Cumberlands

  • Location-markerWilliamsburg, KY
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,875
  • Out-of-state$9,875
  • Retention Rate66%
  • Acceptance Rate81%
  • Students Enrolled19,110
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment99%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

SUNY Brockport

  • Location-markerBrockport, NY
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,070
  • Out-of-state$16,980
  • Retention Rate76%
  • Acceptance Rate58%
  • Students Enrolled7,592
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment86%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

University of Iowa

  • Location-markerIowa City, IA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$8,073
  • Out-of-state$30,036
  • Retention Rate88%
  • Acceptance Rate84%
  • Students Enrolled30,318
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment52%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

The University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

  • Location-markerChattanooga, TN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,836
  • Out-of-state$23,954
  • Retention Rate77%
  • Acceptance Rate83%
  • Students Enrolled11,728
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment35%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

The University of Texas at Arlington

  • Location-markerArlington, TX
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$8,910
  • Out-of-state$26,056
  • Retention Rate76%
  • Acceptance Rate88%
  • Students Enrolled48,072
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment55%
  • AccreditationYes

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.


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.

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.

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.

  • chevron-right

    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.
  • chevron-right

    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.
  • chevron-right

    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.