The Best North Carolina Online Nurse Practitioner Programs and Requirements

By NurseJournal.org staff


Table of Contents


Nurse practitioners (NPs) work as advanced practice registered nurses (RNs), providing primary care for patients. They possess advanced degrees, completing either a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). Along with an advanced education, NPs must complete national certification requirements to gain licensure to practice in North Carolina.

NPs deliver medical care and treatment to patients across age groups, backgrounds, and settings, working under the supervision of doctors. These nurses typically focus their career on a specialty, such as family practice or pediatrics.

This page highlights resources for professional NPs, including NP requirements in North Carolina, salary information by state, and some of the discipline's top programs.

Read on to explore some of the best nurse practitioner programs in North Carolina.

Read about our ranking methodology here.

Best North Carolina Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

1. East Carolina University - Greenville, NC
2. Western Carolina University - Cullowhee, NC

East Carolina University

East Carolina University offers an online nurse practitioner program in North Carolina. The degree includes two different tracks for master's nursing students: the neonatal and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (NP) concentrations. The full program comprises 43 credits, which full-time students can complete in five semesters. Part-time students may take seven semesters to graduate.

Courses cover advanced topics, such as pharmacology and physical assessment. The online NP program includes one on-campus component each semester: a two-day intensive experience. Distance learners must also fulfill 550 clinical hours onsite at healthcare facilities during three clinical practicum courses. Students can arrange their practicum experiences at a location convenient to them.

Campus Greenville, North Carolina
Type Public
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Tuition $349/credit for North Carolina residents; $994/credit for non-residents
Admission Requirements Bachelor's degree in nursing with a minimum 2.7 GPA; current nursing license; one year of professional nursing experience; GRE or MAT scores; three recommendation letters; personal statement
Minimum Time Commitment 21 months
On-Campus Requirements Yes
Program MSN - Neonatal or psychiatric-mental health NP
School site Tuition | Financial aid

Western Carolina University

Located in Cullowhee, Western Carolina University runs a hybrid master's degree in nursing with a family nurse practitioner (NP) track. Students complete much of their coursework online, but they must also attend class on campus every Tuesday. Learners enroll in the 52-credit program full time, and they can graduate in 24 months. Learners can also opt to complete a project or thesis toward the end of the program.

Students must also complete 640 hours of coursework onsite at a healthcare facility. Clinical hours start during the second semester, and master's candidates generally spend eight hours a week on their clinical obligations.

Campus Cullowhee, North Carolina
Type Public
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Tuition $10,641/ year for North Carolina residents; $21,048/year for nonresidents
Admission Requirements Bachelor's degree in nursing with a minimum 3.0 GPA; current nursing license; one year of professional nursing experience; three recommendation letters; personal statement
Minimum Time Commitment 24 months
On-Campus Requirements Yes
Program MSN - Family NP
School site Tuition | Financial aid

Requirements to Become a Nurse Practitioner in North Carolina

The steps required to become an NP in North Carolina include:

  • Completing an undergraduate education, such as a certificate program, associate degree, or a BSN. To work as an NP in North Carolina, individuals must complete an undergraduate program that qualifies them to sit for the licensing exam through the state's licensing board, either for the licensed practical nurse (LPN) credential or RN credential.
  • After completing an undergraduate degree in nursing, individuals interested in becoming NPs must obtain RN licensure before they can gain admission into an NP program. Applicants interested in qualifying for RN licensure must complete an LPN or RN nursing program approved by the licensing board, register online, pay a $75 application fee to complete the National Council Licensure Examination at the RN level, and register with Pearson VUE, paying the $200 registration fee.
  • The final step to becoming an NP in North Carolina is earning an MSN degree. Some students take advantage of post-master's certificate opportunities or programs that allow them to bridge from a bachelor's degree to a doctoral program. At the graduate level, learners can often explore online opportunities that feature specialization options. Specializations include pediatric primary care, pediatric acute care, family nurse practitioner, women's health, and neonatal care. Graduate students typically must complete clinical hours, gaining hands-on experience through a variety of healthcare settings and working with a mentor or supervisor.

Primary care NPs can explore a variety of certifications across specialties, including the following options: pediatric primary care mental health specialist, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, and primary care certified pediatric nurse practitioner. Each specialty area requires different criteria for licensure.

Adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner licensing candidates need a current RN license. They also must satisfy 500 hours of supervised clinical experience in the discipline and complete graduate courses in advanced pharmacology, advanced physiology/pathophysiology, and advanced health assessment.

Each specialty area requires different criteria for licensure.

Primary care certified pediatric nurse practitioner candidates need a current RN license and must complete 500 hours of direct supervised clinical practice hours in primary care pediatrics. They also must graduate from a master's program in the field. Candidates pursuing the pediatric primary care mental health specialist credential must complete five years of experience in the field and 2,000 hours of clinical practice experience in pediatric development, mentally and behaviorally.

Additionally, candidates must satisfy 30 hours of continuing education (CE) in the discipline or complete a relevant graduate course. Professionals can review CE opportunities through the Nurse Practitioner Associates for Continuing Education's website.

In-Demand Nursing Specialty Eligibility Requirements in North Carolina

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

Years of Experience: None, but you must have a current RN license

Clinical Hours Required: 500 clinical hours supervised by faculty in an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner program

Continuing Education: N/A

Other: Completion of three graduate-level courses: advanced pharmacology, advanced health assessment, and advanced physiology/pathophysiology

Primary Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-PC)

Years of Experience: None, but you must have a current RN license

Clinical Hours Required: 500 supervised direct care clinical practice hours in primary care pediatrics

Continuing Education: N/A

Other: Graduation from an accredited nursing master's or doctoral nurse practitioner degree with a pediatric primary care concentration OR graduation from a post-master's nurse practitioner certificate program in pediatric primary care

Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS)

Years of Experience: 5 years

Clinical Hours Required: 2,000 hours of pediatric development, behavioral, or mental health (DBMH) clinical practice experience

Continuing Education: N/A

Other: 30 hours of pediatric DBMH continuing education OR one graduate-level pediatric DBMH course

Salary and Career Information

RNs in North Carolina experience salary rates about $10,000 less than the mean U.S. salary. RNs in the state earn mean salaries of $64,850 compared to the nation's mean salary of $75,510. The occupation's projected job growth in North Carolina is higher than national figures. North Carolina projects a job growth of 15.7%, while the U.S. projects a job growth of 14.8%.

NPs working in North Carolina experience mean salary amounts close to the occupation's national figures. In North Carolina, NPs earn mean salaries of $104,100, compared to the national amount of $110,030. The projected job growth for North Carolina falls just slightly beneath the U.S. job growth, with North Carolina anticipating a growth of 35.8% compared to the national amount of 36.1%.

Wilmington, North Carolina, boasts the highest-paying salary opportunities for NPs while Greensboro and High Point report the highest employment levels. The highest-paying NP careers align with the demand for primary care nurse practitioners in North Carolina, with many locations throughout the state boasting high employment levels.

RN vs. NP Salary and Projected Job Growth in North Carolina
  Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
North Carolina Mean Salary $64,850 $104,100
U.S. Mean Salary $75,510 $110,030
North Carolina Job Growth 15.7% 35.8%
U.S. Job Growth 14.8% 36.1%

Source: BLS, Projections Central


North Carolina Metropolitan Areas With the Highest Mean NP Wages
  Salary Employment
Wilmington, North Carolina $119,100 200
Burlington, North Carolina $114,290 40
Fayetteville, North Carolina $111,500 150
Greensboro - High Point, North Carolina $106,630 340
Greenville, North Carolina $106,150 100

Source: BLS