The Best Tennessee Online Nurse Practitioner Programs and Requirements

By NurseJournal.org staff



Table of Contents


Nurse practitioners (NPs) in Tennessee help meet the preventative and acute care needs of patients across the state. These medical professionals work under the supervision of physicians to diagnose and treat patients, provide well-child visits, and educate individuals about healthy habits. While Tennessee doesn't offer independent practice roles for these professionals, nurse practitioner programs in Tennessee prepare learners to provide a higher level of care with greater autonomy than registered nurses (RNs).

Nurse practitioner programs in Tennessee help you fulfill one of the critical steps in becoming an advanced practice nurse.

Tennessee offers advanced practice nursing licensure to candidates who complete a graduate nursing program and earn national certification from a credentialing agency. Once properly licensed, NPs may conduct diagnostic tests, prescribe medications, and counsel patients. Many nurse practitioner programs at Tennessee schools offer specializations in primary care, midwifery, and anesthesiology.

Nurse practitioner programs in Tennessee help you fulfill one of the critical steps in becoming an advanced practice nurse. This guide examines the NP licensing process in Tennessee and also highlights exciting career opportunities across the state. Demand for qualified NPs continues to rise across Tennessee, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting a 40.2% increase in employment through 2026. Several areas in Tennessee also rank among the highest concentrations of advanced practice nursing jobs, with many nurses working in Johnson City, Chattanooga, and nonmetropolitan areas of north and south-central Tennessee.


Best Tennessee Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

1. Tennessee Technological University - Cookeville, TN
2. East Tennessee State University - Johnson City, TN
3. Middle Tennessee State University - Murfreesboro, TN
4. Austin Peay State University - Clarksville, TN

Tennessee Technological University

Established in 1815, Cookeville-based Tennessee Tech boasted more than 10,000 students in 2019. This public institution is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Learners can complete the university's master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner (MSN-FNP) degree in only two years. The 46-credit curriculum includes classes like healthcare policy, advanced role development, and theoretical foundations. MSN-FNP requirements also include adult, women's, and pediatric primary care practicums and a final preceptorship. In-person experiences must total a minimum of 540 hours.

This program trains students to provide holistic care across the human lifespan and prepares candidates for FNP national certification exams.

Campus Cookeville
Type Public
Accreditation Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
Tuition •   $690/credit for in-state students
•   $963/credit for out-of-state students
Admission Requirements •   Bachelor's in nursing
•   Minimum 3.0 GPA
•   RN license
•   Prerequisite or intended coursework in statistics
•   Letter of intent or cover letter
•   CV or resume
•   Three reference letters
Minimum Time Commitment 24 months
On-Campus Requirements No
Program Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner
School site Tuition | Financial Aid

East Tennessee State University

ETSU was established in 1911 as East Tennessee State Normal School. As of fall 2018, this public university has educated over 15,000 learners, and more than 3,000 students earned degrees during the 2017-18 school year. ETSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

While the school's master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner program may require 51 course and experiential learning credits, coursework reflects candidates' individual goals. Degree-seekers who want to qualify for a national certification assessment may complete specialized coursework. General classes address policy, research, and pharmacology.

All candidates complete a final experience or comprehensive exam and multiple practicums. Ninety-eight percent of 2018 alumni passed family nurse practitioner certification exams.

Campus Johnson City, Tennessee
Type Public
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Tuition •   $601/credit for in-state, online students
•   $841/credit for nonresident, online students
Admission Requirements •   RN license
•   Bachelor's degree
•   Minimum 3.0 GPA
•   Prerequisite coursework in statistics
•   Resume or CV
•   Three recommendation letters
Minimum Time Commitment Four semesters
On-Campus Requirements No
Program Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner
School site Tuition | Financial Aid

Middle Tennessee State University

Located in Murfreesboro, Middle Tennessee State University began in 1911 as a teaching college. In 1925, the school started conferring four-year degrees. Enrollment for this public school surpassed 21,000 per year in 2016-19. The university holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The School of Nursing's master of science in nursing with a family nurse practitioner concentration requires 42 credit hours. Students complete courses in health promotion, health assessment, and pharmacology, and earn clinical hours in family healthcare diagnosis and management.

The program is open to Tennessee residents only.

Campus Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Type Public
Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education; Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
Tuition $617/hour for in-state, eCampus students
Admission Requirements •   RN license
•   Bachelor's in nursing
•   Minimum 3.0 GPA
•   Prerequisite coursework in statistics
•   Tennessee residency
Minimum Time Commitment Four semesters
On-Campus Requirements No
Programs Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner
School site Tuition | Financial Aid

Austin Peay State University

APSU was chartered in 1927 and now serves 11,048 learners. U.S. News & World Report ranks APSU 23rd for top public schools, eighth for most innovative schools, 34th for best colleges for veterans, and 58th for regional universities in the South. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

APSU offers a master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner program. The degree requires 43 hours, three campus experiences, and 600 hours of clinical fieldwork, including primary care practicums and a family practice residency.

The curriculum prepares learners for American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American Nurses Credentialing Center certification exams.

Campus Clarksville, Tennessee
Type Public
Accreditation Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
Tuition •   $450/credit for in-state students
•   $727/credit for out-of-state students
Admission Requirements •   RN license
•   Bachelor's in nursing
•   Minimum 3.0 GPA
•   Resume
•   Goal statement
•   Prerequisite coursework in statistics
Minimum Time Commitment 24 months
On-Campus Requirements Yes
Programs Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner
School site Tuition | Financial Aid

Requirements to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Tennessee

Becoming an NP in Tennessee requires nursing experience, advanced education, and national certification.

  • Earn a master of science in nursing from a school recognized by the Tennessee Board of Nursing. Programs may include online and on-campus components that combine clinical practice with classroom instruction. Nurses with valid RN licenses and 1-2 years of work experience often qualify for accelerated graduate programs, requiring as little as one year of graduate study. Your program may include a specialization or concentration.
  • Earn NP certification from a nationally recognized certification board. NPs may also seek certification in a specialty practice area, such as critical care or pediatric care.
  • Requirements vary, depending on the rules of the certifying board. However, most NPs must satisfy work requirements, pass an exam, and adhere to established professional standards. Tennessee needs more primary care providers to meet the demands of its population. A 2015 report from the University of Memphis found that 40% of Tennesseans live in counties without an adequate supply of primary care physicians. The more than 7,000 NPs working in the state can help meet this need. In-demand nursing specializations include:

    Primary Care Nurse Practitioner: Application for an adult gerontology primary care certification requires 500 hours of supervised clinical practice; graduate coursework in physiology and pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology; and an active RN license. Applicants must pass an exam administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Once awarded, the credential is valid for five years.
    Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification: This is not an NP credential and does not meet Tennessee's NP licensing requirements. However, RNs with this designation demonstrate the knowledge and skills necessary to gain board certification in medical-surgical roles, and it may enhance NP credentials. Each applicant must possess two years of work experience and 2,000 hours of clinical practice in the medical-surgical specialization. Nurses must complete 30 hours of continuing education and pass the national exam. Certification is valid for five years.
    Emergency Medicine: RNs can seek board certification in emergency medicine. The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing recommends two years of work experience. Applicants must pass the national exam and recertify every four years.
  • An NP who wishes to prescribe medications must enter a collaborative agreement with a supervising physician.
  • Tennessee requires NPs to maintain evidence of certification and ongoing professional training every two years. NPs must renew their national certification and provide proof of competence, such as an employer or peer evaluation, a letter from a patient or family member regarding performance, or a copy of contract renewal for a nursing position.
  • Complete two hours of continuing education for controlled substance prescribing practices, including chronic pain guidelines.

In-Demand Nursing Specialty Eligibility Requirements in Tennessee

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

Years of Experience: None

Clinical Hours Required: 500 hours of faculty-supervised clinical practice

Continuing Education: 75 hours every five years

Other: Three separate courses covering advanced physiology, health assessment, and pharmacology

Medical-Surgical Nursing Certification (RN-BC)

Years of Experience: Two years

Clinical Hours Required: 2,000 hours of clinical work experience within the past three years

Continuing Education: 75 hours every five years

Other: Initial applicants must complete 30 hours of continuing education in the medical-surgical field within the past three years

Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)

Years of Experience: Two years recommended

Clinical Hours Required: None

Continuing Education: 100 hours every four years

Other: Requires an active RN license

Salary and Career Information

NPs in Tennessee earn a premium salary in exchange for their additional training, with annual mean wages of $95,990, compared to $61,320 for RNs. While both professions earn slightly less than the national average, Tennessee offers an 89.5 cost of living index. The state also projects a growth of 40.2% in NP employment through 2026.

Tennessee employs about 7,000 NPs to rank among the top 10 states for employment. It also ranks second for the concentration of NP jobs, with 2.37 NPs per 1,000 jobs. Johnson City, Cleveland, Knoxville, and Chattanooga all offer high concentrations of NP jobs.

Memphis offers the highest mean annual wages for NPs, with these professionals earning $107,210 each year. NPs may also look outside the metropolitan regions for jobs. North and south-central Tennessee reports 320 and 350 NPs working in each area, respectively. NPs in the north-central Tennessee region earn mean annual wages of $104,670. NPs with specialized skills can expect even higher wages. Nurse Journal reports nurse anesthetists lead all nursing specializations in average pay. BLS reports median wages of $167,950 for these specialists.

RN vs. NP Salary and Projected Job Growth in Tennessee
  Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
Tennessee Mean Salary $61,320 $95,990
U.S. Mean Salary $75,510 $110,030
Tennessee Job Growth 18.9% 40.2%
U.S. Job Growth 14.8% 36.1%

Source: BLS, Projections Central


Tennessee Metropolitan Areas With the Highest Mean NP Wages
  Salary Employment
Memphis, Tennessee $107,210 1,280
Chattanooga, Tennessee $105,030 740
Kingsport - Bristol, Tennessee - Virginia $98,760 270
Morristown, Tennessee $96,950 60
Johnson City, Tennessee $95,930 290

Source: BLS