The Best Washington Online Nurse Practitioner Programs and Requirements

June 3, 2020 | Staff Writers

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Nurse practitioners (NPs) continue to play an increasingly important role in healthcare, especially in locations experiencing a shortage of primary care physicians. NPs can issue prescriptions, conduct patient examinations, diagnose conditions, and provide treatment just like a doctor. For many patients, an NP serves as their primary care provider.

As a “full practice” state, Washington allows NPs to work independently and without physician supervision. They often take on leadership roles within healthcare organizations to drive policy and administrative issues.


For many patients, an NP serves as their primary care provider.

Compared to registered nurses (RNs), NPs assume more responsibility and usually work in private practice settings and often specialize in specific areas of medicine. On average, they earn considerably larger salaries, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) finding that NPs earned a median pay of $113,930 in 2018. The median annual salary for an RN sits at $71,730.

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Featured Online Programs

This guide features useful information on the best nurse practitioner programs in Washington to help you secure the education and training needed to find success in this growing field. You can also find information on advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) certification requirements, renewing an ARNP license, and specialization areas, along with salary and job outlook data.

Read about our ranking methodology here.

Best Washington Online Nurse Practitioner Program

  1. Gonzaga University
    Location

    Spokane, WA

    Based in Spokane, Gonzaga University is a Jesuit liberal arts college that focuses primarily on undergraduate education. However, the growth of Gonzaga's online school allows students to earn an online master of science in nursing (MSN).

    Gonzaga offers two main online graduate nursing options: an RN-to-MSN and an MSN for nurses with a bachelor of science in nursing. The online MSN has three track options: nursing leadership in healthcare (NLH), family nurse practitioner (FNP), and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP). The nursing leadership in healthcare track is entirely online except for one two-day on-campus immersion. The other two tracks offer courses online, though students must earn in-person clinical experience.

    Campus: Spokane, Washington

    Type: Private

    Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

    Tuition: $955-$1030/credit

    Admission Requirements: •   Registered nurse license from an accredited program
    •   3.0 GPA
    •   Phone interview

    Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months

    On-Campus Requirements: Yes

    Programs: RN-to-MSN, MSN-NLH, MSN-FNP, MSN-PMHNP, Second Degree MSN

    School Site: Tuition Financial aid

Requirements to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Washington

To serve as a licensed nurse practitioner in Washington state, you must complete the following steps:

  • Earn a degree from a nurse practitioner program in Washington. Although a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree is the most common option, some NPs opt for a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) or Ph.D. in nursing. Practicing RNs can pursue RN-to-MSN bridge programs. The program you choose must receive accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
  • Choose your specialization. The best nurse practitioner programs in Washington allow students to engage in specific areas of practice. The state’s most in-demand specializations include primary care, acute care, and geriatrics. Acute care nurse practitioners can seek two- or five-year critical-care registered nurse certifications from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. The five-year Gerontological Nursing Certification remains valid for five years.
  • Complete supervised practice hours. Prospective NPs must satisfy at least 500 hours of supervised practice to secure an ARNP license. This usually takes place through an MSN, DNP, or Ph.D. program. Students work with experienced NPs in clinical settings, learning about addressing the day-to-day duties and challenges they encounter.
  • Secure a national certification. The Washington State Department of Health’s Nursing Commission provides licenses to NPs who receive certification through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or American Nurses Credentialing Center. The state commission also recognizes three designations: NP, certified nurse-midwife, and certified registered nurse anesthetist.
  • Apply for an ARNP license. You must submit your official graduate degree transcripts, proof of national certification, proof of an up-to-date RN license from the state nursing commission, and a $92 application fee. If you finished your degree more than a year before applying for your ARNP license, you must show proof of completing at least 250 certification-relevant practice hours over the past two years.
  • Renew your ARNP license. You must renew your license every two years. To do so, you must complete at least 30 continuing education hours specific to your specialty area. If you possess prescriptive authority, you need a minimum of 15 additional hours of pharmacology-focused continuing education to renew. Additionally, you must complete an attestation of continuing education and file it with the Washington Department of Health. An ARNP license renewal comes with a $96 fee.

In-Demand Nursing Specialty Eligibility Requirements in Washington

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

Years of Experience

: N/A

Clinical Hours Required: 500

Continuing Education: Courses in advanced physiology/pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology, along with content focused on health promotion and differential diagnosis and disease management.

Other: Must hold a postgraduate degree from a CCNE-accredited adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner program.

Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification (AGACNP-BC)

Years of Experience

: N/A

Clinical Hours Required: 500

Continuing Education: Courses in advanced physiology/pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology, along with content focused on health promotion and differential diagnosis and disease management.

Other: Must hold a postgraduate degree from a CCNE-accredited adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner program.

Gerontological Nursing Certification (RN-BC)

Years of Experience

: Two years as a licensed RN

Clinical Hours Required: 2,000

Continuing Education: Must complete at least 30 hours of gerontological nursing-focused continuing education over the previous three years.

Other: N/A

Salary and Career Information

At about $117,000 per year, graduates of nurse practitioner programs in Washington earn mean salaries about 7% higher than the national average. Projected job growth over the next decade comes in slightly lower than the national average for the profession but still sits at a healthy 30.4%. That number far outpaces most other career fields statewide.

Washington’s larger metro areas, including Seattle, Spokane, and Longview, provide more opportunities for NPs to bring in higher salaries. Metro regions also come with more job opportunities due to their larger populations. Prospective NPs can also help address a critical shortage of primary care providers that have hit these rural areas in recent years.

No matter where they choose to live and work, Washington NPs continue to enjoy numerous career options and flexibility for the foreseeable future.

 Registered NurseNurse Practitioner
Washington Mean Salary$82,670$117,650
U.S. Mean Salary$75,510$110,030
Washington Job Growth20.7%30.4%
U.S. Job Growth14.8%36.1%

Source: BLS, Projections Central

 SalaryEmployment
Spokane – Spokane Valley, Washington$148,440380
Longview, Washington$130,87030
Olympia – Tumwater, Washington$123,24060
Wenatchee, Washington$121,83040
Mount Vernon – Anacortes, Washington$121,59050

Source: BLS

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