The Best Pennsylvania Online Nurse Practitioner Programs for 2021 icon

The Best Pennsylvania Online Nurse Practitioner Programs for 2021

| Janice Monti

The Best Pennsylvania Online Nurse Practitioner Programs for 2021 mini logo

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.

Nurse practitioners (NPs) who hold a master's or doctoral degree in nursing find rewarding careers in primary or specialty care. They work in hospitals, doctors' offices, outpatient clinics, and other healthcare environments, where they take on many of the same responsibilities as doctors. NPs diagnose illnesses, evaluate patients, prescribe medication, and design treatment plans.

NPs in Pennsylvania can expect a promising career outlook through the next decade. Occupational data for the state projects a 26.5% increase in the employment of NPs between 2018 and 2028. Pennsylvania currently employs 7,820 NPs who earn an average annual salary of $101,950.

The time needed to complete an NP program varies. Registered nurses (RNs) in bridge programs to obtain a master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctor of science in nursing practice typically graduate in 1-4 years, depending on the number of previously earned transfer credits accepted. Certain NP concentrations, such as neonatal or psychiatric/mental health specialties, require additional clinical hours and may take longer to complete.

Read on for a list of the best online NP programs in Pennsylvania.

View ranking methodology here.

Featured Online Programs

Applying to an Online NP Program in Pennsylvania

The typical path to an NP degree requires completing a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), earning a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination, and obtaining an RN license. However, some MSN programs offer alternative routes, including bridge programs for RNs with an associate degree as well as accelerated or direct-entry programs for students with a non-nursing bachelor's degree seeking NP careers.

While each NP program establishes its own entrance requirements, most admissions departments expect an unencumbered and valid RN license, a minimum GPA of 2.5-3.0, and completion of certain prerequisite courses in statistics, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. Applicants may also submit letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and minimum ACT or SAT scores. Most NP programs require at least one year of work experience.

Explore the Best Pennsylvania Online Nurse Practitioner Programs and School Info

DeSales University View School Profile Center Valley, PA 70% 64% 32% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

A private Catholic university founded in Center Valley in 1964, DSU enrolls over 3,500 online and on-campus students each year. DSU offers a completely online or hybrid master of science in nursing: adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner on a part-time or full-time basis.

The program presents a mix of real-time synchronous courses and asynchronous classes in which students view materials and complete assignments at their convenience. DSU's expansive network of partner facilities allows students to complete their clinical hours in a location convenient to them. Students also benefit from the school's cutting-edge simulation laboratory. In addition, the program prepares students for national certification and prescription privileges in the state of Pennsylvania.

Courses Include

  • Principles of Epidemiology & Biostatistics
  • Clinical Prevention in Population Health
  • Procedures in Advanced Nursing Practice
  • Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner I, II, and III
  • Capstone Portfolio

Unique Features

  • Cost: $910 per credit
  • Credits Required: 50
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Duquesne University View School Profile Pittsburgh, PA 80% 68% 18% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Duquesne, established as the Pittsburgh Catholic College of the Holy Ghost in Pittsburgh in 1878, serves more than 9,000 campus-based and online students each year.

Duquesne offers an online master of science in nursing: adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner with three required campus visits. The three-year program, designed for working professionals, prepares students to sit for the national certification exam. The program focuses on acute and chronic illnesses, including how illnesses can impact all parts of daily life. Students work in small cohorts of just 12-15 peers, providing a personalized educational experience.

Courses Include

  • Historical and Contemporary Foundations for Advanced Nursing Practice
  • Physical Assessment for Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Pathophysiology for Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Transitioning to Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Foundations of Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Practice

Unique Features

  • Cost: $1,568 per credit
  • Credits Required: 42
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Thomas Jefferson University View School Profile Philadelphia, PA 64% 70% 32% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Established in Philadelphia in 1824, Thomas Jefferson University merged with Philadelphia University in 2017 under Jefferson's name. Today, Jefferson enrolls nearly 8,000 students each year.

Jefferson offers an online master of science in nursing with six nurse practitioner options: adult-gerontology acute care, adult-gerontology primary care, family-individual across the lifespan, neonatal, pediatric primary care, or women's health-gender related. Students in all tracks take the same core courses, followed by specialization classes. All students must complete 672 clinical hours.

Courses Include

  • Health Policy, Legal and Ethical Dimensions of Practice
  • Epidemiology for the Health Professions
  • Informatics for Advanced Nursing Practice
  • Comprehensive Assessment for Clinical Decision Making
  • Advanced Pharmacotherapeutics

Unique Features

  • Cost: $1,200 per credit
  • Credits Required: 36
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Drexel University View School Profile Philadelphia, PA 74% 50% 12% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

A private research university founded in Philadelphia in 1891 as the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Technology, Drexel adopted its current name in 1970. Today, the university serves more than 24,000 students every year.

Drexel offers an online master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner. Students must attend two on-campus intensives (two days each), one in the summer and one in the fall. Students may complete their clinical hours at a site in their local community. The program prepares students for the national certification exam with a 100% pass rate. Certified family nurse practitioners may practice independently in 25 states across the U.S.

Courses Include

  • Confronting Issues in Contemporary Health Care Environments
  • Advanced Ethical Decision Making in Health Care
  • Advanced Clinical Assessment & Diagnostic Reasoning
  • Pharmacology for Family Nurse Practitioners
  • Professional Issues for Nurse Practitioners

Unique Features

  • Cost: $1,026 per quarter credit
  • Credits Required: 56 quarter credits
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Wilkes University View School Profile Wilkes-Barre, PA 60% 68% 60% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Established in 1933 as a Bucknell University satellite campus in Wilkes-Barre, Wilkes became independent in 1947 and received university status in 1990. Today, the university welcomes approximately 4,500 students on campus and online each year.

Wilkes offers a master of science in nursing - nurse practitioner program with three specialization options: family, adult-gerontology primary care, or psychiatric/mental health. All specializations require two residency visits during the program. Students in all three specializations take the same first-year courses, which provide a strong foundation in advanced nursing practice. Adult-gerontology primary care and psychiatric/mental health students must complete 500 clinical hours, while family-track students must complete 584 hours.

Courses Include

  • Advanced Pathophysiology
  • Advanced Pharmacology
  • Diagnostic Reasoning for Nurse Practitioners
  • Health Perspectives of Culturally Diverse, Rural and Underserved Populations
  • Advanced Health Assessment

Unique Features

  • Cost: $728 per credit
  • Credits Required: 14-16 courses
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Misericordia University View School Profile Dallas, PA 69% 71% 38% Middle States Commission on Higher Education

A Catholic university founded in 1924 in Dallas, Pennsylvania, Misericordia today enrolls roughly 3,200 campus-based and online students annually.

Misericordia offers an online master of science in nursing - adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. The program features small classes, advanced simulations, and preparation for national certification. For students interested in pursuing further education, the program includes six credits toward a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). Students learn to care for patients throughout the lifecycle, with a strong focus on understanding, preventing, and managing chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Students also learn to promote healthy lifestyle choices to patients of all ages and health statuses.

Courses Include

  • Acute Episodic Health Needs of Adults and Older Adults
  • Clinical Management of Acute and Chronic Health Needs of Adults and Older Adults
  • Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology
  • Evidenced-Based Research Utilization for Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Advanced Practice Nursing Clinical Synthesis (Capstone)

Unique Features

  • Cost: $795 per credit
  • Credits Required: 45
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Frequently Asked Questions


Is Pennsylvania a full, reduced, or restricted practice environment for NPs?

Pennsylvania's practice and licensure laws reduce NPs' ability to engage in all elements of practice. As a reduced practice state, Pennsylvania requires NPs to enter into a collaborative agreement with a healthcare provider to offer patient care. The state may also limit NP engagement in at least one element of practice.

What is accreditation and why is it important?

Accreditation ensures that both traditional and online NP programs in Pennsylvania meet national professional standards for nursing and requirements for certification established by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing. Aspiring NPs should apply to schools accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

How does Pennsylvania rank in NP salaries?

Pennsylvania ranks 44th out of all states, paying its NPs an average annual salary of $101,950, below the national average of $111,840. However, work experience, location, and other factors impact salary potential. The highest paid NPs in Pennsylvania's top 90th percentile make over $129,250 each year. NPs working in the metropolitan area encompassing cities in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania earn mean salaries of $128,720.

How long does it take to become an NP?

In addition to the time needed to earn an associate degree or a BSN and an RN license, prospective NPs must complete at least a year of clinical experience before entering a master's program. Depending on their previous educational level, students can apply to accelerated, bridge, or direct-entry programs, with varying degree requirements and completion times. Most NP programs take 2-3 years to complete.

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