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The Best Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs

Kasia Kovacs, MSNurseJournal Rankings Team
Updated November 30, 2023
Interested in becoming a nurse practitioner (NP) in Pennsylvania? Use this guide to learn about the best NP programs in the state, admission requirements, and career and salary information.
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Some registered nurses (RN) choose to advance their careers by becoming nurse practitioners (NPs). These professionals work in advanced practice roles more independently than their RN colleagues.

To become an NP, nurses must complete a graduate degree. Nurse practitioner programs in Pennsylvania train students through advanced-level classes and supervised clinical hours.

It can be challenging to find the best master of science in nursing (MSN) degree that best fits your career ambitions and previous education and work experiences. This ranking offers guidance so you can find the best nurse practitioner program in Pennsylvania for your goals.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs

  1. Villanova University
  2. University of Scranton
  3. Thomas Jefferson University
  4. DeSales University
  5. La Salle University

How Do Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs Work?

Nurse practitioner programs in Pennsylvania vary by course requirements and offered concentrations. The curriculum includes advanced level nursing courses and supervised clinical hours. Schools may offer online, on-campus, or hybrid programs. Students usually graduate in 2-3 years, or even one year if they enroll in an accelerated degree.

Common specializations include:

  • Family nurse practitioner
  • Nurse midwifery
  • Nurse anesthesia
  • Acute care nurse practitioner
  • Adult-gerontology nurse practitioner

Some universities facilitate RN-to-MSN programs for registered nurses without a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). These programs cover both undergraduate and graduate-level coursework that nurses need to pass their nurse practitioner exams.

Explore Featured Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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Applying to a Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Program

Since nurse practitioner programs in Pennsylvania offer advanced nursing coursework, applicants need an RN licensure, previous work experience, and a BSN to qualify for entry. Some RN-to-BSN programs accept candidates with RN licensure but no bachelor’s degree. Although requirements vary for each program, prospective students can generally expect the following:

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    Admission Materials

    BSN transcripts from an accredited college or university for traditional MSN programs; a current unencumbered RN license; a resume showing previous nursing experience; a personal statement; typically at least two recommendation letters; a background check. Some schools require completion of an undergraduate statistics course with at least a “C” grade.
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    GPA Requirement

    Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0
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    Other Requirement

    Most programs require at least one year of nursing experience; international students usually must submit language test scores from exams, such as the TOEFL or IELTS

Why Is Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Program Accreditation Important?

When looking for nurse practitioner programs in Pennsylvania, always look for a program’s accreditation status. Independent, objective representatives from accreditation agencies review academic programs to ensure coursework offers students a high-quality education. Every Pennsylvania nurse practitioner program on this list holds accreditation

Accreditation remains important for many other reasons. Graduates from non-accredited programs may have trouble applying for advanced practice credentials. Other schools may not take transfer credits from non-accredited programs, and employers look for potential hires with accredited degrees. Scholarship opportunities are typically open to students attending accredited universities. Finally, nurses with non-accredited degrees may not be able to transfer their licensure through reciprocity.

Learn More About the Best Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs and Schools

See our methodology to learn more about how we create our rankings.
#1 The Best Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs

Villanova University

  • Location-markerVillanova, PA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$56,730
  • Out-of-state$56,730
  • Retention Rate96%
  • Acceptance Rate31%
  • Students Enrolled11,032
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment95%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 The Best Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs

University of Scranton

  • Location-markerScranton, PA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$46,684
  • Out-of-state$46,684
  • Retention Rate89%
  • Acceptance Rate79%
  • Students Enrolled4,957
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment94%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 The Best Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs

Thomas Jefferson University

  • Location-markerPhiladelphia, PA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$40,680
  • Out-of-state$40,680
  • Retention Rate84%
  • Acceptance Rate70%
  • Students Enrolled8,286
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment79%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 The Best Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs

DeSales University

  • Location-markerCenter Valley, PA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$38,500
  • Out-of-state$38,500
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate82%
  • Students Enrolled3,302
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment64%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 The Best Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs

La Salle University

  • Location-markerPhiladelphia, PA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$31,350
  • Out-of-state$31,350
  • Retention Rate78%
  • Acceptance Rate76%
  • Students Enrolled4,624
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment91%
  • AccreditationYes

Frequently Asked Questions About Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs

How long does it take to get an NP license in Pennsylvania?

Nurses must obtain an MSN before they qualify for NP licensure in Pennsylvania, which often takes two years to complete. However, this timeframe can vary based on several factors. Some nurses may enroll in accelerated programs and can graduate in one year, while others enroll part time and need three years of study. RN-to-MSN programs typically take longer as well.

Do nurse practitioners have full practice authority in Pennsylvania?

Nurse practitioners in Pennsylvania have reduced practice authority. Although NPs can independently perform many of their duties, they need a collaborative agreement with a physician to prescribe and dispense medication.

How much do nurse practitioners make in Pennsylvania?

NPs in Pennsylvania earned a mean salary of $117,260, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nurse practitioners in metropolitan areas tend to make more, with NPs in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia earning average wages of over $120,000, BLS statistics show.

Is becoming a nurse practitioner in Pennsylvania worth it?

For many NPs, becoming a nurse practitioner in Pennsylvania is worth it. The position leads to advancement in the nursing career, higher salaries, greater responsibilities, and the opportunity to practice with greater independence. NPs who prefer full practice authority, however, may prefer to earn licensure in another state.

Explore Other NP Programs