The Best Pennsylvania Online Nurse Practitioner Programs for 2021

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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.

Top 10 Online NP Programs in Pennsylvania

Rank School Location
1 Villanova University Villanova, PA
2 Gwynedd Mercy University Gwynedd Valley, PA
3 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
4 Thomas Jefferson University Philadelphia, PA
5 Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA
6 Cedar Crest College Allentown, PA
7 Misericordia University Dallas, PA
8 Wilkes University Wilkes-Barre, PA
9 Clarion University of Pennsylvania Clarion, PA
10 Edinboro University of Pennsylvania Edinboro, PA
Advertisement NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Programs

  1. Villanova University
    Location

    Villanova, PA

    Villanova University earns high marks from its nursing alumni for its extensive clinical practice opportunities and rigorous core nursing curriculum. The nurse practitioner master's program requires 39-55 credits, depending on the specialization. Full-time students can graduate in as little as 18 months with clinical specialties in adult-gerontology, family nurse practitioner, and pediatric nurse practitioner categories.

    The hybrid program offers weekly online classes in the core curriculum of ethics, leadership, and research. Students must complete a physical assessment course the semester before beginning clinical placements on the Villanova, Pennsylvania, campus. As one of the best nurse practitioner programs in Pennsylvania, this private, Catholic university holds recognition as a center of excellence in nursing education by the National League for Nursing.

    Campus: Villanova, Pennsylvania

    Type: Private

    Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

    Tuition: $960/credit

    Admission Requirements: •   Undergraduate degree in nursing
    •   3.0 GPA; one year of clinical practice
    •   RN license
    •   Three letters of recommendation

    Minimum Time Commitment: 18 months

    On-Campus Requirements: Yes

    Programs: •   MSN
    •   MSN - Family nurse practitioner
    •   MSN - Adult-gerontology nurse practitioner
    •   MSN - Pediatric nurse practitioner
    •   MSN - Nursing education
    •   DNP
    •   DNP - Nurse anesthesia
    •   Ph.D.

    School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

  2. Gwynedd Mercy University
    Location

    Gwynedd Valley, PA

    Nursing students at this private university outside Philadelphia enjoy opportunities to complete clinical practice at more than 200 regional healthcare facilities. As one of the top nurse practitioner programs in Pennsylvania, graduates prepare for national certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center or Pediatric National Certification Board, with specializations in adult, pediatric, and family medicine.

    The hybrid program combines online and on-campus courses with 600-720 clinical practice hours. Students need 2-3 years to complete their degree. This Catholic university serves as one of only 16 Sisters of Mercy colleges in the U.S., incorporating the ministry's mission and heritage in its programs.

    Campus: Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania

    Type: Private

    Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

    Tuition: $850/credit

    Admission Requirements: •   BSN with a 3.0 GPA and courses in statistics and physical assessment
    •   Valid RN license
    •   Clinical practice
    •   Two letters of recommendation
    •   Interview
    •   Personal statement

    Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months

    On-Campus Requirements: Yes

    Programs: •   MSN - Family nurse practitioner
    •   MSN - Nurse practitioner
    •   MSN - Clinical nurse specialist
    •   DNP

    School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

  3. Drexel University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Drexel University pioneered nursing education, tracing its roots to the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1864, along with the Hahnemann Hospital Training School for Nurses in 1890. It also pioneered online nursing education, launching its program in 2002.

    The Philadelphia-based private university boasts a 100% board passing rate for its family nurse practitioner graduates, with high marks of success for graduates of its other medical specializations, as well: adult-gerontology acute care, adult-gerontology primary care, pediatric acute care, pediatric primary care, psychiatric mental health, and women's health/gender-related care.

    The master's program offers part-time enrollment with weekly synchronous online lectures. Students must visit the campus for intensive clinical simulations, held over 2-3 days in the second and third years of the program. The 56-credit program requires three years to complete.

    Campus: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Type: Private

    Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

    Tuition: $997/credit

    Admission Requirements: •   BSN
    •   3.0 GPA
    •   Valid RN license
    •   Two letters of recommendation
    •   Resume
    •   Personal statement
    •   1-2 years clinical experience preferred

    Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months

    On-Campus Requirements: Yes

    Programs: •   MSN - Adult-gerontology acute care
    •   MSN - Adult-gerontology primary care
    •   MSN - Family nurse practitioner
    •   MSN - Pediatric acute care nurse practitioner
    •   MSN - Pediatric primary care nurse practitioner
    •   MSN - Pediatric primary/pediatric acute care nurse practitioner
    •   MSN - Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
    •   MSN - Women's health/gender-related nurse practitioner

    School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

  4. Thomas Jefferson University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Nurse practitioner (NP) graduates from Jefferson in Philadelphia enjoy some of the highest national certification exam pass rates and job placement among NP programs in Pennsylvania. This hybrid program includes specializations in adult-gerontology, neonatal, women's health, pediatric, and family medicine.

    Students can complete an online core curriculum online. Other courses require a minimum of three visits to the campus each semester. Students and faculty work together to secure an appropriate clinical site, with rotations requiring a minimum of 16 hours each week. The private university welcomes full-time and part-time learners and accepts up to six transfer credits. Graduation requires 2-4 years of coursework, depending on your level of enrollment.

    Campus: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Type: Private

    Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

    Tuition: $1,194/credit

    Admission Requirements: •   BSN
    •   3.0 GPA
    •   Current RN license
    •   Two letters of recommendation
    •   Criminal background check
    •   Coursework in statistics and physical assessment
    •   Some programs require at least one year of clinical experience

    Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months

    On-Campus Requirements: Yes

    Programs: •   MSN - Adult-gerontology acute care
    •   MSN - Adult-gerontology primary care
    •   MSN - Neonatal nurse practitioner
    •   MSN - Women's health gender-related nurse practitioner
    •   MSN - Family nurse practitioner
    •   MSN - Pediatric primary care

    School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

  5. Duquesne University
    Location

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Duquesne University's school of nursing allows nurses to advance their careers and medical practice. Now one of the top nurse practitioner programs in Pennsylvania, Duquesne set out among the first universities to launch online nursing education. The family nurse practitioner program features a fully online program aligned with the educational standards of national certifying agencies.

    Students only visit the Pittsburgh campus twice during the 42-credit degree. Nurses can enhance their degree with concentrations in forensic nursing, nursing education, or transcultural nursing. The private university offers a 30% tuition discount for registered nurses working at one of the school's partnering healthcare systems in Pennsylvania, specific facilities, or the U.S. military.

    Campus: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    Type: Private

    Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

    Tuition: $1,509/credit

    Admission Requirements: •   BSN
    •   3.0 GPA
    •   One year of full-time work experience
    •   Current RN license
    •   An undergraduate statistics course

    Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months

    On-Campus Requirements: Yes

    Programs: •   MSN - Family nurse practitioner
    •   MSN - Forensic nursing
    •   MSN - Nursing education

    School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

  6. Cedar Crest College
    Location

    Allentown, PA

    Allentown's Cedar Crest College offers fully online master of science in nursing degrees for nurse practitioners, with specializations in family and adult-gerontology. The curriculum develops direct patient management skills with a holistic approach to care. Graduates may seek national certification as part of their advanced practitioner licensing. The seven-week accelerated lecture courses and 14-week clinical courses allow students to study full time or part time.

    Courses feature asynchronous delivery. Cedar Crest College offers two-year, three-year, and four-year tracks. The school launched its online programs in 2016, with a 100% alumni satisfaction rate. Admission requires an unencumbered Pennsylvania RN license but not clinical experience.

    Campus: Allentown, Pennsylvania

    Type: Private

    Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

    Tuition: $901/credit

    Admission Requirements: •   BSN
    •   3.0 GPA
    •   Current RN license
    •   Undergraduate courses in statistics, research, and health assessment

    Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months

    On-Campus Requirements: No

    Programs: •   MSN - Family/individual across the lifespan nurse practitioner;
    •   MSN - Adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner
    •   MSN - Nurse educator
    •   MSN - Nurse administrator

    School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

  7. Misericordia University
    Location

    Dallas, PA

    Misericordia University, a private Catholic university in Dallas, Pennsylvania, prepares nurses for advanced clinical practice and gives graduates a head start on their continued academic path. Its master of science in nursing curriculum includes six credits toward a doctor of nursing practice degree, with a seamless transition for students who continue their studies.

    As one of the leading nurse practitioner programs in Pennsylvania, Misericordia offers concentrations in adult and gerontology primary care and family practice. It also offers post-master's certificates. Degrees require about 50 credits, with a combination of asynchronous online courses and convenient clinical placements.

    The school provides tuition discounts for its alumni and healthcare partners, and it takes part in the Yellow Ribbon Program for veterans and their dependents.

    Campus: Dallas, Pennsylvania

    Type: Private

    Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

    Tuition: $34,530/semester for full-time enrollment, $775/credit for part-time enrollment

    Admission Requirements: •   BSN
    •   3.0 GPA
    •   Unencumbered RN license
    •   Two letters of reference

    Minimum Time Commitment: 30 months

    On-Campus Requirements: No

    Programs: •   MSN - Family nurse practitioner
    •   MSN - Adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner

    School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

  8. Wilkes University
    Location

    Wilkes-Barre, PA

    Wilkes University offers nurses the opportunity to advance their careers with a nurse practitioner degree. The school's specializations include adult-gerontology primary care, family nursing practitioner, and psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner options. Wilkes offers a 43-credit master's program or a 53-credit program for RNs with an associate degree.

    The RN-to-MSN program does not include an embedded bachelor's degree. Students must take part in brief on-campus sessions as part of the advanced health assessment course, and other clinical courses may also require visits to the Wilkes-Barre campus. Programs begin each January. Applicants must demonstrate one year of clinical experience for admission.

    Campus: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

    Type: Private

    Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

    Tuition: $728/credit

    Admission Requirements: •   3.0 GPA
    •   Associate or bachelor's degree in nursing
    •   Unencumbered RN license
    •   Current resume
    •   One year of clinical experience

    Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months

    On-Campus Requirements: Yes

    Programs: •   MSN - Adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner
    •   MSN - Family nursing practitioner
    •   MSN - Psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner

    School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

  9. Clarion University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Clarion, PA

    Clarion University of Pennsylvania, a public university in Clarion, offers a family nurse practitioner specialization through its online MSN program. As one of the top nurse practitioner schools in Pennsylvania, Clarion has garnered accolades for its graduation rates, academic support, career development, and admission selectivity.

    The 45-credit program includes fully online courses delivered through an asynchronous learning platform. Students must attend a 34-hour skills lab at Edinboro University's campus. The two schools offer the master of science in nursing through a regional consortium. The school limits clinical placements to Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio.

    While full-time enrollees may graduate in two years, part-time enrollment extends the program to three years. The curriculum includes a scholarly project or thesis.

    Campus: Clarion, Pennsylvania

    Type: Public

    Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

    Tuition: $516/credit

    Admission Requirements: •   BSN
    •   2.75 GPA
    •   Two letters of recommendation
    •   Minimum 2,000 hours of clinical practice
    •   Personal statement
    •   Interview

    Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months

    On-Campus Requirements: Yes

    Program: MSN - Family nurse practitioner

    School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

  10. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Edinboro, PA

    Edinboro University and Clarion University co-sponsor the master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner program. The schools designed the curriculum to prepare students for primary care positions in medically underserved regions. The program features 600 clinical practice hours.

    The curriculum prepares students for certification exams through the American Nurses Credentialing Center or American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Online courses offer asynchronous delivery, but students must attend a skills lab at the Edinboro campus before beginning clinical courses.

    Students apply for the program through Clarion University, which requires a valid nursing license and work experience. Both schools provide nurse practitioner programs in Pennsylvania's higher education system.

    Campus: Edinboro, Pennsylvania

    Type: Public

    Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

    Tuition: $516/credit

    Admission Requirements: •   BSN
    •   2.75 GPA
    •   Two letters of recommendation
    •   Minimum 2,000 hours of clinical practice
    •   Personal statement
    •   Interview

    Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months

    On-Campus Requirements: Yes

    Program: MSN - Family nurse practitioner

    School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

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.

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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