The Best Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs


Updated February 14, 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. DeSales University
  2. Duquesne University
  3. Thomas Jefferson University
  1. Drexel University
  2. Wilkes University
  3. Misericordia 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.

Featured Online MSN Programs

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:

  • 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.
  • GPA Requirement

    Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0
  • 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. DeSales University

    Center Valley, PA

    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
  2. Duquesne University

    Pittsburgh, PA

    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
  3. Thomas Jefferson University

    Philadelphia, PA

    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
  4. Drexel University

    Philadelphia, PA

    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
  5. Wilkes University

    Wilkes-Barre, PA

    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
  6. Misericordia University

    Dallas, PA

    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 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.

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