The Best Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs

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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:

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.

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 The Best Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs

Villanova University

  • Villanova, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Villanova University's Fitzpatrick College of Nursing offers online and on-campus nurse practitioner programs, with specializations in primary care adult gerontology, primary care pediatrics, primary care family nursing, or psychiatric-mental health. 

The core courses blend clinical ethics, nursing research, leadership strategies, pharmacology, pathophysiology, and physical assessment. Clinical placements emphasize family care with sites in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. The 12,000-square-foot Simulation and Learning Resource Center lets you build your nursing practice skills in simulation labs.

This degree prepares you for entry into the post-master's doctorate of nursing practice. 

  • Program: Master of science in nursing
  • Campus: Villanova
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $995 per credit for Pennsylvania residents; $995 for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree from a NLNAC- or CCNE-accredited program, minimum 3.0 GPA, personal goal statement, a resume, three letters of recommendation, RN license, two years of clinical experience
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021/2022): 88.69% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $165,766 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$56,730
Out-of-state
$56,730
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$20,619
Out-of-state
$20,619
Retention Rate
96%
Acceptance Rate
31%
Students Enrolled
11,032
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
95% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#2 The Best Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs

University of Scranton

  • Scranton, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of Scranton's family nurse practitioner program, approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing, delivers a hybrid curriculum that emphasizes the school's Jesuit values. 

The Panuska College of Professional Studies' family NP program comprises 36 credits. Courses cover advanced physiology and pathophysiology, clinical assessments, family health promotion, pharmacology, and research methodology to prepare learners for primary care settings. 

Students take four practicums to complete 875 hours within three semesters.

  • Program: Master of science in nursing
  • Campus: Scranton
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $965 per credit 
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's in nursing degree from a CCNE-, ACEN- or CNEA-accredited program, minimum 3.0 GPA, three references, a personal statement and interview, RN license in Pennsylvania
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021/2022): 86.30% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $88,506 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$46,684
Out-of-state
$46,684
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$11,580
Out-of-state
$11,580
Retention Rate
89%
Acceptance Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
4,957
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
94% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#3 The Best Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs

Thomas Jefferson University

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Thomas Jefferson University's College of Nursing, with more than 130 years of nursing education, offers multiple nurse practitioner tracks with online and on-campus courses. 

NP programs offer specializations in adult gerontology acute care, adult gerontology primary care, family-individual across the lifespan, neonatal, pediatric primary care, psychiatric and mental health, and women's health. All nurse practitioner tracks require that you take 12 courses or 36 core credits and 672 clinical experiential hours. 

Required subjects include health policy, research for advanced practice, leadership and critical decision making, comprehensive assessments, and advanced pathophysiology and pharmacotherapeutics.

  • Program: Master of science in nursing
  • Campus: Philadelphia
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $1,355 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: BSN degree from an accredited school, minimum 3.0 GPA, one year of work experience in your specialized area, completed prerequisites, official transcripts, personal statement, two letters of reference, resume, current RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $102,706 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$40,680
Out-of-state
$40,680
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$21,420
Out-of-state
$21,420
Retention Rate
84%
Acceptance Rate
70%
Students Enrolled
8,286
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
79% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#4 The Best Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs

DeSales University

  • Center Valley, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

DeSales University, which has awarded master of science in nursing (MSN) degrees since 1984, offers three nurse practitioner degrees with concentrations in adult-gerontology acute care, family nursing care, and psychiatric and mental health. 

The MSN core courses cover applied research, clinical prevention in population health, health informatics, health policy, and principles of epidemiology. The advanced curriculum explores advanced physical assessments, pathophysiology, and pharmacology. 

To gain advanced practice, you must complete 675 clinical practicum hours. 

  • Program: Master of science in nursing
  • Campus: Center Valley
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $140-$475 per credit for Pennsylvania residents for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: BSN degree from an ACEN or CCNE accredited school, minimum 3.0 GPA, RN license, 12-24 months of work experience, official transcripts 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021/2022): 87.50% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $99,251 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$38,500
Out-of-state
$38,500
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$20,520
Out-of-state
$20,520
Retention Rate
81%
Acceptance Rate
82%
Students Enrolled
3,302
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
64% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#5 The Best Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs

La Salle University

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

La Salle University's online nurse practitioner students can graduate in 24-36 months with a concentration in family nursing or adult-gerontology primary care.

This private Catholic college offers convenient online courses. The program comprises 45 credits, including nine core courses in subjects, such as nursing research, advanced nursing roles, and nursing practice for population-based care. The 12 advanced core credits survey family system concepts, advanced pathophysiology, pharmacology, and health assessments. 

Learners train in their specialty area to complete 692 clinical hours. 

  • Program: Master of science in nursing
  • Campus: Philadelphia
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $930 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: BSN, minimum 3.2 GPA, current RN license, one year clinical experience, a personal statement, a resume, one letter of reference
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021/2022): 91.59% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $111,992 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$31,350
Out-of-state
$31,350
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$25,680
Out-of-state
$25,680
Retention Rate
78%
Acceptance Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
4,624
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
91% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes 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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