Are you a registered nurse (RN) considering a graduate-level nursing program or a prospective nursing student interested in advanced practice roles? With employment growth projected at 45% from 2020-30 and Virginia's metro-area salaries averaging above $100,000 a year, this is an ideal time to become a nurse practitioner (NP).
This page covers what you need to know about Virginia NP programs, careers, applying to schools, and how to pay for your advanced nursing education.
We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best 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.
Keep reading to learn more about nurse practitioner programs, or go straight to our list of Virginia's best nurse practitioner programs.
What Can You Do as a Nurse Practitioner in Virginia?
Nurse practitioners provide primary care. Most NPs also specialize in a subfield like family, neonatal, pediatric, women's health, adult-gerontology, or psychiatric mental health. NPs experience more autonomy than RNs, often working as members of or leading interdisciplinary teams of healthcare professionals.
Virginia NPs earn an average annual salary of $112,320, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Virginia employs more than 7,000 NPs in private practices, hospitals, community and specialty clinics, and urgent care facilities.
Featured Online MSN Programs
What To Look For in a Nurse Practitioner Program
As you research Virginia nurse practitioner programs, pay attention to admission requirements, clinical experiences, course offerings, and program length. Other important considerations include accreditation, NP certification exam pass rates, and graduation rates.
Make sure that you meet your potential program's admission requirements. Programs often expect candidates to hold an RN license and 1-2 years of clinical experience, although some also expect a bachelor's degree in nursing and a minimum GPA.
Ensure that the program offers courses related to your chosen specialty and that the classes will help you meet your academic and professional goals.
Prospective NPs spend a large part of their time in clinical rotations. Find out whether the school arranges clinical placements and whether the shift times and commutes fit your schedule.
Confirm that the school is regionally accredited and that the NP program also holds accreditation. Accreditation signifies that the program's curriculum is regularly reviewed to ensure that it meets quality standards.
Expect to spend 1-2 years earning your master of science in nursing (MSN) or 3-6 years for a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). An MSN is the current minimum requirement for NPs, but some schools now offer DNPs.
Certification Exam Pass Rate
A program's pass rate for national board certification exams indicates whether the curriculum adequately prepares candidates to become NPs.
Like exam pass rates, the percentage of graduating students speaks to the curriculum's effectiveness. Our program rankings list graduation rates for each school.
Applying to a Nurse Practitioner Program in Virginia
Whether you pursue an MSN or a DNP, most programs require prior nursing education, clinical work experience, and licensure for admission. Some also require minimum GPAs, test scores, and additional application materials.
Admission criteria for nurse practitioner programs in Virginia often include the following.
Graduate nursing program admission usually requires a bachelor of science in nursing with a 3.0-3.5 GPA, GRE or MAT scores, an RN license, and a year of nursing experience. DNP programs may require an MSN. The admission process may include in-person or online interviews.
Applicants can expect to submit official transcripts, 2-3 professional recommendations, a personal essay, and a resume. Programs also typically require criminal background checks, CPR certification, and prerequisite coursework in statistics and nursing research.
Why Is Nurse Practitioner Program Accreditation Important?
The two primary accreditation organizations for NP programs are the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Both conduct regular assessments to ensure that nursing curriculums comply with and achieve the programs' mission, goals, and outcomes, along with the commission's accreditation standards. Accrediting organizations want to see that programs are always improving and continue to prepare qualified nursing professionals.
Accreditation — or the lack of it — carries important effects for nursing students, among them:
- Credits and degrees earned at unaccredited schools may not transfer to accredited nursing programs.
- Attending an unaccredited institution can make candidates ineligible for federal financial aid.
- Employers may prefer applicants who have graduated from an accredited nursing program.
- National board certification (required by the Virginia Board of Nursing) eligibility includes graduate nursing credentials from programs with ACEN or CCNE accreditation.
Paying for Nurse Practitioner Programs in Virginia
The cost of attending a Virginia nurse practitioner program depends on many factors, such as whether you attend a public or private school, whether you pay in-state or out-of-state tuition, and the degree level you select. You can reduce your out-of-pocket expenses by working while you study or avoid commuting costs by attending class online.
Financial aid can also help cover the cost of attending nursing school. Graduate-level nursing students can choose from many funding opportunities, including school- or program-based scholarships and grants, private or government scholarships and grants, work-study options, and federal or other types of loans and loan forgiveness programs.
Learn More About the Top Nurse Practitioner Programs Schools in Virginia
#1 The Best Virginia Nurse Practitioner Programs
- Arlington, VA
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
Marymount University is a good option for learners with a bachelor’s degree in nursing who want more marketable skills. The school leads the state in graduate education, offering 17 master's programs for continuing education. The master of science in nursing program is designed for family nurse practitioner students who want a traditional graduate school experience.
Enrollees learn from qualified professors with relevant credentials and experience. They teach both theoretical knowledge and technical skills used in this fast-growing field. This knowledge produces high-level professionals equipped for leadership positions and for doctoral training if they want to teach or conduct research.
Tuition costs $18,900 annually. Contact the institution's financial aid department to see what financial aid the school offers to help make tuition more affordable. Resources available to enrollees include tutoring, career services, and access to professional development.
Percent Online Enrollment
Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Frequently Asked Questions About Nurse Practitioner Programs
What is the most common degree for nurses in Virginia?
According to a 2020 report from the Virginia Board of Nursing, the most common degree that Virginia nurses earn is a bachelor of science in nursing. Nearly half of all nurses in the state hold this degree.
Is Virginia a nurse licensure compact (NLC) state?
Virginia is an NLC state, allowing multistate licensure practice for RNs and LPNs. A separate APRN compact for nurse practitioners and other advanced practice nurses exists, but Virginia does not yet participate in the compact.
Can nurse practitioners prescribe in Virginia?
Virginia NPs can prescribe medications under a physician's oversight. The state requires the NP to maintain a relationship with a physician and uphold an agreement that outlines the NP's prescribing authority.
Are nurse practitioners in demand in Virginia?
NPs are in demand nationwide, most notably in states that do not grant full practice authority, including Virginia. CareerOneStop projects a 31% percent increase in Virginia nurse practitioner jobs between 2018-28.